Hey! #SimpleAlphabets has officially started on instagram here at @surelysimplechallenge and @surelysimpleblog. I’ll be discussing a little bit about each letter- mostly in lowercase this time around. Let’s start with my favourite letter (well, when your name starts with a particular letter-it’s practically always your fave, isn’t it?)- A! Have you joined in the fun? For more details, head on over to this page.
Simple Alphabets Letter Study | Stuff about A
First of all, when it comes to lettering- there are so many things to think of. Drill formation, the x-height, the angle of the letter, flourishes, holding the pen the right way, using the correct paper- argh. The list can go on and on. Somewhere in the process to be perfect, we find ourselves restricting our path to a comfort zone. Let’s say..we’ve learned a specific way of writing the letter ‘a’. So we stick to it. We don’t like to change, we don’t want to change, we’re happy with it. Then you spot someone creating some, say, amazing flourishes, or a longer swoop- and bam! Reality hits you. You can improve your lettering style. You can change it up!
The question is how. So, say you look at lists and lists of great references by calligraphers and lettering artists until you can’t look at any more because you’re just too saturated with amazing talent-viewing. Then. You pick up the pen/paintbrush/ parallel pen…whatever. But you get nothing substantial on the page. Nada. It’s a total flop. The reason why you found yourself discouraged is because you aimed too high from the beginning of your lettering journey. Don’t go down that road.
Instead, focus on your existing skills. Identify what you’re good at, and more importantly, what you’re struggling with. Then, practice. Practice real hard. But remember, first know your limits- accept them, and then become so good, that those limits no longer exist.
Um. So you may be thinking, what does all this have to do with the letter A? Well, I’m about to tell ya. Before even thinking about lettering something beautiful, first give yourself the opportunity to breathe. Just play around with the letterform with absolutely no expectation that you feel obligated to create a masterpiece on your first go. Here’s how to do it:
Here’s what I doodled on a bunch of loose papers. No dots. No grid. No lines, even. A blank sheet of paper works the best because it doesn’t restrict you or force you to think mathematically where the placement of the letters will go. Just have fun. It also makes you realize how much you actually know about the letter. Like for instance, without a reference- I’m pretty comfortable with the lowercase, haha. The uppercase, not so much.
When you loosen up, you automatically feel more motivated to keep going. Still with me? Let’s move on the next step: getting technical!
Here are the drills for the letter ‘a’. You might have seen this on Instagram. Now, if you liked math in school, you’ll love drills. Even if you hated math in school, you’ll find that drills aren’t that difficult. So, it’s kind of a win-win. (Btw- math is one of my favourite subjects- the other being english, which explains why I like writing really long blog posts- so I LOVE calligraphy drills!)
And the one specifically for lowercase’a’:
Okay, then. The next topic- Tools. There are so many tools- that I shall do another blog post about them, but here are some random tools I just used to show you 8 ways to write a similar ‘a’:
Here’s a video:
And here’s my hand drawn A:
A for antlers 🙂 Rather a far fetched idea, because the deer is way more prominent than his antlers..but whatever. Call it creative license 😉 I tried to be super ambitious and thought I didn’t need any reference to draw and paint. The result was a brown splodgy deer-only saved by inking in the details. Well. Probably tomorrow, I shall use a reference for painting any thing that requires shading details, haha.
Hope you enjoyed this little discussion. Be sure to follow @surelysimplechallenge and @surelysimpleblog, to stay in the loop because tomorrow’s letter is B! There will be interviews, and another letter study from me. Happy lettering! -Aaria
PS- read this interview by Brittany, if you haven’t already.