Introducing Al Fresco
The idea for Al Fresco began back in April of this year (2013.)
I was invited to teach a brush lettering workshop for Type Camp. As I put the information together, bought supplies, researched and planned for it, I also set about refining my brush lettering skills and the processes I would use for instruction. Up to this point, I had always been more of a pointed pen girl – I did brush lettering from time to time, but overall, it was less familiar to me. I wanted to increase my speed and comfort with the brush, so I dedicated time to practice it over several months. As a result, a distinct lettering style began to form.
(I’m planning on writing more about the brush lettering process I use in depth, so check back for that – it will be nothing short of a novella!)
Below, I’ve shown scans of the lettering I created that were used as the basis for this typeface. In some of these images, you can see the pencil stroke below the letter. In teaching brush lettering, I discuss using pencil skeletons as a starting place. It’s an effective method for planning, and when you retrace the letters several times, you develop muscle memory – which makes it easier to approach when you get the brush in your hand.
“What I like about felt brushes is that they have a fixed tip and are easier to control than a regular pointed brush that has soft, loose bristles.”
For Al Fresco, I used Prismacolor felt brush pens. I went through about 7-8 of them – which is a lot – but the tips degrade quickly and I’m not concerned with being careful when using them. When I taught the brush lettering workshops, this was the primary tool I used for instruction. What I like about felt brushes is that they have a fixed tip and are easier to control than a regular pointed brush that has soft, loose bristles. Plus, I believe them to be more familiar to a beginner as you can hold them similarly to that of a pen or pencil.
After I had scanned in the pages of lettering, I set about redrawing and completing the final design in FontLab. I usually find typeface design to be very challenging – but not with Al Fresco – I finished it with ease. I believe the amount of time I spent thinking about the process and practicing it had everything to do with this and I believe it shows through in the typeface itself. The looseness and the easy, casual feel of it speaks to the level of comfort and familiarity I now have when using a brush for lettering.