New Asemic Script #3

Quite a while has passed since I recorded my progress. This has been ongoing for some time now – I am not posting as regularly as I should. Having established a number of forms in a favourable calligraphic line, I chose to explore other line qualities in order to see if the forms ‘held up’ to treatments they weren’t designed to handle, and to see if anything interesting happened. Although I apply a more thorough methodology to my work, I am not afraid of opening other doors to see what’s behind.


I decided to create my own lines rather than use the software presets – remember I’m using Adobe Illustrator here – my lines are in red above their applications. So I opened some doors and was largely appreciative of how most forms retained their basic dynamic, but was not overly excited by the results. Always worth a look though.


Now it’s time for a small digression. I would like to admit here that I have not always been an advocate of the ‘see what happens’ school of design as many of my old students will attest. Having been trained as a designer before the Apple revolution, I was schooled in the ‘thinking things through, sketching things out, mocking things up’ methodology, which was ultimately aimed at properly refining the idea – not the imagery, but was inevitably used as an economical measure – to avoid expensive mistakes and changes late in the process. Computers have pretty much done away with this. I can’t begin to tell you how disheartened I have been by seeing students trying out every font in alphabetical order, rather than making an informed or even intuitive decision. (Deep breath…)

As I have matured I have finally acknowledged the convenience that the ‘modern’ (good grief, I feel old at 45!) digital design process and can really appreciate what just happened just now. It was not that long ago that the production of this stage would have been so time consuming and costly that you would have been publicly humiliated for even suggesting it in a studio environment.

Now, before anyone gets the chance to butt in (the joys of blogging!) I wish to make it very clear that this type of process is no substitute for thinking, deciding and committing to a process, going on to refine and develop to the end. Having already formulated my approach, tried and tested my choices and decisions, I can now appreciate the convenience the software allows.

NOTE TO STUDENTS: Never let the dog take you out for a walk…

Phew! Glad I got that off my chest. I hope you managed to get some popcorn and a comfort break before the main feature resumed.

Back to the calligraphic line. Having created a handful of glyphs I began to compose lines, adding new forms and ligatures in response to the new structures emerging. At this point I noticed a number of Arabic inspired forms emerging which pleased me greatly. I was particularly interested in the possibilities of cross-line ligatures:


Well, there’s only one way to deal with an itch and that is to scratch; some careful maneuvering allowed several other lines drop or reach up:

This was a crucial stage. I had grown a little ‘glyph-blind’ and really couldn’t judge whether this had worked as I had hoped it would, so I decided to take it elsewhere and look at it a different way, by digitally applying it to an old manuscript page, adding borders and some inter-line noodling:


The verdict? Well, like the curate’s egg; good it parts. I think the main body of the script works – there is still some refinement to go – but the vertical ligatures are awkward, ugly even. But the inter-line noodling was also interesting…


I was regularly getting samples off-screen to check scale and composition, and couldn’t resist printing a sample off onto handmade paper:


On revisiting the glyphs to remove the undesirable ligatures, I began to look at the details – in particular where lines meet or converge. This was also an opportunity to tidy things up a little by converting the lines to paths and manually making adjustments to make more visually pleasing union points:


So it was back a few steps, lose the ligatures, and close up the lines. This, I think is much more elegant:


After this time consuming and ‘oh-so pernickety’ stage, it was time to see a block of text:


Remember that noodling in between the lines earlier? That was created just to add something that would suggest a small sub-script, or even something similar to Jewish micrography. It was created from a number of smaller strokes, some taken directly from the main script, and others drawn using a graphics tablet. I decided to have a look at that in isolation from the main script and was generally quite pleased. I thought it looked a little less formal, so grouped lines together to suggest verses.


Asemic poetry? Poetry translated into asemic script? Or a just a streamlined shorthand? I think this has further mileage – a linear script is almost entirely dependent upon the subtlety of its curves, dips and peaks…


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