Introducing the First Digital Lettering Tool

baseline magazine | issue 38 | 4 page article

Introducing the First Digital Lettering Tool
the works of Frank Overton
by Tony Richards

Long before the computer, artists and artisans used a very complex tool for making letterforms - their hands. At five digits per hand it was the first digital lettering tool. Letterforms in all shapes and sizes were drawn, carved, and engraved using the hand. Even allowing for its various technological flaws and quirks, the tool enabled the creation of some of the most beautiful lettering ever devised. Which underscores the paradox that after centuries of progress we have both gained and lost something of value. The computer made arduous procedures unnecessary and allowed for increased precision, yet it also atrophied the instincts needed to create beautiful and beautifully bawdy hand lettering. Although drawing on the screen is perhaps no less complicated than it is on paper with the hand alone, the new tool nevertheless eliminates the serendipitous edge that was inherent in the old one.