Thursday, 30 December 2010

Wednesday --errm-- Thursday Surgery: The Doctor is Late

Sigh! Apologies, once again, for bringing this to you a day late. The second plumbing catastrophe of the Festive Season has disturbed my otherwise calm and serene demeanour, and disrupted the normally zen-like processes of my working day.

Today, we'll cover a couple of points raised by Kyle Jones…

Forgive me for summarizing your first question, Kyle, but the crux of it is this:
You wanted to compare a page you'd scanned from a bought comic to one that you'd found on the internet side by side in Illustrator to assess the point sizes of the fonts used, but found the sizes of the two page scans very mismatched.
I suspect that you're over-thinking this quite substantially. It is true that the internet scan will have been created with thought only to its pixel dimensions, meaning that it is likely to have very large dimensions in mm and relatively low resolution.

However, assuming that your Illustrator document is standard US comic dimensions, then it is the right size. If the page was scanned from a standard US comic, then simply scale the scanned image to fit the Illustrator document (keep in mind that you will need to scale it to the trim line, because the printed document will have been trimmed down from full bleed). Regardless of the resolution, this has to be the right size, because this is the physical size of the original document!

I would caution against getting too hung up on making an exact match for someone else's point size. What's important is that you can read it (easy to check if you print out a sample at actual size) and you think it looks good.
The second question is shorter and sweeter. Since next week is Comicraft’s yearly sale where every font is about $20 (not trying to be an advertisement for them, I’m also looking into a bunch of Blambot fonts), which ones would you recommend […?]
I have literally no regrets about any of the Comicraft fonts I've purchased. You're quite right to note that the annual New Year Sale is the perfect opportunity to pick up some absolute bargains, but which fonts you choose are a matter of taste. You mentioned that I expressed a preference for Blambot's Hometown Hero over Comicraft's JoeKubert, for example. My preference for Hometown Hero is simply because I'm utterly beguiled by Nate Piekos' double-T auto-ligature, that runs the crossbar of the T across both uprights:
I don't expect anyone else to feel the same way -- it's just that I have done this in my own handwriting for many years, so the font makes a very personal, direct connection to me. Something in Comicraft's TimSale makes me think of classic 2000AD letterer Steve Potter's work and using it calls to mind vast bodies of fantastic comic stories from my childhood.

You should be looking for fonts that make you happy, fonts which it will give you pleasure to use. That pleasure should feed through into your work and add something to your lettering that no tutorial, and no amount of practice, will be able to provide.




  1. Quite agree about fonts making you happy. I bought the 'Wiccan' font a few years ago. It rocks and should be used in everything. Even happy comics. That might just be me though...

  2. Jim- What's the thinking on slipping in the occasional character from a different font set?

    For example, I've been practising a bit with free fonts (I'm only dabbling really)and seem to have settled on 'A.C.M.E. Secret Agent' for now, but it does have a few small problems. I really dislike the '?' character for one thing. Is it acceptable to replace this character from another font set, or is that considered 'not good'?

  3. I can't see why that'd be a problem, Bruce. I've got a couple of dialogue fonts that lack 'breath marks' so I just use a different font for those specific characters. If it's frowned upon, no-one bothered to tell me!

  4. Thanks Jim! About the first question (which I'm in fact very grateful you cut down to its essential point, as I was over-thinking it to a point of even me getting confused), you're absolutely right! Yesterday, I tried a font at sizes ranging from 6.25 to 7 point with leads from .25 to .75 greater than the font size, and it became instantly clear that all this is - as you rightly said - a matter of personal preference. Reading threads on Digital Webbing without trying the advice in practice, got me way too focused on "number crunching" and not my own creative sensibilities. The related threads were great for getting insights into the "ballpark" range for font sizes, but from there, one should follow one's own bliss.

    And on the advice concerning Comicraft fonts, thanks for a similar breath of fresh air advice - about it all coming down to one's own aesthetics. I'll pick up ones I like the best and can afford, and have fun using them!

    Happy Early New Years! And thanks again!


    Kyle Jones

  5. I actually enjoying switching fonts for emphasis. I find some fonts are good for speaking, but another will be good for the same character yelling or whatnot. Lettering is one way to show/add emotion to a character's dialogue, IMO.

  6. Cheers- I was hoping it wasn't one of those things that proper letters would be sniggering about. There are quite a lot of fonts seem to lack the breath marks character- including ACME Secret Agent, I don't seem to have any. Maybe that's a benefit of actually buying some!