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:


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


Pencil version complete.


Half way through inking.

Auto pilot engaged

Sometimes I have one of those days when I can’t quite get my mind in gear. Wouldn’t it be nice to just have an auto pilot mode? Well when you have a timetable to stick to, sometimes you just have to do it anyway! Searching for inspiration can be tough, so in light of that, I made this piece this week:

I can't brain today. I have the dumb.

I can’t remember when I heard the phrase, but it’s suited the feeling. I decided to make a light hearted, quick piece that wasn’t too complicated. After all, it’s been a pretty hectic week! Last week I did the words of the week challenge on the lettering subreddit. This week, there was a drop cap challenge, so I decided to do a bit of a speed challenge! I tried to focus more on the fluidity of the lines and less on minute, precise details. I often get bogged down in the details of something, so once I zoom in, it’s often hard to zoom out again and look at the piece as a whole. Maybe it’s a trap a lot of perfectionists fall into, or maybe it’s just me, but the solution is to force yourself out of the usual conditions so that you can’t succumb.

Dropcap N

Having some lovely Rhodia dot grid notepaper really helped in diving straight in and not over thinking things. More time that I’m willing to admit usually goes into measuring out the space on the page before I even make a pencil mark for most pieces. Sketching out the design took about half an hour, followed by roughly an hour for inking. That’s much faster than the turn over for a typical piece of mine, so I’d say that the challenge was a success. I’m pleased with the piece, too.

Aside from those two pieces, I also wrapped up a little client project for a tattoo design this week. The brief was to have the word “Ruby” in a similar style as Monday. The dimensions to work with turned out to be perfect for the word. As it was just for a basic design, the client opted to have a slightly less detailed piece than Monday, so you’ll notice a few dissimilarities.

Angled shot small

The next lettering challenge isn’t up yet on the lettering subreddit (where are you mods?) so I don’t know if it’s something I’d like to do next week, but I’m thinking that I might make a thing of doing the drop caps, which come up every fortnight. I think it would make a good series!

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.

A riddle

Today, I have a riddle for you. Take a look and see if you can figure it out.


The riddle, then, is who is “this man”?

Recently, I started out on a foray into the world of brush pens, and found myself going back to what had originally got me into lettering in the first place: copperplate. Copperplate is a kind of calligraphy that uses a thin flexible nib to create varying thickness in the letter strokes by applying pressure and spreading the tines, setting it apart from broad nib calligraphy like Gothic. Once I had bought a brush pen a few weeks ago, I found myself trying to recreate the elegance of copperplate without the hassle of having to use dip nibs and an ink well, and the messiness that goes along with it. However, I had the wrong pen, and it was terrible. Then, I bought a couple of Tombow Fudenosuke pens, and after an agonizing 2 week wait as they were shipped from Japan, they got here. I really can’t recommend them enough.

I’ve been practising with them for a week or two now, and I’m getting to grips with how they work. At the same time, I’ve been exploring using a bit of photo wizardry to transfer the lettering to sit on top of photographs, as you can see above. Regarding the riddle, seeing as it’s a family matter, I chose a photo of my father, taken by my mother. That’s not a hint though! You’ll have to figure out the answer on your own. If you’re really stuck, a quick google will tell you the answer, but it’s a fun piece of mental gymnastics to go through to figure out the answer, much like phrases such as “I couldn’t fail to disagree with you less” and those sentences with the same word over and over again that still make grammatical sense.

Take a look at the unadulterated version of the lettering below to get more of an insight into what the original looks like:

Brothers, Sisters Riddle


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