Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Review - Creative Lettering and Beyond

I was very curious to try out some modern calligraphy after seeing some of Sara's beautiful posts on Instagram.I used some birthday money (a few months back) to order the Pentel Fude Touch Sign pen that she mentions, and I love that thing! I use it everyday now and you can see my to-do lists have gotten ridiculously ornate. I wanted to get a book too, and looked at one she recommended, but ended up ordering Creative Lettering and Beyond .

Creative Lettering and Beyond (review)

In person the book is much prettier than the Amazon picture. It is printed with the look of  handmade-paper and has some lovely feather illustrations that are carried throughout the book. It was much taller than I'd imagined (though I guess that could be a good or bad thing), and the weight of the paper and overall printing make the book feel well made.

CLaB review - feather deco

The book is broken into four sections, each authored by a different artist. First you have "Modern Calligraphy", then "Illustrated Lettering", "Chalk Lettering", and "Lettering Crafts". I think this book would be best suited for someone who is interested in trying out some kind of decorative lettering, but is not sure which type they might like (though with that goal in mind, I'd love to see some fonts that you make with an Italic nib mixed in, like Old English and Celtic). If I had realized the book was broken up like this from the beginning I might not have bought it.

Obviously the section I was most interested in was the modern calligraphy. I have done calligraphy in the past, but never tried brush lettering, and was eager to see some tips on creating the irregular text that's so popular lately. Unfortunately the section just covered the basics ~ supplies, pressing hard as you go down & light on the way up, and lots of stroke practice pages that I would never use. The lettering was not really the style I was looking for (just normal Script, very regular), and once I got to the section on flourishes, I realized I really did not like this artists style. The flourishes are all over the place & don't really feel like they flow naturally.

CLaB review - flourishes

Here is another example where she showed how you can flourish the same letter many different ways. I don't particularly like any of them ~ 

CLaB review - S samples

The best section of the book was the "Illustrated Lettering". She showed how to mimic the look of brush lettering by drawing in the thick lines, suggestions for some fun layouts, taking a photo of your work to convert it to a digital format, and lots of projects (like lettering on an old window or a plate). This section really is loaded with projects, while oddly enough the last section of the book ("Lettering Crafts") only has three? My only complaint with this artist is that she shows many types of lettering, but doesn't really give any guidelines for how to create the styles, the rules of the fonts, or sample alphabets. She gives lots of ideas, but you are expected to provide all of the decorative lettering. I would have loved to see this section expanded into a whole book, with guides for creating different alphabets at the start, and then it would be a good choice for beginning and advanced typographers.

Likewise, the "Chalk Lettering" section features many samples of the artist's work and some nice in-progress shots that show how the artist goes from the rough layout sketch to adding more & more details. That is about all it shows though, and you don't get any tips on how to actually create different letter styles.

While the beginning section is very basic, assuming you know nothing about brush lettering or calligraphy, the next two sections are almost too advanced, assuming the reader knows to to create a large variety of fonts already. While the book looks nice, is well made, and has some fun ideas mixed in, it is hard to figure out what audience they were aiming for. It felt more like a glimpse at several different types of lettering without a lot of information, and I would recommend it as a library-check-out rather than a reference book you're going to want to keep on your shelf.

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