Hand Lettering for Chalk Murals | Lauren Hom | Skillshare

Hand Lettering for Chalk Murals

Lauren Hom, Letterer, Designer, Cheeto Lover

Hand Lettering for Chalk Murals

Lauren Hom, Letterer, Designer, Cheeto Lover

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10 Lessons (38m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Project: Create A Chalk Lettered Mural In Your Home

    • 3. Gathering Inspiration

    • 4. Sketching

    • 5. Chalk Lettering Your Outline

    • 6. Chalk Lettering Your Text

    • 7. Adding Shadows & Dimensionality

    • 8. Adding Flourishes

    • 9. Finishing Your Piece

    • 10. More Creative Classes on Skillshare

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About This Class

Spice up your space with chalk! Join lettering artist Lauren Hom for a fun 40-minute class on bringing chalk murals to life. You'll go behind-the-scenes with her process and learn tips for preserving, fixing, and flourishing your work.

Why chalk? Chalk murals can make a space more inviting, and they give you an opportunity to change up decor and show off your personality. Plus, chalk is an inexpensive and approachable medium — all you need is chalk, a bit of chalk paint or chalkboard, imagination, and you're ready to create! By the end of this class, you'll be able to convert a small notebook sketch to a large-scale lettered piece.

This class is all about creating large-scale lettering art by hand. It's perfect for lettering artists and illustrators, enthusiasts, and everyone who wants to bring custom artwork into their home!

Meet Your Teacher

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Lauren Hom

Letterer, Designer, Cheeto Lover


Lauren Hom is a California-born, Brooklyn-based designer and letterer. Known for her bright color palettes and playful letterforms, Lauren has created work for clients like Starbucks, AT&T, YouTube and TIME Magazine. Her work has been recognized by Communication Arts, the ADC, the TDC, the One Club, and the Webby Awards. Lauren is also the author of the popular blog (and now book), Daily Dishonesty.

She finds that she's happiest when creating; so, when she's not working, you can find her baking yummy things, selling your ex boyfriend's tears, or lettering for lunch around New York City. Lauren's motto is, and will always be, "Work hard, snack often."

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Lauren Hom. I'm a Brooklyn based hand letterer and this is trackboard lettering, adding charm to your home. I got into hand lettering just for fun. It was a hobby in college. I started this blog called Daily Dishonesty. I don't know if you're familiar with it, but it basically just chronicles the little white lies that I tell myself on a daily basis. I started this blog in college and it just took off from there, and now I'm a professional hand letterer. I'll be teaching tips and techniques on how to craft letter forms on a larger scale with chalk to create lovely murals for your home. So yeah, I'm teaching this class because I want to show people that they too can have beautiful chalk refills in their homes. You need the $10 in a day and that's really all it takes. This class is for designers or letterers, or anyone of any skill level who want to challenge themselves with a new medium. Chalk is something that a lot of us haven't touched since grade school, and so it's definitely nice to break out and try something new. So, students will learn how to concept phrases that will go with their room. You'll learn how to sketch out layout and how to mix different types styles together. You'll learn how to lose the setup guides and work on a larger scale or in this new medium. Basically, just tips and tricks on how to work with chalk. It gets messy sometimes. I'll teach you how to properly erase little bits and how to measure stuff out. Really, at the end of the day a successful project is something that shows off your personality and really warms up your home. 2. Project: Create A Chalk Lettered Mural In Your Home: The project for this class is to create a chalk lettering piece of your own to display in your home. Chalk lettering is very, very low tech. So, students will really only need a chalkboard or some chalkboard paint to paint a wall. I can pick this up from Home Depot for $10. It's just one can, will pretty much take care of a normal size wall, just give it two coats depending on, yeah. So, just chalkboard paint or a chalkboard. You can go to an arts and crafts store and buy a pre-framed chalkboard, or some flea markets sell them, just anywhere you can pick up a chalkboard. Then 99 cent Crayola chalk. People always ask me if I use a special artists' chalk, and this is just the stuff that you used in grade school. It's charming. I love that. Then the last thing you'll need is a towel and some water to wipe up your mistakes, and, yeah, for 10 bucks, you're good to go. This could take anywhere from an hour to all day, depending on how detailed you want to make it. Something like this size wall that I'm going to do today will probably take about two or three hours. I would say that a smaller chalkboard will take about an hour, and then a wall should take, if it's your first time using chalk, it'll probably take you like four or five hours. So, it's a good weekend project. Invite your girlfriends over, have them cheer you on. Yeah, it's totally fun. It could be a collaborative thing. It can get frustrating trying to draw straight lines. That's honestly, even to this day, the hardest thing for me is just keeping my lines straight. Just because it's easy to draw a two-inch line that's straight, it's harder to draw two-foot line that is straight. So, don't get discouraged knowing where to position your arm or hand so things don't smudge. I definitely had problems where I've rested my hand in a spot and totally not realized it, and then there's just a giant smudge mark. Just little things like that, but I'll show you how to remedy that. So, students should upload pictures of their finished piece along with any process shots or sketches to the project gallery. I can't wait to see what you guys come up with. 3. Gathering Inspiration: So, the first thing I like to do before I get started, is look for inspiration. Stylize for my murals and so, I collect a lot of vintage food packaging and ephemera and posters. That's usually where I go to first. If you don't have any of these things readily available, there are a lot of great websites. You can go there, scroll through Pinterest, Design inspiration, Type everything. You can really find a lot of good type references on the web too. But I just wanted to walk you through a few of my favorites. So, I picked this tin up, at the Brooklyn Flea, a couple weeks ago, and I'm just in love with it. You can already see some things that might be good for our mural. There's some shading right here. I love the way the flourish comes off of this be, it's interesting to mix this angle with a straight angle, and fill in the space with some flourishes. This one, this is another one my favorites. This vintage peanut butter can. Peanut butter used to come in a can. Again, playing with different angles. Different outlines, and flourishes, mixing an angle with the straight line, and different type styles, and sizes. Same with this, the ara, the flourish off of this ara really gets me, and so this is something you can definitely, and I will definitely use in my chalk lettering is, whenever I feel like there's a space that needs to be filled out, this is a good reference for how to fill in a little bit of negative space there. 4. Sketching: So before we get started on our mural, we obviously have to pick a phrase. The first part of lettering is knowing what to letter. You can do quotes, song lyrics really anything that you feel would fit your space. Keep in mind, where this is going to live in your home. So maybe it's contextual to the room. If you have something in the kitchen, maybe it's like, "A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand." Try to pick a phrase that's personal to you or shows off your personality. So today, I'm going to be lettering, "Mi casa es tu casa." Because my roommate and I both speak Spanish and that's kind of something we share. It's going to go right here behind our couch. I usually do a couple of sketches before I get started just to play around with layout and to see what's going to fill the space the best. You want to keep in mind, hierarchy with your phrase and so write out your phrase and pick out a few keywords that are the most important from the phrase. Words like and, if, or, with, those can usually be a little more subdued. You really want to call out the main nouns or verbs in your phrase. For me, it'll be mi casa is going to be big. Es, which is "is" in Spanish is will be small and then tu casa will be big as well. To fill out a rectangular space like this, you'd probably want to do something that's not really vertically stacked. Maybe something diagonal will be good to fill in this wider space. You just really have to play around with different type styles and sizes to see what's going to work best on your wall. I've sketched out a rectangle that's proportional to my wall. Now let's see, I'll try out something. I think I'm going to go with diagonal just to fill the space out. So maybe we do, calling out the capital letters, maybe we can make this a little more embellished. But then we're left with all that negative space so we'll see. Maybe there's something there. Maybe we do something straight but then the letters will have to be wider since the spaces are a little wider so maybe it's. So as you can see these are very, very loose. Just to get a sense. So I feel like I'm liking the diagonal better, and so maybe we'll get a little ambitious and I'll show you how I ended up on my final sketch. We'll roller coaster. This. If it's your first time doing a chalkboard wall, you're not too familiar with lettering, I would recommend sticking to something on a straight line or maybe even diagonal if you're feeling ambitious. This roller coastering technique gets a little tricky. Okay, great and so now get rid of those guys. I think I'm happy with this layout. It's got a nice flow but as you can see I still have a ton of negative space over there. So what I can do with that is let's say, bring this flourish off of the C. Maybe we'll bring this flourish off of the M. So just ways to kind of fill in that space a little better. Add some flourishes in there I think. Then, these lines, and then we're good to go. That's a rough sketch of what I'm going to chalk today. 5. Chalk Lettering Your Outline: Okay, so I'm going to try to take up as much of the wall space as possible, this is going to be really interesting. So really lightly you're going to hold the chalk the same way you'd hold a pencil. You going to lightly sketch out your line like a guide using just a lot of small marks going the same way. You want to stand about a foot away from the wall to just so you have room to move around and work. If you are way too scrunched up close, the chances of you not going in a straight line are actually greater because your field of vision is so small that you might think you're going in a straight line but you're totally not, happens to me all the time still. So it's always good to be about a foot away from the wall. So that's going to be the tip, the top of my first line, and I think I want this to be about, I swear I've such amazing calves. So, when I measure things out, instead of using a ruler or anything, I use my hand and my forearm and my fingers as increments of measurements. So it's kind of intuitive. So I'm going to, from the tip of my finger, lay down my arm and that is going to be how tall I want my letters. So from the click of my elbow is right there. So you can use that exact same measurement really easily for the next line. Try to eyeball it and make it the same angle as that other line up there. So now that we have our angle down, I'm going to do a little bit more of an advanced technique and don't really know what it's called, I call it roller coastering where it makes the type go like this. It's kind of like a vintage effect. So, following the same diagonal, I'm going to start here and curb it down and then in the middle of the line, I'm going to pick back up and roller coaster it over the top. I think that'll look cool. Now we're going to mimic the same thing on the bottom line. If you're just starting out like I said before, maybe choose something that's a little bit straighter and simpler. So obviously, just a straight horizontal line would be the easiest. If you're feeling a little more ambitious, diagonal is good to try. So you should have a damp cloth with you, and the way that I erase it's pretty simple. You want to take part of the cloth stick like one sticky finger just behind it like that and then hold the rest with your hand so it doesn't drag on the rest of your drawing, that's definitely happened to me before and it's really upsetting. You're going to need to erase you just use your finger like your smudging it out. You doing a bigger space you can use your whole hand. But always make sure to hold the tail end of the towel. So just erasing our guide so we have a more clear view of what we're working with. So now we have our loose guides for the top one. So this is going to be mi casa up here. I'm going to leave maybe a hand spans with in-between or maybe like a half arm just so we can write the S, yes, okay. Rollercoaster time. So now we're just going to mimic the other line. So this is definitely a style of life been influenced by some of the vintage packaging that I have. They used this technique a lot. Just makes it a little more visually interesting. As you get better and more comfortable with chalk, you can kind of experiment with different layouts and techniques. The first chalk work I ever did was just like three straight words which is totally fine, and look where I am now. The beauty of chalk lettering too is that it can be imperfect and still look awesome, just because the nature of the medium is so it gets messy and smudgy and there's a lot of room for error, but I like those things. So we're just mimicking our top line. I recommend taking a step back about every two minutes, or every time you make a big marker decision to take a step back because you never know how it looks up close versus from far away. So this, I probably could flatten out a little bit, it gets a little too curved. So since I'm doing a script there will be uppercase and lowercase and so this top line is where I want my uppercases to hit, but let's draw. So many stairs. So that's the approximate height of all the lowercase letters. We do the same for this one, about two-thirds of the way, cool. So now our guides are all set up, and everything looks good. Great. So now that we've laid down our guides, we're going to start drawing the outlines of our letters. So, one thing to remember, this is the foundation of your drawing so make sure to spend a little extra time on your guides, because this is going to set up your entire drawing. So make sure you're really happy with the way everything's laid out because it will influence the rest of the drawing. 6. Chalk Lettering Your Text: So, when you start drawing a letter, you want it to be eye level with you. You don't want to be reaching up too much or looking down on it. You want it to just be right at your eye line. So, let's start with an M. I'm thinking, although a little higher actually. Just those prior to having a brighter light pressure to layout. Okay. So, to keep your letter in consistent just always notice you want these two lines to be the same and these two lines to be the same. It's okay if there's some inconsistency. I think there always will be. Mine, my lettering is never perfect but it just adds to the charm of chocolatering. I will make this line thick to go. So, you're going to match with. So, when spacing your letters, when it comes to chalkboard stuff, I tend to go wider on the spacing. So, it's always better to have a little too much space between letters than too little space. Because there are things you can do to fill in the space but there's nothing you can really do to take away or to space it out any wider. So, when in doubt, space out your letters wider than you think you should. Especially if you want to add things like flourishes or shadows or any dimensionality to the letters, it's always good to leave a little bit of space. And so drawing a straight line is pretty tough, it took me a while to master and so when you're just starting out it might be helpful just to make a lot of smaller tick marks that are straight. When you train your eye and your hand a little bit and you can just do one continuous stream but totally fine just to do a lot a little small. And so I'm anchoring, I have my hand anchored onto the wall and I'm just lightly moving it up from my shoulder basically. It's really just all muscle memory, because when you're drawing on paper you're used to just moving your fingers around but with chocolatering or and you have to get your whole arm into it. Okay. Just for some style, make this tip below to, and we'll definitely just flourishes off of those. So, if that's this amount of space I'm doing between the letters, I should probably do a couple between words. So, let's do the C here. Okay. So, when drawing curves, I anchor my elbow here and I'm just moving my forearm. That makes any sense. So, I'm trying to keep my widths consistent. Use eyeball it. Okay. Go into the S. S's are tricky to draw. So, I'll show you what I usually do. I'll draw the bottom bowl and then I'll draw. It's a half circle. Then you draw the top bowl and then you bring the curves in and basically you're just going to connect them. And so, a traditional S is supposed to at some point be completely flat or completely straight in the middle. So, that's what you want to aim for when you're drawing an S. That's what works for ,and then you just connect the two. That is the easiest way I've discovered to draw an S so far. If there are any easier ways please let me know. Okay, cool. So, now we are going to take a step back. Yeah, everything looks consistent. So, Mi Casa S is going to go here and then Su Casa is going to go here. So, let's do the Su. So, you're going to angle your letter, tips of your letters the same way that your guides are going. It's always important, I know I mentioned this before but just stay eye level with the artwork because it distorts your vision when you're looking up or down and you could totally be drawing something that looks good from where you are and then looks a little bit wonky by the time you step away. So, I'm going to save you the trouble. So, your towel or your erasers is just as powerful of a tool. So, if you let's say make a line that's not straight. It might even be easier instead of drawing a straight line to just erase out the parts into a straight line because maybe your fingers a little steadier than your hand with the chalk. There's no problem doing that, it's a reverse technique. No problem doing that. Okay. Yeah, so now that I have the rough letter forms mapped out, I'm going to take away the guide so we can just work on the letters. Always make sure to grab the tail end of the towel so that it doesn't drag on any of your drawing. Okay, and then feel free to clean up any little kinks or bumps in your sketch. And then make sure to switch spots on your tell every once in a while because it'll get to chalky and it'll leave a residue. So, these are the base letter forms but you can see how there are some gaps right here and here and so I'm going to show you how once you have your base letter forms down, how to fill in the space visually. So, making a flourish, half of the C. That can be nice. So, we'll just make this curve along with the I. But then, we're going to- so sometimes when I'm about to make a big stroke or swash or curve, all just to train my muscle memory, just do it above the wall for a second just before actually press down on the chalk. So, let's give this a try. All right. That's pretty good, just slightly have that in there. Yeah, there you go. So, now you going to see it's filling a little fuller and rounder. Just with the addition of a couple flourishes. So, now it's time to start filling in your letter forms. So, now you can start using heavier pressure with your chalk. This is probably where you're going to need most of your chalk. Okay. That's pretty smooth. 7. Adding Shadows & Dimensionality: So, now it's time to add some dimensionality to our type. I'm going to show you a couple ways to make the type really pop off of the wall. It looks nice now but we're really going to take it to the next level. So as you can see, everything is spaced out pretty generously and this is to accommodate, I'm going to do a pretty thick shadow to make it pop off the wall. I'll show you a couple other techniques but when designing this, I always take into consideration that I'm going to probably use two inches or so to make the shadow. So, that's why it's spaced as such. If you're going to do a thinner shadow or no shadow at all, you don't really have to do that but that's what I took into consideration. So, I'm going to show you two of my favorite ways to add dimensionality to your type. The first one is just a simple line shadow and so when adding dimensionality, you want to try to choose a light source. So, let's pretend the light is shining from the upper left-hand corner, and so everything you draw, imagine that the shadow being cast down at a diagonal and that's what's going to influence your line. So, if light coming from there, it would hit this right here coming down into that curve and then back up there. So, you want to make sure to leave the same amount of space in between your lettering and your shadow. Feel free to go slow, it takes some practice. If you mess up, no worries, that's what the towel is for. So, there, you can already see how it makes the type pop off the page a little more. The second style I'm going to show you is the one I'm going to use for this whole thing. It's a little bit more of a dramatic effect so we're going to use the same light source. It's basically just a lot of little tick marks that give it a 3D shadow feel. So, as long as you make your marks in the same direction and the same length, this one will really add a lot of drama to your type, you'll see what a difference it makes. These are just two simple ways to make your type jump off the wall. If you're a beginner, I would recommend doing the first one just the straight line and just so you can practice using a light source and getting just everything in perspective. Then, when you get a little more advanced, you can do this. So, now I'm going go ahead and do that to the whole piece. So, we just finished adding dimensionality to our type. We have all the little tick marks on here. I just wanted to walk you through some of my decisions. So, like we were talking about earlier, we have our light source coming from the upper left hand corner. So, for straighter lines like the I, it's easy to imagine where that's going to happen but moments where curves happen, get a little trickier. So, you almost have to visualize. So, the light's hitting here, it's coming down here, anything that's on the same diagonal as the light isn't going to show. So, something like this diagonal of the M, it's not really going to show that much. Right here has no shadow because the light would be hitting directly there. So, also when you get into the curves, the same way it would naturally happen with shadows. It's a little thinner here and then they gradually get thicker as you go. Then, for something like this, I chose not to do the super thick shadow for this one because the line works a little more delicate to smaller shape and so I decided just to use simpler shading. It's also visually interesting to mix up your types of shading. So, now I'm going to show you how to add some flourishes to your work to really fill in the space and make it feel whole. 8. Adding Flourishes: So, in my original sketch, I have these little water droplet flourishes coming off between the A and the flourish and between the M and the T. So, I'm definitely going to use those. I have some little bursts that are happening around the S. So I'm just going to show you a couple of my favorite different types of flourishes that are appropriate for different gaps and spaces. Whenever I have a space between two curves that's making a V-shape, I'll usually do a flourish. The water droplet flourish, these are what I'm known for. It kind of looks like little flower petals. They're really fun and friendly. So, we'll fill in that gap, and then go around this way, fill in that space. I think I'm just going to do a three. Another option for when you have a V-shape is to do a more delicate line like this because we have so many delegate lines going on. I'm not going to do that for this piece, but I will show you. So, maybe I'll do something like to do things like that within here. Sometimes around smaller complimentary words, I'll do little things like this, little star bursts. Those are cute. It's really completely up to you, but I'm going to show you how I'm going to use these elements in particular to fill in little spaces around the lettering just to make it feel fuller So, usually, I'll start with everything on the outside. So, I'm noticing, like I said, a nice two curves meeting here. I'll probably hit one right here, one here, one in that gap, and then one in this gap up here. So, there will be a total of one, two, three, four, five, five more. So, the outer petals should always be a little larger. The inner curves should match the curve that you're drawing it against. Same with here. Depending on how big of a gap you have or what you're trying to balance, you can make them larger or smaller. That seems to be pretty. Pretty okay. Final one. All right. So, now we have our main flourishes down. We're going to take a step back and figure out where we might need something else. Okay, the spots that are jumping out to me are here, here, and here. I'm going to figure out something to do about this. Don't have it figured out yet but I will. I promise. So, inner space is getting a little trickier. I'd say we can probably still do the same flourishes just on a smaller scale. Okay, let's choose the direction. We can either do one coming down or coming up. I'm going to guess up is going to look the best. So, we'll just do them at a slightly smaller scale using the same style and keeping it about the same amount of space in between the flourishes in the letters. When in doubt, always make your flourishes on the smaller side. You can always scale them up, but you can never really scale them down. There you go. Okay, and then final spot. You just have to use your gut whatever you think will look best. If it doesn't look good, it's okay. You can always erase it. No problem. Okay, see if that looks stupid. Yeah, there you have it. A couple hours later, a couple pieces of chalk later, you have your own chalkboard mural. See I go ahead and wipe up any marks that are left, but I like to leave some of them. I think that they're charming. I'm not going to touch that up there. Anything that's visibly bothering you go ahead and wipe up, but for the most part, you should be all set. 9. Finishing Your Piece: So, here's our chalk mural. I'm pretty excited about how this turned out. Hopefully, my roommate is super surprised when he comes back. So, once your chalk mural is done, if it's in your home and you trust people who are coming into your home, there's really no need to seal it or in. But if some people like to, you can use a light misting of hairspray actually to make it semi-permanent. So, what you want to do is just hold it about a foot away and lightly mist it over, because if you hold it too close, the pressure from the hair spray can will blow the chalk off the wall, which is no fun. So, if you want it to be semi-permanent, just feel free to give it a little light misting, and hopefully, your friends aren't assholes and touch it. So, I would love to see what you guys come up with. Upload your process shots and your finished pieces to the product gallery. I would love to take a look and I'll give you some feedback. If it's your first time doing chalk lettering, don't be discouraged at all. I have no professional background or training in chalk lettering, this is just something that I picked up over the last year. So, I can do it, you can do it. Just keep practicing. Keep working on your skills and your style, and pretty soon, it will be a muscle memory and you'll be a pro. 10. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: