I promised to show some more examples of the Perkins-inspired letters, which we’ll call “Geekletters” for now, lacking a better word to cover a fairly broad category. Here’s a paste-up of examples from various scratch sheets that I had on my drawing board:

In the upper left, you see a crop from the original letters for the Beer Geek poster, which were first done as pressure-release monoline pencil shapes, and then were slightly retouched to add weight at various points. One of the original distinguishing characteristics of the “Perkins” caps for me was their use of a somewhat triangular shape in most of the curves. You can see this illustrated in the row of four “O” shapes at the upper right. This row progresses from a shape that is almost a classical “O” (though a little more of an “apple” shape) to a shape that is distinctly triangular. In the word “Victory,” you can see that the O, C, and the bowl of the R have taken on this triangular shape. To the left of that word, however, you see the word “Light,” in which the G still retains a more rounded (here, almost square) form.

The word “Manic” illustrates another quirk – I often mix caps and lower case forms within a word. This can give a distinctive and eye-catching quality, and breaks the monotony of seeing the same forms over and over.

The drawn nature of the letters is illustrated by the “ABCD Drawn” lines, which are an un-retouched scan of my pencil lettering. When I’m doing these sorts of letters, I often do only a fairly approximate sketch of my idea in pencil, then scan it into Photoshop, and do all the final development of the letters there, using my Wacom tablet as my pen and paper.

One of the main reasons I love pencil lettering is that it’s extremely flexible, as in the word “Flexible” above. Here you can hardly recognize any of the original Perkins origins, and yet the letters evolved from the same source as the other examples above.

Here’s a color example, cropped from a piece based on Romans 13:8:

I’m still looking for a good name for this letter family, and would welcome your thoughts.

Pure and Simple

It seems that every time we enter a new election cycle, the public appetite for simple solutions to complicated problems increases. We hear calls for the “simple, unvarnished truth,” as though there really is someone somewhere who is sufficiently wise to discern what that might be, given all the unknowns and complications we face.

I got some queries about the lettering on the Beer Geek poster in the previous post, and I thought I should do some further posts about that style of lettering. As I was thinking about that, and as I was reading the latest reports of the political posturing going on across the country, I was reminded of this quote:

I started doing letters like this a number of years ago; I usually think of them as “Perkins Caps,” because I originally started doing them after seeing some work by Tom Perkins. I really haven’t studied Tom’s work for years now, though, and my forms have continued to evolve, so I need to think of a new name for them, and stop blaming Tom for something for which he should bear no responsibility. Maybe I should call them “Geek.”

The letters above are a heavier-weight form related to the letters of the previous post. They are a drawn and filled form. They start out for me as pencil outlines – you can see an example above in the word “Never.” I usually outline with a fairly hard pencil, such as a 3H or 4H, and then fill them in with something like a B or softer. Doing this kind of lettering is a slow, deliberate process, much like doing any other kind of pencil drawing, but it allows great control over the forms, and lots of flexibility, since you’re constrained only by your imagination. I’ll show a number of variations in the next post.


Beer Geek

My son has been trying to convert me into a beer geek. Because of his interest in and love for craft-brewed beers, I’ve gotten into trying new beers at every opportunity. Since our part of New Jersey is almost a craft beer wasteland, most of those opportunities come when we travel, so that helps to keep me from going overboard. But I have begun to appreciate beer more than I used to, and I recently got interested in creating a poster, or possibly  a T-shirt, to celebrate this new interest.

Here’s the first draft:

I really need to do the photo and the lettering over again a little more carefully. I originally laid the lettering out in a roughly rectangular format, so when I “poured” it into the glass, in Photoshop, I had to use the Warp command to make it fit the glass. If I re-do it, I’ll do the lettering in a closer fit to the shape of the glass from the beginning.

The lettering was done in pencil, scanned into Photoshop, and then colored by sampling colors from the beer photo and using the Paint Bucket tool to pour the colors selectively into the different words and letters. The setup for the photo was a large sheet of styrofoam for the background, with one flash to light the background to almost pure white, and a second flash on a shoot-through umbrella stand to illuminate the glass of beer.

Footnote: The Beer Geek poster is available as a  12×18-inch art-quality print on watercolor stock or semigloss photo paper, for $40 plus shipping and handling. S/H to US domestic addresses usually run around $8.