The Truth Shall Make You Free

Since I did the Days of the Week project, I haven’t thought of a new series of pieces to do yet, but I seem have done a few inspirational-ish quotes lately, so I thought I would continue the trend. This one is part of the unofficial motto of the CIA. Doesn’t sound like it would be so inspirational, does it! In fact, the full motto is “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” which comes from a bible verse. The official motto is “The Work of a Nation. The Center of Intelligence,” which didn’t seem like it would make a good lettering piece, so I thought I’d go for the unofficial one.

The Truth Shall Make You Free

With this piece, I wanted to achieve something similar to what I was going for with Just Some Words. I’ve seen plenty of pieces around that make no attempt at combinations of styles, but rather focus on the form of the piece, and keep the words all in the same style. I feel like I got closer with this piece than I did with the other one; it’s a style I would like to explore further in the future, so there may see what I can do to make a few pieces thematically linked as a nice little series.

Here’s a little look at the pieces of paper that lead up to the final piece:

The Truth Process

I recently became a mod over at /r/lettering, and seeing the quite frequent posts asking for advice for how to begin, I was thinking that I might post a blog post soon that is aimed towards providing some insight into the process. I usually make some comments about what happened on the way to each piece, but a more general tutorial might be a good place to direct people who are looking for some window to how to go from a blank piece of paper to a finished piece. Above, you can see a little bit of what went into designing this piece from initial sketches to trying out some ligatures for the word “The” to making a full pencil sketch to see how it would look at the right size.

The art of war (a rapidograph experiment)

This week I received some new pens which I hope to use in place of the Unipin and Micron fine liners that I’ve been using up until now. These new pens are Rotring Rapidographs, which are a kind of technical pen. What that means is that I won’t have to go out all the time to buy new fine liners, (though of course they will need ink refills,) and I won’t have to worry about the slow blunting of the tip. These pens have a mechanical tip that never dulls, unlike the felt of the fine liners, so barring them being stamped on, they should be just the same in 20 years!

The greatest victory is that which requires no battle

This piece was my first with these new pens aside from a few test scraps to get used to the different feel. I wanted to do a piece that would test out a few different uses for them, including hatching and filling in large sections. In all, they worked out really well, giving very consistent line thickness. The ink seems to be better than that of the fine liners, too, creating a much better matte surface that doesn’t seem to suffer at all from reflecting camera flashes or other lights, leading to great straight shots.

The piece itself is a quotation from the Art of War by Sun Tzu, which seems to contain a lot of wisdom. Though the quote is about victory and battles, coming from a book about war, it has quite a pacifist sentiment to it, which I found quite interesting. Of the quotes I found, this one suited my needs well. I wanted to continue to explore into the world of Gothic lettering, which is something I haven’t examined as closely as other styles, my main areas of study being Roman and Copperplate calligraphy. In this piece, there is a combination of all three! This being my first real quotation piece in a long time, I also wanted to do something with an interesting visual hierarchy so as to make it the kind of thing you might see on a poster.

Take a look at a few progress shots:

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Sketching out the top half after the space was measured out.

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Pencil version complete.

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Half way through inking.

Just Some Words

Just some words, just for fun. Another piece inspired by the brush pen style of Copperplate calligraphy that I’ve been doing recently, which has been steadily infiltrating my lettering work.

Just Some Words

I thought, with this piece, that I would keep it as simple as possible. I love to create fine details in all of my pieces, so recently, I’ve been focusing a bit more on simplicity, in order to concentrate more on form. So this piece was going to be filled in with solid black, but when it came down to it, I thought I would add in some of the “shine” elements that I had included on the ornamentation on Monday. I thought that there’s no reason not to, and if I wanted to, I could fill it in after I had finished, so that it was fully black, but I think the effect suits the piece well.

Something else to mention with this piece is that it’s not a combination of typographic or calligraphic styles, which is something I do in most pieces that involve more than one word. The reason for this is that having more than one style in a piece naturally gives it a hierarchy, or at least some contrast in the way you view the words. With this piece, however, I felt that seeing as the word length was so similar, and there being no really strong focal point of the phrase, it would be best to have it all in one style. Aside from anything, the meaning of the phrase is such that it lends itself to something that seems more casual, so it would seem odd to have “Just Some” in a weaker style that “Words”, which would probably be the way it would work out if you wanted to give any of the words more weight. In that case, the word “Words” would seem too important make it seem that it wasn’t, in fact, just some words.

Non-Zero Days

A commenter in a thread on reddit once posted some advice on how to keep motivated and strive towards your goal. One of the main points in his post (which was full of value) was that if nothing else, every day should be a non-zero day. By that, he meant that even if you only take one step towards your goal on any given day, make sure that you take at least that one step. Even if it’s the smallest thing you can do to get yourself to where you want to be, it means that your day is not a failure. The advice stuck with me, so I made a piece around it.

Make Every Day a Non Zero Day

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on producing pieces with a focus on detail and intricacy, and while that is my style, and not something I want to abandon, I felt like making something a bit bolder. To achieve this, I chose to have the piece contained in a circle, and for the letters to be white on a strong black background. To keep things stylistically simple, I stuck with only two styles: copperplate inspired brush pen script and traditional Roman letters.

With this week’s project, I also wanted to design a piece that I would like to see on some merchandise, such as mugs or posters. It would be exciting to have some things to sell with pieces printed on them, so I thinking of starting to build up some pieces that would work well in that medium. This will be the first of “poster suitable” pieces, which would be something easily printable by a letterpress. As you can imagine, I’m sure, some of my other pieces would be too detailed to be printed easily on a reasonably sized poster, and you would need a very large mug indeed to accommodate them!

In other news, I have a new camera, so all the old photos of my work are likely to be replaced soon enough. I’ll wait until a nice sunny day (which is all the time!) and take some nice photos in the sunlight. That may include this one, as I unfortunately left it a little (very) late to catch the sun for the photo today.

Friday

Happy Monday! Or as I like to call it, Friday!

Friday

I don’t really call Monday Friday, and I do, in fact, have a solid grasp of what day of the week it is. The thing is, however, that this is the 5th instalment of my Days of the Week project, meaning that today’s piece is Friday! This week I was having an interesting time playing around with a new brush pen of mine, which you can see in the picture. I experimented with a lot of different styles and found that it’s a very versatile thing, but it’s also not as easy as it looks. The brush pen is great for a couple of uses. First, it’s much faster at hashing out an idea than it is with a pencil, meaning you can chase the ever elusive image in your mind that bit quicker, hopefully capturing more of its essence as you go. Second, it can be used to fill in block areas of shading much faster. Both of these uses were a great help to me this week, and the piece draws inspiration from brush lettering styles and makes use of the brush pen’s speed at filling in. Unfortunately, however, it seems to me that the ink has a different quality to it than that of the fine liners I use to outline the piece, resulting in a slight difference between the inside and the outlines of the letters. You can’t really see it here in the picture, and it’s only really noticeable upon close examination of the piece in person, but it’s interesting to note.

Another thing to note about the piece is the decoration around the letters. There are several artists that I admire who do similar things, their lettering pieces adorned with much ornamentation in addition to the letters that make up the piece. I had a great time experimenting with that idea last week, and it’s something that I’m going to keep in mind in the future for all pieces, too. The form of the piece is not necessarily bound by the letters that make it up, and as I’m starting to learn more about it, it will be something that I’m going to start to consider more in the planning of each piece.

I’m afraid I didn’t take any progress pictures this time, because with all time I took experimenting with my brush pen, the execution of this piece was left a little bit to the last minute! As I’m sure you can guess, the piece to follow this one will be Saturday, but, as usual, it will be out on Monday next week.