Images © Dave Gibbons and Todd Klein, all rights reserved.
Once I had the print layout finalized it was time to redo the text by hand, using the layout (where the text was in one of my lettering fonts) as a guide. I made an enlarged printout of the text area and on a light box traced over the layout on a new piece of 11 by 17-inch one-ply Strathmore drawing paper with a plate or smooth finish. Since the lettering does not take up the entire print area, I was actually able to work a little larger than printed size this time, usually a good thing, and since the letters were relatively large it didn’t take as much effort to produce them as in some previous prints. Above you can just make out the pencilled letters with horizontal guidelines to keep the lines level, and the top circle and bottom two lines have been done.
For everything except the title and the small words “BY” I used a dip pen with a Speedball FB 5 point. The FB series was discontinued many years ago, but I still have a few. Unlike the regular Speedball points, the ink reservoir flips open, as shown above. This makes for much easier cleaning. The mechanism, consisting of two interlocking metal pieces, one above and one below the main point shaft, is somewhat fragile, though, so you have to open and close it carefully. Like the B series, the FB series had round tips, perfect for making rounded letters of even weight.
Here’s a close look at the top circle. For the open title I used a Faber-Castell TG-1 technical pen size 2, first outlining inside the shape, then the outside, and filling black between. I kept in mind Dave’s comments about the title, making it as rounded as possible, and a much better match for the rest of the lettering. A straight edge (actually the side of a small triangle) was used on all the vertical strokes of the main letters, and on the title. There I also used circle templates for the round bits.
When I was done, and had erased the pencil lines, I scanned the lettering at a high resolution, then spent quite a few hours and days cleaning up and improving the scan. Above is a close detail of the original scan, and the same area after cleanup. This is the most time-consuming part of the process.
Here’s the entire scan after cleanup. If you compare it to the approved computer layout in the first part of this article, you’ll find a few other changes. I went with round bullet dividers between lines rather than the diamond-shaped ones, a better match for the lettering, and in the last two lines I suggested a change of line order that Dave okayed, so that it goes from third person to second person to first person, which I thought read better. One area I improved on the layout is that all the stroke widths on the lettering are now the same, no matter the width of the letters themselves. In the layout they were narrower on narrower letters, and wider on wider ones, an unavoidable side-effect of the process there. This gives a more even look to the lettering overall.
In Adobe Illustrator I combined this new lettering scan with the existing layout, added the tiny text at the bottom with © and printing info, and once more emailed a copy to Dave for his approval. He loved it, so it was time to print copies! I’d decided to go with pure white card stock for this one, it seemed to work well with the stark, abstract nature of the content. And, for the first time, I decided to do a smaller print run. All my previous prints in this series have been 500 copies, this one would be 250. While the first two prints with Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman had sold out quickly and gone into second (and third for Alan) printings, the rest have not yet sold through the first printing, and I thought I might save some painting time and shipping costs by cutting back on the print run. If they do well, I can always do a second printing.
Speaking of painting, I tried several watercolor samples to fill in the open title, and these two were the ones I liked best, a gamboche yellow and an ultramarine wash. Dave preferred the blue, and I agreed it seemed to suit the print best, so I spent about two weeks painting each print. I also signed them, and shipped them to Dave in England to add his signatures. It was now December, and too late to get this print out before Christmas, but that was just as well, as it’s such a busy time of year.
They came back safely with Dave’s signatures on them, and are now ready for release. Dave and I are both very happy with the finished product, and hope you’ll find it worth ordering. You’ll find info about that and more about the creation of all my prints on the SIGNED PRINTS page of my blog. We thank you for your interest and support!