Щіех Vutvei fa *€cuwidb THROWING A NATURAL CUR
Round Curves These flaring cat-tail curves em¬
ulate the strokes of a fat, pointed brush. Most of the
curves' axis points are off-center, yet a brush would
need to be held perpendicular to the work, not at an
angle, to make such strokes. Swells grow organically
from wrist pivot position as brush is borne down upon.
Off-Round Curves In drawing Casey Ultrawide,
I noticed the discrepancy above, between the inner
and outer angles of the bowl of R that—though
suitable for another font—was contrary to the round
curve concept, torturously described in the previous
caption, that I tried to achieve. Later, I corrected it.
Jaunty Curves In the 1950s, it became cool to
skew the relationship of inner and outer curves, as a
flat-edged brush or pen would create. But often, like
above, inner/outer relationships were skewed as no
hand tool could do, at least not in a single stroke.
Nonaligned center axis points characterize this style.
Styles to Letterforms
The best lettering, like cartoon inking, has calligraphic qualities that come from a pen or
brush drawn at a consistent angle, any given curved segment of which can be a masterpiece
of graceful nuance, or an awkward and inharmonious rat's nest of unrelated contours.
Following is a comparison of cartoon inking styles and their lettering equivalents to show
that a consistent and well-reasoned plan ought to precede any curves we build with beziers.
Side Swell Swelling occurs along the lengths of
strokes, tapering at the turns. This style, produced
virtually automatically with any flexible pen point,
can be found in early 1920s and 1930s animation
inking on both coasts.
Heavy Mono Outline, Thin Inline
Originated with Winsor McCay, was perfected by
Max Fleischer animators Dick Huemer and Willard
Bowsky. The slightly flaring outer stroke gives a
sense of volume. A bold, decorative approach.
Bottom Swell Were this example inked with
a brush (all examples were done with beziers—
and it was no picnic!), the inker's wrist would have
had to freely pivot to create such curves. Typical of
mid-1930s Hollywood cartoon inking.
Energetic Swell The above, imitating chisel-
point-brush inking, was done with Illustrator's
Brush tool. Will Dwiggins called this style of curve
"energetic" (as his own tended to be). The wrist is
held static and strokes are sort of sideswiped in.
Internet Low-budget animation's exigencies preclude
careful inking. Drawn with Macromedia Flash's lousy
Brush tool on a digital tablet, the above is typical of
much Internet cartoon inking. The choppy hand and
Internet R adhere to no style; strokes are bastards.
Computer Geometric Created entirely of
ellipses, rectangles and segments of ellipses, such
drawings can lack the warmth and realism of
drawings made by hand. Instead, there's a clean
precision that, when well done, is very appealing.
ARTS a LETTERS:
Ullhat do good art and good lettering share? Good lines and curves. This
is something some designers do naturally, and others have to work at. It's
easier with a pencil or brush to draw a gorgeous curve, which a speedy wrist
can facilitate, but beziers present major technical impediments that detach
us from the tactile immediacy of the hand on paper. This page features
hand-done works whose every curvaceous stroke—virtually any curved line
segment we may inspect—serves as a goal for those of us attempting to
wrangle such results out of recalcitrant mice.
Right, there is deliberateness
in every stroke of animation
artist Shane Glines's pencil
sketch. Such beautiful curves
are not merely the result of
his expertly stylized depic¬
tion of nubile female anato¬
my. You can't be stupid and
be able to draw this well.
Glines's obvious intellect, his
ability to store visual infor¬
mation and reproduce what
he observes, his restless
enthusiasm for inquiry and
fearless self-correction are
indicated by every line he
draws—It seems to me, any¬
GENE DEITCH ASSOCIATES. INC.
COpyRXSMT t1S4 ey
Above, brush drawing by Gene Deitch, legendary
cartoon director. Deitch's is the classic
cartoon inking, and each of his curv
ing forms is picture perfect. Even
the copyright legend—obvi¬
ously just dashed off—is
beautiful. The letterhead
sports a really hip logo,
Left, his curves and ener¬
getic, chisel-stroke inking
do more than ape classic,
comic-book styles, they
epitomize it. Choose virtu¬
ally any one of Mitch
O'Connell's strokes, blow
it up and isolate it from
the rest, and see if it does¬
n't embody every charac¬
teristic of grace, rhythm,
and balance that we strive
for in letter design.
Above, Ernesto Garcia Cabrai ("Chango") was the premiere
caricaturist and movie poster artist of Mexico, 1930s—1950s.
Every line he drew was delicious, and according to Mad car¬
toonist Sergio Aragonés, who sought out and met his idol,
Chango was a wonderful and humble man. As Sergio once
observed to me, "The better artists [in a technical sense] are
also usually nicer people."