Week 7 of the “Drawn and Decorated Lettering” Class
Illumination has historically been the creation of decorated letters with gold or silver. The process stems from the Latin word illuminaire meaning “to light up”. The earliest surviving complete works date to around 400-600 CE and were most likely done by monastic scribes. A beautiful example of this type of art is the Book of Kells.
Today an illuminated letter can be decorated in myriad ways, it does not have to be gilded to be considered a part of this art form. For my examples I chose a decorated versal letter (a versal is an ornamental capital letter found in Gothic manuscripts) and a contemporary version of the same letter.
The versal M has white ink applied over the watercolor wash. I used a Pentel gel pen to apply the lines. You can use white ink and a crow quill pen if you have it. The whimsical M has a similarity to another drawing I did, I liked the mouse so much I had to include him in this one.
This is the second set in my alphabet series. The sketches were done in graphite and have a bit more realism than in the previous pair.
It is purely accidental that both animals have markings on their bodies. But, this happy coincidence did give me plenty of time to practice shading techniques so that the markings look like they they are an integral part of the animal rather than appearing to sit on top of the skin or shell.
With four drawings done and only twenty-two more to go there is plenty of time to make suggestions if you’d like me to feature your favorite animal, bird or botanical. For example, should the letter O be represented by an orchid, ostrich, or owl? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Materials: Cream toned drawing paper, Derwent and Mars Lumograph pencils in HB, B, 3B, and 6B
Week 6 of Drawn and Decorated Lettering
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This week’s class project features techniques for creating lettering inspired by the Art Deco era including how to achieve the effect of polished chrome. Art Deco letters are characterized by a very geometric look with their bold, sleek lines yet the precision of the line adds to the elegance of the letter forms rather than detracting from them.
Creating the appearance of metal using watercolor may seem challenging but the underlying premise is to paint the top portion of the letter with a soft grayed color and the bottom portion with a much darker hue. By fading the colors at the top and the bottom you can create the illusion of light reflecting off of a shiny surface. Painting a thin line of dark color along the bottom edge intensifies the effect making the bottom seem like it has a beveled edge.
I chose the word diner for my project, I wanted something that represented every day life during the Art Deco era. A shiny diner with its chrome/stainless steel accented counter and seats seemed like a prefect match. Now all I need is to paint myself a patty melt and a slice of pie and I’ll be all set.
I thought it would be fun to do a set of loose sketches, the kind that have minimal lines and shading but would still describe a scene from nature. The first one was a mouse with his tail wrapped around a mushroom stem. When I was done I noticed a nice spot that would be just right for a hand drawn letter. I had so much fun with the mouse that the next day I drew the hedgehog peeking out from under some leaves. If you are wondering where he is click the thumbnail to the right.
After I showed these to my husband he said a whole series of these would be really fun to see…what a great idea!
I have ideas for the next set which I will post as soon as they are completed. Once I work my way through the alphabet I’ll make them into a online booklet. If you have suggestions for a sketch or what letter should be next please let me know.
Materials: Cream toned drawing paper, Derwent Graphic pencils in HB and B
As someone who loves to draw botanicals I figured it was time I paid attention to the pollinators of my favorite subjects. The image gallery highlights the process I used to create the finished piece.
All of my drawings begin with a preliminary sketch. Made of rough shapes this sketch lets me figure out proportions and perspective. Once I have the subject roughed in I can see where I need to refine the drawing. At this stage I noticed that the head and abdomen needed to be elongated, they were too round. Since I drew the shapes lightly (the scan was darkened so the lines would be visible) I am able to easily make refinements before adding details. In the refined sketch details are added and overlapping lines are erased. Once I was happy with this sketch I dabbed my kneaded eraser over all of the lines to really lighten them then began to add form (again, the scan was darkened for demonstration purposes).
Honey bees have a very fuzzy head and thorax. Fuzz (like fur) can be challenging, not all the hairs go in the same direction but they do follow contours so it’s a balancing act – adding randomness for realism without forgetting the rules behind creating form. Using my HB, B, 2B, 3B, and 6B pencils I began the shading process. It took me about 2 hours to add all the layers.
Materials: Strathmore drawing paper, Derwent Graphic pencils