In preparation for the re-build of my website I am carving the lettering for www.whimsicalwood.com. to use for some of the title pages and for an automata construction to represent the site.
First a small sketch of the proposed design in an A6 size sketch book to represent the concept.
Then a modified version on A4 paper for scanning and tidying up in photoshop and illustrator. This isn't always a necessary step but it is useful when fitting the design to available materials for carving if that material hadn't been already chosen.
This title will have its graphic version as well as the carved one, so I have printed a faint grey line print onto Arches medium coarse (Not) Watercolour Paper. The faint line work has then been inked with black waterproof ink ready for coloured ink and or watercolour wash.
The inking was done with an 'Eva Extra' 320, medium flexible pointed nib. This nib was in an attractive glass pen holder that my daughters bought for me years ago on their return from a trip to Venice. I hadn't used the pen until the recent Inktober but I found the nib very good for fine linework. I am familiar with the 303 and 404 pointed nibs from my survey drafting days nearly fifty years ago and this nib seems to fill a gap between the two. I will do a post on nibs sometime in the future.
I chose the Arches Not WC paper for its slightly rough and pleasing texture. This texture will be sympathetic to the wash rendering I intend later. For placing ink on the nib I use ink from a rubber-bulb ended dropper in a small screw top jar. This way I can drop ink directly at the right amount under the nib rather than dipping the pen, which leads to dried ink building up quickly on the pen. Even then the nib needs periodic cleaning on a damp cloth.
It might be that my inking technique is a bit slow and meticulous, consisting of carefully laid short strokes, that allows the ink to thicken on the nib. But that beautiful to watch, from the elbow, graceful copperplate calligraphy that master flexible-pen calligraphers accomplish, with a pen dipped deep into the ink, is way beyond my ability. I can only admire that kind of penmanship – extreme parkour and free running across the intimidating surface of expensive paper has me heading for the handrailed staircase, escalator and lift of the careful plodding inking I'm used to.
There are some nuanced ways of getting a good result from the slow and meticulous method however and they also need at least a bit of practise and careful thought as you go about rendering in ink. So you have been careful with your pencilled-in design, related the lines well to one another. Ordered where they come from, lead the eye to, continue and discontinue, established the fairness of the curves and their relation to the whole design. But now when it comes to rendering this in ink it's not just a matter of 'tracing' over what you have.
Well it is.., but tracing isn't tracing. Tracing or rendering in ink is designedly drawing – all over again. It is planning as you go with the inking keeping curved lines fair, you can help accomplish this by working with the natural geometry of your various hand movements to aid rather than hinder, and land well-aimed strokes of comfortable length seamlessly over one another while you turn the page to facilitate. Do this as you take, an albeit interrupted, intersected or discontinuous line, through its whole course or part way, mindfully in the direction of its course. In effect avoid following part of one line and without stopping change direction as you continue along another that will have you lines looking like a mapped coastline rather than suggesting form.
With the carved version of the title a print is pasted to some yellow walnut, a native Queensland timber and then fretted out on the scrollsaw ready for carving.