Intermediate Brush Lettering: How to Flourish Upper Case Letters | Debi Sementelli | Skillshare

Intermediate Brush Lettering: How to Flourish Upper Case Letters

Debi Sementelli, Brush Lettering Artist and Font Designer

Intermediate Brush Lettering: How to Flourish Upper Case Letters

Debi Sementelli, Brush Lettering Artist and Font Designer

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11 Lessons (52m)
    • 1. Intro to Upper Case Flourishing

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Set Up & Body Mechanics

    • 4. Warm up: It's all about the Oval!

    • 5. 15 Options to Create a Flourished Letter

    • 6. From Basic to Flourished!

    • 7. A L Flourished Letters

    • 8. M Z Flourished Letters

    • 9. Create Unique Flourished Letters

    • 10. Class Project

    • 11. Thanks!

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About This Class


In my Brush Lettering class series, I'm sharing some of my tips and tricks from over 30 years of Brush Lettering experience.

In this class "How to Flourish Lower Case Letters" I'll take you the process I developed in my work as a font designer, that allowed me to create a number of Best Selling fonts!

I'll demonstrate a variety of ways one letter can be changed by utilizing 1 or more of the 15 options in my system.

Then I'll show you how to take a letter from basic to beautifully flourished.

We'll also cover basic set up & body mechanics and warm up with whole arm movement to help you create smooth fluid flourishes.

Lastly I will show you an exercise you can do to further develop your own unique flourishing style.

There are downloadable handouts to follow along as I take you step by step. You'll find them on the "Your Project" page.

So if you have some experience with a brush and want to try your hand at flourishing, or you've already flourished letters but want to learn how a new approach, this is the class for you!

Even beginners will benefit from this process!

Either way, come join me!

Classes in the series include: Beginner Brush Lettering, How to Flourish a Word, How to Flourish Lower Case Letters and more being added!

Meet Your Teacher

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Debi Sementelli

Brush Lettering Artist and Font Designer


Hi! I'm Debi Sementelli. I'm a professional lettering artist and font designer based in Dallas, Texas. I've been practicing the art of lettering for over 30 years. I've also been designing hand lettered fonts for the past 8 years. I'm pleased to say that my fonts have consistently made the most popular fonts list. 

I love to share my love of the brush and encourage others who want to pursue lettering. I'm a big believer in learning the rules first so you can break them! In addition to teaching workshops in various cities in the U.S., I've also been honored to have been voted one of the top 20 Teachers three years in a row by attendees in my Brush Lettering Workshops at the Adobe Max Conference. 

When I'm not lettering, I'm taking daily wa... See full profile

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1. Intro to Upper Case Flourishing: are you confused about Flourishing? Or maybe you're stuck in a rut, doing the same thing over and over again, and you'd like to try something new. I'm Debbie, seven telly, and I'm here to take the fear out of Flourishing. I've been a lettering artist for over 30 years and a font designer for the past eight years , and in this class flourishing the upper case letters, I'm going to show you my step by step process that I've developed over the years to help me come up with uniquely flourished. Letters will cover basics like proper Ceta body mechanics and hand and arm warmups that will help you make smoother strokes. Then I'll demonstrate 15 different options to approach a letter for Flourishing, and I'll show you how to go from basic letter form to beautiful and elaborately flourished letters. This is an intermediate class, but if you're a beginner, just grab a pencil and you'll still get a lot out of it. If you're further along on your letter and journey, this is the perfect next step for you. And if you're a hand lettering script font designer like me, this will give you some new ideas in your approach to flourishing and creating alternates. There's plenty of helpful downloads that will allow you to follow me step by step. So grab some paper, a pencil, a brush pan and join me. Let's do some flourishing. 2. Supplies: the supplies I'm using are my lettering exemplar, which is included in the downloads for this class. Some tracing paper and a fabric Castell Pitt artist pen be. If you don't feel comfortable yet using a brush marker, you're welcome to just use a pencil. What we're trying to do is put the memory in the muscle for our hands and train our I how to look at letters and how to think about flourishing them in a way that is unique to your own style. 3. Set Up & Body Mechanics: before we get started learning to flourish the upper case letters, I want to point out that I am sitting with my feet flat on floor. I have my paper tilted to the left because I'm a right handed person. If you were a left handed person, you would simply tilted to the right. I'm also placing my non writing hand at the top of the paper to hold it in position. I'm holding my brush between my middle finger, forefinger and thumb, which gives me the greatest range of motion in my wrist, elbow and shoulder thes air, all important things to do, So you set yourself up for good lettering. 4. Warm up: It's all about the Oval!: ovals are the most important shape in flourishing. They're more pleasing to the eye and make your letters and your flourishes look elegant. So I'm going to point out in this particular flourished M where all the ovals are so you can see they come in small shapes and different dimensions. But basically, ovals are the key. That brings me to practice making ovals. There's a guy that you can download, and you can start out with a pencil, because sometimes that's easier to just start to get that memory in your muscle and you can stop and move the page. But this is going to be the best preparation you can do. We're starting to make beautiful flourish letters. Once you've done it enough with a pencil, you can take your brush marker and do the same, and you're concentrating on the fix going down and the thins going up. And by following the exemplar, you take the anxiety out of thinking about where did where is it supposed to go? Thick? Where's it supposed to go? Thin. You just followed the exemplar, then up. Pick down. So what you're doing when you're practicing making ovals is your training your eye and your hand and putting the memory on the muscle. Once you get done practicing making these ovals, you can start to make larger ovals. This is called whole arm movement because the movement is coming not only from your hand but from your wrist, your elbow and your shoulder. And it's the key to making beautiful flourishes after you've completed that make movements across the page. So my suggestion is to do a whole page of these connected ovals with the pencil and then with the marker and to a whole page off whole arm movements and extended strokes. This will get you ready to make beautiful flourish tropes. 5. 15 Options to Create a Flourished Letter: so you're all warmed up and ready to flourish. All you need for this part is to download the options list, as well as the uppercase letter forms and Assam tracing paper, a pencil and brush marker ready to go instead of just giving you a set of flourish letters to copy and duplicate, I'm teaching you the process I've used to create bestselling fonts. So grab your handouts, your paper or pencil or brush pen and follow along. So I'm going to start demonstrating the options to flourish and alter uppercase script letters. You'll need some tracing paper, the downloadable hand out of the upper case letters as well as the download of the list of options. And you can do this with a pencil or a small brush marker. Be sure that you have good set up body mechanics and holding your brush properly before we start. I want to point out each letter has a duck tous, which is the direction sequence. A number of strokes needed to make a letter. Each stroke has an entry and an exit, So stroke number one entry here exit here. Stroke number two has an entry here. Exit here, stroke number three has an entry here and an exit here. So now we can start with option number one, which is to eliminate. So I'm simply going to eliminate this part of the entry stroke and the exit stroke. I'm really just simplifying the letter for option number two. We're going to change the crossbar. So this time I'll put that back in. I'm gonna add a really nice long crossbar for an option. Number three, I'm going to add on to the first entry stroke for option number four. I'm going to add on to the final exit stroke for option number five. I'm going to connect and combine two strokes. So the strokes I'm connecting combining are the entry and the crossbar for option number six. I'm going toe add to a stroke within the letter. In this case, I'm adding to the exit stroke of the very first stroke for option number seven. I'm going toe ADM or onto a flourish stroke. So we're gonna take that same stroke and we're gonna add more. And it's OK to stop. And before you add that additional stroke so you can already see how by following all of those options. We keep developing the letter for option number eight. I'm going to change the height of just one part of the letter. I'm going to change the height of this part of the letter option Number nine is to change the whip of just one part of the letter. So I'm gonna take that same part, and I'm gonna make it wider. So this is wider. This was higher. I kept the height, but I widen that Option 10 is to change the angle of the letter, so we're gonna slant it even more. Option 11 is to change the shape, so I'm gonna go back to the original. I'm going around it out. So we're going from very angular. Two very round Option 12 is to add a decorative stroke. So we'll go back to the letter we were creating before, and I'm gonna add a lie. So a decorative stroke could be anything similar to this. Something that is really not necessary to the formation of the letter 13 is what I like to call throw in a curl. There's curl. 14 is at a reverse stroke were actually going to do that in the bottom part and here's reverse. So you can see we've come a long way from here to here by considering all those options and number 15 create a completely different alternate of the letter. So here is our current letter in that shape, this is the entry stroke. If I just start that entry, stroke here and come around here, I've created a completely different alternate of the letter. And, of course, I could follow all the options. Here's a reverse. I could come back in. I could try to add a girl. So by going through the options, you start to create your own very unique set of flourished letters. And you can combine many different options and just try them out and see what works and what doesn't work. So have fun experiment. Mix up the options and try different things. And don't be afraid to create an ugly letter. I've got plenty of sheets of paper with ugly letters sitting in some of the drawers of my studio so you'll be among good company 6. From Basic to Flourished!: So in our last video, we looked at the options to flourish and alter upper case letters. We went through the list of 15 options and these are the results of the letters that we came up with. So now I can start to get my brush marker out and think about where the Fix and Thins might go. Now this is our basic m just gonna do that again in the second. M. I've thought about adding to the entry stroke kept everything else the same. Now I'm going to consider Option six ADM. Or onto a flourish stroke. But if I'm adding onto that stroke, I'm going to come from here, and it's perfectly fine to stop and make the stroke in two strokes. Sometimes that's what you need to do to get, ah, better line. And now I'm just going to add my second stroke and third stroke. I don't like that this is thick here, so I'm going to adjust that the next time I do it, I'm going to make this dick and this thin so we make those adjustments as we go along. So instead I'm going to change how I go into the stroke so that I could get that thin upstroke come around And remember, before I've talked about turning the page so that that stroke is coming into your body. I want to keep this, then and I'm going to turn the page again, come around, and now I'm gonna make that thick and then because we never want to cross off decline with the decline. Now I'm gonna make this thing that means this has to be them and again, turn the page, come around, make that thick, And then then and I'm gonna bring this down thick. So when I look at this to see if I want to make changes, I think this is working well, the fix air working Well, the thins air working Well, so I'm gonna keep all of that. The only thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna add this extension, and I'm gonna bring it some color to give it a little bit more possess. And then it turned that page. It's okay to turn the page and break down the strokes because you want to always have the most control. You want a plan where those thinks and thins go? If I kept doing this, I would not get that thick stroke here, so I turned the page. So I have control over the brush and I can put that thick stroke right where I want it, just like I did before. I'm gonna make this, I think Come up then and come around And I'm turning that page. And remember, I want to add some thickness there, and sometimes you can adjust the paper on top because the pencils thinner than the brush. We want to keep this thick coming down and then come up thin. Come around then. I actually think I'm, like, go back in. And that that so there is our beautiful flourished em. So the options I used to get from here to here where? As follows Number one, I added a stroke number two. I added onto that flourished stroke number three. I added on to the exit off the third stroke and added an additional flourish stroke. I also made ah height adjustment, and lastly I extended a stroke and added, ah, flourish to that extension. So, by experimenting and playing and follow this list of options to try, you can take any basic letter and flourish. It 7. A L Flourished Letters: Now I'm going to go through the whole upper case alphabet and show you some options for lettering, each of the letters. So we already went through the A. But I'm just going to go through again and show you one option here for the B. There's lots of different things you can dio. So first of all, we can keep this stroke the same and then come up out of that stroke and come around and change this troop like that. We can also come up a little bit higher, changes the letter slightly, and we can come over like that. We can come back and come down really low and come back in. Now remember, you're always going to be cautious of what the next letter is. If I had a why here, This would not work because it would interfere the two would clash, so that's something to always be aware of. But we could also create common alternate, be by starting this stroke here instead of here. And then we could take this an ad and let's try another version of that instead, let's bring this around and connected to that stroke, and now we can come up around and connect the stroke here, so another option. And if you're not as comfortable coming up and making that thin to thick, you can also do it this way. You can just start right here with the thin stroke and then come back in. Turn your paper so you have that control over the brush and it's coming towards your body. Come back into this thin stroke and then add pressure and make it thicker, and you can always add something at the top. Let's move on to the sea. So remember, we're always looking for the entry stroke, which is here and the exit stroke to make changes, to create an alternate letter or to flourish a letter. So how could I come into that stroke so that it changes that letter? I can do that. What if I came around here and then again, I can turn the paper, come back into this thin stroke and add some pressure to create that thick struck. I could also change this stroke, bring it down deeper, start up a little bit higher and make that stroke more thick to thin. And I could bring this down lower I wanted to. Let's move on to the D. So the D has similar possibilities to the B where you can change the exit stroke. Uh, or as we did with B, you can come into this stroke like this. Come around and connect. And again, you see how using the exemplar gives me something underneath to go on. So I'm not struggling with making that shape in that form. As nice as I might like to make it, I'm just thinking about experimenting with where to put strokes, come back in and add that pressure. So we've really just created an alternate de here. We could also take this stroke and come around and I might bring that up higher. Let's move on to the E. So again, I'm looking at the entrance stroke and the exit stroke. So in this egg entrance stroke, I can do something like that. And again I can start to look at what are the possibilities So I can see from here. What if I came around and then that made that stroke? Or what if I did something with the exit stroke? Bring it in, around and up. So again, I'm asking myself the questions just like we did when I was doing all of the different A's just asking, How can I change it? What can I in large widened? Extend, Simplify all of those questions that are in that other video. How can I change this? Hey, uh, so as soon as we have a loop, we see a possibility of doing more things to that loop. And sometimes we have to adjust because I'm adding things and this is heavy over over here . If I put the down stroke here, it's gonna be too close to that. So I have to make adjustments. I could also dad a space here, and I could also connect these that let's move to the G. So what can I do with this? Entries Stroke. What can I do with the exits? Drug? I could come into it around here. I could come out here and you can just continue to see the possibilities. What if this came further in? What if it came all the way over? What if this came down further? What if it came over and then I made a thicker stroke? The important thing also is to remember the rule that you never cross. Ah, thick line with the thick line Always a thin and a thick Been over thick. Let's move to the H again. We can just keep this the same this stroke and we can look at this. What can I do differently here? How about if I had a loop? What if I extend this down? What if I extend that and you're playing around and then you're saying OK, that is too much with this. So what do I dio? I've gotta modify one of them, so I like the loot. So I modify this. I'll keep this simple and it looks much better. You could also come into the age with this pack by changing this entry stroke to look like that. And just like the A, we can start to see the possibility of combining it with the crossbar. And we can also look at doing something more with e exit stroke. So I hope you're getting the idea that it's not just about duplicating a letter that someone else has created. That's fine, if you if you want to do that, if you're comfortable with that. But if you'd really like toe work towards creating your own style than there's. There's a thinking process behind it, and that's what I'm trying to teach you here. So and I what we came into, the entry stroke like this came down and around. So we have the two different eyes, and of course, we can go on and add to those. Once you do something basic, you can always add to it and say, Oh, now what can I add? Now what could I do? So this could come in here. Let's go to the J. So first I think about, I can extend that come up and down. So what I did there, the normal doctors shows that this drug goes all the way around. I just changed this part of the stroke so that I could make this a little bit thicker so you can sometimes do adjustments like that to the doctors. But it's always good to first know how to do it the basic standard way. We also have this type of J, and you see how it's just a extension of this entry, and it's just a extension of that exit. So we have are two different Jays. And again, what could I do to change that? And when we're going to the K similar to liken age where we can do different things with any of the entry points of any of the strokes? No. I turned the paper and you'll see that it says Turn paper on the exemplar. And that is done for some particular letters because this down stroke on the K is if I am just holding my brush this way, I'm not really getting the right angle. It's making it thick there and thin there. Now that's fine, if that's what I want the stroke to look like. But if I wanted to go from Ben too thick, then I've got to give myself control over the brush. So I have to turn the paper and I'm turning it to the right so that I can now have the brush coming into my body. You see the direction of the brush, and that way I have total control of the brush. Now I can make it then and thick, so that's important to note on letters like K and Ex and even this L A lot of times it's good to just turn the paper to get that last stroke, correct? So let's go back to the K. We can change this stroke, and similarly on the age I brought it under which we can also do trying to show you some some different choices Turn we can do More things with this stroke are doing here. The more that you experiment, the more you add to the library in your head of different options for letters. So I might do something like this. But if I had a why here that would not work if I had a that be perfectly fine Sam writing but name Katherine. Now I've got all the space that I need for the why? Because it's over here, so that works much better. That works there. That gives me space there. Let's move on to the L. So again, I can think about coming into this stroke a little bit further up and turn the paper so that you have better control of the brush. Now I can say, what if I made this bigger? What if I started here and came really down low and made this tighter so I don't make that loop so big. I start here and drop it down that thicker so you can see just a few alterations in my thinking and in my questions creates a totally different letter. 8. M Z Flourished Letters: Let's move on to em. And again, we can take the em up here. Bring it. John. Rollo, I feel that a look there, four. We can change this into a totally different M. Start there. Lower the bumps. Now, how can we start to flourish? That and onto that. Let's go to the end again. I can come all the way over here, come up big, come into that all for that first strokes. So I've already changed it just from changing that first stroke, and then I can come out and extend it further. And what if I started up here with that? So I So I just continually asked the question, What if it's moved to the O and I am going to start here? So I'm already looking. Where's that entry and how can I come into that entry a little bit differently? So I came into the entry over here and I exit much lower. What if I came all the way up here and came around again? I'm using that exemplar to help me to play, so I don't have to worry about where everything goes where the fix and thins go, how to make the letter form. Let's move to the P. And one thing about the P that I think is interesting. We can actually even separate these and then connect him. And if I wanted to, I could bad Mr Work there or I can treat the P just life that B and D come around, come back in or I can treat, I guess, and I could also add this. So let's consider another P and come back in and the Q cuse one of my favorite letters because it's just kind of got fun thing to it. Notice on the doctors that the first stroke comes around and stops here. The second stroke matches that first stroke and comes into meat that first stroke, and then you add your third, which is the tail. So let's do that. You start here from around pressure release and stop. We come back into the stroke pressure and carefully join with the first drug. Now you can also do a Q. That looks like a large too kind of fun, and often times I will. If I'm going to make an extended tail, I will turn the paper so that I have the most control of the brush because the brush stroke would be going into my body or out of my body. This is a pushing stroke that you push out of your body versus, ah, pulling stroke that you pull into your body. But they both require your brush to be pointing into your body. Let's move to the are similar to the P and the B. We can use this same stroke and then make some changes here as we bring down again, I am turning the page. Bring down this stroke four same thing with B and the age in the K and change that stroke. Or we can do the more scripted. Oh, are turning that paper. Okay, let's move to the S. So again, here's her entry stroke so I can think about coming around to start on. I could also extend this down, bring it in, or I couldn't think about a more scripted Yes. And again I couldn't think about what? Here's an entry struck here. What if I changed that? What? Yeah, I did. So we just start to play around and see what are the possibilities? What if this came around and then down. What if this extended further town? Let's move to the T similar to the f. Wait, wait, just simple. By that, bring this further. We could add a little triangular shape at the bottom. We can change it to a more scripted. I call these kind of more old fashioned. They're a little bit more like a copper plate style and the U again we can start out. By changing that entry, we can change the second stroke. We can really make a big appear and shorten this. And sometimes, as I say, you're trying things and some things work. Some things don't. So that's part of why you're experimenting and playing. Giving yourself permission toe learn is what I like to call it, extending that a second line up, making that thicker, adding a loop at the entry. Or we can soften this going to the w. Similarly I wish find that you and the being the w have similar things. We can shorten that second stroke. Sorry, that's the being short in the third stroke and the fourth stroke on the Fifth Troops and do something like that. And that's why taking it stroke by stroke is so helpful. So here this would be the first stroke. I can say, What if I change that stroke like that? Here's the second stroke. What if my softened that and slightly tilted? Here's the third stroke up. Okay, maybe I'm gonna do that pretty similarly. But I'm bending a little bit, because now I've got a little bit of a different dynamic going. Instead of being very angular, I'm softening that. What if I bring this down and shorten it interesting or similar to what we did before? What's soften that? Bring that up. What would that look like? The X. The X has some limitations because if you do too much to this third stroke, it's gonna get all wonky. So you kind of have just this stroke to really manipulate. But there are different things you can do with it, and again we can start to look at now that I did that. What if I came up and over bring this around and add a decline there? No, I shorten this in length of that. We're always just asking questions and experimenting in plain why Whenever you have a loop Bonomy of lots of possibilities do something like, uh, something like this and the sea. There's actually twosies. So this is one we can change by adding some loops to notice. I'm turning the page again and I'm doing a pushing stroke number a little bit off there, but that some one way to make small Toray Shin's and quarter shit up a bit another way is to do similar to the why shape rz. It comes in and around so we can do totally different type of C and again we can make adjustments. So this should give you an idea about some of the options for all the different upper case letters. I hope that you'll just keep asking the question. What if and then see what happens? And I'd love to see what you come up with, so please post it on the class project page. 9. Create Unique Flourished Letters: another great exercise to practise. Creating flourished letters that are unique to you is to take the existing downloadable hand out of flourished letters that I covered in the other video takes, um, tracing paper and a pencil or a brush marker and add additional flourished lines. So this letter that we did started like this, But you could say, What if I added an additional line here? What if I added a line here? So this way you can continue to come up with ideas for flourished letters. 10. Class Project: So for your class project, just take one letter and take it from basic to flourished. 11. Thanks! : thanks so much for taking my class. I hope you enjoyed it. Did you learn something you didn't know before? I hope so. If you did, I greatly appreciate it. If you believe we're review and let other people know what you got out of it. I also love to see your work. So please be sure to post it. And if you're not already following me, please do that way you'll hear about all my upcoming classes. Thanks again for spending time flourishing with me.