Christina Lembo

Designer, doodler, hand-letterer, collagist

16

5

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights was one of my favorite books when I was in high school -- but then again, I was going through quite a phase at the time. When trying to think of a book to take on for this class, it was one of the last ones that occurred to me, but as soon as I remembered it, I knew it was the one. Talk about a lot going on!

I reread it over the course of a few days (it's a lot different than I remember!) and also watched the 2009 PBS movie with Andrew Lincoln (because, Tom Hardy) for a little bit of atmosphere. 

If you haven't read this book, there's a ton of stuff happening. Here's my crazy-person list(s):

Wuthering Heights in a nutshell:

Classic novel of consuming passions, played out against the lonely moors of northern England, recounts the turbulent and tempestuous love story of Cathy and Heathcliff.

That synopsis does not do this story justice at all. Basically it's a novel of dark and light, corruption, thwarted passion, tempestuousness, jealousy, revenge, death, haunting, and violent, unrequited longing. 

I started noodling around with B's, thinking of the "two halves" concept -- Catherine and Heathcliff consider themselves halves of the same whole, and basically ruin themselves and everybody around them by continually crashing and tearing apart.

I really liked the idea of a blackletter B surrounded by ornate flourishes, contrasting the hard and cruel with the soft and light. 

Concept 1: Two halves, juxtaposition, corruption, posession, haunting.

Here I played with a slab serif B where darkness crept into the light and began taking it over. 

Concept 2: Essentially the same as #1 with blackletter

Concept 3: Toying with the idea of dark and light. The whole book contrasts concepts: love and hate, morality and passion, two houses, two generations, life and death, Edgar and Heathcliff.

Concept 4: Intertwining. Ultimately I felt like this particular letterform didn't fit the period of the novel so it just wasn't working for me. If I were cooler, I maybe could have pulled it off ;)

Concept 5: I think this is the winner. It's the simplest idea I had. I felt like the dark creeping into light was looking too much like vines or snakes, and was just too much going on. While ornate contrasted with hard and cruel was a nice idea, there simply wasn't much "ornate" in this book aside from the fact of the Linton's social status. 

So I played with a script B and came up with this:

It's a pretty terrible sketch, but I have plans to do a type treatment so the B looks like it's sinking into the surrounding black oval. There is a scene near the beginning of the book where one of the book's narrators goes to sleep in a particular room in Wuthering Heights, and finds all these names scrawled all over the walls. This reminded me of that scene, and also to me conveys light sinking into dark, descending into darkness, and being consumed. The light script of the B contrasts with the heaviness of the dark surrounding shape. The B intertwines in one stroke to show the two lives that are inextricable even in death. The oval is capped at both ends by two houses -- Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange.

I'm excited to move forward, and any feedback as always is welcome!!

3/13/14

So, I've been having a bit of trouble getting my B just right. Here's my initial attempt at vectorizing.

Obviously crappy. This was before I adjusted any of the points or anything, but it didn't get much better.

Here's another attempt. This time, I only traced the outer edges of the letter, then copied the initial letterform and used the cutting tool to create the wider downstroke shapes.

I was much happier with this, but I feel like when I pull it onto the cover, it looks misshapen.

So I'm going to continue to play around with it. I love Jessica's suggestion about going analog with the point-plotting, so I'm definitely going to do that. It's just hard with this particular letter, I feel, since the counterforms are more open and the whole thing is so twisted together. I also lost that overlapping segment in where the B's crossbar twists around the stem, because I dropped the outline. Here's a version with an outline, for funsies.

Using red for the outline:

Playing around with a black outline for a more abstract effect:

Gray outline:

Suggestions welcomed!

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Here is an updated version with a smoother B, I think. Thoughts on colors?

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