Every once in a blue moon, someone will ask me what font I use for ¥P which is always terribly flattering because since strip numba one, I’ve hand-lettered the comic. You don’t have to look too closely to see that my letter forms, letter size, and word spacing are all inconsistent as hell, but thankfully, it doesn’t seem to detract from people’s enjoyment of the strip. Lettering comics is an art that takes as much practice as penciling or inking or coloring to truly master.
I’m always on the look out for lettering guides and tutorials because it’s something that I’m still learning. Fortunately, there are generous lettering experts willing to share their tips and tricks for all of us trying to learn their trade.
When Marvel started moving towards computer lettering in the early 90′s, one name kept popping up in lettering credit, Comicraft. I don’t know if they were the first, but they were certainly the most prolific. In the 90′s the cornered the lettering market at Marvel and DC. Everyone wanted them or at least look like they were lettered by them so Comicraft started selling their fonts. Just like a traditional font foundry, their prices are not cheap. But their fonts are quality and will make your lettering look professional. Almost.
You see, even though computer lettering makes consistency a worry of the past, it’s not enough to just pick a font and slap it on your artwork. It takes skill. Fortunately, Comicraft is more than willing to share its lettering knowledge. Their Balloon Tales website hosts a collection of tips and tutorials for the budding letterer. Though the last update was posted sometime in 2009, there’s a wealth of knowledge at this site that I consider must-read for anyone interested in lettering.
This series on font creation is particularly interesting. I might have to do that someday. Lettering can sometimes fatigue my hand.
In early 2000, another name kept popping up in the lettering credits, Nate Piekos. He got his big break lettering Mike Allred’s Madman. Instead of going the traditional font foundry route, Piekos offered up a number of his lettering fonts for free. He wanted to give indy creators good looking letters without having to break their budgets on high-priced fonts. He has a wide variety of free fonts which has made him the lettering darling of webcomickers (we likes free) and his pay fonts are a fraction of the cost of traditional foundry prices.
Eager to spread the love of lettering, Nate has written a number of excellent articles hosted on Blambot. He also offers tips and advice on his blog including this post of 10 mistakes that amateur letters should avoid.
This is pretty much my most favorite blog about comic creation. It updates sporadically, but it’s always a treasure trove of comic making goodies. I’ve learned a lot about brushes and inks thanks to Comic Tools.
If you are interested in learning about lettering with pens and ink rather than pixels and beziers, the lettering posts are most instructive. I’m now actually using a lightbox to give myself some guidelines so at least my letters are straight thanks to a tip from this post.
LETTERS LETTERS EVERYWHER
So there you have it, three tremendous resources for all your lettering needs. Bookmark them shits and read them always, even if the shit is years old. You’re lettering will improve by leaps and bounds.