A mini tutorial on how to design a letter in 8 easy steps!
Date: January 30th 2020.
Est Read Time: 7 min
We finally gathered the will to write a new blog post sharing with you a little tutorial on how to design a letter from scratch till the end - structure, shadows, ornaments and all the bedazzle!
So let's dive in!
We've taken some bits & pieces from the workbook included in our latest product - "The KickOff Lettering Toolbox" to help us save time and letter with ease.
This tutorial is made for Procreate software but you can use paper and brush as well!
Today we will focus on creating a block letter, but we will do a script one soon as well :)
To get started choose a letter you like, or you can just use letter "R" that we are putting as an example to make it easier for you.
Choose a brush you want to draw with, we chose soft pencil brush that comes with our product, but any softer pencil made for sketching will do.
Then draw a line as demonstrated in the picture, make sure to follow the order of drawing lines, because this will make your process easier and more smooth.
And our skeleton is done! Easy, right?
After drawing the skeleton, let's continue on adding weights to the letter.
Block letters can have equal weight, which means that the thickness of the line is same on every point of the letter; and can be contrasted, which means that some parts will be thicker and some will be thinner. What is important to note is that the thicker parts have to have same thickness everywhere, the same as the thinner ones.
In this exercise we focused on the contrasted block letter, as you can see in the example - the leg, shoulder and the stem are thicker while the lines that connect them are thin. The thickness of the thin parts can be different as long as the contrast is visible.
So now, choose how thick you want your letter to be and draw the weights. Piece of cake, am I right?
So now that we have our letter almost constructed let's add some serifs to it.
Serif is and extended "leg" located at the end of each letter. One of it's main purposes is decorative, while in some cases its to improve legibility.
In The KickOff Lettering Toolbox you can find many different serifs we've included for inspiration but here we will focus on bracketed serif.
So, take your pencil and draw little curves on the ends of the letter. If you feel confident choose a different kind of serif, we are sure you will nail it!
And now - colour it :)
And now is time to Twist it up!
We are going to take our beautiful coloured letter and we are going to play with it. Here you can go nuts, you can make it chunky, wavy, bloby, whatever you can think of! Or you can just copy our for the starters and experiment later, everything works :)
So take your pencil and freestyle draw that extra personality to your letter by adding more weight or a different curve or an interesting ending.
Is it spectacular? We are sure it is!
This step is an optional one, you can either stay with your current letter design if you like it or you can play with it more.
Here we decided to make the curve on our "R" a bit bigger and more sophisticated. You can achieve that by erasing the connection between the "leg" and the "shoulder" and making a bigger circle that hugs the "leg" from behind. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, nobody can achieve perfect circle form the first try so play with it, and if you don't like it, try again until you end up with a result that you love.
Inking time! If you are doing this on Procreate, you can simply use an inking brush and redraw the letter making sure to do it as precisely as you can so your letter looks clean and polished.
If you are doing this with a pen and a paper, you can try to redraw it freehand or you can find a way to copy it, lighter paper or a leaning it on the window can help ;)
This part is super simple, hope it didn't take you much time.
And now for the really fun part! Let's add some shadows :)
In our KickOff Lettering Toolbox we are explaining in more details on how to make shadows, but here we will just skip to the most important parts.
Firstly, decide where would you like for the light to come from. We choose upper right corner as you can see.
It might seem difficult but making shadows is not exact science and we are going to try to explain to you how to do it in few steps.
PROCREATE: Copy the letter into a new layer, colour it in a different colour so you can distinguish it from the original letter. Then move it behind the letter in the opposite direction from where your light source is coming from. The shadow can be little or it can be big, you are determining that by how much the shadow is away from the letter.
After you decided how big you want your shadows to be it is time to connect it to the letter. This means that you will have to connect all the empty gaps that are left after copying the letter and moving it away. Hope we are making this as clear as possible - if by any chance it isn't leave us a comment and we will be happy to help you! You can also, always, check out some of our tutorials on lettering on Jimbo's instagram profile.
PAPER: For the ones that are doing this on paper it will be slightly more difficult because you will have to do the shadow more freehand, but we are sure you can make it, so grab your pencil and start sketching a shadow. You can follow this example on the photo to make your life a bit more easier :)
In the photo you can see that we added another shadow just for fun! If you are feeling confident you can do it too :D
And now - ornaments and textures!
In The KickOff Lettering Toolbox we included lots of beautiful inlays that you can play with without much effort but remember, you can always draw the inlays yourself and decorate it with your own lines, florals, swirls or whatever little decorations you can think of.
After we have added the inlays we want to add some little interior shadows and textures.
PROCREATE: Take a shading brush of your own choosing, some grainy textured one will look nice ;) and add a little texture in the corners of the letters that you would imagine they would be darker. You can do that by creating another layer on top of the original letter one and making it a clipping mask - that will eliminate all the fuss and mess. Also in the same way, in another layer, you can add some interesting texture on top of the letter. Here we are using some crumbly brush.
PAPER: When it comes to shading with physical materials, you can use a media that you are the most confident with - is it just a different coloured brush with which you will make more straight cut shadows or maybe you prefer watercolour so you can make nice gradients? Whatever you choose is up to you, and don't forget, there is no good or bad here, just take your brush and play around!
We really hoped you enjoyed this and that you made some beautiful letters. You can always leave us a comment or reach to us on instagram if you want to leave a feedback or tell us if you would like to learn something particular. We would love to hep you out!
So yeah, have a sensational day and create create create!
Also, if you are interested in our product and would like to learn more you can find it here.