How to Use the Ames Lettering Guide
You don’t need a subscription to read today’s post!
This is a re-post from the Webcomics.com archive. If you’ve ever been curious about the kind of information, tutorials and advice that you’ll get as part of your subscription to Webcomics.com, this is a good example.
If you’d like to join the site, you can get a 12-month subscription for $30 — or you can get a one-month Trial for $5 … with no obligation after your 30 days expire. For less than three bucks a month, you can get a steady flow of information, tutorials and advice targeted towards your webcomic business — plus a private forum to discuss issues with other professionally minded cartoonists.
The Ames Lettering Guide is a little daunting when you begin to use it. For general use, I’m going to suggest ignoring the holes on the left-hand side of the tool as well as the metric measurements.
Before we get started, let’s cover some typography terms.
You can use the Ames tool to measure out Cap height, X-height and leading. It’s an ingenious little tool. Here’s how it works.
For cartoonists lettering in all-caps, that center row of dots is really useful. It allows you to measure out the Cap-height with an X-height that falls into dead center. Finally, it gives you leading that is exactly half the size of the Cap-height — which is also a typographical rule-of-thumb.
Even though you’re not using lowercase letters, that X-height rule is amazingly useful in helping you to place different components of uppercase letters, for example:
- The crossbar of an H and E can be placed directly on the X-height line.
- The crossbar of the letter A should be slightly lower — to open up that triangle it creates inside the letter.
- The top loop of B should end a little above the X-height line — the bottom loop should be larger.
- The top loop of P and R should extend a little below the X-height line. (Again, this opens up the negative space inside the shape of the letter.)