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Boat Lettering Help Please

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by Sign_Boy, Jan 22, 2018.

  1. bob

    bob Major Contributor

    Nov 4, 2005
    And that wouldn't work. Unfortunately you're working with a three-dimensional object that isn't flat, it's curving horizontally as well as vertically. That being the case, a simple straight on photo isn't going to do you a lot of good. You need to flatten the object and layout the lettering on that flattened image. As I said before, paper template is the simplest way to do this.

    It's a little trickier since the only outline you have is the top of the bow. Never fear, tape a piece of paper to this area large enough to cover the area to contain the lettering and then some. With a Sharpie or something scribe the bow line on the paper. If there's a strake line below the bow then scribe that. If there isn't then make your own with a flexible rule of sufficient length.

    Lay the paper template flat, the floor is good, and put a 3x3 Post It, a 2x3.5 business card, or any other rectangle of known dimensions on the template reasonably parallel to whatever passes for level on that template.

    Take a picture of the template as straight on as you can manage and with the Post It or whatever you used square to the image.

    Import the picture into your software. Draw a wire frame rectangle exactly around the rectangle marker in the picture, that's why you wanted it parallel to level and square to the image. It saves having to rotate the image to get it square . Map, powerclip, mask, or whatever you use, the picture into the rectangle. Make the rectangle whatever size it is in real life. Unmap the picture. Now you have a full size image of a pair of lines that represents the bow flattened out in two-space.

    Layout the lettering according to the lines you scribed. No matter how weird the result might look it will fit precisely. If you did everything right.
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  2. decalman

    decalman Active Member

    Sep 2, 2012
    I would enlarge the picture on the screen , and then type it out on the boat, and observe the flow of the desired substrate harmony. I'd probably use fit to path on my Corel. Or the bezier. Then choose some reference point on the boat, and size it up perfectly.
  3. Sign_Boy

    Sign_Boy Major Contributor

    May 18, 2007
    Hey all - Thanks again for all the helpful info. Lots of ways to do this I guess. Hopefully I can get away without using script, but it looks like it's leaning that way. Gino.. because sometimes we don't have a choice. hahaha I liked your diagram very well done.

    Bob - I like that idea. I'm going to have to give it a try. Thanks!

    Thanks again all!! It's much appreciated!
  4. signbrad

    signbrad Member

    Jun 15, 2014
    Kansas City
    Before computers, many shops were able to do jobs like this in one trip. Most would use paint, of course. The job started by taping pattern paper to the side of the boat. Lettering was then sketched (or sometimes painted) onto the paper and perforated on site to produce a pounce pattern. Every sign painter kept a pounce wheel in his kit and all that was required was a piece of cardboard or insulation board to lay the paper onto for "cutting" the pattern. Some sign guys kept a roll of felt for this purpose. A pounce pattern, even an imperfect one, would allow any competent sign painter to duplicate a layout on both sides of a boat. Top and bottom lines could be rendered easily with a compass riding against the curve of the rubber bumper or the molding on the hull.

    But hand painting was not the only way to letter the sides of a boat or truck back then. I worked at one shop that regularly cut vinyl for jobs like this—long before computers. The design was drawn on paper first and then taped down to a sheet of Scotchcal that was already taped tightly to a table or other hard surface. Then the design was hand-cut right through the paper into the vinyl film. After weeding, but before taping, a rubbing would be made with another sheet of paper using a stick of graphite, and then a duplicate reading of the vinyl could be cut. Or—once you got used to cutting accurately with firm pressure—you could layer two sheets of vinyl, cutting through both at the same time. Obviously, the top sheet was cut all the way through its backing paper. So, taping had to be done carefully on the top layer. And hand cutting all day made for some sore fingers.
    I used to marvel at the cutting ability of Mack Thompson of Fort Smith, Arkansas, who could layer four sheets of Scotchcal, cutting four sets of letters at once. Normal No.11 blades were useless for this—the points broke off immediately. He used a blade that resembled a No.11 but was beefier. I believe it was called a No.21. Changing blades as soon as they dulled, Mack could cleanly cut and letter two trucks faster than the Gerber machine that his shop eventually acquired. Of course, the Gerber could keep cutting while Mack went to lunch. And sometimes the machine kept working after everybody went home. There was no competing with that.

    One of the problems with script lettering these days is that most computer-generated script has a wooden look to it. Hand-painted script can achieve a looseness and spontaneity that a computer cannot easily duplicate. However, if you hand paint a script on paper and then use the paper as a pattern to hand cut vinyl, it's easy to render a script that looks hand-lettered. I still do this occasionally. Once, a guy called me because he could not I.D. a script "font" that I had used on a truck door. He said it looked exactly like hand lettering, right down to the imperfections! :rolleyes:

    I remember when I first saw computer cut lettering using the font called "Brush Script." My first thought was that if I had a brush that produced lettering that looked like that I would probably throw the brush away. Now, Brush Script is everywhere while my brushes collect dust.

    Brad in Kansas City
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  5. Sign_Boy

    Sign_Boy Major Contributor

    May 18, 2007
    Great read. Thanks Brad!!

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