Hand Lettering Workshop 2013

  • Date & time

    1 October 2013 12PM
  • Location

    Old School New School

The first day of this year's Old School New School two day Hand Lettering Workshop commenced this week with sign writing techniques. With help from special guest lecturer and traditional signwriting officianado Lionel O'Toole, our students took up the challenge to master the signwriter's Sable brush, which unlike the pen must be held, loaded and pressured correctly for letter strokes of even and consistent width.

Under the watchful eye of Lionel, students focussed and patiently applied themselves. Lionel helped with the many issues that arose (this is what you cannot get from a book). This dedicated group of students were prepared to put in the hard yards and complete a practice sheet of lines, half lines, and diagonal lines. Once you can do this, you can do any letter form of your choice. 

Our student Brooke also throws pottery, and said that it reminds her of the same process, in that as soon as you try too hard, you lose the flow and disaster ensues via wobbly lines or collapsed pots. It really does help to try to relax yourself, and allow yourself to make a mistake or two. 

Lionel started the morning with a demonstration of the technique, and each student had the opportunity to practice painting vertically using the sign writer's mus stick. 

If you are interested in trying your hand at sign writing you need to practice for about half an hour a day, everyday and you will improve gradually over a period of months. I recommend that you go to Vipond paints in Coburg to purchase the correct brush, and here are a few tips I have compiled:

Tips on Working with Brushcript

  1. Don’t be discouraged when you first start. Your lines will be wobbly!
  2. Get a feel for the brush and the pressure you need. relax. keep working, 15 minutes a day. It takes many weeks... be patient. 
  3. Practice one full line of vertical strokes, then one full line of diagonal strokes, and so on, until practice board is full.
  4. If you find that your brush is starting to pull slower, add a few drops of thinner to the cup of paint.
  5. Repetition is the mother of skill. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. So don’t get discouraged if your brush strokes aren’t perfect the first time you try to paint!
  6. When drawing curved strokes, slightly twist brush while pulling brush stroke.
  7. Pay close attention to the amount of pressure you are applying to each stroke.
  9. Mastering these basic strokes before attempting to paint any style of lettering is helpful, but not 100% necessary.
  10. Trying to paint a letter without knowing the correct order of numbered sequences in a specific letter will distort your lettering and possibly destroy it.
Lionel departed, then after we shared a great lunch together (Loredana one of the students even brought a chocolate and banana cake thanks so much Loredana), I demonstrated an easier technique that requires less concentration using a piece of cardboard and ink. The lettering artwork of Job Wouters inspired some of the words and letters that were formed during this exercise, but any sort of letterform could have worked. Gothic lettering in particular.