Thursday, April 2, 2015

Seb Lester's Lettering Tools

The video begins: "My name is Seb Lester. I'm a designer and artist based in the U.K. The focus of all of my work is letterforms." (Link to video)

 

Seb Lester's calligraphy is best known from a series of videos showing a wide range of calligraphy styles.


A freehand demo of some familiar corporate logos recently went viral. (Link to Video)
On his Facebook page, Mr. Lester has generously shared a detailed description of his lettering tools:

"In terms of broad edge tools, necessary for Gothic and Italic styles of calligraphy, Pilot Parallel Pens are good tools for beginners. These are the pens I have been using for the clips that have recently gone viral on social media and websites like Design Taxi and Buzzfeed. ‘Manuscript’ brand calligraphy fountain pens are widely available and practical beginners tools. As you advance you will probably want to start using traditional metal calligraphy nibs made by established manufacturers like Brause and Mitchell and also Automatic Pens. They can be a bit more difficult to handle but can help achieve finer, crisper results."
'How To Get Started in Calligraphy 

Many hundreds of people have been asking me questions about what pens I use and how to get started in Calligraphy over the last few days. This seems like the perfect time and place to help promote the practice and appreciation of this beautiful, ancient art form. Calligraphy has been created with a wide variety of tools over the past 2,000 years or so in the West. This article describes some of them.

In terms of broad edge tools, necessary for Gothic and Italic styles of calligraphy, Pilot Parallel Pens are good tools for beginners. These are the pens I have been using for the clips that have recently gone viral on social media and websites like Design Taxi and Buzzfeed. ‘Manuscript’ brand calligraphy fountain pens are widely available and practical beginners tools. As you advance you will probably want to start using traditional metal calligraphy nibs made by established manufacturers like Brause and Mitchell and also Automatic Pens. They can be a bit more difficult to handle but can help achieve finer, crisper results.

For pointed pen calligraphy, characterised by graceful curves and strong contrasts in line width, I would recommend trying Nikko G nibs. You can use these in either a traditional or an oblique pen holder, it is a matter of personal preference. Iron Gall ink is best for this type of calligraphy. Walker’s Copperplate Ink and McCaffrey’s Ink get good results for me.

Paper is always an important consideration. The paper I often use with Pilot Parallel Pens is Daler Rowney Smooth Cartridge Paper, but any smooth cartridge paper should be fine. When I’m working on roughs for any type of calligraphy I often use layout paper and marker pads. In terms of sketch pads a lot of calligraphers like the Rhodia and Claire Fontaine brands as the paper doesn’t bleed very easily. As with everything the key is to experiment, paper with more texture can produce interesting results too.

In terms of books for inspiration I can recommend ‘Scribe: Artist of the Written Word’ by John Stevens, a true modern master. For instruction I would also suggest ‘Foundations of Calligraphy’ by the brilliant Sheila Waters. ‘Calligraphy’ by Gaye Godfrey-Nicholls was published last year, a good book for beginners. Any of ‘The Speedball Textbook’ series are also inexpensive sources of instruction and inspiration.

The key to producing beautiful calligraphy is perseverance. Progress comes through focused and sustained study and practice. You will only persevere if you enjoy what you’re doing. For this reason I’d personally suggest starting with a calligraphy style you particularly like the look of. When you have a reasonable grasp of that style you will notice many of the skills are transferable to other styles.

I feel so lucky to have found what Hermann Zapf described as “this peaceful and noble art”. My working process as a designer and artist has evolved into a hybrid style blending my knowledge of both traditional and digital tools. There are some things that computers can't do and vice versa, so I think this is a great way to work. I have a broader palette of tools at my disposal than ever before and I find this very beneficial. I feel I am becoming a better artist and designer every day, which makes me very happy. So if you want to try calligraphy just have fun. Don’t be discouraged by early failures, there will be many of those. However, I can say with lots of personal experience that success is built on failure.

Some recommended tools from the attached image. These tools reflect my personal taste and are not a definitive list. Other calligraphers would most likely recommend other tools. From top to bottom: Pilot Parallel Pen, Pentel Colour Brush, Kuretake No. 13 Fountain Brush Pen, Manuscript Italic Fountain Pen, Nikko G Nib with oblique pen holder, Automatic Pen, Copic Wide Marker, Ruling Pen.'
Top to bottom: Pilot Parallel PenPentel Colour BrushKuretake Fountain Brush PenManuscript Italic Fountain PenNikko G-Pen with oblique pen holder, Automatic PensCopic Wide MarkerRuling Pen.
"For pointed pen calligraphy, characterised by graceful curves and strong contrasts in line width, I would recommend trying Nikko G-Pen nibs. You can use these in either a traditional or an oblique pen holder, it is a matter of personal preference. Iron Gall ink is best for this type of calligraphy. Walker’s Copperplate Ink and McCaffrey’s Ink get good results for me."

"Paper is always an important consideration. The paper I often use with Pilot Parallel Pens is Daler Rowney Smooth Cartridge Paper, but any smooth cartridge paper should be fine. When I’m working on roughs for any type of calligraphy I often use layout paper and marker pads. In terms of sketch pads a lot of calligraphers like the Rhodia and Clairefontaine brands as the paper doesn’t bleed very easily. As with everything the key is to experiment, paper with more texture can produce interesting results too."

"In terms of books for inspiration I can recommend ‘Scribe: Artist of the Written Word’ by John Stevens, a true modern master. For instruction I would also suggest ‘Foundations of Calligraphy’ by the brilliant Sheila Waters. ‘Calligraphy’ by Gaye Godfrey-Nicholls was published last year, a good book for beginners. Any of ‘Speedball Textbook’ series are also inexpensive sources of instruction and inspiration."

"The key to producing beautiful calligraphy is perseverance. Progress comes through focused and sustained study and practice. You will only persevere if you enjoy what you’re doing. For this reason I’d personally suggest starting with a calligraphy style you particularly like the look of. When you have a reasonable grasp of that style you will notice many of the skills are transferable to other styles."
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3 comments:

Jennifer Branch said...

With the plethora of computer fonts readily available it's become very obvious beautiful lettering is not printed out but drawn by an artist. I love seeing his tools as well as his gorgeous work! Thanks!

Steve said...

In watching the second video of logos, I felt for the first time the letter "O" in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings was probably meant to invoke the round door of a hobbit house. In both titles, the "O" is treated differently than the other letters, it is does not reach as high. Though I've seen those titles dozens of times, there was something about watching the letters being constructed one at a time that made the design decisions more apparent than when the finished logo is seen in one glance.

The two posters in the first video brought to mind the handwork of David Smith in his labor-intensive album cover art for John Mayer's Born and Raised: https://vimeo.com/60647216

Roberto Quintana said...

Bravo! Bravo! This guy is amazing! When it comes to choosing up sides, I want him on my team! -RQ