Primary Tools & Materials:

Additional Tools & Materials: pencil, paper, tracing paper, light table, paintbrush, water

This funky letter is a tribute to Wes Wilson, master of the psychedelic concert poster. Emerging in the 1960s, Wilson's most celebrated craft was his ability to nestle letterforms together and sculpt his lettering compositions into complex shapes and images. This is hard to model with just one letter, but for this study, I did look to Wilson for the general shape and color of this letter M.

I began by studying Wilson's vast body of work, noting common styles and colors he tended to use in his lettering. I found many examples in which the letters are tapered in the center, giving them a squished appearance. Many of his letterforms reminded me of the quirky Art Nouveau typeface Hobo. Though most of his lettering is made of solid shapes in a single color, I did find some examples where he uses thick outlines with the suggestion of exaggerated shadows at the base of each stroke, and a second color (or the paper color) to fill the letter, which is the style I chose to mimic here. After getting a sense of Wilson's style, I sketched the rough outline of this letter M on notebook paper, then used brush and paint to recreate the letter on card stock. I decided to paint only the outline, leaving the center open for the 3D pen to fill.

Once the paint was dry, I placed a sheet of tracing paper over the painted M, and using my light table for guidance, filled in the center of the letter using the 3D pen. Once the filament hardened, I pried it up and examined it, then decided I preferred the underside of the 3D shape rather than the top, because it was smoother and the zig-zag pattern I had attempted to create was more visible from underneath. Luckily, this letter is pretty symmetrical so I was able to flip the 3D fill over and align the layers fairly closely. 

Though one letter is not enough to truly capture Wilson's ability to nestle letters into dense shapes, I enjoyed analyzing his work and extracting methods I could replicate myself. My only regret is that because I had only a few available colors of 3D filament, the color combination I chose resembles mustard and ketchup.