Intermediate Brush Lettering: How to Flourish a Word | Debi Sementelli | Skillshare

Intermediate Brush Lettering: How to Flourish a Word

Debi Sementelli, Brush Lettering Artist and Font Designer

Intermediate Brush Lettering: How to Flourish a Word

Debi Sementelli, Brush Lettering Artist and Font Designer

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
10 Lessons (38m)
    • 1. Intro:How to Flourish a Word

    • 2. Tools: How to Flourish a Word

    • 3. Class Project: How to Flourish a Word

    • 4. How to Flourish a Word:The Pencil Skeleton

    • 5. How to Flourish a Word: Flourished Sketch

    • 6. How to Flourish a Word: Brush Marker Sketch

    • 7. How to Flourish a Word: Upright Version

    • 8. Annother Option

    • 9. Examples of Flourished Words

    • 10. Thanks

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

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

In this How to Flourish a Word class I'll take you through the steps needed to create a beautifully flourished word that is instagram worthy. 

We'll start by creating a skeleton pencil sketch of a word.

Then move, step by step, through the process considering the combination of the letters in the word and identifying what areas and letters will be best for flourishing and how those flourishes might affect the overall balance of the word.

Next we'll identify the entry and exit points of those letters.

Then create a flourished pencil sketch and finish with a sketch done with a brush marker.

There are downloadable handouts to follow along as I take you step by step.

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 to approach a whole word, this is the class for you!

Either way, come join me!

Classes in the series include: Lower Case Letters, Upper Case Letters, Lower Case Letter Variations, Upper Case Letter Variations, How to Flourish a Word, 3 Lettering Styles ( including modern brush lettering) and more being added!


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

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

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Your creative journey starts here.

  • Unlimited access to every class
  • Supportive online creative community
  • Learn offline with Skillshare’s app

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Intro:How to Flourish a Word: Hi, I'm Debbie Semin. Telly. Welcome to my studio. I've been a lettering artist for over 30 years and a font designer for the past eight years . So whether you're a beginner or more experienced, I have lots of tips and tricks to share with you in my brush lettering class. Siri's ever watched a video on instagram of someone lettering a word and wonder. How did they know where to put the flourishes? Well, in this class, I'm gonna teach you just that I'll take you through a step by step process, beginning with creating a pencil skeleton outline of the word. And then, as I'm demonstrating, I'll take you through what questions to ask and what to think about when you're considering where to put flourishes. So if you have some experience with a brush and you'd like to play around with Flourishing , I hope you'll join me. If you're a beginner and you've never picked up a brush before, you might consider taking my basic strokes class. Either way, I look forward to sharing my love of the brush with you. 2. Tools: How to Flourish a Word: So let me tell you about the tools you'll need in the how to flourish a word class. First of all, you're gonna need a pencil, and it's great if it has an eraser, if not just a separate eraser, a basic brush marker. I have three different options that I use a prisma color premier, a fabric costel and a Sharpie brush marker so you can find these at any general craft store online. Then you're gonna need the handouts. You can find them on the class Project page. Both the lettering, template and hottest flourish award instructions. Next, some basic plain paper printer paper will do. But it's great if you can see through it and some tracing paper and that's it. I hope you're excited to get started. I'm excited to share my love of flourishing with you. 3. Class Project: How to Flourish a Word: Hi. The class project for this class is simply to follow the process that I've outlined in this handout how to flourish, a word that will involve creating a pencilled skeleton word and following through with your final brush. Lettering. Marker. That's it. Enjoy. Have fun. And please, please post your projects on the class project page. Really love to see what you've come up with. Thanks. 4. How to Flourish a Word:The Pencil Skeleton: so the first step in creating a flourished word is to create a skeleton pencil sketch, and I've created some examples here. This one has an angle, and this one is upright. I say skeleton because each of the letters is very simply written out, and we're going to leave the flourishing and all the changes and alterations for later. But for now, you want to use the template guide because we want to make sure that we're following the structure of the baseline X height A sender descend er, because that forms a foundation for the word and you always want to have a good foundation . The more that you practice flourishing a word in this way, the more you get used to what the choices are for your alternates, and then you can easily right out a word without necessarily having to do this every time. But this is how you really do it properly so that you have that foundation that I was speaking up. So I'm just going to demonstrate how I did that pencil skeleton sketch. So I'm using the baseline, the X height, a center and D center lines to make sure that I'm creating that foundation, so we'll just do the angled version again. So I'm just making sure, as I put thes skeleton letters in that my spacing is good because that's one of the things that I do see people who are just beginners and starting out. So of course they don't know. But I see that they don't necessarily have good letter forms. And the spacing between all of the letter forms is not pleasing to the eye. So this is how we start out so that we know what we're going to end up with is actually coined, really work well for us. So that is how you simply letter a pencil skeleton sketch in the next video. I'll show you how we're going to use that skeleton sketch to play around with lots of choices for alternate letters and flourishes. 5. How to Flourish a Word: Flourished Sketch: as I'm going through the steps to how to flourish a word I'm referring to, a downloadable handout that's on the class page. So go ahead and have that ready so you can follow along with me. So now that we have our basic pencil skeleton sketch drawn out before we start with the brush, we want to go it in with a pencil and start to ask some questions about how we're going to flourish This word. Think about the combination of letters in this particular word. Where are the X height letters, the D senders and the A sender's? In this case, we have a lot of X height letters on Lee one D sender and three a sender's. So, based on the combination of letters, what areas might work best to have flourishes to Well, we've got a lot of space here with nothing coming down. So I would say from this G point, we've got a lot of place that we can add a really cool flourish in here. So we're just gonna identify this area very lightly with pencil. Another area, since we have the t the Allen, the tea out of close to each other. So there's lots of good possibilities here. I would say that we're gonna add some flourishing here, and that starts to already look like it's creating a nice balance in the word. And then we might consider adding a flourish here and here. So the next thing to do now that we know the areas that were going to be flourishing in is identify the entry and exit points of the letters were looking to flourish. So I would look at this g and see that this is an entry point and this is an exit point, and I don't see any value in adding anything to the entry point. But it'll be great to do something to this exit point, so we're definitely going to identify that one with the tea and the L. This is a perfect combination to combine a crossbar of the tea with the loop of the L. So I definitely see that as a wonderful place that we can add a flourish and come up and already I'm getting a sense of how that might look. Now I want to be careful because I have a t here, so I don't want to bring this all the way over there. So let's just make sure that that keeps its a distance and gives it enough space. Okay, so we've got the t and the G so far, and I could consider a t coming down here, but I'm going to first create this flourish to make sure that it doesn't cause any problems there. So two other entry points that would be good to add a flourish to are the beginning of the sea and the exit point of the S. So that's already looking like there could be some nice possibilities. And I said we might have a possibility here. So let's start with the sea. And I'm just gonna come around like this and for the g gonna bring this down, bring it over around and back up. That feels very celebratory to me for the tea and the owl. I want to give a little movement dip there, a little bit down, come up and around, Okay? And I'm gonna go to the s now. And I'm thinking that if I bring this t down, that could break up that space rather nicely. Might bring that up like that. So That's a possibility for me to look at, and I could bring this end down and come back. That's another option instead of the T. But that feels like there's too much going on, and I know at first it might seem difficulty to identify when there's too much going on. But your eye gets used to seeing good design, and so you get to identify it a little bit more easily once you've been practicing like we're doing now. So I also want to make sure that the letters next to the Flourished letter are not going to be adversely affected. So if I had a tall letter here, let's say there was an H here. This would not work, so I have to really make sure that I'm making the letters play nicely with their neighbors . The next thing to ask is, How did these flourishes add to the overall look of the word? Is it appropriate flare or is it too overdone and usually less is more. I also want to consider the negative space. Negative space is really important in words. We have them in the loops. We have them here and we have some here and we want to make sure that the negative space flows and supports the word is not too crammed at the same time. We want to break that negative space up and make it more interesting if we need to. So I might be able to consider dropping down a letter here to change that negative space and that could work might be too much. But as I look at it, I feel like we've got this duplication here, and I think that might be too much. So I'm going to get rid of that. So now it's time to pay attention to the UNF lurched letters. How can I vary them just a little bit? So they have some interest, but they don't take away from the flourished letters because you always wanna have some places for your eye to rest. And if you have too much going on, it's just not comfortable to look at. So the next question I'm gonna ask myself is, how can I create movement? Is there enough movement going on whether ISS movement in the flourishes but the X height letters look a little bit too stayed, so I don't want to do too much to them. But I want to create some movement throughout the word. So what I'm going to do is take the X height letters that are not flourished and start to add a little interest to them. So I'm looking at this relationship right now between the end and the G. And there's a nice opportunity for this to come down in here and you see how already that starts to create some nice interest and we broken up that monotonous space there I can bring the loop of the are up. So I'm starting to get some movement happening here, and I'm in a long gait, the A and bring the stem down in a different angle. I'll bring that tee up and I'm going to create some movement again and change by keeping this part of the U short and making this a little bit taller. And again, I think I'm gonna duplicate this. Okay, I might bring this I down low because remember, I'm trying to get some movement going here and consider the oh, and let's drop this up to get some height there. Bring that down. I think I'll connect that. So that's looking fairly good. I'm gonna drop the daughter of the eye down. And I'd like to get just a little bit of a change in the height of the teas so that this really moves upward. So as I fill out the's flourishes, I get a better sense of how the whole word is working. And that's looking very good. It has a lot of movement and flow. It's got nice naked of space. All of the letters have a little bit of variation, and the flourishing is not overdone. So let's go see what this would look like with a brush. 6. How to Flourish a Word: Brush Marker Sketch: So now that we have our sketch done, I am going to once again have the lettering template underneath. Always good to have that foundational information. I'm going to take a new piece of tracing paper and place that on top, and I'm going to let you know about body mechanics. If you want more information, you can check out my basic strokes class. But basically what I'm talking about is, first of all, I am positioning the paper to the left because I'm a right handed person. If you're left handed person, you would turn it to the right, and I'm placing my non writing hand up at the top of the paper to hold it in place. And I'm holding my brush so that it's between my middle finger, forefinger and thumb. And this really gives me the best range of motion so that I can make the flourish strokes from the shoulder. And that's another thing that I talk about in my basic strokes class. Talk about whole arm movement, so check that out if you want more details on that. So let's go ahead and start to letter with the brush, and I'm going to bring this ode down a little bit and angle it slightly. And this is where you know you can try out additional things to see if there's some changes you'd like to me. I'm going to start the G entry, stroke a little bit to the right, and I get on an angle that a little bit and now to prepare for the flourish stroke. First of all, I want to get some practice in, and that's really telling your muscle and your mind where you want that brush to go. So I had a little bit off right here, but we're still just testing things out. So no worries. Be careful to remember where you want to put the fix and thins. Stop if you need to, so that you can adjust your brush. I find lettering stroke by stroke is best so that you really are thinking about where you're putting those six and thins and also notice the pace that I'm lettering at. It's never a quick movement unless you're specifically trying to create something that has more of a quick, dynamic look to it. So I've kept a lot of the choice is the same. I'm turning the page and again in my basic strokes class. I talk about turning the page to get the most control of the brush, and that's typically when you need to have the stroke. Either. Coming into your body are moving away from your body. You're getting the most control when you have that movement, rather than a side movement doesn't always give you the best control. So we're just going to do a simple cross bar here. So that's our final result, and with a few tweaks, I think that would look great on Instagram. 7. How to Flourish a Word: Upright Version: Now, let's try it on an upright version. Okay, so we still have the same things to think about the fact that we have all this space here, the D sender here. We've got the l in the two teas, but let's give this a different approach, and I'm kind of getting a feel for spreading this out a little bit more. So I'm going to start with a simple see, but I'm going to bring it around like this, and now I'm gonna bump this up. I kind of want to create a little bit more undulation there, and that's do on Low and and again, I'm gonna change. I kind of think that was working well up there. So I kind of like the idea of keeping that in in a similar shape. I'm actually gonna try a unique G, bring it down, and as long as it reads like the letter that you want it to, then it works. So that's not a particular G that I've ever done before, but this is where you get to make things up. I'd like to bring that loop way up there, kind of come down there because I kind of like to create something happening here. Um, I do like the elongated a I'm going Teoh elongated more and really stretch it out more so you can see the difference between this and this. So this has a little bit of a funkier feel. And now because I have this space here, I can make a t. And I like the idea of doing just a straight t for that. And I can combine the cross bar of the tea with eu, and I'm gonna I'm gonna keep it low, because if it was too high, it would not necessarily work a swell for the U. And now we have the l. So I'm looking at this tea and I'm wondering, how would that work if I did something like that? So first, I think I'm going to Yeah, play that out a little bit. Okay. So let's see. Let's see how that's gonna work. We'll go with that elongated a and I think I want to connect this. I want to get a little bit more movement going here, so I really give that a nice fat dot. So let's working fairly well and I kind of like the idea because we don't have anything at the beginning of the C. I kind of like keeping the s simple. So I'm just going to come out and give a little I think, the stroke there So you can see those are two ways that we could add our flourishes. And it all starts with the pencil sketch. 8. Annother Option: let's do one more just so you can see there's so many choices to be made. So as I'm looking at the other two, I really like a lot of the movement. So I want to keep that. And I kind of like having the action happening Mawr in the middle with the G in the T and the L. So I like the idea of keeping the c and s simple, but I still might want to do something like this. Will just add a little entry stroke there to that. See? And I come into the stroke and come out. Let's start off bringing that lower below the baseline like the O going up, like in the last one that we did. So I think I'm gonna come here and I'm gonna go way up, huh? And I do still like what happens with that G and in combination. So I'm going to keep that and again I can move the paper because the thickness of the brush is going to change the wind of the letter. So you might have to move it to get to the next letter. So this G, I kind of liked the first thing that we did. So I think I'm gonna work with that. But I'm going to come in here, read a little bit more there. And this is where your whole arm movement comes into play. And in my in my first basic strokes class, I talk about whole arm movement, which really allows you to get that beautiful stroke, and it flows very nicely. So we want him take advantage of that. I like coming up here to again bring a little bit more movement there. And I think I think I'm gonna bring this t down just to put something into this large space here. But the rest will let, well, let it sit above the baseline. So let's come down. Very simple. But we kind of broke up that space and made a little bit more interesting. And I'm feeling her like the upward motion. So I'm gonna start with the shorter stem here and taller when there and I do like creating that l. But I've got this here to think about. So I think I'm going to really make this big, because I kind of wanna have some balance from that. I'm I'm not gonna go from the tea. I'm just going to go from here. That's really bring that up. So that's feeling like we're getting a nice balance and this has a nice little pocket here that we can add some movement. And it's also good to look at. Where can I add movement? Because we could just cross this straight. But I think it adds so much more to add some movement there. And it also creates a nice little space in here. So I hope what you can see is that flourishing is really using a lot of thinking before you just put your pen to the paper. And what will happen if we interrupt their I don't really want to interrupt there. So I'm going to bring this slightly above this height because I want that movement to be going up like that. I want the I to move up like that and I'm gonna bring this down and again. I'm kind of going toe, refer to this and create a similar, But we're slightly different. But I'm trying to keep somewhat of a higher shape there, and I think I'm gonna like to go under here and let's pop up there and again. Very simple. So we'll do a simple but were given a little bit of a lilt following this pattern. Come down here to daughter I. So there you have a totally different approach, and if you look at all three of them, they all work in different ways. But the main focus is starting with your skeleton sketch thinking about before you even put the pen to the paper. Where are your opportunities to create a really lavish D sender or a sender? Where might there be connections to be made between an Allen A. T, for instance, where I might have been able to come above this? Oh, in the end, lots of different opportunities. Do we want to have an entry stroke and an exit stroke? And where are the points of entry and exit for the letters that would give us an opportunity to change things up. So this is what goes into really flourishing a word so that it has that foundation, and it has that thought put into it, and that makes it really pop and really stand out and perfect for posting. So play around with it. Don't stress too much of some of the things you try. Don't turn out. That's okay when you practice this process over and over again, that's what puts the memory not only in the muscle but also in your mind about different combinations that you may have tried that worked out really well. So just play. Have fun and be patient with yourself and please post what you've done. I just can't wait to see what you come up with. 9. Examples of Flourished Words: so I've created some words that are already flourished, and I'm going to go ahead and do those for you. And then this will be a handout that you can download so you can practice flourishing. 10. Thanks : I hope you enjoyed this class. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'm here to help. It's just one of my brush lettering class Siri's. So I hope you'll check out the others. I'm always adding more. So if you love the brush like I do, please check him out. If you're not already following me, I hope you will. This way you will be able to hear about all my upcoming classes, and I've got lots more planned.