Over the last few days, I’ve been trying to get my head around digital lettering. At one level, this doesn’t seem like a hard topic. I mean, I’ve been dropping words on computer screens for a long, long time. But I’m really interested in figuring out what people in the comics industry are doing: what are typical workflows? Best font sizes?
To get some insights into the topic, I picked up a copy of The DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering by Mike Chiarello and Todd Klein. I must confess that I was pretty disappointed. A big part of what the book has to say about lettering is about the debate between hand-lettering versus digital lettering. And I suspect that that conversation is kinda dead. Ah, well. The book is from mid-2004: it’s interesting how quickly dated it’s become.
I’m currently on vacation. Which, y’know, is pretty awesome. I spent a coupl’a days in do-nothing mode, sitting on my couch and watching movies. Which is about all that I’m capable of when work has drained me somewhat.
But now I’m in pet-project mode: I want to focus on something interesting. My pet project has been about going digital on the cartooning stuff. None of the instructors I’ve had have been terribly positive about computer-based art. Anthony (my primary instructor during my cartooning programme at George Brown) didn’t quite poo-poo digital art, but fundamentally believed that one had to learn how to draw using traditional tools before learning digital art. He also felt that most of the computer-produced art that he’d seen was very flat and lacked expressiveness.
Ty hasn’t taught us anything related to computers — he seems to draw and ink using traditional media, but he uses tools that Anthony would have turned his nose up at (markers! Pen brushes! Oh noes!) Ty also seemed to think that it was pointless to learn hand-lettering because nobody hand-letters these days. (I notice that Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? seems computer-lettered, whereas Fun Home looked hand-lettered). And Ty’s Bun Toons often include digital colouring and probably a bunch of other computer tweaks. So he seems more pragmatic about the use of computers than Anthony ever did.