"Hardware" for typographers

sendoushi's picture

Hey,

I was searching today for pens to help typographers do they work.
Found out Pilot Parallel which seems pretty interesting since i'm left-handed and it's an afordable pen but... what better place to question this than typophile?

What "hardware" do you use to help yourself creating letters?

hrant's picture

Logitech MX 300.

hhp

sendoushi's picture

Well ... when I said "hardware", I was more like... saying analog tools ehehe.

hrant's picture

When I have to, I use a mechanical pencil, and paper like this:
http://www.draftingsuppliesdew.com/images/clearprint/clearprint-pad.jpg

Pilot Parallel

Especially if you're left-handed I would personally recommend avoiding broad-nib painting; focus instead on notan (which is determined solely by the border between black and white). Unless you're trying to start a southpaw ductile revolution* (which would be great).

* Where's that thread where John Hudson nicely showed some alternatives?

hhp

sendoushi's picture

I know that. I have 3 Art pen which are just... too hard to use. But Pilot Parallel... I've been seeing nice reviews about it because it goes "both ways" while an art pen just goes one way. I already bought on ebay two parallel so I can try it out.

hrant's picture

Here it is - a classic thread: http://typophile.com/node/48843
John's experiments start about 1/5 of the way down on the 3rd page.

BTW you might also try calligraphy pens meant for Arabic. If you must.

hhp

sendoushi's picture

interesting... i'll take a closer look to that topic. thanks

oldnick's picture

The original Pentel "felt-tip"—which was, in fact, bamboo—was muy bueno. Many an ambitious project was launched on the back of a cocktail napkin…

typerror's picture

Joel
You may wish to search John Neal Bookseller for canted edge nibs. The Parallel pens are very forgiving, free-flowing and responsive. He also has books by various artists on left handed calligraphy which may facilitate your experience.A less expensive route may be some of the chisel edge markers. Elegant writer by Speedball is by far the most durable/long lasting but there are others that come in larger sizes.

chrisburton's picture

I use the Staedtler Mars 780 C Lead Holder for lettering (also left-handed). I bought some Microns but I'm not a fan of them or inking my work in general.

Chris Dean's picture

@joelsantos & chrisburton: Hands down, that pencil was the siht. I highly recommend it. The choice of lead is up to you. I prefer a 2B. As a lefty, I’d recommend an F.

And don’t forget the “lead pointer tub.”

It makes a bit of a mess if you carry it around as the lead shavings can fall out, so you’ll have to wrap it tightly in a small plastic bag. And see that little white thing? That’s similar to a (replaceable) cigarette filter you stick and twist your freshly sharpened lead into to remove excess shavings.

*sigh*

I miss the days when carrying around a cool pencil and sharpener made you look bad-ass in front of your friends.

5star's picture

That Pilot Parallel is awesome, I'm ordering a set of them with refills!

Here's a shot of what I currently roll with...

...felt tip pilots, various sharpies, lead sticks both round and rectangular, mechanical pencil n' other stuff. Plus lots more that I couldn't bother squeezing into the shot.

This time of year I go out and harvest various types of dried reed plants. They're awesome to draw with!

And ya, I keep my drawing stuffs in sterling silver vessels of all kinds that I never ever polish :)

n.

sendoushi's picture

@typerror: can't find those canted edge nibs. Those speedball seems interesting to me but Parallel are cheaper and easier to get so... I'll go with those for now and let's see!

@chrisburton: What technique do you use? The scribble at 30 degrees? Do you find yourself doing more sans-serif, calligraphy, serif...? That lead holder seems pretty interesting. How is the weight and those things?

@Christopher Dean: Never seen a sharpener for 2mm here ehehe. I've always used the top cap and it sucks! No need to carry around unless it's around the house.

@5star: Refills are pretty inexpensive but I've found that it's possible to have one of those refillable cartridges from the fountain pens on the Parallel. That seems pretty interesting for me, for example, to mix with water to have another kind of transparency level. I've always found that pure black is not really the way to work on font production unless it's already on the computer. Do you really use that whole lot? :P What kind of work do you do?

By the way people, books? I have some collectible books and even left-hand calligraphy book but I think I need a book of techniques (besides this left-hand calligraphy) and sort of.

Rob O. Font's picture

Typographers use red pencils and yellow, pink and other highlighters.

Calligraphers and lettering artists use a whole different set of tools, as you now can read. :)

sendoushi's picture

@dberlow: why red pencils, yellow, pink... highlighters?

hrant's picture

To mark/correct printed proofs! :-)

left-hand calligraphy book

I could recommend some brain typedesign books but I think you're not interested.

hhp

sendoushi's picture

@hrant: what do you mean by brain typedesign?

hrant's picture

What I (and seemingly David) have been getting at all along: stop thinking about painting and start thinking about thinking. Even at the beginning type was not made with any of the pretty things mentioned in this thread.

hhp

sendoushi's picture

@hrant: so a more logical/mathematical view of typedesign?

hrant's picture

Not necessarily so clinical, but at least try to work as directly as possible with the actual tool used to make letterforms: the bézier. It's harder to make pretty shapes that way, but to me [thinking about] marking the border -not the body- is the only way to truly leverage the medium.

hhp

sendoushi's picture

well I could be interested. I'm still developing myself as a type designer so I don't really know what I want. Do you know any articles with beginner approach to that brain typedesign? :P

hrant's picture

Nothing that stands out unfortunately. But you could start by studying the concept of notan as well as the work of Dwiggins and Bloemsma. Aicher was also a thinking designer (so worth reading) but Rotis suffers from being his first (and only) real typeface.

hhp

Chris Dean's picture

@hrant: I am not a type designer, but I have decades in design and typography. Shouldn’t one learn theories before, or at least in conjunction with, tools? I’ll take design as an example. We were taught about gestalt principles, rhetoric, semiotics, colour theory, heck, even some math &c. Then we started focusing on what a printing press, graphic camera, tech pen (and eventually computer) could do to help us apply this knowledge.

If all one knows is how to swing a hammer, how can they be expected to design a building?

hrant's picture

I'm all for thinking before doing (in fact I emphasize the former too much). But this thread is about tools.

hhp

typerror's picture

First off Hrant... lettering is not painting, so just put that out of your mind! Still, you persist in trying to sway others with misnomers.
Secondly, do you think that lettering artists/calligraphers go willy nilly into the dark when designing a font. That tells me you are thoughtless, and or ignorant of my "ilk's" process.
Thirdly... Notan is inherent in the practice of lettering/calligraphy, probably more so than laying down outlines. Outlines give no hint of black/white relationships until there is the presence of both. And you cannot calculate the "undefined" until you define those two elements and look for that "other."

But this is about tools... and your unbending resolve to disallow two different approaches to co-exist.

typerror's picture

Did not think you would and that paints you as a demagogue... poor choice of word, it implies leadership and I don't see that in you or your work.

typerror's picture

Nope, no battle. Vacate an argument before you look as bad as the antagonist. There is quite a bit of arrogance in anyone who advocates in the face of proven methods of achievement and denigrates those who chose an alternate, yet viable path. And LL is just plain idiot on parade!

typerror's picture

hrant
18 Dec 2011 — 12:46pm

I avoid YouTube like the plague - sorry not to click.

Tee hee!!!!!!!!!!

John Hudson's picture

Thanks for the link to that old thread, Hrant. I'd forgotten all about it. I suspect there is enough content for a book among the things that I've written on Typophile that I don't remember writing. Heck, some of it I don't even remember thinking. I am particularly proud of this contribution to that thread, though, which I think is one of the best things I've said on the subject of the 'software' of type design:

I think that Gerrit Noordzij's theory of the stroke provides one very strong analytical tool: one which I use every day when making decisions about shapes. Perhaps more importantly, I was instinctively looking at shapes in this way for many years before I read Noordzij's formulation of the theory. What Noordzij did was to expand my analysis, so that I saw and understood things that I had previously missed. Crucially, I think Noordzij has described the hermeneutic tradition within which type design exists, and has done so in a way that is independent of the lore, legend, personalities and advertising copy that make up much 'typographic history'. As I wrote earlier in this thread, a hermeneutic tradition is not something from which one can escape, and in some ways one is most deeply embedded in that tradition when one is critiquing it and finding reasons for rejecting it or extending it.

Chris Dean's picture

Obviously it’s hard to pick up on playful, sarcastic, tongue in cheek jesting. Yeesh!

John Hudson's picture

I have a few Pilot Parallel pens, but I find only the larger ones very useful. The Pilot nibs are not as thin perpendicular to width as traditional nibs, so at smaller sizes the results are lower contrast than I like and tend to look a bit gummy.

PS. The little piece of thin plastic provided with the pens to clean between the nib sections is essential. Don't lose it.

typerror's picture

.

:-) Get that Christopher? I got yours, just don't need anyone "fanning the flames." I am trying to explain to the "eye" that he isn't creating a safe haven for "everyone," no matter what his agenda is. He does not get that!

hrant's picture

Noordzij's formulation is indeed extremely valuable in understanding what has been. Paradoxically it's also valuable because it makes it easier to escape the fallacy that is chirography; it's easier to overcome something when you know exactly what it is, and we all owe Noordzij that. The past cannot escape from tradition, but the future can, and it always does eventually. I just hope to be alive to see this particular tradition go the way of the tasty but stupid Dodo.

hhp

hrant's picture

Re-reading that, I have to apologize for being too dismissive. I guess Michael's frothing berserker philosophy of life can be infectious.

Ideas never die - at most they go dormant. And I'm not even sure I would enjoy the total absence of chirography. There will always be a place for it - always some people who will make chirographic type, much of it nice to look at. My real contention is -and has long been- that the idea of chirography gets too much mileage it doesn't deserve, and there's not enough exposition of its drawbacks. I often position myself at extremes not because I'm an extremist at heart, but essentially as a well-meaning slap in the face, aimed at people I expect more from.

Thankfully there is a growing, if rag-tag guerrilla army of what I've been calling "liminographers": designers who consciously violate chirography in favor of the direct creation of notan. This "anti" stance is merely an initial reaction. Eventually type will be made by people who simply ignore chirography, and it will be my own favorite kind.

hhp

Chris Dean's picture

@hrant: For those not in the know, can you please define what you mean when you use the terms “chirography” and “notan?”

cuttlefish's picture

Chirography
Notan
and for good measure, since it seems to come up a lot outside the discussion of rhinoceros enclosures
Bouma

sendoushi's picture

@cuttlefish: concepts hard to fully understand ehehe

This blog thread is really flowing eheh

Guys, what about rulers? Do you use gliders and stuff? What do you use?

chrisburton's picture

@chrisburton: What technique do you use? The scribble at 30 degrees? Do you find yourself doing more sans-serif, calligraphy, serif...? That lead holder seems pretty interesting. How is the weight and those things?

@joelsantos I don't use pens so Calligraphy is out of the question. My work strictly consists of script lettering at this time. The Staedtler lead holder I mentioned above is quite phenomenal. It's pretty lightweight for me and doesn't feel too big in my fingertips. I would absolutely agree with @ChristopherDean about the tub sharpener. The lead holder itself has one attached however, it leaves shavings everywhere and all over your fingers (potentially smudged on your paper as well if you're not careful).

As for rulers, I just use an ordinary stainless steel one.

Side Note: Does anyone know of a modern electric lead pointer? Here is one that Doyald Young used but it's really old. http://leadholder.com/point-kroy.html

John Hudson's picture

Jason, the Typowiki entry on notan is a good explication of the word's common meaning and origins. Hrant's usage carries with it a number of additional assertions, which I think result in question begging when presented as such, but which are due proper consideration when posed as questions. So, for example, near the beginning of this thread Hrant asserts that notan ' is determined solely by the border between black and white', from which he infers then that outline drawing ('liminography) is the only way to attain notan in type design. Now, clearly, neither the first assertion nor the inference is implied by the common understanding of notan as derived from East Asian aesthetics of dark and light, as outlined in the Typowiki. Notan is something that exists whenever light and dark are present in direct relationship, so obviously exists in all typically contrasted text, whatever the means of its making. In terms of traditional use of the term, what matters are canons of beauty associated with notan, and hence it makes eminent sense to talk about notan in the context of calligraphy; indeed, this is one of the main uses of the term in Japanese aesthetics, and serves to link calligraphy with sumi-e and other styles of painting that make use of light and dark relationships, and with traditional design practices. Hrant's use of the term, then, must be seen as novel or idiosyncratic, although I don't think there's anything wrong with that and find it a useful shorthand term for referring to something like 'the relationship of structure and space in type design, in which structure is presumed to be black and space white, or some similar dark/light contrast'. The problem I have with Hrant's use isn't its novelty or its independence of the common usage, but the question begging that goes into his secondary assertions and inferences. When these are rephrased as questions, the whole topic becomes more interesting to me and opens on to possible dialogue:

Is notan a functional concept in reading? In what way?

Is this functionality enhanced or impeded by (para)chirographically achieved notan?

What other design processes might be used to create typographic forms?

How do you establish criteria for functionally good notan in a writing system independent of writing?

There are other questions that follow from these.

hrant's picture

As much as I admire Eastern cultures, the proper separation of notan from painting is indeed a paradox they need to resolve (I mean in type, not calligraphy). The upcoming ATypI conference is an ideal opportunity for this. But I'm not holding my breath.

(I'll get to your questions very soon.)

hhp

sendoushi's picture

@chrisburton I also have a Staedtler lead holder. It must be almost the same but maybe your's is more confortable since mine isn't rounded. Anyway, it's my main drawing tool at the moment, the lead holder. Need a good fine point also. Mine are all over and I hate micron.

cuttlefish's picture

Back on the original topic: I've used T-squares, triangles, drafting machines that fulfill the roles of both. These days nearly all my graphics work is done with computers, but some of my old drafting tools find uses in painting (proportional dividers are practically a requirement, as far as I'm concerned).

sendoushi's picture

Proportional dividers? hmmmm what do you use them for?

cuttlefish's picture

scaling, enlarging and reducing, sectioning, among other things.
A machined aluminum proportional divider like the one I inherited is ridiculously expensive, but I've seen some cheap plastic ones in the past which should serve the purpose just as well.

John Hudson's picture

A reducing lens is a useful thing. It enables one to print large and then get a sense of how it will look at text size at higher resolution than your printer is capable of.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

By far the best hardware a type designer could own would be one of those 3d printers that can print into a plastic cube.

sendoushi's picture

Ryan I don't see why that is the best hardware for a type designer. It's fun, it's useful but not the best hardware.

John, looking for those reducing lens now...

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