Brushpen Anniversary Present for the Wife | Skillshare Projects

Jeff Johnston

Learn. Create. Repeat.



Brushpen Anniversary Present for the Wife

Hey Everybody,

This is just my second project to upload to Skillshare. I just so happened to get an email form Skillshare that mentioned Matt's challenge right after I was talking to a friend about wanting to do something unique for my wife to celebrate our upcoming anniversary. Because our anniverary falls so close to Christmas (Dec 20th) I would really like to create something unique and personal for her that sets it apart from it being lumped in with all the holiday gifts. This class challenge is the perfect "kick in the pants" structure I need (I have a love/hate relationship with deadlines) :) I'd really like to thank Matt for the work he put into this class. It was top notch!

To be honest, I don't know what the final outcome of the project will be (I have lots of ideas from woodburning to handing random grade school children spray paint), I just know I would like to incorporate my wife's nickname in a unique and personal way.

I spent the last couple evenings practicing as Matt suggests in videos 4 and 5 with different brushpens. 


I decided to pull out some large 11"x17" sheets of Bristol, so I could see the evolution (or devolution) unfold at a glance. 



After practicing i, o, e, and l, I decided to just write some combinations of just those letters. Truth be told, my hand was killing me and I was itching to write something other than the same letter over and over :). Kidding aside, the repetitive nature of drawing these letters really did help me feel more comfortable on my downstroke and upstroke control.


I then wrote minimum and alumninum with different brush pens. I tried to vary things up as I went to just experiment as much as I could. It was funny how many times I got lost in the middle of lettering minimum and spelled it wrong, especially on the first page. I really tried to take my time on the second page and understand how each brushpen related to the angle and style of the letters. 

I'm gonna try to find time over the next couple of days before Thanksgiving and work on the beginning stages of the type treatment. 

After having a load of company over the last few days for the Thanksgiving Holiday I finally found some time to work on the steps outlined in videos 8 and 9.

I took some time to sketch several iterations of my wife's nickname, "Kare Bare", with a pencil. As suggested I tried different styles. I want to make sure this lettering piece is very readable, so I tried to keep that in mind and not get too crazy as I explored.


A couple variations stood out to me, these I decided to try and develop further as I pulled out the brush pens.



Again, I pulled out the larger sheets of Bristol paper so I could see the evolution of the letters a tad easier and went to work. I tried to be as free as I could be, while trying varios angles, stroke widths, x-heights, etc.



Once I found a form I was generally pleased with, I went ahead and narrowed the style down a bit more.


These letters are a unique challenge for me since there really isn't any repetitive downstrokes like in the words minimum or aluminum. Also, the repeating "a...r...e" in each word can be frustrating because it is very noticable when one group is off even slightly.

Anyway, after pushing this style to varying degrees, I decided I liked a more looping "r" for readability and a touch of elegance.


I like how the motion of the "K", "B", and final "e" mimic/ mirror each other. I find it gives a nice balance.

Hopefully, I will find time in the next week to finish this project. I'm planning on vectoring it and doing something tactile with it, so it can be a suitable gift for the greatest woman foolish enough to marry me :)

Update: 12-5-2015

I took Matt's suggestion and used an oval baseline for the lettering and in doing so found that I really liked how the lettering looked as I shifted the oval over some, creating a rising baseline. This seemed to help with the repeating 'are'. I then took some scans of some of the stronger letters into Photoshop to produce a solid compostion.



Here is the final compostion. Balance was something I really strived for...


Although I know I could have gone straight into Vectorville with this, I decided I wanted to ink it up. I figured as I did this it would add to the character of the letters. And I find inking kind of relaxing.


It's evident from the inked sketch that there is a lot of work to do in Illustrator.

Once the pen tool and I did our thing around the lettering, I inverted the piece like Matt suggested. This really does help see the negative/positve space so much more easily.


I then put on some music and worked on the details. I like the process for analyzing the width of the thicks and thins. I decided to allow a little more width for the Captial letters and the underline.



I still haven't decided exactly how I will implement this as a gift to my wife. I'm leaning towards a nice canvas print, a wood transfer, or a risking my appendages to do some woodburning. I actually have some stuff on order from Amazon to do a wook transfer, but it still hasnt arrived. Whatever I do, I will post an update here.

I had a blast with this class. I absolutely love learning from designers and artists and seeing into their process. Its always amazing how some small trick you learn can make such a big difference. Thanks to Matt for being so down to earth and helpful in his approach and comments.

If you've taken the time to read this far, thanks! And, feedback is always appreciated.



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