Creative Tablet’s Good Old Days of Design – Part 2

Creative Tablet’s Good Old Days of Design – Part 2

In the last post I left off with the cut-n-paste method, but I forgot to mention how the space for the type was calculated, so here it is…a Haberule. I guess I got too excited about remembering the stories.

You would place it over your printed piece and match up the text in your sample with those printed on the ruler to get a close estimation of the font sizes and line spacing and size of any rules in the design. Or, get even closer by using the points and picas measurements.

Haberule GaugeA Haberule Gauge – front & back

You got your raw copy character count using the elite or pica scales on the left edge to measure an average typewritten line x number of lines. Each font came with characters per inch – so you could use math to estimate how many column inches your copy would take at various column widths. So to fit a certain space you could vary the typeface, leading, column width or point size.  The other scales are used for counting lines with copy of various line heights in points (called “leading,” because it was controlled using lead strips in hot type.)

OK, back to the cut-n-paste method and I promise not to go off-track again.

Well, here is how that method actually worked and it’s not like Word processing. Once the type (on photo paper) arrived you would trim it to fit the designated area of the layout (it always had a larger border) and run it through a wax machine (would coat the bottom of the paper with hot wax so you had to be careful handling it) or just use rubber cement and slop it on the back with the enclosed stiff bristle brush. Rubber cement had a thick consistency similar to pudding and if it got too thick you could thin it out with…that’s right…thinner.

Daige WaxmachineHere is the Daige Wax Coater
rubber cementHere is the rubber cement that had a stiff bristle brush for application in the lid

Next the type would have to be checked again for any errors simply because you would be cutting it apart to fit the designated areas and I may have inadvertently cut off some type. Whew…no errors.

OK, now you could start putting the project together. Check the images and make a copy for the pasteboard as a sort of place marker. The original was keep in the file folder. Same with any illustrations.

Illustrations and photographs had to be carefully checked for any issues (dust on photos or smudges or color or size issues on illustrations) even using a magnifying glass or loupe and put in a safe place for the printer. Yes an actual place where you would hand them the work and come back later or in a few days.

Things are now much easier until someone comes in to the art department with a change. Unfortunately it happened, but not often. I remember a copywriter who wanted to add more copy to a layout that I thought was already copy heavy. After a few heated conversations I won out saying there was no room for any more copy and being the Creative Director helped.

Moving things around only required rubber cement thinner (the tip would twist open) which you would dribble over the items to be moved to loosen it up from the layout. Then I would lift the item up with an Xacto knife. Once the item was removed the thinner would dry and you would have to remove the residual rubber cement with a rubber cement eraser (a flexible glob of rubber) by rubbing the eraser on the residual cement. The black edges on the image of the pick-up below are the residual rubber cement that got dirty from rubbing past pencil marks, etc. It was a little tedious, but part of the design process.

Rubber-Cement-ProductsThe new item was glued down in place and now the project would go to the Art or Creative Director (I had finally moved into those positions at ad agencies) for approval and if all was well the next step was the printer.

Most of the time it was OK’d for printing, so off it would go and…

More to come with Part 3.

Please let me know what you think and if you have used the same tools.

The Creative Tablet

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