Fairground

We were very privileged to be asked along for a sign writing session a couple of weeks ago with the costume and performance design department at the Arts University Bournemouth.

We were working with scenic painting students to create vintage fairground props for a production of “Oh, What A Lovely War”, undertaking most of the lettering ourselves but also instructing and getting the students involved in some of the basic techniques of hand painted lettering.

I worked on hand-drawn designs and pounce patterns prior to the session. We had limited time so we wanted to get started with the students on pouncing and painting the lettering.

Once we had finished the lettering, the students were applying a crackle glaze over the top of the props in order to give an aged, weathered effect.

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Convex

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Here’s something I’ve been meaning to try for some time now – convex lettering, the effect of curving or extending outwards.

For these techniques I thought I’d practice on a new kit box I picked up second hand a year ago. Since then I’ve been giving it a few coats of varnish and getting it ready for some tasty decorative lettering.

Light and shading effects are one of the strongest tools in a signwriters’ repertoire – quite often very simple decorative techniques which, when utilised correctly, can elevate and enhance lettering into something extraordinary. On a functional level, this perhaps isn’t as necessary in the current climate as trends in branding and contemporary typography have drifted towards the minimal, with the majority of our recent hand-painted work involving simple one-colour logo designs with bold, flat lettering and featuring very little in the way of flourishes or elaboration of any description.

While this is good, and I’ll admit to being an advocate of simplicity in design, there are few things as pleasing to the eye as well executed ornamental lettering.

So far my learning has followed what I imagine to be a fairly predictable trajectory – once moderately confident with painting basic letters you try experimenting with simple drop shadows, before progressing onto block or cast shadows, then introducing some lighting effects onto the letters, and so on….

Convex lettering manages to incorporate many of these techniques, light and shade, into one impressive whole, producing the effect of a solid, three dimensional text which, when embellished  with further shading treatments, can give the impression that the text is standing off or elevated above the surface of the sign.

When analysed this isn’t necessarily a complicated procedure, but it takes thought and deliberation, especially with the use of colour. I experienced a few issues while attempting to achieve the different pink tones on the letters – too subtle and you don’t achieve any distinction between the different surfaces of the letters; too strong and you get a patchwork effect which distracts and can strip the lettering of its clarity.

How To Remain Distressed

Flowers By BryanThis is a job that I’ve been meaning to post about for some time.  A couple of years ago a client contacted us regarding some hand-painted work on a Volkswagen Camper.

He had bought the vehicle and had it shipped over from the United States where it had been discovered, abandoned in the Hollywood hills – a discarded relic from the sixties with a psychedelic paint job!

Upon bringing the van to the UK, our client proceeded to strip back the paint and began to unearth the vehicles’ previous purpose – that of a florists delivery van.

Although the previous lettering was very vague, the client managed to piece together a rough outline of the florist logo and information. He then came to us with a series of sketchings, to attempt to re-paint the original signwriting back onto the camper van.

This is how it came out.

Flowers By Brian 01The customer was keen to retain the look of the van and wanted the new paint work to have a distressed finish. Vaughan had to thin the paints down so they didn’t look like they had been applied recently, and also had to purposefully scuff areas of the lettering to create a weathered, paint-peeling look.