Last year, when Avengers: Age of Ultron came out on Bluray, my brother came over to watch the film at my house. While watching, I suddenly had an idea for a lettering project: I wanted to draw the phrase Ultron seems obsessed with throughout the movie (which is, of course, from Pinocchio): “There are no strings on me.” My thought was to use lots of swashes and embellishments, then finally ink it with my flex nib dip pen.
I ended up vectoring the piece, but was unsatisfied with the first finalization. I sat on it for several months, then decided to rework it after reading Jessica Hische‘s fantastic book, In Progress. The final result is something I can say I’m quite proud of.
For more on how I’ve started vectoring my projects, see “Cleaner bezier curves in typography.”
The initial sketch.
After inking with a flex-nib dip pen.
First edit in Photoshop.
Second edit in Photoshop.
First vector. I’d planned on adding shading like the original inking, but ended up preferring the monoline look. I was unsatisfied with this result overall, however. But I couldn’t put my finger on why.
I thought that perhaps further stylizing the design would help, but it still felt “off” to me. I decided to sit on it for a while.
Several months later, after reading In Progress by Jessica Hische, I decided to take the knowledge I’d gained from her book (along with experience in lettering since that first sketch) to rework the vector for greater precision in my curves and more balance overall. This is a look at my progress, with and without anchor points, to illustrate how the lettering was structured.
This is the final vector version, before adding embellishments.
I found a fantastic vector rope brush set online (I wish I could remember where!), and added it to the design. Then I moved into Photoshop to add further depth and correct where some of the rope brush didn’t quite work out around curves. Lastly, I added a grunge texture to the rope to help distinguish it from the clean black background.
A close-up of the fine detail in the piece.