Exploring hand drawn type faces…

A few weeks ago I posted a question onto the OCA student forum about learning how to progress from hand drawn to digital techniques, here’s what I said:

“I’m studying Graphic Design: Core concepts 1 at the moment. I’ve submitted my first assignment and part of the feedback I received focused on me needing to learn how to combine hand based techniques with digital techniques. This is something I’m interested in but don’t really know how to go about.

For instance, at the moment it’s much easier for me to create lettering by hand. When I design something by hand it looks much more coherent, even much more engaging than if I try doing it all in a program like In Design or Illustrator. Does anyone have any tips for learning how to use these programs to enhance hand rendered techniques?”

I got some surprising replies, a few of which I’ve used to help me learn more. One person in particular encouraged me to pursue hand drawn type and gave some tips for improving hand drawn lettering, which I’m taking on board and doing. Here’s what she said:

“I would suggest printing off a variety of typefaces- a whole alphabet of each, at different sizes.

Try three approaches – firstly choose a lower case letter without ascenders or descenders (such as an a, e, o, etc) draw a pair of tram lines horizontally the height and base of the letter (this is called the x height). Use these tram lines to trace out whole words and short phrases, being conscious about spacing and where to position one letter relative to another,   secondly trace over the type to create words without the tram lines and lastly do the same without tracing.

At each stage it’s good to be aware of the shapes of the letters and how they connect and the spaces between the words. At the last stage allow yourself to distort if you want to- make the letters unique and have personality by varying the line weight, allowing some bits to wobble, or choosing a media to work with which make an interesting line- pens, pencils, felt tips….be experimental- it’s all good for the learning log!

Collecting examples of captions and type that you enjoy and copying them freehand using different materials and maybe at a different scale than they were originally printed will help you to develop a confidence with hand drawing type and a freedom in making your own.”

I began to trace over two different type faces last week, although I’ve re-read what was recommended and I’ve managed to do it slightly differently. I didn’t use tram lines, and instead of print off different sizes of the fonts I’ve done them all the same size but each alphabet in: normal, bold and italic format.

Trace of Banda regular font

Trace of Banda regular font

Trace of Amatic Sc font

Trace of Amatic Sc font

I’m going to do the tram line thing and other recommendations with another font called ‘Adobe caslon pro bold’.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *