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Learning to hand letter.

Discussion in 'Hand Made Signs' started by Salmoneye, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Very Active Member

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    OK, so my neighbor is in his late 80's and a life long sign man (long retired). We talk signs a little and he gets to see some of the stuff we are putting out. I told him that I didn't think that I had the aptitude for hand lettering but I wished that I did. He constantly tells me "Lettering is 80% confidence and 20%practice". I keep thinking about it so I finally bought a couple of quills. I took a basic alphabet (Helvetica bold) and printed a row of 3" letters, all caps, lower case and numerals on poster paper. The letters are just outlined with a 5% or 10% grey in .25pt stroke. I don't know if I will ever learn alphabets and layout, for now I just want to learn how to handle a lettering brush. I hope that I could at least do repaints using a semi transparent primer over existing signage. I have painted or colored in for lack of a better term about half of it. So far I am just using one hand placed over the other and painting with a #10 luco quill.

    Question #1 Is this a good way to be practicing for now?

    Question #2 Anyone know of a good online tutorial that shows someone demonstrating technique? I.e. explaining how they, start, stop, turn corners, angles the brush should be at, hand positioning techniques...

    I can get lots of tips from my neighbor but I find that I do well seeing several peoples techniques on something and then combining them all into what works for me. I am finding hand lettering difficult because I have the eye of a perfectionist. When something is off 1/32" I spot it from 10 paces and it bugs me. I want to have to look at something for a long time trying to decide if it was stenciled or hand lettered and I know that is beyond my capabilities and patience level. That being said I still want to improve.

    Any advice appreciated.
     
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  2. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    1st off.......has he showed you how to paint with a quill?
    2ndly.........what are doing .... The letters are just outlined with a 5% or 10% grey in .25pt stroke. ????????????
    3rd......you ever hear of "brush hand" font???? rather then trying to learn a stiff structured hand painted font like helvetica.....will take you years to get good enough to to do it right in 1 COLOR!!!!
    4th you got an old sign guy.....WATCH HIM......learn that way and 20% practice is for us old guys who have been doing this for 20-40 years.....you gona need 80% practice for a while..........confidence will come from that)))))
     
  3. ChicagoGraphics

    ChicagoGraphics Major Contributor

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    I haven't picked up a brush since I got my first computer system and that was in 82, now my father on the other hand he's 81 and still can hand letter like it was yesterday although he is retired for the most part. You just have to keep at it and you will only get better, well most do anyway's, lol
     
  4. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Very Active Member

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    1st. No, he hasn't. I have been painting with it flattened to a chisel edge.
    2nd. The light gray stroke is printed on coated matte poster paper because I am using that as an outline. I was trying to simulate what it might be like doing a repaint that I could see through a coat of light transparent primer.
    3. I chose helvetica because at the moment I am not trying to learn to hand letter my own layouts from scratch although I hope to get to that.
    4. Not only do I have an old sign guy next door but I love him dearly. He is all about teaching and helping me. That being said he has lung disease from spraying bazillions of gallons of immeron early in his life and he stays indoors on oxygen when it is hot like this so I don't want to bug him until it cools off and he is coming out on his own accord. Even when he does teach me I don't think that it hurts to see other tutorials and styles. When I made the confidence comment I was just meaning the confidence to even try, not confidence in the finished product.
     
  5. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Very Active Member

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    That being said, do you have any internet resources or tips for me?
     
  6. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    well since you have it down how your gona learn.........good luck. and no........cant be learned that way.
     
  7. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Very Active Member

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    1st. No, he hasn't. I have been painting with it flattened to a chisel edge.

    - I dont' get it? I was only trying to answer your comment. Politely. I do not think that I know how to use a quill properly that is why I am asking for help.


    2nd. The light gray stroke is printed on coated matte poster paper because I am using that as an outline. I was trying to simulate what it might be like doing a repaint that I could see through a coat of light transparent primer.

    - I don't get it. I was only responding to you so that it would be clear what I had done and my reason for doing it. I am not saying that it was a good thing to do, was it not a good thing to do if I am trying to learn how to do repaints?


    3. I chose helvetica because at the moment I am not trying to learn to hand letter my own layouts from scratch although I hope to get to that.

    - I don't get it. I was only responding as to my thinking of why I chose helvetica. It seemed to most closely resemble most of the letter characteristics of the signage I am presented with repainting. If you think that a brush script will better prepare me for repainting sans-serif lettering I am more than willing to try that.


    4. Not only do I have an old sign guy next door but I love him dearly. He is all about teaching and helping me. That being said he has lung disease from spraying bazillions of gallons of immeron early in his life and he stays indoors on oxygen when it is hot like this so I don't want to bug him until it cools off and he is coming out on his own accord. Even when he does teach me I don't think that it hurts to see other tutorials and styles. When I made the confidence comment I was just meaning the confidence to even try, not confidence in the finished product.


    -I don't get it. I would love to learn from my dear friend. I wanted to explain that I am respecting him and waiting. I also want to seek knowledge from the wealth of it here on this site. The confidence explanation was me trying to humble myself in case it came off wrong originally.

    Everything is not an argument or a pissing contest, please don't sour someone else from helping me because you think I have it all figured out. I have nothing figured out and I don't think that I ever gave the implication of that; If I did I am officially and humbly retracting that implication now.
     
  8. Craig Sjoquist

    Craig Sjoquist Major Contributor

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    Salmoneye.... pick up a SPEEDBALL book any year / edition this book will show you brush strokes and basic letter forms.

    With pencil or charcoal stick draw your letters, WHY this will get your hand & eye to work together naturally, then with 2 fingers holding brush letter and practice ...

    Perfect corners etc. will come over time, what your looking for is rhythmic shape for now moving on to true font to perfect, this will take years.

    The more true interest in hand lettering the more help will follow and a better understanding of the real value of advertising will be rewarding.

    I will gladly help as you have more interest, and questions. After 36 years 95% of my work is still hand lettered, most by request.
     
  9. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    The Speedball book is a good suggestion, it shows the building block stokes to create letters.
    When I went to Butera Sign School we did a lot of practice just as you are (except we had to layout the letters with pencil first). We would lay out a line of text and then letter it using Japan colors (same as 1shot Poster). Since it took so long to layout a line of text another common practice technique was to lay the paper under a piece of glass and letter on the glass, wipe it off and do again. this was good to get the feel of lettering on glass or other slick surfaces like trucks or enamel.
    And despite what OP says this is a great way to learn how to letter.
    There are videos I've seen, but I'm not sure where they are. probably Youtube nowadays
     
  10. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Very Active Member

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    Thanks guys. I also just found 'thehandletteringforum' and 'theletterheads.com'. I have just gotten a peek at each from a web search but the tutorial page that it brought me to seemed chock full of easy to understand and informative examples. All I do is work and I never seem to be able to catch up so I have very little free time, when I have any I don't seem to have the energy to do anything with it. I was up with insomnia (stress) the other night and I put on some music and that's when I broke out the brushes and practiced a little. I found it to be very relaxing if nothing else. I have a lot of time behind a brush painting houses, wood trim in oils, french doors, windows... I am pretty good with that type of work but my handwriting looks like that of a slow, epileptic four year old, that is why I am starting with the idea of repaints and not getting my hopes up with alphabets from memory. I think I will try some of the layout parts though because if you never try, you never know. Thanks again guys.
     
  11. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    i wasnt being pissy.........but you asked TO LEARN HAND LETTERING....didnt you???
    i gave you suggestions.......to make it easier, but you WANT TO DO IT YOUR WAY..... so why waste my time AND KNOWLEDGE, since you already know what and how you are going to learn??? now do you see why i wished you good luck.
    i dont care what project you got going, jumping past the "basics" to the "advanced" is what you are doing. i been hand lettering since i was 12-13, iam 66 now, and STILL have a hard time free handing a "perfect helvetica" letter. but YOU, rather then learn the basics.......think you can jump past all that.......and do a "perfect helvetica letter" before you even know how to handle A BRUSH. ok??? your kinda like a kid who plays MORTAL COMBAT video game.........and now you are MARTIAL ARTIST BLACK BELT.
    you cant skip the basics.
    now lets start all over again.
    1. like craig said get a speedball book. it will help you understand which way letters are created. up to now its been hit a key the letter appears on the screen. dont work like that with a speedball pen or brush. letters have STRUCTURE, you need to learn that.
    2. as for the old sign guy, he dont have come outside to teach you how to use a QUILL!!!
    he can do that with a DRY BRUSH, or water colors or tempra paint. none of those will effect his damaged lungs. ISOCYANATE'S are not from LETTERING PAINT. its from AUTOMOTIVE painting. i have experience with those paints, they are not LETTERING PAINT.
    3.untill you do #1, you wont do what you want to.....the RIGHT way!!!!! and you aint ready for BRUSH SCRIPT......i said BRUSH HAND!!!!! learning "script" is another chapter after you do #1. many other fonts of the "hand painted type." i bought the SIGNS DNA cd with a couple of these fonts on it. all the fonts i have on the example, are easily done with a brush. why? no sharp clean corners......LIKE HELVETICA. most of these can be " personalized." no 2 brush men, will have the same exact " knockout freehand letter style." most of old guys could see a sign at a distance and tell you which sign painter painted it, form his adapting of these fonts to his own.
    thank you retracting..........
     

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  12. signguy 55

    signguy 55 Member

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    If possible, I would get a SignCraft magazine, go to the index and try to buy up every issue from the 80s and 90s. Every issue back in those days had an article about hand lettering, sample fonts, what brushes to use, paints to buy, mahlstick versus hand over hand, etc. It's fun to go back and read the advertisements from 20 years ago and compare it to today. Gerber sold a IVB for $10,000 and their fonts were $285.00 each!!

    I believe hand lettering is something you are born to do. I'm always "doodling" drawing cartoons, etc. I can hand letter and supported myself and my family for years until I got in the computer age, but I was never satisfied with my "block" lettering and my script. I'm left handed but the point is I always tried to improve.

    I do think you have to be artistically inclined, you'll find that many hand letterers on this site can also play a musical instrument, there is a direct link there. Not everyone can rebuild a transmission or perform heart surgery, I think we all have certain areas we excel in.
     
  13. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    We learned helvetica style block fonts along with casual, roman and script in our first year at Butera. Learning a block style letter is basic. May take a lifetime to get it perfect, but it's one of the fundamentals.
    There were lots of crappy lettering artists who never got past their "personalized freehand knock out style" ( which often was very poorly done) and you could always tell there signs because they all looked the same.
     
  14. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    1st YEAR.......being the key word. and you was doing this for 4-5 days a week. so my point was.......learn the easy one while he gets comfortable with a BRUSH IN HIS HAND. then .....go for the helvetica/serfied letters. this was done back in 86-87. it is 3.....4 ft wde....8 ft tall boards made into one sign........all "knockout" lettering cept for the header. aint the prettiest, but was readable and FAST to make.
     

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  15. Pinfinity

    Pinfinity Active Member

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    u betta risen Grasshopper!....WAX ON...WAX OFF! ONRY RAY TO RERN!
     
  16. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Very Active Member

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    Old paint, with all due respect, just about every link that I have ever read on this forum from you comes off as pissy. My subject line did say that I wanted to learn to hand letter, then it clearly stated that really what I was trying to learn to do was handle a brush better, for a few tips. I didn't say that I ever wanted to freehand a helvetica letter, I only said that I wanted to trace over existing ones on a repaint. As for my neighbor, I don't know why I have to give you every detail, the point is that he doesn't feel well, I will wait until he wants to get about and enjoy his time socializing with me. I am certainly not going to go tell him that he can do it inside, he can tell me if he feels up to that. I never said that the immaron was from lettering paint did I? He had a company that repainted trucks and then lettered them, he also painted in the navy, painted railroad cars, painted with a circus. Just rest assured that he is not well, I am not marching over and calling bullshit on his story.

    Here it is plain and simple, I didn't really want to go here with this but here it is. Almost every time I see a comment from you it it berating them or insulting them. For someone to get one of your little pearls of wisdom, of which I am sure you have many they have to endure countless other bits of pissyness as you have called it.

    I don't want to be YELLED AT!!!!! with all CAPS!!! all the time. You do know as you have been informed that this is considered rude and considered the online equivalent of screaming.

    I don't want to see the ??? after ten things in every post implying that all of the people you are responding to are stupid.

    I don't want to read the comments stating that everyone that doesn't do it by hand has no artistic skills or abilities ike you do.

    I don't want one word of my comment being referenced solely for an argument even though the rest of the thread obviously explains ones intent clearly.

    Surely you are a man of experience and skill. You have been ill lately and I really don't care to upset you or hurt your feelings. I am a nice person even though I might not come across that way 100% of the time. Participating here in this forum is an amazing opportunity for me and I appreciate it. Maybe I am way off base but I always think that you are coming off as a bit of a jackass with a holier than thou attitude and frankly I am willing to go without your help to not have to defend myself constantly. It seems odd to me that while so many have to defend themselves to you others seem to understand the requests perfectly and have the ability to contribute without demanding all of the bowing down, paying of your idea of what an appropriate amount of dues or otherwise proving their worth etc..

    I am not alone in what I am expressing here, just read through other folks comments and the thinly and not so thinly veiled references. You are also not the only one here that behaves this way, there are also at least two others here that behave the same way and I dread the thought of them catching on to one of my threads.

    You have a lot more time in the industry and here on the forum than I do to be sure but I almost always feel like you are coming off as mean, high and mighty, chastising or condescending and I could really do without it. Posting this original thread here even took a second consideration (and I have a thick skin) as I knew that you were one of the few one here that post often and hand letter.

    I will also try not to comment further in any disparaging way to you or about you.

    Sometimes (not the majority of the time) this forum seems unfriendly to people and they leave as soon as they come or feel intimidated to post, they flat out say it in their posts when they do finally make one. This thread may not have warranted in and of itself to have come to this but I feel like it was just the icing on the cake for me.

    My apologies in advance if this hurts you feelings or offends anyone here, I just thought that it should be said. Now I probably need to take some of my own advice and look at my own threads. Thank you everyone for your advice, I will let you know how it progresses.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011
  17. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    salmoneye.......i give what i get.........YOU set the stage, i didnt. go back and read my 1st response to you. i was informing you as i would anyone trying to impart some of what i have learned in my 66 years. THEN......you post and tell me how YOU ARE GOING TO LEARN TO DO what you asked for instructions on. there is the tipping point.
    seems most of the " i want to learn to hand letter" posts do this. if you cant learn it on a computer or you tube........its to hard for most of you to understand.
    as for your implication that iam telling you to DEMAND the old sign guy teach you, thats your interpretation......not what iam saying. dont try to make me the bad guy here. i was stating IF YOU are that interested in learing....and i gather YOU talk to him, he can tell and show how to use a brush without any paint. you just need to ask the right question of him. not drag him outside as you seem to think iam saying IAM NOT.
    as for my use of caps..........iam sure you have some idiosyncrasies of your own, but i dont come down on you for them. iam not being abusive to you........but you take it that way i cant stop that.
    as for your telling me what is acceptable to you as text i type back.....you really are funny)))))) none of those things are going to happen per your request. and how does this post..become a railing on me???? you dont like what i say i gather that. if you come up with a new way to learn this.....let me know as i really want to know i have wasted all these years learning when all i had to was ask you how its done.
    iam done.........
     
  18. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Very Active Member

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    Once again with the pissing contest. When someone tells you certain behavior is commonly accepted as abusive and they personally find it abusive then you do have the power to stop that. I tried to backtrack and explain where I was coming from in the second post then again in the third. You are reading this as me trying to tell you what I am going to do. I even went as far as to say "I am willing to try this" and "Do you have any tips for me"... Your advice just comes at too high a price for me, just don't help me, it's not worth it to me. Everyone else on these threads that I am talking about seems to understand what the poster is getting at and offer help without that baggage.

    For anyone that is interested in learning to hand letter I found the first basic information that I was looking for at theletterheads.com under hand lettering basics although I am sure that they have no idea what they are talking about this will keep me busy for weeks.

    Old paint,

    I don't like the way you talk to people and respond to them.

    You say that you can't learn from you tube, the computer and practice? Others here including me disagree. I refuse to believe that your way or my way are the only way.

    This thread did not turn into a railing on you. The culmination of many treads became a railing on you. Again, I will try and tread lightly around you if you would be so kind as to do the same is up to you.
     
  19. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Very Active Member

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    Pat, that is so funny that you posted that link; I watched it not 5 minutes ago. I watched his others as well, thanks Pat.
     
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