Speedballers? Sculpey-ters?

jlg4104's picture

Anyone here use Speedball pens for drawing up drafts? I just got a 24-nib set, new-in-box, off Ebay and am really excited to try 'em out. I was totally in the dark about the Speedball thing, knowing only vaguely about the world of "nibs." No idea about the whole practice of Roman and sans-serif lettering with this funky old ink-pen. Must be my age-- born under the sign of Nixon...

Anyway, I'd also be interested to know what other sorts of hand-drawing or other handicrafts people do when designing type, besides, you know, sketching with a pencil on a pad of paper. (One of my favorite activities in a "document design" class I teach in my department is having students design a letterform with Sculpey.)

- Jay

claes's picture

this PDF may be of interest to you.

jlg4104's picture

Yeah! I found an old Speedball booklet with a lot of the same stuff, and that's what prompted me to get the set. Totally cool. Thanks-- didn't know about the speedballart web site.

Graham McArthur's picture

Yeah, I use them (although I prefer William Mitchell nibs). I will sometimes use 'double pencils'or a ruling pen for very much the same thing. From that initial starting point the pencil becomes my prefered tool until I am happy enough to transfer work to the computer.

Miss Tiffany's picture

John Downer has taught seminars on the use of Speedball pens. See a few images here.

jlg4104's picture

Thanks-- great pics. I realize I'm a computer-baby. Just found a 1977 edition of a typography textbook. A whole chapter on shaving your drawing pencil to a chisel point, so you can simulate text at the proper x-height in "comps." Never had heard of such a thing!

dezcom's picture

I used to use them in the 60s along with the Mitchell nibs. The speedball had large sizes and could hold lots of ink. I would love to gety hold of the oval set which would be the most useful for me in type design. The flats are better for more contrasty faces than I tend to do. Use good ink though, anything too watery will blot and spread too easily.


PS: I was born under the sign of Roosevelt :-)

dezcom's picture

I also like the "Steel Brush" which allowed stroke widths of more than half an inch! I wish I could find all that bold stuff of mine :-/


Norbert Florendo's picture

> William Mitchell nibs...

The ONLY tools we were allowed to use in Paul Standard's lettering/calligraphy classes.

> A whole chapter on shaving your drawing pencil to a chisel point

I no longer shave my pencils, but occasionally I use a razor to form a chiseled nib on marker pens for quickie letters.

> double pencils...
Also a great little old-time tool, double fine-point or even combo fine & medium point markers were great for lettering with an inlined look.

dezcom's picture

Double pencils taped on either side of a Stabillo eraser made for nice wide strokes.


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