Serifs at a Stroke

Following the advice of Quentin Crisp and A.F. Stuart, I’m getting bolder; here’s another version of my heading after I’d spent an afternoon hand-lettering the captions for my article.

In Versal Letters, as Stuart & Crisp point out in Lettering for Brush & Pen, the serifs are drawn with a single stroke, which I think works well for a sketchbook heading.

I’ve read that serifs should appear to grow naturally from rest of the letter, rather than looking like something stuck on later but my tendency to draw them with the same care that I’d take in drawing the thorns on a rose or a hawthorn can make them look fussy.

I think the single-stroke serif works just fine.

Outline Lettering

In the first version, I filled in each letter as I went along; I think that I can build up a better rhythm if I stick to outlines only first.

I’m trying to get more of a rhythm going by drawing the outline of my lettering first, then going back to fill the gaps. I noticed when I took a close look at a Georgian print recently that hand-lettered headings don’t have to be drawn with pixel-perfect precision.

As A.F. Stuart and Quentin Crisp wrote in Lettering for Brush & Pen (Frederick Warne, 1939):

“The outlining should be done boldly, and not in a painstaking manner, a certain amount of irregularity being permissible owing to the individual effect of the style.”

They were talking about medieval Versal Letters, but the same thing applies to the sketchbook headings that I’m drawing for my July Dalesman article. Hopefully the more lettering that I do, the bolder I’ll get.


Cross-hatched Headline

defence logoWith so many drawings to do, it might seem counterproductive to lavish a few hours on the title for my comic strip, which I could have added in minutes in Photoshop or Manga Studio but it helps me establish the mood of the story. I’ll probably modify it later but this will suffice to set the scene.

The inspiration for the blocky lettering comes from the Channel 4 series Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year. Their freehand, cross-hatched logo suggests the blockiness of a shed and its homespun design. I’m going for a Victorian feel in my illustrations, so why shouldn’t I try cross-hatching my lettering.

Waterton campaigning against the enclosure of Heath Common, January 1844.
Waterton campaigning against the enclosure of Heath Common, January 1844.

I was also thinking about the posters that Waterton had printed for his campaign to save the last open spaces available to the people of Wakefield.

The starting point for my title was a typeface called Superclarendon Bold, which I’ve squared up as a visual metaphor for the wall that Waterton built around his nature reserve in a heroic attempt to save it from poachers and pollution.

Waterton's signature from a letter dated 1859 (see below).
Waterton’s signature from a letter dated 1859 (see below).

We’ve discussed using a font or handlettering based on Charles Waterton’s handwriting throughout the comic but I think that would give the story an elegant period flavour, introducing a hint of Jane Austen. I’m aiming at something more robust and chunky.

scarbro 1859

Like so many of us from the West Riding of Yorkshire, Waterton liked to spend his holidays at Scarborough.