Primary Tools & Materials:

Additional Tools & Materials: laptop, bead board, pencil, paint brushes, camera

Today I went big. 3 feet wide. Photo with dog included for scale. Using a projector, I was able to trace this beautiful lowercase w from the typeface Mastadoni in pencil, then paint it large scale on some leftover bead board I had in my garage. 

Blowing up a letter this large magnifies each detail. What initially drew me to this typeface were the thick ball terminals and the extreme contrast between the thick and thin strokes. What I didn't notice until I'd traced it from the projector was the subtle change in direction in the middle of the center stroke; highlighting the direction of the thin stroke moving upwards then turning to come back down with heavy pressure, overlapping itself on the way back down. 

Another aspect of this study - though it wasn't one of the main materials - was the bead board's effect on the letterform. Bead board is made of textured, compressed wood, formed to mimic the look of 2" boards laid side by side. Where each "board" meets, there's a rut and a small 1/8" raised bump. What this means is that it's difficult to paint a straight line - let alone a curved one - that cuts across these peaks and valleys. In order to do this, I had to first paint the outline with a small round brush, skipping the valleys, then go back in with a fine detail brush and fill in the gaps. Only then could I take the larger brushes and fill in the solid letterform. This striped texture adds another level of dimensionality to this letter - and I now have a new appreciation for sign painters who might have to paint over uneven surfaces like wood boards and bricks. This, combined with the dark color on the white surface, meant that I had to paint three coats to sufficiently fill this letter. The first choppy, semi-transparent coat made the letter look like a masked swimming pool - reflecting the sunlight through the ripples in the water. 

Using a projector, it's possible to create a hand-painted look using even the most digitally precise typefaces. The projector I had was a little temperamental (note the lovely yellow gradient in image 2), but it still gave me the ability to translate this letterform into something more tangible.