Jenny Williams

Writer, Editor, Artist



66 Dogs (adoption portraits for animal shelters)

I'm planning to do a series of watercolor portraits for adoptable dogs at local shelters, and after seeing this class I decided that hand lettering would be a really neat flourish. I'm a total newbie, though, so these first attempts are a little rough! (No pun intended.)

Dog #1: Chelsy

Dog #2: Cortez (he's actually my dog--I decided to do a portrait just for fun & practice. Maybe there's a market for personalized, hand-lettered dog potraits?)

...and the Creature himself! (Clearly unimpressed.)

A couple things I'm struggling with so far: 

1) PATIENCE. Oh my god. My biggest flaw. I really need to spend a lot more time sketching before I jump into inking. Also letting the ink dry before erasing the pencil marks (I don't have a lightbox/tracer, so I'm working directly on the sketch. Now that I think about it, I should really be making copies of the sketches before I start inking...)

2) I'm not really sure of the best way to combine the watercolor with the hand-lettering. For Chelsy's image, I inked right on the watercolor itself, which in retrospect was not so great, since I risked ruining the painting when I did the lettering. For Cortez, I made a copy of the watercolor onto cardstock and then did the lettering on that. But then I end up with a so-so painting. I'm sure there's a great way to combine all this stuff digitally, but my laptop's busted and our scanner/printer isn't brilliant. Hopefully I'll get my computer up and running soon. I'm a Photoshop/Illustrator novice but maybe that's the best bet? Looks like I'll be signing up for the Digitizing Hand Lettering workshop soon!

3) For the adoption portraits, I'll need to include more details about the dogs plus contact info for the shelter somewhere on the image. I was thinking I'd use regular typography for this text, but I'm not sure about mixing hand-lettering and type in the same image. Does it work better when you digitize the lettering so that the lines and colors are crisper? 

Any and all feedback very welcome! Thanks!


3/27/14 UPDATE

Thanks for the great suggestions, everyone! I've been slow to update but I wanted to include the "final" project as it stands. I'm calling it The 66 Dogs Project, and I've even started a little website:

I ended up moving away a little bit from the lettering and more toward overall color & design, but I'm still trying to incorporate some fun lettering into each portrait. My goal is to do 66 portraits by June 6, so super-detailed lettering would be really time consuming. Here are a couple examples:

On the down side, I spend a lot less time in the planning and sketching phases...but 66 portraits means ample opportunity to experiment with different lettering styles and be really playful with it. I'm excited to keep going. This class was fantastic in helping me get the ball rolling!


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