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Anthony Woodward
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Winter of Our Pandemic: David Collier

Coming June 17th, and new book by Canadian Comic book artist David Collier, published by Spare Parts Press.

See the Winter of Our Pandemic Page for more details (pre order coming soon)

Bean Burrito comic lettering font

Continuing the thread on comic lettering, I came across a cute comic font on Twitter. Called 'Bean Burrito', by the comic artist Sara Linsley

Sarah is offering the pay what you want on her Ko-Fi store. 

The font comes in regular, bold, italic, and bold italic. A real bargain. 

I've purchased a copy and installed it onto my iPad already. 

Working on my lettering

When I started my Bored in Space comic, I was going for a different look than my usual sketchbook style I had for my autobio comics.

For one thing I was aiming this comic at more discerning younger readers. Anywhere from 12-16 primarily but also in a way that could be enjoyed by all ages. 

It's funny because making this decision, I believe, has greatly improved my understanding of lettering and lettering skills overall. Now I'm not sure why I didn't do this earlier, I look back on some older comics and the lettering was really not at the top of my concerns, but it should have been.

What did I do to improve?

  • Studied other comics intensely. I think this is not done enough. Perhaps because of fears around copying or picking up bad habits. But study the masters of your field, break down what they do to truly understand what they are doing. There is often a science behind the art. I actually measured the lettering with a ruler of various comics, looked at leading sizes. I even imported comic pages and traced over them to get a better sense of scale etc.
  • Created digital lettering guides. This was always tricky when working with paper. You can use an Ammes lettering guides but it's a lot of extra work. I had to go through many drafts of a digital guide, but after around 10-12 attempts I came up with some good ones.
  • Created/tweaked inking brushes to be better lettering brushes.
  • Read as much as I could online about lettering tips and techniques and tried to implement what I learned.
  • Assessed my letter forms. Looked at how certain letters where written and added more traditional styles.
  • Looked at standards in most mainstream comics. I learned two things by doing this. 1-how to properly emphasise text, IE, Bold + Italic. 2- that I should end all lettering with a period, a convention I had always ignored/was ignorant about.
  • Traced over digital fonts. I had read about this technique previously as a way to get clean consistent lettering. It involves using a digital font for your draft lettering and hand ink over the top. That way you get the uniform lettering with that hand written feel.
  • Started making better speech balloons. I had previously just drawn around the lettering however it appeared. I was now laying out my lettering in a more uniform and pleasing way and creating speech balloons that were more consistent.
  • Two recent tips. 1-In general the tails should mostly point from the centre of the balloon to the speakers mouth. 2-Try and break up speech balloons to match the cadence of speech, I.E., consider using another balloon rather than a comma.

I still have improvements to make. As always improving in art is making thousands of tiny steps that eventually add up to small gains over time. It's like collecting tears to fill up a giant bucket.

Here are some instructional drawings I have been working on to help beginners learn more about lettering.

Brand new Growth mindset and Deliberate practice poster

I love this poster and it still holds true. I decided to redraw this poster and make it available as a digital download.

"Deliberate practice always follows the same pattern: break the overall process down into parts, identify your weaknesses, test new strategies for each section, and then integrate your learning into the overall process."

A few years ago I connected the dots about my own art practice and ideas behind learning in general. The revelation was the culmination of reading about three distinct learning principles:

  1. Growth mindset (What Growth Mindset Actually means)
  2. Deliberate practice
  3. Grit

It felt like the concept of a growth mindset and grit were connected by the concept of deliberate practice*. In the illustration I tried to map out the connection between the three concepts.

It goes like this:

1-When you have a growth mindset, the belief that you can grow and learn and that nothing is inherent, you are able to take on challenges. It's thinking, "I'm not currently good at this but with effort I'm sure I can get better…" compared to, "I was born bad at this, so I shouldn't bother trying..."

2-Challenge is important, it's the sweet spot between being too easy (the comfort zone) and too hard (the panic zone).

Challenges can be confronting and terrifying! You are facing gaps in your knowledge, skill and abilities. Painfully stretching the upper limits of what you can currently do. It can feel like your getting nowhere, it's frustrating, you're making mistakes and trying not to feel silly.

4-Your 'grit' factor determines how much of this feeling of inadequacy and frustration you can put up with. The more grit you have, the more you will be able to persevere through challenges and more often than not come out the other side better for it. For most of us when we start to feel the rising feelings of difficulty we tend to revert back to our fixed mindset, the mindset that tells us "See you're no good at this, you'll never learn it, you should probably give up now before anyone notices…"

However, this is only my personal take on how I think these concepts work together and how you can use them to push what you're doing. I highly recommend reading up on these concepts in more detail, or better still going to read the books themselves. For me one of the challenges I have found is the difficulty in figuring out what I should be practising more of. We tend to have blind spots of our own shortcomings. I think this is where a teacher or mentor really comes into play. The other area this has really helped is differentiating between drawing for fun and drawing to push my abilities. When you are entering into deliberate practice it's not necessarily fun. The after effects can be rewarding but facing your own gaps can be draining. interestingly, educators are often trying to make learning fun, but what if real learning is essentially not fun?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

'Growth mindset' is from the excellent book Mindset by Carol Dweck, this book in itself was a great revelation, something I kind of knew and had heard about in little bits and pieces over the years, but the book really solidified the idea for me.

The concept of 'deliberate practice' came from Talent is Overrated by Geoffrey Colvin, (the idea of deliberate practice originally came from the work of Anders Erikson, he has also released a book called Peak).

The concept of 'Grit' is from the book Grit by Angela Lee Duckworth, again an interesting look at being determined to stick something out until the end.

Woodlands Preview

 Here's a sneak peak of my new comic that I've been working on.

These are 3 sample pages of approximately 34 page comic. Based on an experience I had a few years ago working a dysfunctional office job. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and guilty.  Hoping to launch the comic at TCAF in June this year, coupled with some pages from another comic. These pages are the B&W version without colour or grey tones that I have added for contrast. I'm really excited about the whole comic in particular as the experience as the time was harrowing and this is one of the longer comics I've made with multiple characters.

I'll be officially announcing this later with a cover reveal but for now you can get an early sneak peak. 

Edit: I had these pages in the wrong order. fixed now.


Anthony Woodward's Page

Profile Information

About Me:
I'm an artist in Australia. I teach at a school for fine arts and also do a little paid illustrating work on the side. In my spare time I like to self publish my own little zines/comics that I can send to friends and other people into comics.
Some Comic Favorites
David Collier, Crumb, Joe matt, Marc Bell
Relationship Status:

Comment Wall (2 comments)

At 10:43am on June 22, 2008, Rick Bradford said…
At 10:37am on December 4, 2009, John Weeks said…
No, I saw Jenifer first! And I am whisking her away to my romantic lair for spammers!

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