Ampersand three ways & Process
Exploring one word—Ampersand—with three very different lettering
styles and a deeper look into my process from start to finish.
Beginning by Hand
I started by drafting some fairly rough ideas in my sketchbook. From this, 3 distinct directions started to form and I decided to explore all three. On the first draft, I try to let myself play and explore potential terminals, ligatures and shapes without analysing as I go. I find too much erasing and redrawing at this stage can lose the original essence of the lettering.
As shown above, each sketch has notes I've made to myself to reshape, enlarge, add/remove space and change whole areas completely. These one word instructions remind me exactly what I need to do next. Some notes are as simple as arrows indicating spacing—where to insert some extra breathing room and where to take some out. Sometimes that's all I need.
Solution one — 'italian hand' script
Lettering at its most playful
The style of Italian Hand script has one rule. Visual Balance. The loose constraints of this style make it one of the most fun to experiment with—in terms of letter shape, proportion, ligatures and letter weight/balance.
In this second draft I implemented the changes I wrote in the notes of my first sketch. You'll see the 'p' and 'n' have swapped bowl shapes, the 'A'
has been enlarged, the 'm' has been reworked and the flourishing has been refined (and more). I coloured the lettering as dark as I did for two reasons. One, so that I had a better sense of positive and negative space to more easily see if further adjustments were needed. Secondly, so that I could use the tasty pencil texture as a feature in the final artwork.
solution two — monoline script
Refined & nowhere to hide
Monoline is characterised by its consistency in weight, i.e. there are no thick and thins as seen in most other scripts. To me, it is one of the most beautiful and difficult styles of lettering to hand draw—simply due to the optical challenge of drawing a uniform stroke width across an entire word.
When refined and done well, Monoline script is endlessly elegant and very visually pleasing. The notes I gave myself on the sketch for this piece all related to spacing. The seemingly simple style shows poor spacing, letter shape and errors in slope a mile away. There really is nowhere to hide!
solution three — groovy block letters
Layer by Layer
This dimensional block is a style I've been playing with lately—drawn purely from my own imagination and with my own 'rules'. I aimed for each letter to be as blocky as possible, tight lettering spacing and tiny counters. Adding shadows really took this lettering to the next level.
Once I addressed the changes I noted in my first sketch (mostly spacing and proportion tweaks), I drew the shadows and simple ornamental embellishments on a separate layer. This was so that once I scanned the lettering, I could colour each layer separately to highlight the 3D effect.