Sunday 5 October 2014

Doin' It By Hand

This is my first attempt at hand lettering, which, if you've read my previous posts, you know I've been avoiding for two reasons 1) my everyday writing is hard to read and 2) I'm a terribell spellr, but I think it worked out pretty well.  I'm still not sure I'd hand letter an entire story, but at least I know I can do it successfully.

I included the original text for the book title on the far right of the image so you can see how I did the lettering on the book.  I wrote out the title, then in Photoshop tilted it and skewed it that so that it conformed to the shape of the book's front cover and spine.  I decided to put the title on the book's spine to ensure the reader could read it.

Apart from the lettering, the other thing I wanted to mention is the crud and flecks of stuff on the table surface.  This wasn't planned, but just put in and once done I could see how important that little bit of stuff is in helping to define the ground plane and separate it from the empty background.


  1. Good looking, funny cartoon!

    I think your lettering on the book cover is perfect and exactly the effect you were looking for. It looks hand done but also credible as a book cover. Perfect! Your lettering in the dialogue, though, still maybe needs a bit of work. It's not quite professional.

    Probably all you need to do is to decide that this is your style and then keep doing it another thousand times and it'll be comfortable and look polished.

    Otherwise, there are a pile of comic book fonts (modelled after the styles of old time comics hand letterers) and they're very good.

    But the BIG DEAL about this cartoon of yours is the drawing itself. It's excellent! The way you've posed two plants to have human posture and emotion is absolutely amazing. Forget about picky details like lettering when you can draw like this!

  2. By the way, your title for this piece sounds dirty.

  3. Quiet you!

    But about the lettering and doing it again and again 'till I get a style I like and works for most character's dialogue, I think Dan Piraro ( has it totally nailed.

    There was a great graphic novel put out a few years ago called "Asterios Polyp" by David Mazzucchelli (I think he's hogging double consonants with that name!!) in which each character had a distinct hand lettered font. It looked great and really helped the reader to "hear" each person's own voice and to get to know that character better. Now that's something to aspire toward.

  4. I will not be silenced!

    I bet that Mazzucchelli's letterer used computer fonts. I bet!

    And, by the way, I'd say that Dan Piraro is one of the all-time greats.

  5. That Mazzucchelli letterer is... MAZZUCCHELLI!! He lettered it himself! And what's more?! I'm phoning him right now to tell him you said he uses computer fonts!

  6. If he doesn't use computer fonts, he's probably the only letterer out there who doesn't. I think it's the norm now -- and no wonder! It's quick and perfect and editable!


Thanks for your input!