Illinois Institute of Technology (Tom Denney)

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    Art of Hand Lettering?

    By Tom Denney
    Feb 14, '05 11:49 PM EST

    I'm just curious as I sit here putting the last of the lettering and dimensioning on the latest revision of my timber frame house construction drawings...In as much as it may have been, is hand lettering a lost art? Are any of the rest of you taught it for more then a one-day, in-studio charrette? Do any of you still take pride in the fact you can take an entire 50 minute lecture in ARCH History in architectural hand-lettering because you have become so proficient at it, it's how you write?


    • DesCon

      With the recent influx of computer generated design, hand lettering is becoming a lost art; atleast, where architectural projects are concerned. Laptops and printers are all you need for lettering any more. It's a good thing for some people, because even if they had a full two week course in lettering; their lettering would still be subpar.
      I'd be pretty impressed if someone could take a 50 min. lecture in Arch History class and hand letter it all. I personally, couldn't and WOULDN'T. When I was in Arch History, our teacher went a mile a minute and I only had time to long hand write the notes and occassionally draw a diagram/quick sketch with little to no lettering at all. Maybe one with the time to do that, has an extremely boring or slow Arch History Teacher. ;)

      Feb 15, 05 10:29 am  · 

      I was taught lettering in my early internships - though never in school (except for engineering lettering, in a machine-part drafting course I once took - but that's a different style.) In my first jobs I was required to spend a portion of every morning hand-lettering passages from Graphic Standards onto sheets of ruled mylar.
      The fundamentals: your verticals should be thin and your horizontals thick. If you're working at a drafting table you should draw all your verticals with a small triangle, but freehand all the horizontals (to get the bold, slightly angled look to them.) Your closed curves (like in "O" or "Q" or "P") should be slightly angled and oval-shaped. Your open curves (as in "U") should be more vertical.
      You should always "back over" your starting and ending points once - but not twice, and that's tricky to get the hang of - to make them slightly darker.

      It isn't something I'd put a lot of effort into at this point. I haven't hand-lettered anything in practice since 1998, though I occasionally use my lettering skills in Christmas cards.

      Feb 15, 05 1:43 pm  · 
      vado retro

      i have excellent hand lettering skills although my penshipship is the absolute worst. i got good by writing out bob dylan lyrics. bloopox gives excellent instructions.

      Feb 15, 05 3:08 pm  · 

      I learned to hand letter in a tech graphics class as part of a two-year design program. The same program started phasing out board/hand drafting the next year and now they only teach computer-based design.

      My boss went to a big-name arch. school and is rather proud of the fact that he never learned to letter. We occasionally have need of it so I have to do it. It's usually pretty casual, though, (marking up shop drawings, adding notes, etc.), so I just use whatever fountain pen happens to be closest to my hand instead of sighing and searching for *just the right one* to make the final product look spectacular.

      Feb 15, 05 3:21 pm  · 

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