Painted master lettering has become a lost art. Many of the practitioners have retired - leaving owners in a conundrum when it is time to repaint their boat. Their beautiful hand painted lettering may be gone forever, to be replaced by stock typography printed on vinyl. Replicating painted lettering is an art (and science) in itself. The hand painted master letterers took license with typography forms to create beautiful effects, and those forms cannot be repeated with production typography. The master letterers worked in freehand - spacing lettering as they went, expanding and contracting letter stems, caps and feet to conform to deck lines and curvature. Replicating their work in vinyl requires engineering letter forms either by gridding, tracing, or a combination of both.
Blue Thunder is a custom launch whose lettering was lovingly painted by one of the best: Brian Rutana. She was brought in for new paint in the spring of 2018 and we were tasked with replicating the boat name and hailing port.
Masked off and ready for ablation and new paint, we carefully photographed the name and hailing port, one letter at a time and separately photoed ligatured pairs. This gave us a base from which to do the color matching and tracing, as well as sizing for trim such as the pin-striping and back shadow.
From here we traced and vectorized all of the photo images and set to work refining all the letter forms to replicate Brian's work, including the tilting at the end of the name.
The results were great! The only deviation was darkening down the back shadow to better 'pop' the lettering. This was printed in premium cast inkable vinyl to which a protective clear gloss over-laminate was applied to enhance durability.