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Old 06-30-2006, 07:19 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Really useful book on Illustrator and more

Leslie Cabarga’s Logo, Font & Lettering Bible is nothing of the sort, but it is a fascinating compendium of insights into letters and how to draw them, how to think about type (especially display type and logos), and — most usefully — how to create characters and even fonts by drawing in Illustrator.

The 256-page book is densely illustrated with good (and bad) examples of logos, letters, and fonts. It is giddily disorganized, or seems that way. Officially it is arranged this way:
Part 1: The logo
Part 2: Drawing letters
Part 3: Fonts — the art of making faces
Part 4: Business sections
(BTW, Cabarga endeared me to his TOC by the old illustrations that border the text, especially the Speedball Pens and Skrip ink bottle, examples of which I have around here somewhere!)

Cabarga’s work reminds me somewhat of Ed Benguiat’s. Both are masters of the graceful — nay I say voluptuous — curve. The work of both hearkens back to the 19th century.

But none of that matters when he is at his best, analyzing old logos, thinking about new ones, and discussing how to draw letters. There are also glimmerings of history — with examples from Durer, the contemporary Paul Shaw, Clarence Hornung, and more.

But this book has two pragmatic aspects. First, the more frivolous: It takes you down unfamilar pathways. Second, it shows you specifically how to use Illustrator to create letters, logos, and even entire fonts.

Most interesting is the section on creating outline characters (Bézier curves and lines instead of filled shapes) and then using Illustrator’s functions to make characters of controlled widths. (Very clever stuff.)

He also discusses Illustrator-to-Fontographer and Fontographer-to-FontLab issues, though not in depth.

This book is not a software manual; it is not specifically related to text type design. But it is a fabulous look and read.

It would have been nice if the text were larger and easier to read; plan on having a table and good light for reading this book.

If you buy it directly from Cabarga, he will include a nice autograph and a free font. It may be cheaper elsewhere, of course, penny by penny. But do take a look at it wherever you can find it. Worth having.

   
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Old 07-02-2006, 02:30 AM   #2
Norman Hathaway
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Missed this one.
I was a fan of his back in the 70s. He was one of the few that wa sable to do authentic 1930s style lettering and illustration. Less impressed since he's gone digital though. I miss the imperfections of his brush and pen work.

But I'll definitely seek it out. Sounds like something I'd like.
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Old 07-02-2006, 07:18 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Norman Hathaway
Missed this one.
I was a fan of his back in the 70s. He was one of the few that wa sable to do authentic 1930s style lettering and illustration. Less impressed since he's gone digital though. I miss the imperfections of his brush and pen work.

But I'll definitely seek it out. Sounds like something I'd like.
I was never a big fan of his style — I wasn’t immune to the 70s, but my taste ran more to Eras and the like. His work is actually a bit more varied than I remembered, but it is all (or mostly) display types. Mainly, I appreciate the way he thinks about letters and letter-drawing techniques.

If you are really adept at Illustrator you may find some of his techniques (and tricks) ho-hum. I learned a few, saw better ways of using others. And I thought his comments on Béziers were very good. I also liked the idea of working with naked outlines to create skeleton characters, adding stroked weight, and finally using Object > Path > Outline to conver to outlined characters.

Working with plain outlines make it is easy to rearrange parts of letters, and extend or compress them even after they are stroked, all with no distortion. Not magic (there is lots of cleanup), but interesting technique.

I wish everyone who insists on running type around curves would read his pages on that: Maybe the letters would actually sit on the curve for a change.

The book sometimes seems a bit carelessly produced. That is actually part of its charm — it as if we’re looking at a workbook or random set of notes. (And then there are the real howlers, as in “See pages tk for info on spacing.” Ooops!) But then his pages on spacing are present, also quite good, and not tk at all <g>.

   
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Old 07-02-2006, 07:39 AM   #4
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"If you are really adept at Illustrator you may find some of his techniques (and tricks) ho-hum."

Now you tell me - and I just ordered it!

The samples on his site looked good. I'd consider him an illustrator, not a typographer. Looks like some interesting stuff in there.

I usually build up letters using a single stroke method too as well.

You should voice your crit on his site, he looks VERY keen to recieve it.
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Old 07-02-2006, 08:55 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Norman Hathaway
"If you are really adept at Illustrator you may find some of his techniques (and tricks) ho-hum."

Now you tell me - and I just ordered it!
I don’t think you will regret it — there is something in it for everybody! (Even if you feel like arguing with him.) It is one really dense book!

He is definitely an illustrator, not a typographer.

I like Seymour Chwast’s blurb on the back: “A mad, but indispensable, compendium of low and high design.”

   
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