I recently purchased Shadow Type: Classic Three-Dimensional Lettering, a beautiful book by Louise Fili and Steven Heller.
A stunning collection of type specimins from the 1800s to the mid-1900s, I’ve have had my eye on this book for quite some time. I hope to do a post on the book in more detail very soon. As luck would have it, I happened to stumble across a Skillshare class (Digital Lettering: Designing 3D Type and Texture ) by Jeff Rogers, one of my favourite letterers, around the same time I purchased the book. Jeff Rogers works with both traditional and digital materials, but most of his work has a hand-crafted quality about it, with lots of texture, and much of his work uses three-dimension type.
In this digital lettering class, Jeff takes us though his digital process using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I thought it was a great chance to keep practicing my Illustrator skills and learn some new Photoshop skills, whilst at the same time working on a something that I absolutely love, lettering.
As is the case with most software-heavy classes I take on Skillshare, I spent a lot of time trying to problem solve. Perhaps my settings are slightly different, or the tutor is using a different version of the software, or, more often than not, it’s just they’ve skipped mentioning or explaining a step for newbies like myself. I didn’t think too much about the composition of this piece, or the type itself for that matter. My aim was purely to learn the skills so that I can create a lettering piece at a later date.
Essentially, the process involved typing the phrase in Illustrator and making it Three-dimensional using the blend tool and then taking it into Photoshop and adding colour and texture. Having done the piece, I feel I have a greater (albeit still minuscule) understanding of Photoshop.
Looking at the piece with fresh eyes, I can see that even though I skewed the image correctly, the X looks thinner than I would like (perhaps some cheating is required) and some of the shading is too dark/black. That said, I’m quite pleased with the overall piece, especially the colours. I’ve mentioned before that I’m always afraid of messing up when it comes to colour. But I was quite pleased that I was able to translate a colour palette that I wanted to use and it worked, rather than not being able to get the colours in a palette to work well together and so just choosing them as I go or taking most of the colour out completely.
Here is the finished piece:
I am looking forward to using these techniques in future lettering projects, and looking more at the work of Jeff Rogers and why it inspires me so. I am also looking at as many images of traditional signs as I can find.
Improving my software skills is incredibly time-consuming (this project took the most part of a day), and sometimes I wonder how I’m ever going to remember everything. It also seems to remind me of even more things I need to learn. Something I hope will eventually sink in is the different options available to me when I come to work on something, and the different capabilities and limitations of each program, as at the moment they are all kind of a blur.
In addition, this piece made me think about shadows and light-sources, about digital 3D lettering – I found some wonderful tutorials that use Cinema 4D (which, sadly, I can’t use, because the graphics card on my mac just doesn’t cut it)- and about just how much I have to learn about letterforms.