Lettering for Designers: One Drop Cap Letterform at a Time

, Letterer and Illustrator

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Class Project

Create a drop cap letterform for your favorite book

About the Class

I've been lettering for years, working on all sorts of projects from Wes Anderson movies to Dave Eggers book covers. For every lettering project, the basic unit is the same: a single letter.

In this self-paced class, I'll teach you my process, starting with that crucial unit: a simple and beautiful single letter in the form of a drop cap. A drop cap is the large letter that starts a chapter in a book, an artform found in manuscripts dating back 2,000 years.

What You'll Learn

I'll teach you my lettering process along with plenty of the tips and tricks I've acquired over the years. We'll cover:

  • Research. The importance of starting small and picking the right book.
  • Brainstorming. The keys to letting ideas out of your head and onto paper.
  • Sketching. The real-world process for how letters are designed. I'll share my sketch books and sketching process for a true behind-the-scenes walkthrough.
  • Digitizing. My essential tips and tricks for Illustrator, including how to use handlebars and where to place your vector points.
  • Critiquing. The constructive, core process for critiquing your own work and getting those perfect finishing touches (ahem, perfect curves). 

What You'll Do

Building off Daily Drop Cap—a project I started in September of 2009, in which I illustrated a decorative letter every day (or at least every work day)—you'll design a drop cap of your own, inspired by your favorite book. 

Daily Drop Cap Project x Penguin Books

Building on my work with the Daily Drop Cap project, I'm now working with Penguin Books on Penguin Drop Caps, a series of twenty-six collectible hardcover editions of fine works of literature, each featuring (on its cover) a specially commissioned illustrated letter of the alphabet by yours truly!

A collaboration between myself and Penguin Art Director Paul Buckley, whose series design encompasses a rainbow-hued spectrum across all twenty-six books, Penguin Drop Caps debuted with an 'A' for Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, a 'B' for Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, and a 'C' for Willa Cather's My Ántonia. It continues on with more perennial classics from Penguin.

More Information

This is an intermediate level class because prior knowledge of Adobe Illustrator is required. Students can download a free trial of Illustrator at Adobe.com.

Level: Intermediate

School: Design

Related Subjects: Typography, Lettering, Adobe Illustrator, Hand Lettering

At a Glance

  • 12 Video Lessons (1h 39m)
  • 8.7K Students
  • 99% Positive Reviews (139)
  • Self-Paced Online Class

About the Teacher

Jessica Hische

Jessica Hische

Letterer and Illustrator

Jessica Hische is a letterer, illustrator, and self-described "avid internetter." After graduating with a degree in Graphic and Interactive Design from Tyler School of Art, she worked ...

99% Positive Reviews

Mary Larter

Mary Larter

Designer | Illustrator

I love books, and I love Jessica Hische. So really, what more could a girl ask for? Also, I do most of my work in Photoshop - so this class forced me to open Illustrator and use it. Th...

View all reviews