Draw Your Words: Block Letters, Etc.

In this section of the workshop, we're going to do exercises to get you in the groove of seeing letters as not just LETTERS but as SHAPES. Take these ideas and run with them, play with them, and try them with different pens. I draw a lot of letters... variations of individual letters, alphabets, doodles and patterns. These are great practice for building line-drawing skills and getting familiar with what each of your pens can {and cannot} do. 

Assignment #1: Negative Space

Draw horizontal and vertical lines on your paper to make a grid, with boxes of any size you wish. You might start with 1/2” spacing so that each box is about 1/2x1/2” square. I like to make the little boxes a bit upright.

When you look at these boxes, see them as houses for letters. One letter will go in each box. You are going to draw lines to make the boxes into letters. Draw the reverse of the letters so that what is left in the box is the letter itself. You might have to squint to see the shapes of the letters. Imagine your letters as puffy cookie dough or boards of wood. 

Draw lines and shapes inside the boxes so that the remaining white space, the negative space, is the letter. Try different methods of creating the shape of the letter.

Make each box into one letter. Work through both upper case letters A-Z and lower case letters a-z. Some letters, like o or z or c are inherently the same in upper and lower case, although the size might change. Some letters are completely different, such as A/a and H/h. There are letters with variations, such as “a’ or “a” and so you can do the typical variations or just pick one. So you’ll work through 26 upper case and 26 lower case letters. Then work through numbers 0-9. That’s a grand total of 62 letters! That is your homework assignment for this week. 

Assignment #2: Block Letters

Practice drawing each letter of the alphabet in block letters at least twice... with inspiration from the video. For variations, try making your block letters tall and narrow, big and wide, puffy, rounded, etc. 

Creative Insight of the Day:

An interview of font designer Carlos Fabián at MyFonts includes a description of his early process that reminds me of the crazy stuff we do in our art journals.** "When I was 19 I wanted to imitate the letters and effects made by the Romanian Dada artist Tristan Tzara. I used ink, paper, scissors, glue, copier, scanner and a Power Macintosh 7200 to modify different alphabets from a Mecanorma catalogue I’d found in a thrift shop in Merida. I expanded the pages to tabloid size using a photocopier. I subsequently processed those photocopies by ruining them with sandpaper, burning them, wetting them and drying them in the sun to produce various effects of distress and destruction. I generated striking experimental fonts by redrawing those alphabets and mixing them using ink and scissors, and gluing them together with other, speedball-drawn letters. My love for these alphabets was a bit like someone who wants to make music but does not have a clue how to and can’t explain why or for what. So as I didn’t understand what I was doing, my intuitive solution was to use my scarce resources to express myself."

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