Sunday, 9 January 2011

Sunday Surgery: Miller Time!

One of the odd pieces of statistical data that Blogger offers is to show you which search engine queries have led people to your blog.

Yesterday, I discovered that someone had visited my blog as a result of the query: "What lettering font was used in Frank Miller's 300?"

It seemed like a very specific question, and I felt kind of bad that whoever had asked it didn't find an answer here, nor, indeed anywhere else if my own Googling of the same query is any indication.

It appears that Miller does his own lettering -- he certainly did for Sin City and 300 appears to be the same style and there's no credit for a separate letterer.

However, looking at the irregularity of the spacing, the hyphenation and the fact that the lines of text aren't accurately centred*…

300 © Frank Miller -- Art by Frank Miller & Lynn Varley
… And I'm pretty sure that this is hand-lettered. So… to whoever was searching for an answer to that question, I'm afraid that (to my eyes, at least) there is no font, because Frank has lettered the book the old-fashioned way, and more power to him.



*Note that I don't say this as a criticism!


  1. I do find it odd though that there is so much free space at the top of the panels. I think if a pro-letterer was doing this you wouldn't see that. Considering Miller is a pro of the highest order, I wonder why he chose to cover up his own artwork like this?

  2. I had the same thought myself as I was peering at those particular panels. I suppose we can't rule out the possibility that Miller had an intern in his studio who had a hand in the lettering? I'm not aware of him ever following this practise and, even so, you'd think it would be something that would be caught before the book got anywhere near print… very puzzling. If anyone reading this has any more insight into Frank's lettering habits, I'd be pleased to hear from them!

  3. Hello!

    First, I wish to offer a sincere thank you for providing such fascinating information about lettering. I first read the original pdf you wrote last year and since then I would reference it often to practice how to letter. I've gone from learning the basics to slowly building up my confidence thanks to your clear, detailed explanations and I absolute love reading this blog.

    I have a question and I apologize if it sounds silly. Once you are done lettering, how do you go about your preparations before saving it for output? I've read the article on Balloon Tales about "Preparing Lettering Files for Output" and I've tried to follow the directions as best I could, but I am using Illustrator CS3 and there are a few elements that are different from the version used in the article. I wonder whether or not I'm missing anything important about the process, as I have never tried this before.

    Thank you for your time! I really appreciate your work!

  4. I apologize for my above comment. I now realize that it was far too general to ask a professional, so I will endeavor to be more specific.

    In the Balloon Tales article, it instructs to select the Text and Balloon layers and then use "Overprint Black..." with the Fill and Stroke options checked.

    In my version of Illustrator, this option is not found in "Filter > Colors" as stated in the article but I found the "Overprint Black..." option in "Edit > Edit Color" so I used that method in the process to save several eps files.

    Reading Todd Klein's "DC Guide to Coloring & Lettering" he describes a slightly different method. It states to use the "Attributes" window so when you select the text layer you can set those to "Overprint Fill" and when you select the balloon layer you can set those to "Overprint Stroke." So I tried that method as well and saved several more eps files.

    Either method looks fine in Overprint preview. However, when I click on text or balloons in eps files I've saved in the Balloon Tales method, they don't show checked stroke or fill boxes in the "Attributes" window like they do when I use the Todd Klein method. Being new to this, I'm not sure what this means or which method is best to use when preparing files for output.

    Also, (okay, this question in particular is probably very stupid of me but...) if I were to make a white SFX it will not show up on overprint preview, so how do I handle those differently?

    I apologize for pestering you with my questions, but I thank you for the time you took out of your day to read this. I really appreciate it and I will do my best not to pester you again.

    Have a lovely day!