Sign Painting: Brush Lettering and Pro Layout

Sign Painter

Cost: $840.00

8 online sessions. This class will take place online using Zoom. You will need a computer or device and we recommend downloading the Zoom app. 

Instructor(s): John Downer

Tuesdays & Thursdays, June 21–July 14, 2022

1:30 pm to 4:30 pm

REGISTER ONLINE (Registration opens May 2, 2022)

Commercial brush lettering styles are integral to the professional appearance of a painted sign. Such styles have often served as inspiration for display typefaces used by graphic designers, and sign makers alike. The warmth and charm of brush-made letterforms have ubiquitous appeal for a wide range of applications.

Through weekly brush lettering demonstrations and instructional lectures, students will be taught the basics of brush lettering and layout. Students will practice exercises and work on projects designed to build skills and to develop an eye for letter anatomy, proportions, and details. Classes will be held online. Therefore, students will be expected to set up an appropriate work space to participate. (see materials list). Letterform model sheets and traditional layout exemplars will be shared as pdfs throughout the course as reference for practice. These will be useful as digital files on screen or as printed material. Individual and group commentary will provide valuable feedback for each student to progress according to ability.

The styles to be taught are Block, Half Block, Thick and Thin, Block Italic, and Cut-in. Each of these styles has its own separate set of structural rules, but all five have much in common with one another. In addition, basic principles of layout will be addressed. Students will learn how to use a flat ferrule lettering brush with tempera paint to form a set of foundation strokes, and then to construct characters from the component strokes.

The main objective is for participants to acquire a depth of familiarity with the conventional styles of 20th-century sign letters, and to learn to make and use them as they were meant to be used graphically. No prior lettering experience is necessary, but typography and graphic design experience would be helpful. Knowledge of commercial fonts is also a bonus. Beginners are welcome. The instructor will work to provide useful challenges and projects, tailored to the experience levels of lettering artists who join. Feedback will also be given.

Required Materials

  • A computer or device with reliable internet connection
  • A workspace with either a slanted board on a top table of 15° to 45° or a drafting table big enough to hold 14" x 22" card stock
  • Mack Golden Taklon 1/4” series 162 flat brush, or Robert Simmons Sapphire S21 1/4” synthetic flat brush
  • Blick Premium Tempera (black) or Master Class tube tempera (black)) or Master Class tube tempera (black)
  • 12 ea. 22” x 28” sheets of white railroad board. Please cut each sheet in half to yield two pieces 14” by 22” as our standard working size.
  • 12 ea. 4” x 4” scraps of corrugated cardboard
  • chalk
  • pencil
  • eraser
  • masking tape
  • clear or frosted cellophane tape
  • water containers
  • rags
  • paper towels
  • apron or smock
  • bar soap for brush clean up
  • Optional materials: access to a printer to print out exemplars

This class will limited to 16 students to allow for time for individual feedback. The class times are listed in Eastern US time. Please check for your time zone.

This class meets twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 4 weeks.

Classes will take place over Zoom. A Zoom meeting link to join the class will be emailed to enrolled students a day or two before the first session.

Registration for this workshop will open at 10:00 am on May 3, 2022. For updates and reminders about Type@Cooper offerings and events, please join our mailing list

Save the date: Tue., Jun. 21, 6:30PM

Course Code: TFD90

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