Lettering noob looking for pointers

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Justin Morken
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:12 pm

Lettering noob looking for pointers

Post by Justin Morken » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:14 am

Hi all!

I guess I'll tell you a little about myself. By day, I pay the bills as the technical arts director for a large church in my community. That makes me the all-around 'creative' guy as I attempt to build and paint sets, do lighting design, sound engineering, and some video production. My wife also runs a hand-made boutique where we sell goods from local artists and crafters as well as teach workshops and host craft fests.

I've always noticed and appreciated hand made signs. As my wife and I setup our shop, I really got into making chalkboard signs for various announcements and events. I've also been wrenching on motorcycles and wanting to do some hand painted elements there as well. I went and got myself a Mack series 10 striper and a pint of black 1-shot and have been practicing line work with that. I have some rudimentary painting skills, but sign writing seems to be a whole different world: different brushes, techniques, and paints than those I'm familiar with. I'm full of questions, but I'm hoping you'll field just a few to get me started.
  • What are the bare essential brush types and sizes to get me started? I can't find them locally and it's hard get an idea of what's what online. I'd like to be able to start painting signs similar to this in terms of size and stye.

    The more I read, the more I hear that new 1-Shot is garbage. What are you using? I've been happy with my 1-Shot black so far, but I hear some of the colors are too thin or take forever to dry. I'll end up ordering online, as local availability isn't really a factor.

    With enamels can I just mix basic RGB+BW to get new colors for now, or does this mess with the their formulas?

    Anybody know a traditional sign writer in my neck of the woods (Fargo, ND - USA)? I'm not looking for a new career, but I'd love to have a beer and pick the brain of an experienced letterhead.
I've attached a few of my doodles and I'll post more as acquire new skills and materials.

Thanks for any tips!
Attachments
486586_829128224870_1428803640_n.jpeg
Anchors Away
486586_829128224870_1428803640_n.jpeg (111.71 KiB) Viewed 3805 times
578868_829128015290_1551046337_n.jpeg
Angry Birds
578868_829128015290_1551046337_n.jpeg (118.21 KiB) Viewed 3801 times
283753_829129352610_1845417650_n.jpeg
light and tight
283753_829129352610_1845417650_n.jpeg (96.97 KiB) Viewed 3801 times
268747_829934444200_1599536838_n.jpeg
Sidewalk Sign
268747_829934444200_1599536838_n.jpeg (95.66 KiB) Viewed 3810 times
422249_824811670280_271359959_n.jpeg
Chalkboard Announcement
422249_824811670280_271359959_n.jpeg (92.09 KiB) Viewed 3801 times
-Justin Morken
ungluedmarket.com

Larry White
Posts: 1140
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2004 4:18 am

Re: Lettering noob looking for pointers

Post by Larry White » Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:04 pm

Hi Justin-
I've taken a liking to these, Scharff Sign Painting Brushes
Probably the most common one used for singal stroke lettering
would be the quill, I prefer the grey quills over the brown quills,
but that's just a matter of personal preference. There are also
liners and stripers for various other work. They also have a large
selection of brushes for waterbased media. They give a brief
description of their use.
Wrights of Lymm also has a large selection of signwriting brushes
Letterhead Sign Supply is another good source of supplies.

As for paint, OneShot is still the most popular. Mixing OneShot
colors is questionable in trying to achieve a nice clean color.
You're best to get the set of 1/4 pint cans, then you'll have a
wide variety of colors to choose from.

As for hands on instruction, try attending a Letterhead Meet.
Letterville keeps a running list of the Upcoming Meets
Also, Pierre Tardif has offered some handlettering classes in the past,
you could contact him and see what's up...he's up in Canada.

Hope that helps...
Larry White
That's enough for now... it's gettin' late
Town Of Machine
http://www.walljewelry.com

Mark Macomber
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:09 am
Location: Texas Gulf Coast
Contact:

Re: Lettering noob looking for pointers

Post by Mark Macomber » Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:46 am

Larry White wrote:Hi Justin-
I've taken a liking to these, Scharff Sign Painting Brushes
Probably the most common one used for singal stroke lettering
would be the quill, I prefer the grey quills over the brown quills,
but that's just a matter of personal preference. There are also
liners and stripers for various other work. They also have a large
selection of brushes for waterbased media. They give a brief
description of their use.
Wrights of Lymm also has a large selection of signwriting brushes
Letterhead Sign Supply is another good source of supplies.

As for paint, OneShot is still the most popular. Mixing OneShot
colors is questionable in trying to achieve a nice clean color.
You're best to get the set of 1/4 pint cans, then you'll have a
wide variety of colors to choose from.

As for hands on instruction, try attending a Letterhead Meet.
Letterville keeps a running list of the Upcoming Meets
Also, Pierre Tardif has offered some handlettering classes in the past,
you could contact him and see what's up...he's up in Canada.

Hope that helps...
Larry's absolutely right; Scharff is the standard, albeit there is a big difference in the gray vs brown quills. I use gray hair for general, fast lettering, but when it comes to glass or translucent materials, brown hair lays a much smoother layer of paint (try it and you'll see the difference). As far as 1 shot, it's been #1 in my arsenal for 25 years. I buy pints of all the standard colors and the small cans of mixing colors. Back in the day, you could only thin 1 Shot with turpentine (which still works best), until the early 90's when they were forced to change it's mixture to meet EPA n or something like that. Also, if you are working in the heat (like me here in S. Texas) 1 Shot accepts lindseed oil very well and will help you with your strokes have less drag, and will still dry to a high gloss finish (dries alot slower though)
Ronan is the only background paint I use; it is very opaque and dries very fast.
Finally, if you are seeking help in learning hand lettering, practice is the best medicine. I can tell you the best excercise is the old "newspaper ad" method. You can google it... it's worth the effort. I ahd some formal training, but hands on is the best learning tool.

Emily Armstrong
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:40 pm

Re: Lettering noob looking for pointers

Post by Emily Armstrong » Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:46 pm

I was really glad to find this thread! I too am a noob looking for pointers. I'm currently apprenticing with a sign painter, but he does more with printing & tracing fonts, and I'm (as looking on this forum implies) hoping to get more practice in hand lettering.

Links to the old Sign Painting / Sho' Card making books were really fantastic.

The only problem I'm having is -- Mark, you've mentioned a "newspaper ad" method. I've been trying desperately to google this but to no avail. Is there more pointed language that will bring up the exercise you're recommending?

Lee Littlewood
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2004 2:36 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Contact:

Re: Lettering noob looking for pointers

Post by Lee Littlewood » Mon Aug 27, 2012 1:54 am

i think Mark is referring to an old fashioned method of disseminating information which used black ink impressed on a cheap paper for illustrating the value of the stock market.

What you do (if you have a newspaper anymore) is take the stock market or advertising section (Wall Street Journal used to be great for this) and turn it sideways, so the columns of type make (sort of) lined paper. Now you can letter on this, trying to keep inside the "lines" and feeling how the brush works. Straight up&down strokes, diagonal strokes, curved strokes - when you feel frisky you can try circles and squares!
The problem is that paper is really different from the slick surfaces that most signs are painted on. In fact it is way more absorbent than shocard, so it isn't perfect for that either. But it is (used to be) cheap, and if you work with red sables and tempera paint you can do your practice indoors without fumes.

The Best Thing is to see someone else work, and feel the drag of properly mixed paint, and look at how they hold the brush (and mahlstick, if any), and and and. I think Bill Stewart's "Signwork" [http://www.alibris.com/booksearch?qwork ... RHS-_-p1-0] is the best how-to book available, since it was written as a textbook (a British textbook, so some of the terms are wonky to us Yanks). But watching a Real Person is way the best, and a Letterhead meet is where you go to see so-called Real Persons with brushes in their hands.
where am i? Now, when i need me...

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