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"Hand Lettering vs. Digital Lettering", 1st Dec 2011, 4:02 AM #1
OnlyFoolsAndVikings♀
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Bloop.

So it has occurred to me that there are very few webcomics that continue to use hand lettering, and this, I suppose, is to be expected, it's far easier to just type things up then write them out, particularly if you are drawing digitally.

I recently stumbled across this lovely little comic about hand lettering.

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(Image taken from this site, there's some really good stuff on there)

It definitely made me think about the subject. There are plently of discussions about art in comics, writing and what not, but there isn't a lot on lettering or word ballons, even though lettering is (in my opinion) equally important to art. I do agree with most of the points provided by Morris, hand lettering is more organic, it adds an element of individualism to your work and generally more engaging. However, digitial lettering does, of course, have it's pros as well, it's quick, it's easy and it's instantly legible.

But enough about my thoughts, I'm curious to see what the general stance on the subject of Hand lettering and Digitial lettering is.

What do you prefer? What do you use? Why do you use it?

Discuss, my puppets, discuss
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1st Dec 2011, 4:10 AM #2
Unka John♂

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I'm not sure if I wanna discuss. Are we talkin hand puppets or marionettes? Being a hand puppet kinda creeps me out.

As to the subject at hand (ahem), I hand letter because it fits the style of my comic. There's another project in the works that I plan to letter digitally.
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1st Dec 2011, 4:19 AM #3
OnlyFoolsAndVikings♀
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Come on Unka, get involved, whyyyy do you use hand lettering? Whyyyyy are you switching to digital for your other project?

we need discussion, and as for the puppets, I am unsure of the type, whatever puppet can dance I suppose.
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1st Dec 2011, 4:25 AM #4
AlenaLane

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I would love to use hand lettering. But sadly, my handwriting is the kind of atrocious one usually expects to see from medical professionals. I can draw a straight line, but damned if I can write in one.

So I admire people who hand-letter and hand-letter well. But for people like me who can't write legibly, or whose penmanship doesn't mesh well with the content or aesthetic of their comic, I support digital lettering. And I think there are a lot of ways one can letter digitally and still add a personal touch, whether you use a specific technique to make your speech bubbles or have a system for colors and shapes of bubbles and boxes, or whether you spent days trolling the web looking up the perfect font. I actually have a friend who is moderately obsessed with typography who made her own font for this purpose.
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1st Dec 2011, 4:49 AM #5
MLai♂

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I'm more of the "cinematic" style of comickry. That is, I think in terms of "What would look best behind a camera lens?" rather than "What would look best on a comics page?" Because of that, I don't place as much important on the non-SFX text, other than that they be legible and that the digital font fits the comic.

So in general, I place emphasis on:
1. Sound FX text.
2. Balloons arrangement.

AFAIC, dialogue text is best served by digital fonts. Except in rare occasions, the comic is not better served by handwritten fonts. Just as you wouldn't want to read a handwritten novel.

Keep in mind I say this because I see comics the way I see a movie. I don't play around with the text and panels formats as much as I might, because I feel it actually breaks immersion. When I read text, I don't want to be thinking about the fact that I'm reading the text, except for very special occasions.
1st Dec 2011, 4:57 AM #6
PulsivePanda♂

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I switch between lettering by hand, and using pre-made fonts:

Hand lettering - When a character says something, narration by myself.

Pre-made stuffs - When a character narrates the story / what they're thinking.
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1st Dec 2011, 5:06 AM #7
logan force♂

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I have bad penmenship but I think digital looks weird, so I make you all suffer.
1st Dec 2011, 5:19 AM #8
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My lettering art is really good except for the fact that it slants in undesirable directions and sizes up and down inconsistently.

I've spent a month going through fonts to pick a good one for Highly Experimental and just gave up at Komika Small Caps, which i still don't find too suiting.

That's all in terms of dialogue. I've been hand-writing my sound effects as of this year as well as background dialogue as of the last three months. I've grown to like it!
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1st Dec 2011, 6:24 AM #9
Fubar
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I'm lettering by hand, I started 'just because', and now I keep at it 'cause some say it suits my comic's 'feel' better.

I think it depends on the comic, whether you should use digital or hand-lettering. I.e. a nice, natural looking handwriting might look off in a sci-fi comic, whereas digital would suit the comic better.
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1st Dec 2011, 6:58 AM #10
Danger Schade♂

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Lettering guides approximately $2 usd

No excuses! I need to get this.
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1st Dec 2011, 6:59 AM #11
OnlyFoolsAndVikings♀
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Fubar:
I think it depends on the comic, whether you should use digital or hand-lettering. I.e. a nice, natural looking handwriting might look off in a sci-fi comic, whereas digital would suit the comic better.


Yeah that's a good point. And you could get all creative with lettering depending on style and who is speaking, Tumble Dry is a perfect example of a comic that uses lettering really really well, using it to identify different characters and convey mood and emotion.
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1st Dec 2011, 7:08 AM #12
Gary Boyarski♂

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MLai:I'm more of the "cinematic" style of comickry. That is, I think in terms of "What would look best behind a camera lens?" rather than "What would look best on a comics page?" Because of that, I don't place as much important on the non-SFX text, other than that they be legible and that the digital font fits the comic.

So in general, I place emphasis on:
1. Sound FX text.
2. Balloons arrangement.

AFAIC, dialogue text is best served by digital fonts. Except in rare occasions, the comic is not better served by handwritten fonts. Just as you wouldn't want to read a handwritten novel.

Keep in mind I say this because I see comics the way I see a movie. I don't play around with the text and panels formats as much as I might, because I feel it actually breaks immersion. When I read text, I don't want to be thinking about the fact that I'm reading the text, except for very special occasions.


Well there's the problem right there. Too many comic creators have been trained by movies and not great comic work.

Comics are not movies. Comics are not storyboards.

Comics are comics and they can tell a story in amazing ways that books and movies will never be able to. Just look at anything Will Eisner has ever done.

The words and the art are not supposed to be separate things. They work together to bring you the unique experience we all know and love called comics.

1st Dec 2011, 7:32 AM #13
MatthewJA
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Not being tremendously artistic, I would feel somewhat... that my points wouldn't be taken seriously if I went into too much detail here.

But my handwriting is absolutely shocking. I use a custom font for GSICD, and I think it fits the style pretty well, so it's the best of both worlds, I guess?
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1st Dec 2011, 7:59 AM #14
MLai♂

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Gary Boyarski:Well there's the problem right there. Too many comic creators have been trained by movies and not great comic work.
The words and the art are not supposed to be separate things. They work together to bring you the unique experience we all know and love called comics.

I think it's just different styles of comic book storytelling. For example, I got my cinema-to-comics philosophy from studying Lone Wolf & Cub. It'd be hard for anyone to say that is not a masterpiece of comic-making. That author adapts a lot of cinematic tools to his manga. So except for speed lines, SFX, and word balloons, basically everything he does can be called a movie storyboard. Most manga is like that -- modern mangakas learned to draw by studying cinema-like manga like Akira and LW&C.
1st Dec 2011, 9:58 AM #15
MountainMildew

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I use digital for a lot of reasons. Mostly because it's easier to just type that shiz in once I'm done coloring. And it's also because I am the biggest spazz when I write. Cause ya see I right like I think; if I start getting excited I'll start writing faster and harder and, well... When I was in school I wasn't allowed to proofread for the other kids in my creative writing class because I was notorious for punching holes in papers. also my writing is the hideous love child of cursive and a pen attached to a blender. RANDOM CAPITALS. EVERYWHERE. And if I do stop to actually letter instead of write it seems so artificial to me, and makes me hate the whole work.

SOLUTION? USE ARTIFICIAL FONT. HAHA OH DEW YOU ARE SUCH A GENIUS. No but seriously. I get that lettering is an art form, and I should probably work on mine. And yeah slapping someone else's lettering on my comic is a lazy shortcut when my own writing would fit just fine. But hell, it takes a bit of frustration out of this hobby.
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1st Dec 2011, 1:31 PM #16
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I don't know about the argument that using digital lettering is easier. Making digital lettering look GOOD is an acquired skill, one that I'm still struggling with. (You can just browse through my archives if you want to see that mess evolving.)

Mainly, we probably use fonts because it helps the illusion - we're (almost) all playing pretend that our comics are professional and we're doing it for a living.

I think hand-lettering works well for certain styles. For hand-drawn and hand-colored comics, certainly. And for tablet-drawn, sketchy-looking, artsy comics too.

EDIT: Thanks for posting that page, btw. It was really interesting, and I'm off to read more of that guy's stuff!
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1st Dec 2011, 1:44 PM #17
ZeroGee♂

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UAAS is hand lettered. PC will be hand lettered by the 10th issue.
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1st Dec 2011, 2:51 PM #18
Gary Boyarski♂

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MLai:
Gary Boyarski:Well there's the problem right there. Too many comic creators have been trained by movies and not great comic work.
The words and the art are not supposed to be separate things. They work together to bring you the unique experience we all know and love called comics.

I think it's just different styles of comic book storytelling. For example, I got my cinema-to-comics philosophy from studying Lone Wolf & Cub. It'd be hard for anyone to say that is not a masterpiece of comic-making. That author adapts a lot of cinematic tools to his manga. So except for speed lines, SFX, and word balloons, basically everything he does can be called a movie storyboard. Most manga is like that -- modern mangakas learned to draw by studying cinema-like manga like Akira and LW&C.


Sorry, I didn't mean to rag on you.

Of coarse there are different styles of comics, and those who do manga inspired ones seem to do it quite well. It's the american comics that seem to have lost their way. Computers are a great tool for assisting in the making of comics, but they should never replace the skill and disipline required to write and draw a good comic story.

I guess I've seen too many over colored, overly wordy, "modern" comics. It seems to have soured my disposition. :)

1st Dec 2011, 3:57 PM #19
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You know, if i do a hand drawn comic, I will almsot certain hand letter. And you'll all have to put up with my weird ENGINEER handwriting - In this case, blocky capital letter writing that I picked up in a drafting class and never put back down again.

However, for a comic like Fail Monsters, that I've drawn entirely digitally, hand lettering would look out of place. Because the comic lacks any organic elements, the organic flow of hand-written letters wouldn't jive with the rest of the comic.

I think for me, the choice of whether or not to hand letter has evertyhgin to do witht eh style of the comic. If a comic has an organic drawing style, then hand lettering is perfect. The less natural the comic, the greater my preference for digital lettering.

I pretty sure I just said the same thing over and over again... Meh.

E: Holy crap... I think i could have snuck the word organic in there one or two more times.
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1st Dec 2011, 4:12 PM #20
Ephemeros

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I kinda feel the opposite with which is easier.
Since I just use SAI, to add lettering I just add a layer, and write it on.
If I wanted to put in text, I would have to download another program, since SAI doesn't have a text tool. And then find an appropriate font and then make it fit around the art, I.. suppose it's just laziness in my case.
Plus I like writing, and my handwriting is considered quite neat.
Like that page said, you're still drawing the letters, I like doing that.

I'd be quite happily engaged if someone told me to just copy out a textbook, for a job. I'd have been a scribe, back when they were still used.

And I agree with what's been already said, depends on the comic.
Having said that, I prefer hand-lettering 90% of the time, since handwriting and art seem to fit nicely together mostly.
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