Brush Lettering Essentials: Designing Beautiful Compositions | Carmel Wilson | Skillshare

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Brush Lettering Essentials: Designing Beautiful Compositions

teacher avatar Carmel Wilson, Lettering & Illustration At Bricky House Co.

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Class Introduction

    • 2. Tools Required

    • 3. Understanding Hierarchy

    • 4. Creating Concepts

    • 5. Composition, Spacing & Layouts

    • 6. Sketching & Inking

    • 7. Vectorization & Digitization

    • 8. Your Project Assignment & Thanks

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About This Class

In this class, you will learn the next steps of brush-pen lettering. We’ll go over some short exercises to understand key principles of rhythm, hierarchy, contrast, balance and composition for creating a custom piece of  hand lettering print-art, using brush pens.

In succession to the first class "Brush Lettering Essentials: Starting Out", using basics as a starting  point, in this class I will take you through the process of creating new concepts, drawing and refining a  custom piece of hand-lettering, with the core focus on building and refining a good composition.

At the end of this class, you will learn how to develop a good composition, how to design a custom  lettered piece using brush pens, how to refine it and finally how to vectorize it.

This class will also work as the connecting dots for other intermediate and advanced class that will follow in coming days. Would love to see you all!

Meet Your Teacher

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Carmel Wilson

Lettering & Illustration At Bricky House Co.


Lettering, creative illustration and late night blogging is what is fueled at Bricky House Co. It's nice to inspire creative people, glad to be here!

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1. Class Introduction: how I am a Lederer illustrator designer. You might know me for my first skill shirt class entitled Brush Lettering Essentials Starting out. If you haven't enrolled into that class, I recommend you take that one as it it lays the foundation for learning brush pen lettering . So this class is about the key fundamentals related to designing a good composition. We will look into a few small but important things which directly affects the quality of lettering composition that dio so I will teach you how to take decisions related to spacing and lay outing. Understanding hierarchy. Among the words from a given phrase hierarchy is very important when you're doing a custom lettering piece of the sentence. Deciding on the most and the least important words are kind of a backbone of good lettering composition. We will go through all the necessary steps that you need to go follow. So to design a custom lettered piece taking an eight by 10 print art as an example from conceptualization of the project to taking key decisions related to the composition on balancing the whole design, then sketching the final concept with nice composition and finally thinking it with your favorite brush. I will also introduce briefly how to digitize your lettering. Work efficiently. Best thing about this example project is that you could follow these steps to design your own eight by timeprint art, which you can hang on your walls or sell it on Etsy or to share it online. And that is your class project to So you can replicate these steps on your own while personalizing it with your own style and design their own awesome brush pen lettered print heart. So let's get started. 2. Tools Required: So for creating your own custom quote piece, you're just gonna need a few tools. These are a bunch of paper, any good quality printing or sketching you can use. Then you have lead pencil I usually used to be. Is there soft and good for sketching? Then you have any regular eraser and a brush? Patton. I'm going to use a refillable one with some ink and extra ink. There are a variety of brush pen available in the market. You can pick one of them or experiment with some new tools. And lastly, just a fine liner just to clean things up at the end. These are the tools required for this class. 3. Understanding Hierarchy: now I'm just going to briefly touch on the principle of hierarchy. An important aspect of design is hierarchy. So to give an example of this, I'm going to use a quote and analyze the order of importance. It's a quote from Jane Austen. Choose any quotes you like for the project, though the quote is, there is no charm equal to tenderness of heart Hierarchy is a system in which elements are ranked according to their importance. So let's look at the important parts here. In Jane Austen's quote, we want to speak to the viewer of the art. The words I am really focusing on here are charm, equal tenderness and heart. I found them important. It helps to read the quote allowed a couple times. So the words I'm really focusing on as the most important are equal tenderness and heart. Once you speak it out loud, you're gonna feel which word is important. Which one isn't? Just go ahead and try yourself, so these are order of importance. 1st 1 is most important. The double lined words they will get the most focus, the second most important, are marked with one. Underlining will support my primary words. Third is the least important on the scale. Complete the composition words like is too. The end of that's how you can create hierarchy. But the question is, what is hierarchy and how can we achieve visual hierarchy in our designs? How does it work? So here, some of the basic forms of creating that visual difference in importance of information. The first is sighs. You can utilize this quite effectively to achieve dominance in pieces, so the most important words will have more space and least will get less. The second is Wait. This is the thickness of your strokes and letter forms having a strong contrast in near topography. Having a strong contrast in your typography can give dominance by utilizing on weight. The important words will also get more focus. Another Allman of Design is to use color use of different color over shades can have a massive effect on the importance of words. These are just a few basic ways of implementing hierarchy and the order of important information. Other, more complicated ways are composition in space, thes air. These come more naturally with more design experience. They should be visually pleasing, inconsistent 4. Creating Concepts: now here. I'm gonna brainstorm and conceptualize my quote, my composition, hierarchy and style of lettering. So I'm just going to start off by a few development thumbnails and really work out how we will go about designing this quote. Thumbnail sketches are important. Thumbnails are small conceptual sketches they give you. They give you an opportunity to explore in a different direction. So I'm just starting with my fine liner pen and doing this really roughly just to get a fuel for the words, paying attention to the hierarchy in the composition, how it should be placed with each other. The lines I'm making here are to work out the placements and space for the words. This could be the angle and curve helping it in making that work. So it really takes a while to get a feel for it. Well, making thumbnail sketches you can work in any direction. Be creative, be open to try new things. That's that's how you get better concepts. So I like this and tenderness. I really want them to flow a little better, though, so maybe if I start looking at the words interacting with one another, maybe a little more so charm will go here and equal too much smaller. I'll just roughly pen in the words again. You can create thumbnail in the same way as I am doing. Just first create the guideline, then create on them. Maintain the flow and consistency throughout the design. Yeah, that's working a little better already. I feel like this is starting to look a little too long vertically, though. Yeah, you can see here tenderness is too long. So this is the wrong composition to do for this quote. So I'm going to try something a little different, something with a more of a circular composition and flow. It was to create a different feel than the previous one. Now, again really rough here. It doesn't have to look good and just want to get a rough idea of placement and flow. This is working better already letters or filling spaces with each other on the next line. They are looking like a one composition part of one family. That's what we're looking to achieve. So in comparison, this is working better from the 1st 2 But I think we can take this further and improve its still. So now I ask myself how I can get these letters to interact with one another a little more . Interestingly, I'm gonna I'm gonna try a different type of lettering using more songs. Tariffs. I usually like to ask myself these kinds of questions when creating thumbnail sketches like it's good to self critique. It helps in improving concepts, choosing the meth come thumps. It's looking good, but I'm still not there. While conceptualizing a usually work concepts which I like in different directions to make it more refined versions and then see what looks better, I'm going to try a landscape version. L This actually might work better due to the word count. Anyway, I'm thinking this might be it. It's working a lot better, so I'm really doing a combination of script and sensory fear. It's almost there one more, but I might make the next one a little more consistent, using mostly script and sensory. For the less dominant words, you can mix concepts to just to see how it looks. So I'm gonna combine these two know the first with style of lettering and the lower left for composition. You should work on at least 8 to 10 concepts for one project you can work on more. But for me, 8 to 10 concepts works just fine. So just keeping in rough, but focusing on consistency. What's nice about this is we're getting a natural love heart shape along the contour of the composition. Maybe a We can highlight that with some flourishes later on. Now, after thumbnail sketches, I take one concept and work on full paper to see how it looks in full scale. That would be first age. Later we will refine them. Teoh. So with that, I am ready to start creating a rough full scale. So you there. 5. Composition, Spacing & Layouts: all right now I am going to start sketching on my thumbnail composition at full size, starting with a gray lead pencil. So I'm just going to start this really roughly and sketching in my heart shaped margin. I don't need the lightbox yet, but it will come in handy later. I will get super rough. Here it's It's more about getting a feel for the letters and how they will flow and fit together. So I will create skeleton of the design here that fits my first line nicely. So that's the right size for the rest of the letters. Remembering the hierarchy. Here I am going to achieve it with size and style of type. I'm still following this, but seeing it at full science, I might move some things around to balance it out. This is the stage where your concepts start molding into a good looking composition. So I'm just moving on to the next line and said to filled spaces or balance it. You can use these flourishes or other ornamentation elements to that's nice there, but I think we can probably fill that heart in a little more obviously, so I'm just gonna use my brush pen now to get it really organic and natural looking. So I'm aiming to get movement from this line, work really roughly pending this in to get the most natural look and flowed to the words. So I really want to try and get this heart shape so I might exaggerate some of the letters . So how do I get the T Toe Lincoln? With the next line, you can start thinking about how the letters work with each other and link them up. The bottom of the Q can kind of caressed the of the and again the tea can link in with E H . Maybe make your composition mawr connected. That's the difference between hand lettering and using funds. Hand lettering. You can add connections out emotions. It really makes for an interesting piece when you can get letters linking with one another . Naturally, then I might just make this h a little more interesting by exaggerating those loops and then by making more connections. So that's a good start. Now, Now I'm gonna trace it a couple of times to really refine it. So this is the time to really work on the composition and move things around. So I'm not very happy with the T. I probably will change that. If you feel that something is not looking good in your composition, change it. Your awareness to details. They're gonna make your design go from good to absolutely mesmerizing. The sea is working well, maybe a lengthy H in a little to create a good composition. Consistency of design is important. So consistency in terms of design elements, shapes hierarchy here. I just want to get that tease to be similar. This is a bit too tight in here, so I'm just going to try to even out the spacing, opening it up a little bit more. Don't do under or over design in terms of spacing, use of ornamental elements or working with hierarchy. Let it be simpler and just more natural. Now I will have a bit more precision and care with the brush pen this time, but it's still not the final, so I'm a little loose with the brushwork. I'm just gonna work where I want thickness now starting nice and thin and then pushing hard on the way down. I have covered basics in the previous class brush lettering essentials Starting out. You can check that for now. It doesn't matter if the stakes air made. It's still just a rough copy, really Looking at thick and thin lines here, always when stroking downward, apply pressure and upward easing and pressure the c R Just start with the pressure and ease off quickly to get a nice wedge, start thick and up to them Practice creating letters before creating composition. I like that. Start with the thick stroke, so I'll do that throughout. So there's not much space here. I try to bring that out. I don't like my m, so I'm just gonna change that. But this is how the first line is looking. So I will draw the second line. Now. Now I want to get this e like the last you so that the overall design looks consistent. You could enroll my previous class brush lettering, essentials starting out to understand the basics of hand lettering, making sure all letters connect to one another. Use a variety of thickness to connect them. And I'm going to complete this and connect letters so that it should make a composition together. Here I am just making some more room here between letters, you should refine your designs. Next time I'll make sure there's more space there. But before getting to final trace, you should know what you are creating and where you should make change in the design. And you can do them here on Lee before going to final sketch. Now I am ready to start the final trace. 6. Sketching & Inking: So here I am doing the final trace before digitizing. I'm going to use the previous my light box and brush pattern for this purpose. I am using a medium brush pen here where I have to push harder and go a little bit slower, giving me more controlled strokes and thickness. So you should take your time and just work with precision. My focus is to really make this meat. I am working very slowly. I'm each letters with full control. So to do this much practice is needed. And full control on brush pen is important, pushing quite hard on the downward to get that nice, thick line and then coming around the turn, easing off the pressure to get that nice, thin line, really looking at letters compared to one another. So I want letters that are similar to one another to have the same angle. The same thickness is the same. General, look, if you are starting out with lettering, this might be a pretty heavy duty here. Control in your hand and brush pen is so important to draw the letters with precision. I might just do this ease so that it cuts into the tea. I am creating connection here between t and E and keep the same flow with all the letters Soft around hard. Your composition should look elegant and soft around the edges. Don't make it hard until it iss for purpose. We as humans like soft suing shapes rather than edgy. So I'm going to do the same here and cut the tea into the sea. Still trying to add space in this part here both es is I'm just gonna change the shapes to fit in Better in this composition, I've used cursive and Sand Saref style so you can combine various other styles. I just I really enjoy combining different styles as they kind of spiced up my design rather than a simple one dimensional design. Still trying to add space in this part here both es is I'm just gonna change the shapes to fit in Better in this composition, I've used cursive and Sand Saref style so you can combine various other styles. I just I really enjoy combining different styles as they kind of spiced up my design rather than a simple one dimensional design. So that's looking good. I'm happy with that, but I might just add a a gulag and composition is so satisfying and proud to complete. So I love doing lettering cause it makes me happy and satisfied about what I'm doing. You must love what you dio and then on Lee, you can do better in it. So lastly, I'm gonna add some flourishes. Now, I will use just a fine liner. I can go in and bring out that heart shape a little more with flourishes. Find liner is so handy when it comes to refining, design or toe. Add any ornamental elements they're so easy to control. So I'm just gonna clean these letters up a little more to with the fine lighter and then finish my design after the stage, I will start vector rising this design. I'll use Adobe Illustrator for this purpose, but you can use and the other vector software Personally, though I feel Adobe Illustrator is the best factor software out there and it really does give the best results. So that's why I use them. So I will see you there 7. Vectorization & Digitization: So now I'm going to vector rise this So I have scanned the artwork at high resolution of 600 d. P. I. Now in photo shop, I want to clean of any mistakes. Using a selection tool in Clone Stamp is fine. It's like the area. Then use clone stamp toe. Fix that mistake. Now I am preparing this to take into illustrators so I get a selective color adjustment layer select white and pulled down the black slider to zero. No, I select neutral and do the opposite, pulling blacker in on the slider. I will then duplicate this layer and finally I will fly in the layer and just save the image. In this way. The sketches ready to be traced in Illustrator. It will give better tracing results because it is darker. Next, I will open Adobe Illustrator and create a new document from file menu or using the shortcut control plus N. So it's time to drop in my skin retouched image from photo shop and place it in the center of the art board. The next thing I will dio is live trace. This design live trace is a great way to convert your analog work to digital, although there is a lot of scope of improvements with this tool. But still it gives good results and keeps that handmade feel. I will select live, trace and then expand up the top, so it has produced such accurate results because of all the steps that I did previously in photo shop. So this is the reason photo shop retouch is so important. So remove white background by selecting white fill area and then delete it. I'm re sizing the vector and getting it into position. Place it at the center of the art board now a little trickier because we live traced. There are a lot of anger points, making it very bumpy. So to get rid of this, keep the preview option checked and see it which percentage it looks best for. You go to the drop down and select path than simplify, and you can play with the setting here. But generally, about 98% is enough without distorting your artwork. I still want to clean it up. A fast way is to use the smooth tool by alternating between holding command to bring up your selecting tool and then selecting the part I wish to smooth and then letting go to go back to the smooth tool. So go back and forth to check every details and every error as I have checked everything, and I'm pretty happy with that. Now it's looking. It's looking smooth. It is time to add some color, so I'm using ingredient. First, create a rectangular block and add color to it. I like this color. The color you choose will depend on your theme client. Brief personal preference for this project, Though I decided to go with kind of a soft, happy color, it's because the quote is related to heart. Try different color combinations, though I am an ingredient to make the background beautiful, so I will use the grating and tool for that. Keep the color according to the decided theme, I will add color to some of the letters. Also next, I will copy them by pressing on a Mac command, see on the command F to paste in place, layering up for shadows. Here, another trick here. I want some highlights inside the letters, so I select the type and go to path and offset path play with the measurements on minus until I get the result that I'm after. I cut this by pressing command and X and the command and F to paste in place Change. This could to slightly lighter than the Phil. So that's how you can create beautiful composition. I have shared my process, but you can play with them and create your new style in process of creating composition. Now you can export for print or to upload anywhere. 8. Your Project Assignment & Thanks: for this project, you're going to compose a piece of print art from any of your favorite quotes. This class was all about understanding the secret of designing beautiful composition. Use the tools and techniques taught in the class to be a good hand lettering artist. It is a mandatory that you know how to create beautiful compositions, So the composition that you will create should be according to a specific theme or a look. Share your projects in the project section. The delivery bubbles of the project are images showing your selected quotes, how you use the hierarchy. Your concept sketches, stages of refinements and then the final design and lastly, vector rised composition. So you should share your project so that everyone can see it and like it and give it comments on them accordingly. As a skill share instructor, personally, I can't wait to see your projects. I am so excited to see which quote that you choose and how you creatively designed the composition. This project is a great way to practice and strengthen your basics so you can take your time in selecting quotes, concept, creation, finalizing and vector rising them. If you're a beginner, and you want to understand the basics of hand lettering first. Then you can check out my other class brush lettering, essentials starting out. I have divided all the lessons and exercises in a way that it will be easy to follow and to apply them, the project can take up to a day or maybe 2 to 3 days. It totally depends on how much time you want to give in this. I would suggest you give more time and concept, development and practice, creating better thumbnails. Enjoy the project. And lastly, thank you so much for enrolling in this class.