Creating HOPE Part 2

Images © Steve Rude and Todd Klein, all rights reserved.

Having received Steve’s okay on the art as I planned to use it, I placed the art in an Illustrator file, positioned correctly with extra space at the bottom of the 11 by 17 inch page for signatures, and gave it clean edges with slightly rounded corners using a white masking frame. I printed this on my 11 by 17 capable Xerox printer and taped a sheet of translucent vellum over the art, then using my original layout as reference, I pencilled in the lettering at the top and bottom, using my Ames lettering guide to create horizontal guidelines in different sizes as needed.

Here’s the top text with the art folded up out of the way so you can see it better. The text is all upper case italic in what I hope is a graceful, flowing style with many extended strokes, some joining letters together. There is an Art Nouveau flavor to the letterforms, using lots of curves and rounded shapes, something I’ve always liked that seemed right for this project. In keeping with that approach, most of the strokes vary in thickness, usually thinnest at the ends.

Here’s the inking in progress. I used a number 2 Castell TG1 technical drawing pen, and on these relatively large letters, I employed oval and circle templates for some of the forms. For the gradual curves of the large H I used a French curve.

Here’s the bottom half pencilled. The text from the Nathaniel Hawthorne story is upper and lower case, also italic, but a slightly different style, though I used the top style for all the capital letters. The main difference in the small letters is that the lines are even in width, lettered with a single stroke of my tech pen, while the capitals gain that varying weight from multiple strokes as I fill in the wider parts.

Here’s the bottom half inked. There are a few spacing and size problems, such as overcrowding of “Nathaniel Hawthorne” and the line below it that I would fix later on the computer.

Here’s the finished lettering with the pencil lines erased, ready for scanning. Since the lettering is done at printed size, I followed my usual process of painstaking touch-ups on the scans in Photoshop to get everything looking as clean and correct as possible.

Here’s a section of the raw scan. You can see the multiple strokes in the large H, and there are plenty of tiny flaws along the edges of all the letters.

Here’s the same section after clean-up, and with the scan in bitmap format to eliminate anything that’s not either white or black. This process usually takes about four times or more longer than the actual lettering! What can I say, I’m a perfectionist and the computer allows me to be one.

When the lettering was ready, it needed to be placed over the art file, but with an added twist in this case. Since the areas the lettering will go in are all dark, I reversed the black areas to white so they would knock out white spaces on the art.

Here’s the lettering in position after lots of tiny adjustments to get everything just where I wanted it. One later adjustment: I felt pure white was a little distracting so I added a very light gray tint to the lettering, allowing it to blend in better with the art. The only parts of the lettering I kept pure white were the two examples of “Hope,” which I planned to paint in a spot color. After this composite was finalized, I placed it in the Illustrator file and there added the copyright/printing info in tiny type using one of my own Art Nouveau fonts that’s similar to the lettering style.

I printed some samples on the cream-colored Wausau paper I’d chosen, the same one I’ve used on several other prints, because the slight yellow color adds some warmth back into the grays of the art, like those Steve put there in his original painting, but which couldn’t be reproduced on my black-ink-only laser printer. I knew I wanted a pale spot color, as anything brighter or heavier would be distracting I felt, and I tried these three tints. The yellow seemed to go best.

Then it was time to print the entire run of 500 copies and get to work painting the spot colors. It went fairly quickly on this print, partly because of the pale color which allowed some leeway in how accurately I followed the shapes, and partly because the black toner tends to repel the watercolor, making it pretty simple to keep the paint in the white shapes. I spent a number of weekday evenings, and two Saturday afternoons at my drawing board painting away until they were done. The final thing for me was the sign them all, then I packed the prints carefully and Fedexed them to Steve for him to sign.

About two weeks later (this past Friday), they came back artfully signed by Steve, and completely finished and ready to sell. Steve and I are both pleased with the way it came out, and we hope you’ll like it, too. PART 1 of this story, plus information about ordering can be found, along with lots more about my other prints, on my SIGNED PRINTS page, or on my BUY STUFF page. The print is now on sale. Thanks for reading, hope to hear from you!

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