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  • Lettering Basics

    Basics To Lettering
    Didja miss your old friend Chrispy's sound advice? I've been hearing alot about freehanding things nowadays, and while I can't come over and zap my knowledge of drawing into your skull since it's an ability few are gifted with naturally and can only get better at with practice, I CAN teach you's the fine art of lettering.
    Lettering can be used almost anywhere, banners, armor, swords, snotlings.. whatever. So I'm just going to give you the basics of lettering, and NOT go into depth about it, which means I will not give detailed instructions of Calligraphy.. there is a whole section devoted to that in any art store rife with pens, inks, papper that does this but not that and so on. So to begin with, let's see the basic styles of lettering:

    Now, lemme 'xplain what all these are:
    Sans Serif: Sans Serif is a style where there is no Serif. Redundant , yes? Especially when you may not know what a serif is.. A Serif is those little lines on the ends of some letters, take a look at New Roman and compare, See? Little lines, making the text a little more eloquent looking.. Sans Serif is the base of every other style as it is no frills..
    Bold:Bold is just that, bold. The lines making the letter are bigger and can be seen even in smaller sizes because it stands out so much. People are also naturally inclinde to read it, thinking it's important. Such things as Warning and Danger are in bold to be seen better.
    New Roman: A paradox in type, yes? I couldn't find a good Old roman font, but I'll show you the difference in a bit.. Roman Styles are based off of the old Roman lettering on buildings and ruins. This stlye is widely used to make things look authoritive, from office buildings to certificates. As you can see, the serifs on New Roman are straight and so is the "o". In old Roman Days, you had to chisel the letters into stone and most of the time trying to do tiny perfect straight lines and a perfect circle can be frustrating, so they cheated and they used a slight arch on serifs, and two strokes made a circle. Here you see old on top, new on botom:

    The obvious uses for Roman styles include roman buildings and Imperium stuff. Notice: True Romans did not use spaces, Latin does not require it because you can tell one word from another by the complex endings..
    Calligraphic: This style is made to look like it was handwriten by using a flat nub on a pen at a 45 degree angle. This is useful for anything that doesn't need to be too pronounced, squggly parallel lines work for most...
    Black Text: Also know as "Old German" this style encompases all text that look like the were around a little bit befor Guttenburgh. Empire soldiers and old English things could always use something like this, not to mention any knight.
    Narrow: Not so much a style it's own, it's also called condensed, which are usually very small in width when compared to the height of the letter.
    Expanded: The exact opposite of narrow, expanded looks fat, usually these two are used to change the outlook of something because Sans Serif gets too boring..
    Italics: Italic is a sytle that can be used on almost anyfont, but it is considered a style itself, it has the letters slightly on a slant in either direction, usually to the right (because that's how people read, get the subconcous trick to make you read it?) It is called Italics because it orignated in Italy, but I don't know why.. wine list, mebbe....
    Formal/Informal: Formal text looks like it was well thought out, usually it appears on invitations and such because of the importance. Formal always has consistancy in letters and spaces.Informal, however is what looks like a pirate scratched down to tell you where the booty is (treasure, people, treasure,, man, you have dirty minds :P) Again, Formal/Informal is not so much a style as it is a way of doing Calligraphic..
    Decorative: This might be the one you use most, Decorative is not the speific style show, but it is a creative change to lettering that can take many forms. Use bones for the letters, make the letters animal like, it's all decorative....
    Block Serif: Here we come to the Yin of the Sans Serif Yang... Block or Square serifs are like the bold style because they can be seen from far away but Block Serif is usually all straight, making them more prnouced.. Stop signs and college football jerseies are Block Serif to be seen at maximum range...
    Lines, lines, everywhere the lines...
    Now that we've been over the basic styles, it's time to figure out how to make these things that perplex many. The key to lettering perfectly is to make either some real or imaginary lines that will have various things to do with them. There are four lines, show here:

    As you can see, the top line is called the Cap line, that's where all your upper case letters will reach, upper case letters are also capitals, cap is slang for capital, get it?. And interesting tidbit about capital letters here, they're also called upper case letters because when movable type began, they kept the capitals in the top most case, hence upper case letters.. Next is the body line. This is around where the middle of capital letters should be, like the mid line on the A or E, this line is also where the lower case letters stop go up to, never above, never below. The Base line is just that, a base.. this is where all letters begin, wheter upper or lower case. The bottom most line is imporant as the cap line is.. it is the drop line. Any letters that go below the base line drop to here, such as g,p,q... is you do not make this when you're doing a multiple line text, the capitals will get messed up by this, meshing the to togther. These lines must always be parallel to each other, though (like in the example above) they do not have to be of equal distance to each other, in fact different lines will make a different style on it's own even if the techniques are the same.. Here we see that you can use these lines in sunch with each other to make the text warp to something different:

    The top one can be used on something to make it look like a banner, this is found on space marine banners and things, so remember to go with the lines.. The bottom one can be bulging in or out if the middle was larger or smaller, as it is, it makes it look like it's on a round surface anyways...
    Next, you must know that the width of a lette is important as the hiegth of it's parts. Not all letters require the exact smae amount of space, in fact you can see from the example below the small "t" is slim when compared to the rest of the letters. If someone had not taken into account that this is so, it would look like there was too much space between it and the rest of the letters.

    Also what you can see above is the method of centering letters. The blue line represents the middle. A good way of roughly finding the middle of a peice of text is counting the number of letters, remembering to count upper case letters as two and spaces as a letter. The total for the text above would be 7, then divide it by two 7/2= 3.5. Now count 3.5 spaces in (remember, caps are 2) and you have the middle. If your letters still do not look centered, then try to measure them and find the middle. Once you find the middle of the text, align it with the middle of what you're putting it on...

    Closing remarks

    Now, some more tips on lettering:
    When lettering with a paintbrush, use the brush one stroke at a time
    When making an "S", make an x in the middle then try for a figure eight.
    Rendering text is not the same as writing, when using a micron pen or brush, do not try to go fast by thinking you know how to write. I do not doubt your ability to write. I doubt your ability for consistancy and at times liegibility...
    Now, here's the link for some good fonts for you computers as reference.. heck, if you can, print them out for banners and save time and stress on yourself.
    Elk Fonts
    Goodnight Everybody!
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