ARCHITECTURAL LETTERING Good lettering is an essential requisite of a good set of plans. A poorly executed but lettered attractively and well, will look a great deal better than one which is well drawn but which is poorly lettered. Therefore, at the start, let it be said that a draftsman needs to be a good letterer as well as a good draftsman.
We find lettering used with the earliest art of the Egyptians. These ancient people ex pressed their thoughts by means of symbols, more or less geometrical in outline. These in scriptions we find in the oldest of our Biblical writings; they were worked in stone and written on their papyrus. The forms used are called hieroglyphics, and students of ancient languages have been able to translate these strange characters.
The Greeks and Romans had characters very similar to ours. We have copied their forms, and use them to-day for our letters. Some of the inscriptions on the ancient Greek and Roman temples are splendid examples of letter ing, as to both form and spacing.
The first principle to remember is that good lettering comes from freehand work. and not a mechanical product. The tendency of the begin ner, especially, is to make all letters by means of straight edges and drawing instruments. The difference in the two methods is evident when we compare work of the two kinds. The printed letter such as is used for newspaper headlines, and the title as executed on a set of drawings, show very clearly that the former is too mechanical and stiff, while the latter, if well executed, is much the more attractive. Then again, freehand lettering can be adjusted to the general type of the drawing.
After the graceful ease and ready adapta bility of freehand work, the next requisite in good achitectural lettering is simplicity. The simpler the letter, the easier made. and the better the general effect. Examples illustrating this can be seen in the effect of highly orna mental letters in newspaper advertising.
Learn to make the titles the same as a free hand sketch. Make plenty of strokes of the
pencil; get the general shape of the letters, and the spacing. Do not attempt to make each letter with one stroke of the pencil.
After having made the title with several out lines, then go over this, and the final lettering can be done from this sketch of the letters. Get the general proportions and shapes first, to gether with the spacing, before trying to get a finished title. Develop the title as a whole, and let the small details of each lette:! be the last thing attempted.
The effect of the spacing of letters upon the general appearance of the title, will be seen from the accompanying illustrations of ex amples. Study the available space for the title; and make the size, style, and spacing of the letters to suit the conditions. The guide lines, with perhaps a few lines limiting the edges of the letters, are the only mechanical lines that should be used.
It will be well to consider some of the letter forms, ha order to understand just how they are made to look the best. See Fig. SS. The A is made wide enough at the bottom to give the appearance of stability. The cross-line should always he below the center, for, if exactly on the center, the upper portion appears too small for the base. The B should have the upper half smaller than the lower, both as to the width and the cross-line. It appears over-balanced if the upper half is made exactly like the lower half.
The C should have the upper projection of the curve a little less than the lower. E should be smaller above the center line than below. The cross-line of F, H, and R should be the same. G should be similar to C in the greater projec tion of the lower part of the curve. P, because it has no lower portion, should be made a little larger than one-half the height. S should have the upper half the smaller. X and Y usually have their intersection on the center line.
By keeping these facts in mind, the appear ance of the letters will be much improved.