- Are you game to climb up on staging?
- Make sure the plank rests "flat" on the rungs of the staging ladders.
If necessary, add a shingle or wedge to stabilize a warped plank.
- Set the height of the plank so that you can view the work surface
at eye level.
- Watch your step! Position the plank for good balance.
- Remember to duck! Look up and sideways, as well as down.
- Can you plan lettering around obstacles?
- Lettering should look natural, as if the fittings were installed
- Typical obstacles: chainplates, ladders, vents, rigging, radar, ropes.
- See enlargement below for layout around chainplate and ladder.
- Can you get the work done on time?
- Maintain good rapport with the foreman, security, or other workers.
- Otherwise, the boat may be moved while you work on it.
- Can you finish work while the boat waits on the launch pad?
- Can you work with distractions?
- Cold, wind, dampness, crowding, darkness, sawdust, grinding noise,
heavy equipment, paint fumes.
- You may need dust or vapor mask, additional staging, or to do
extensive cleaning, just to get started.
- See boat shed and construction photos with comments below.
Heather transom, close-up view
In this instance, there are two vents, a hand grip, a chainplate, and brackets for holding a ladder that will be installed later. The sides of the ladder will pass between the letters, not over them. The overall appearance is cultivated to look as if all those fittings were installed later as afterthoughts.
- Normally, upper case letters are the first option, and the name is made less bold.
- Here, lower case letters help to solve the spacing problem.
- Likewise, shadowed letters do not typically fit with the classic boat lettering style.
- Outlined letters work better for classic boats, while shaded letters generally go on trucks.
- However, in this case, the light blue shades on the letters attract the eye's attention away from the shiny chrome fittings.
- Here, the shades on the letters are put on the right, to help balance the name around the chainplate.
By signing the boat "Heather" with a good-looking name, the boat owner demonstrates pride and care taken with the boat - and boosts its resale value.
Additional variables - The worksite pictures below show some of the challenges faced by the lettering artist.
Studio conditions - not!
- Tight quarters
- Dusty conditions
- Dim lighting
- Marginal heat
The "Good News" is that:
- Not all sheds are cold. In late winter or early spring, unheated sheds take a while to warm up. The boats tend to retain the cold.
- The threshold for working in the cold is about 45 degrees.
- Remember to dress for extra warmth because lettering can be a stationary activity.
- Paint must be thinned out at lower temperatures, and it won't dry as quickly.
- Vinyl becomes stiff, loses elasticity at lower temperatures. Letters applied with water won't stick as well as evaporation takes longer.
- Note that you must program an upwards arc into the line of vinyl letters, and possibly fine-tune the curvature on site.
- When viewed from other boats on the water, this name appears to have no curvature.
Boats under construction involve multiple distractions:
- Get there early!
- Square away arrangements with construction manager, work crews, painters.
- Be prepared to wear dust or vapor mask, ear plugs.
- Cover up the finished work, and clear out to make room for others.
Double-end boat - outdoors
- How do you keep the name looking straight on the curved transom of this boat?
- Do you recommend placing the name across the chainplate, or doing it twice, once for each side?
- There's rarely a spring day without wind. When did you say the boat launches?
Studio conditions are rarely available. If a boat is placed temporarily in ideal conditions, it will likely be moved to make room for another boat very soon. More often, the conditions are chaotic. It is always on the nice, sunny day with a gentle breeze and mild temperatures that boat lettering looks easy
Unless you can plan your graphics well in advance, you will likely encounter some disruption and chaos in an ambitious boat graphics project. A good reason for having consistent reliable methods.
Sometimes the simple, effective lettering procedure works best.