Probably the most difficult thing I've had to learn to carve is text. Somehow, when carving regular images, I feel like there is a lot of leeway given in the interpretation of the object that I'm carving. When I carve some bad lines in an image, my brain interprets everything properly when everything is stamped up and things often look better than the disaster my fatalistic brain has come up with.
However, with text, there really is no leeway. My brain has been hardwired for reading and will notice even the faintest improper wiggle in the lines. I guess a lot of other people feel that way too and because of that they are intimidated from taking on something with text.
But, my advice would be, carve it anyway! You'll only get better at it! Carve more! Practice makes perfect!
I remember going and finding a Fiddleheads carve out in the wild that had some text on it that completely blew me away. I had to learn to do that...
The thing is, you're only setting yourself up for sadness if you use default computer fonts for your carvings. Here's why: default fonts that come pre-installed with whatever software you're using (such as Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, etc) are meant for dense writing on paper and huge amounts of text. The fonts are meant for printers printing at 500 dot per inch. The individual glyphs are tiny, thin, well nuanced, and essentially not well-suited for carving. Can they be carved? Yes, by really talented carvers, at large sizes, etc.
That's not me. I need to carve good lookin' text and not have the letters be giant. And let's face it, default fonts are boring. I work all day with Times New Roman and Cambria. Gag. No more, thanks. Where's my freedom of creative expression?
Oh. Free fonts, you say?
DISCLAIMER: BY READING THE REST OF THIS POST, YOU MAY LOSE TIME, SLEEP, AND MAY END UP WITH A HUGE BACK-LOG OF CARVING TO BE COMPLETED. BY READING THE REMAINDER OF THIS POST, YOU HEREBY WAIVE ALL RIGHTS BY YOU, YOUR HEIRS AND/OR SUCCESSORS FROM ANY CLAIMS, RESULTS, OR DAMAGES INCURRED BY THE GRATUITOUS AND WANTON GORGING UPON FONTS. YOU HAVE BEEN HEREBY WARNED.
There's nothing like a new font to get your creative juices going. As much as I wander through the depths of Google Images looking for pretty pictures to carve, I probably spend even more time wandering through the depths of free font sites, finding inspiration at every turn. You need fat fonts, not necessarily round - but big black ones that are conducive to carving even when tiny.
I remember in the lead up to Box ON! deciding that I was concerned that there weren't going to be that many boxes out for the event and that people were going to be climbing all over one another at the box locations. Coming up with a way to slow people down and increase the number of boxes was achieved one day while wandering through fonts: why not carve labels for each of the boxes with both the name of the mysterious location and the carver?
I found the perfect font for it: Rapscallion. I liked the font so much that I used it on the map for the event as well (you can check that out here). I also found a number of icon fonts for the glyphs I used to mark the locations of the boxes on that map. Essentially, that map was one big ol' font fest.
Seriously, if you're not a technically inclined person, don't fret about installing new fonts on your computer. Whether you have a PC or a Mac, it's super easy, there are great instructions at DaFont here.
I spend most of my time at DaFont, but here's a great list of free font websites to check out:
- Dafont - my favourite site, spend a lot of time here - check out in particular the section on "Dingbats" - lots of great carving images, no editing required.
- 1001FreeFonts - great site, some great fat black fonts that are good for carving.
- Creamundo - many nights have been lost in this website
- Action Fonts - also has a great dingbat section, I particularly like their Alien Symbols
I'm sure there are a lot other great places to get fonts... I'm inspired now and my carving materials are still buried in my packed stuff. Grr. What was I thinking?