July 17, 2006

The Joy of Text

Being kind of textually fixated these days, I thought I’d share some good type-related resources I’ve encountered lately:

  • Russell Brown has created a video that demonstrates the 12 Photoshop text tips I posted earlier (plus four more).
  • Veerle shows off how to create some handsome lettering effects using Illustrator art brushes & the dark, mysterious Appearance palette.
  • The Playground showcases various artists creating complete, downloadable letter sets using everything from banana peels to world leaders to… well, you’ll see. [Via]
  • Erik Spiekermann, author (among many other things) of the classic handbook Stop Stealing Sheep, gives PingMag an interesting interview, covering everything from the creation of corporate typefaces to the development of a new screen font for Nokia. Erik has also started his own blog.
  • Design Melt Down surveys cool typography on the Web, while IHT charts the creation and rise of Georgia.
  • CreativePro.com offers for a variety of tips for finding & previewing fonts online, converting fonts to OpenType, previewing Web fonts, and more.
  • Emigre’s Typetease lets you set whatever characters you’d like using their online catalog–everything from the chunky O Brother, Where Art Thou face to the piratical Sabbath Black.
  • Chank Diesel makes all kinds of good fonts, including numerous cool free ones. (Dig Newcastle!)
  • DAIRY is a font of sorts–just one that spells out your text using milk crates.
  • Is there really a Cyrillic “Ж” in the Declaration of Independence? Apparently so. (Why doesn’t English a character half so badass?)
  • In For All Seasons, Andreas Müller sets type in beautiful motion. (Don’t let the need to download the file put you off; the full-screen effect works nicely.)
  • House Industries makes a font comprised of trendy silhouettes. (See also silhouettes from Tech Vector.)
  • [Updates: Colin Smith demonstrates how to make Superman-ly text in Photoshop, and Todd Dominey points out the very cool Cargo stencil font.]
11:36 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

Great lettering & happy accidents, inside Illustrator & out

Not long ago I came across the excellent hand lettering of Fiodor Sumkin. I love the intricacy with which he fits characters and shading to various shapes. [Via]
In particular, his drawing of these hands got me thinking about the enveloping functions in Illustrator. Click this image for a quick overview of how to fit type to shapes:
Text warping tutorial
Using these techniques, I set out to emulate Sumkin’s work. First I traced the outline of one of his hands in Illustrator, then blocked out a number of regions. The Pencil tool works well for this, as does a Wacom tablet. The result was a skeleton for the next steps:
Then, needing to turn each region into a solid object, I copied and pasted all the paths into Flash, broke things apart, and then used the paint bucket to block them in. I probably could have used the Illustrator Pathfinder tools and/or the new Live Paint features, but old habits die hard, and I knew I could get what I needed from Flash:
Colored in Flash

At that point I copied and pasted everything back into Illustrator, then picked a font that seemed likely to fill the shapes nicely–in this case Adobe’s 60’s-style Mojo. Using the text “Word Hypnotize” and the enveloping technique described above, I got… this (click for a larger version):
Hmmph–it’s nothing like Sumkin’s lettering, and were I to try harder to emulate it, I think I’d fit each chunk of text to an envelope mesh, then use the various mesh, path, and warp tools to deform it as necessary. But you know, I kind of like the sinuous, abstract quality that resulted–a bit as if Slim Goodbody dipped his hand in an inkwell.
So, there’s my little happy accident o’ the day. Software generally makes it pretty easy to repeat the same steps over and over, so I’m glad to experience a little serendipity & creative destruction now and then.
By the way, Sumkin’s lettering reminds me a touch of Marta Monteiro’s, and for more cool lettering, you might check out Rodney White (overview/gallery). Oh, and tangentially related (at best): the look of the hand I made slightly reminds me of WWI-era Cubist ship camouflage. [Via]

8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]
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