Who Remembers Letratone?

Letratone Image

… Because if you do, then there’s a special clearance offer for the Letraset-produced screen tone paper being sold on ebay – over £1360 worth of screen tone paper, starting bid 99p. No reserve!

Letratone, produced by Letraset from 1966 onwards (the company is still going – they still create Transfer Lettering but “Action Transfers” are a thing of the past), is a technique for applying textures and shades to drawings, used as an alternative to hatching.

In the conventional process, first used released in 1937 by Zip-A-Tone and Chart-Pak in 1949, patterns are transferred to paper from preprinted sheets, but nowadays the technique is more often simulated in computer graphics.

The seller is the only person on ebay selling the high quality brand new screen tone paper that had comic artist cursing into their coffee for many years. If you’re still an artist still drawing physically, With screen tone paper you can transform your comic art.

• Go to ebay and search for screen tone paper, or follow this link

• There a many Forgotten art techniques on the Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies web site

• Letraset: www.letraset.com

• Action Transfers Archive: www.action-transfers.com

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

Categories: Art and Illustration, Creating Comics, Merchandise

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4 replies

  1. Ohhh YES!!! Used that stuff all the time when working as a graphic artist for a print shop back in the days before home computers killed them all off. Syd Jordan probably used most of the nation’s supply creating the Jeff Hawke and Lance McLane strips and it was quite common over here but rarely used in the US (or so it seems to me) – Terry Austin and Bob McLoud did use it for inking purposes as a kind of SFX add-on and it really make their inks step up a level. You can do it all on computer these days of course but it’s not the same – there was something very satisfying about cutting the sheets to size and whiting out of scraping away parts of the background sheet to create cloudscapes etc – happy days….

  2. Hmmm – what do you think about me using it on Border Worlds JF?? I could pop it on a separate layer so it won’t interfere with the coloured version of that art. I seem to remember JR cursing at having to remove all the lettratome when he coloured up Jeff Hawke strip!!! I’ll add it to a page of the Rourke strip and let you see how it looks.

    • Yeah – Letratone is the bane of reprint editor and designer’s lives! Definitely a separate layer and in my opinion, don’t use too many tones. Paul Neary always urged the use of just one or two back in the days of Marvel UK

  3. I was first introduced to Letraset in 1963 when I was still at school. I know it was that year since I have a cinema programme that I transferred the Letraset letters and date to on the cover. I didn’t use a lot of the black and white Letratone, but did use the coloured versions. Now I do 3D printing as a hobby and the coloured filaments seem to me to have a historical connection with Letratone. One of the features of Letratone were the advertising booklets that announces new tones. The illustrations used to show the effects were very impressive. One cartoon showing boys stealing apples from an orchard, so caught my interest that I kept the page. Now that technology has developed into other areas, I’m able to have this illustration printed on tea towels and as washable fabric as a shower curtain.

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