Laid-Back Lettering For Urban Sketching, Journaling, & Everyone with Terrible Handwriting | Amy Stewart | Skillshare

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Laid-Back Lettering For Urban Sketching, Journaling, & Everyone with Terrible Handwriting

teacher avatar Amy Stewart, Writer & artist

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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

10 Lessons (1h 5m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Starting With Pencil

    • 4. Lettering with Watercolor

    • 5. Ink With Your Own Handwriting

    • 6. Ink and Watercolor

    • 7. Drawing a Typeface

    • 8. Putting it All Together

    • 9. Bonus: What to Write

    • 10. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

If you want to add more artistic, colorful, dramatic lettering to your sketchbooks, journals, and artwork, but you don't want to put in the hours it takes to really perfect a hand-lettering style, this class is for you!

I love all the beautiful brush pen and modern calligraphy styles I see all over Instagram, but filling out practice sheets and trying to learn upstrokes and downstrokes felt too much like work for me.

So I developed an approach to lettering that I could do without a ton of practice, using more or less my own handwriting and the art supplies I already carry with me.

In this class, I’ll show you how to work with pencil, pen, marker, and watercolor to create visually interesting letters using the same approach to drawing and painting you already use in your art.

I’ll work from examples of the styles I like to use, that fit my personality and my artwork, but I’ll also show you how to find the styles that work for your tastes and interests.

Meet Your Teacher

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Amy Stewart

Writer & artist



Welcome! For the last twenty years, I've devoted my life to making art and writing books. It gives me great joy to share what I've learned with you. 

I love talking to writers and artists, and bonding over the creative process. I started teaching so that I can  inspire others to take the leap. 

I believe that drawing, painting, and writing are all teachable skills. Forget about talent--it doesn't exist, and you don't need it. With some quality instruction and lots of practice, any of us can make meaningful, honest, and unique art and literature.

I'm the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books. When I'm not writing or traveling on book tour, I'm painting and drawing in ink, watercolor, gouache, and oil. Come f... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello. I'm Amy Stewart. I'm a writer and artist in an urban sketcher. Over the years, I filled sketchbooks with drawings and paintings from my vacations from my everyday life here in Portland, Oregon, where I live And, uh, even just from inside my own house. But lately I've been feeling like something's missing from my drawings. And what's missing is words. As a writer, I'm always making notes in my sketchbooks. But I wanted something that packed more of a punch visually, at the same time. I knew I was never gonna put in the hours of practice. It would take toe, learn the many beautiful styles of hand lettering that have become so popular. Just look a, um, look at this. These are all the pages of lettering practice that I've done. Uh, this was me a few years ago, you know, just trying to learn how to do this. And the fact is, I just never got there, and most of all, I just didn't enjoy the process like this. Felt like work. And I make art for fun. So I wanted something I could do without a ton of practice using more or less my own handwriting and the art supplies I already carry with me. So I've developed an approach to lettering for urban sketching, journaling and well for all of us. It's casual. It's definitely not too perfect. It's based on my own handwriting and my own drawing skills. My big breakthrough was when I realized that I don't have to memorize a lettering style and learn to write in that style the way I just write in my own handwriting. Once I let go of that idea, lettering became much more fun as an art form. So if you want Teoh, learn to add more words and more lettering styles to your sketchbooks in your artwork without having to put in hours and hours of practicing and memorizing how to form each letter of the alphabet. This class is for you. I'll show you how to work with pencil marker and watercolor to create visually interesting letters, using the same approach to drawing and painting you already use in your art. Now I'm gonna be working from examples of the styles that I like to use, and you'll see that it fits my personality and my artwork. But I'll also show you how to find styles that work for your taste and your interest. All right, let's get started 2. Supplies: Let's talk about supplies. I want you to use whatever you're already using to make art because the whole point of this is for it to be something really easy using materials are already comfortable with. But here's what I'm gonna be using for this class. I'm gonna be doing a little bit with watercolor. So I've got my travel watercolor palette and a small brush. So this is, Ah, one of these water brushes with a reservoir. I'm not really using the water that's in here. I just like that. It's a really fine tip. So just a small brush like this one is ah is a six. That would be fine. As long as it's got a good point on it. I'll be using some waterproof pins. Ah, you'll see me use my Lammy safari, which I love, which has platinum carbon ink in it, which is waterproof and also a brush pin. This is a pin tell pocket brush pin. It has a nice brush tip and also waterproof. You could also use something like a soft brush marker. Just says SB on the top, and it's the same kind of deal, only it's a disposable, really inexpensive marker with a brush tip. Something like that could be cool. And this is just a regular pigment liner type of drawing pin. This is ah, 0.8. So kind of a good, bold, waterproof marker type pen would be good. You're also going to need for sure, a pencil and an eraser. I use one of these needed gum erasers when I'm traveling. I always keep it in one of these so that it doesn't get all over everything. But anyway, you're gonna wanna needed gum type of a racer or some kind of a racer that won't actually tear of your paper too much. And you're gonna see me use a ruler. I really like these clear rulers that have plenty of markings on him, and you'll see why. This has both centimeters and inches, but lots of other marks that help me line things up. That's really helpful for just kind of everyday writing and note taking, which you might not be doing in this class. But you're gonna hear me talk about it. I always keep a ballpoint pen with me. So I'm not using up my Good Artists Inc. When I'm out writing in my sketchbook and these unit ball signal pens are pretty waterproof . So if you think you might make no to write little stories or whatever in your sketchbook or your journal, but then you might watercolor over him. You can use one of these. I'll just warn you, though they're not waterproof immediately. I've even had to let him drive for a few hours or a day before they're totally waterproof. So test this out before you try something like that, with whatever pain you're gonna use. And then finally, of course, you'll need some paper. Make sure that it's paper that can handle some water color. So, like, this is a watercolor block. This is a pad of pretty inexpensive watercolor paper. Or hopefully you have a sketchbook, that Scott paper in it that can take water color. That's all you need. 3. Starting With Pencil: Let's start with the first steps you're going to take, um for any style of lettering you dio And that is we're going to start out just by drawing a straight line. And I use, um, a clear ruler like this, and I like it cause I can almost use it like a T square. You can see how I can sort of align the edge to make sure that it's straight because I can use these markings along the edge of my paper. But it doesn't matter. You can use it just a sheet of paper. Or, um, some people use expired credit card or a bus pass or whatever you've got. But this is the bottom line for your letters, and you'll see in a minute why I do the bottom line first and then figure out the top afterwards. Now you're going to think about the word you're going to write and count the number of letters in it and figure out where the center point ISS so you can see me doing this over and over again in the back of a travel sketchbook. I've just written out what it is that it's gonna be and I sort of go under here and I count and I find the center place. So usually there's like a little bit in the back of my book where I've done a lot of that. But for now, I'm just gonna do it on a legal pad. So let's say that the word we're going to spell out is my hometown. Portland. You all know how to spell Portland, and you probably already know that it's eight letters long. You don't need to really be a genius to figure that out, but you'd be surprised at how often I get something like this wrong when I'm so focused on making the letters perfectly that I'm forgetting about what I'm spelling. So here's the process. I write out the word and then I go. 12345678 There's eight letters. If there's a space, the space counts is a letter. So New York is also 12345678 because the space counts right. Okay, so where's the center? The center is halfway between port and land, and again, this is super obvious, with a word like Portland here with New York it's 1234 and then 5678 So that's the center line. If you have, um, uh, an odd numbered word, then it's the same idea. If it's Paris, obviously this is 12345 letters long. So where's the center? Will? The center is right in the middle of the are. So there's two letters on that side. Two letters on that side, one in the center. Okay, so let me show you why this is important to figure out ahead of time. I'm gonna come back to my sketchbook here. I've made a line to indicate the space I have available to write this word out. Right. And I like to use the metric side cause it's a little easier to do that math in my head. This is, um it's actually going to make this easy on myself and make it exactly 20 centimeters. It's 20 centimeters. So where's the center line? Will the center lines obviously 10 centimeters. So right there, that's the middle. Now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna write out this word just being mindful of what's in the center. So if this is my center line. Then I'm gonna put for Portland. I'm gonna put the l here, and I'm just writing this in basic block letters using my own more or less normal handwriting. Right? It may seem weird to you that I'm kind of writing this word backwards, but I'm just trying to be very mindful of what goes in the center and make sure I leave enough room for the rest of it. So here, I'll put this so you can see it. Let me just put this. You can see what I'm doing here. So then there's a T. There's an r next to it. There's an O and there's a P. So by writing it kind of starting in the middle and working my way out like that, I'm actually getting the letters spaced pretty well. And you can see that I was totally casual about this. I used my own basic handwriting, and I wasn't really scientific about getting the exact spacing right for every letter. If that was really important to you, you could obviously go in and use your ruler and make very precise marks and really get everything just right. But I'm not even being that careful with it. I'm just making sure that the center falls more or less where it needs to. And the letters are on either side. And then for something that has an odd number of letters let me just once again, I'm gonna Okay, so there's another 20 centimeters, Another dividing line just right down the middle, Paris, the ours right in the middle. So instead of putting a letter on either side of it right up close next to that line that are actually goes right on that line and then a P Paris just like that. So, um, the reason I just do the bottom line is that again? I'm doing this quickly and informally, and I want some helpful measurements, but I'm not going. Teoh do all the calculations to figure out exactly how tall the letters ought to be before I draw. I'm just going to draw him and see about how tall the letters are. And then I'm going to give myself this upper guideline for when I do it in pen and again. This is why a clear ruler is so helpful. Because I can kind of use the lines on the ruler and look at the line I drew and get something that's straight so that I'm not creating weird angles so that those two are parallel. Those two lines are parallel. That's what I want. So now I'm giving myself a better guidelines so that I know exactly how tall the letters need to be when I do them in ink. OK, so that's our first step is to really just right block letters using your own handwriting in pencil, having kind of counted it out ahead of time and figured out how it worked. Um, and let me just emphasize again, if you have a space, it's really important that you count that space as a letter when you're sort of doing the math. So let me just once again do 20 centimeters. 10. So here's my center line. So if I'm doing New York, I've got the why Oh, or K and I have a space. And then again, I know it feels kind of weird to drawn backwards, but it really does help you to get the spacing the way you, um, the spacing a little bit better, but do, however, feels comfortable to you. But the point is used that center line to make sure you've got enough room for the words and then make sure you've got the bottom, a good line for the bottom, and then go ahead. And once you've kind of masked out where you want these words to go and how they go ahead and make yourself a guideline for the top, that's all we have to do for the very beginning. Now, a couple other concepts I want to mention one is in your sketch. You might be wondering where you're gonna put these letters. So these air, though to that I'm gonna use is an example today, and you can see that here for Portland. I live in Portland. So if you came to Portland and did a sketch of our beautiful Mt. Hood, what I did is I did put a sky in, but I just kept the sky low. So there's lots of room up here for me to put the letters Portland And then for this one, you may not need to write Paris up here in the sky, because I don't think you're gonna forget that this is Paris. But let's say this is your drawing of Paris, and you want to put Paris up in the sky. In this case, I left the sky off entirely. So, um, in your sketchbook, You know, if you know you're going to do some letter and you definitely want to think about where these letters are gonna go, they could also go. Let's say that this area of water was much bigger. They could go down here. You could just leave a big area of water unpainted, and it could go there. Or maybe there's a lot of pavement in a street scene, and you could leave some of that pavement unpainted and put it, Put your letters there as well. So think a little bit about with your layout, where you're gonna leave room. That's unpainted so that you can go in and make letters and possibly paint thes. One other thing I'll say about adding lettering into your sketchbook is that it's something you can do later. So sometimes when you're out drawing, you're pressed for time, and you're lucky if you can get this whole thing done. So the cool thing is, you can do this and then leave. Go meet your friends. Maybe it's time for dinner. Whatever you got to move on. And adding lettering is something you can do later. You can do it in the evening when you're sort of got a little time to kill. You're sitting in a train station wherever you've got a little extra time to fill. You can do that part later. Okay, so this is our first step. We've done our letters in pencil, and now we're ready to do some lettering. 4. Lettering with Watercolor: Okay, So the first couple styles I'm gonna show you were only going to use a water brush. We're not going to use ink at all, So any small pointed brush is fine. I don't I'm not actually going to use the water that's in the reservoir here. I find it's too hard to control the water, so I'm still going to dip into the jar. But you just need a watercolor brush with a small point. And this, I think, is a handy one. Tohave the first step, then, is gonna be to a race as much as you can, because we're not going to go over it with ink and then where we can then erase all the pencil. You just gotta races. Much of it is you can understanding that a little tiny bit of pencil is going to show through with the water color. So I'm just lifting up a lot of this, just leaving it so I can barely see it. You might have trouble seeing it at all on camera, but I can still see it faintly, and I'll be able to erase a little bit more. But the thing is, once the water color goes down, this all becomes pretty permanent. So I just wanna I just want to really knock it back so much as I can. That's plenty. All right, So the idea behind this first style is some people call these bubble letters. You're basically just using a water glaze. So Portland's known for being a rainy city. So we're gonna dio kind of we're gonna do kind of a rainy color here, I'll just show you. So I'm making a P Justin water, and then I'm dropping in in this case, shadow Violet. And I'm just letting it move organically through this puddle of water that I've made. And the point of it really is to let the water really move around. Looks like I kind of all right. So once again, Clearwater And now I'm really using my upper and lower guides to make the letter just the right shape. Oh, there it goes. That's how it should work. You see how it just really travels all by itself? So it's so this was shadow violet. But you can also drop in some other color. So this time I'll put a little more variety into it, so I mean, I'm kind of looking at the are that I already made my waters a little dirty here, which is actually sort of helpful dip in and add a little bit of blue to it. So, yeah, I'm looking at the color that I already made are the letters that I already made, But it's okay to change your mind a little and move the position of him around because the pencil so light that you can do that. So I think you get the idea here just following the guidelines that you've sat down and just introducing these little bits of color that can travel on their own. Just gonna introduce a little bit more blue into that one. And, uh oops, Well, that's got a little more color in it already that I was planning on. But that's okay. We'll add a little gray right there and let it go wherever it wants. So this is fun to do because the movement of the pain is a little unpredictable. Thes two letters air attached. So the paint went from one into the other just for fun. I'm going to drop a tiny bit of green into this one do you see what we get Times trying to stick with colors that seem to me to be sort of rainy day colors. So I'm really sticking close to the shadow violet, which is just such a beautiful, and it's a gray with a lot of variety to it. But, um, sometimes there's a little hint of yellow on a gray day, so I'm bringing in some yellow Oakar. And once again I'm paying attention of this upper line and making that letter. Um, making that letter touched the bottom and the top. This time I'm dropping in some purple, but I'll go back to the shadow Violet, really let it move around, so it's a cool thing to do. It's very organic. There's no fancy, really formation of the letters. The art in it is really about this watercolor and how the water color moves. And you can also do really interesting color combination. So I just made a letter l I know you can't really even see, but I'm going to drop a little red at the top of that letter l And then I'm gonna take some bright hunts. A yellow drop it over here and they're gonna kind of meat in the middle. So, um, any you know anything's fair game in terms of, uh, color combination. So I just made a letter A in Clearwater, and I can see the Clearwater. I know you can't really see it, but trust me, this is gonna be visible on your page. So that's a little cobalt teal, and then I'm gonna I don't know how this is gonna look. I'm just trying. This is quinacrine own rose. Let's just see what it wants to do when those two meet, so you can have a lot of fun with it. Um, here's an entire page of these that I made in different colors. So even though the style of lettering is not fancy and it's pretty much it's basically just my own handwriting, what makes it so interesting is watching these colors blend together. Okay, so that's one idea, and ah, this obviously needs to dry. It's a super wet technique, but while it's drying, I'm gonna go ahead and do just a very simple brush lettering style, um, with the word Paris. And once again I'm removing as much of my guidelines as I can, leaving it very, very light because I really just barely need to see this. I mean, obviously, it's not hard to just freehand write the word Paris. I'm using simple or example so we can get through this quickly. But you can imagine if you're writing a long word like Barcelona or Washington. It does sort of helped to figure it out ahead of time. So this is boy, you can. You could barely call this script because it really is just my own handwriting. Um, made a little bit more flowy. So I'm using pyre. Allred, which is good, thick color. It's pretty, It's pretty opaque, it's pretty thick, and I'm really loading up my pen with a pretty drying mixture. And again, this is just freehand. So I'm just going to sort of try to be expressive with it, and I'm a lot. It's hard to do this and talk. So I had my guidelines, but I'm trying to do something that where the letters were different sizes and they're kind of moving out of the guides I make, it's still helpful to put those guides down so you know where your straight edges are. But there's no reason why you can't just then be more expressive with it. And again, for a really short word like this, it's no big deal. You know, if you're in Rome and you just want to go like this, that's pretty easy to do just in your own handwriting. One last one, I'm gonna show you. That's really just a paintbrush in your own handwriting. Here all I'll erase this back again. Pretty good, really Lighten it up so that hopefully not too much of the pencil shows through. You can go back and try to do a little more erasing what? Your pain is totally, totally dry, and obviously some of these straight pencil marks will come up. It's just the ones that are directly underneath the water color that that won't come up. So let's say this New York. So this last technique is also just using basic capital letters that are pretty much just how you right. You don't have to get fancy with this, Um, because it's the It's the color that's really making the statement. Not so much the shapes of the letters. So in this case, what I'm gonna do is start with a lighter color. I'll just take this new GAM bows and I'm gonna write very thick. And there's a reason I'm doing a lighter color for this and you'll see you'll see how this works in a minute. So don't worry about making this real dark. Don't choose a real darker, opaque paint. Keep it kind of faint. So it's OK if this is not very bold and you want the letters to be pretty fat because we're going to do another layer on top. Okay, so I'm gonna pause for a minute toe, let this dry, and then we'll do the next layer. Okay, this is dry. So what we do is after those kind of big, fat letters or dry, we come in again. You're gonna need a really fine brush for this. And I'm just gonna use this pyre all red, cause I already have some mixed up. And it's a good dry mixture. It's really I can put it down very finally, and it's not going anywhere. So the whole style is nothing but a thick wine with a thin over it. I just want to reiterate this is not any kind of lettering style. This is just me doing all caps is pretty much how I make block letters. But it's kind of interesting looking because you do have these two colors, one behind the other and depending on the kind of color scheme that you think fits with the city, you can really have fun with an idea like that. All right, so these use no pens at all, really just a little pencil and paint. And like I said, you can go back once it's dry. And like this, Paris is pretty dry. There are a few stray pencil lines that I can see around the edges, and I can go on a race. Um, it's just anything that's directly under the water color that I can't erase so you can go in and clean those up. And it looks pretty cool for something that has no real specific lettering style behind it and is just having fun with the paint 5. Ink With Your Own Handwriting: these next two are very simple styles that you can just do with a pen. And again, they don't involve learning any particular script. It's just using your own handwriting. So I've already done this process with the word San Miguel and Barcelona, where I counted out, figured out where the center is, and I've written him out using a ruler just like before. I'm gonna go ahead and do some erasing, but I don't have to worry as much about a racing because I can erase once the ink is dry, so it's no big deal. So, um, for San Miguel, what I'm gonna do is just tall, skinny letters again. This is using your own handwriting. You're not You're not learning a style here. You're just making tall, skinny letters. So let's just see what this looks like. I've got this upper line that I established where it is now. One thing with doing tall, skinny letters is having the cross bar being a weird place. So I'm gonna put this way up high, this crossbar, making it tall and skinny. So this comes really close together. Um, I think for this diagonal, I'm gonna have it be really high. Just like the a again. I'm just winging this. This is not a style that I've seen anywhere. This is just sort of playing around. I kind of got the spacing wrong for doing this too tall and skinny, so I'm gonna have to disregard my pencil a little bit, but I m i g the G should really be over here. I'm going to do very low for that, G. This is something that happened. You write it out in just regular block letters, and then you decide what you're doing. And maybe you're doing something that's not the same. Spacing is regular block letters, But I'm gonna leave this. I'm not going to redo it because this is the kind of stuff that actually happens to me when I'm out and about drawing. Um, I think I'm gonna have this e the cross Barbie really low, like the G and then the l and you Congar kin this up to just make it a little more interesting or a little more dramatic. I mean, I'm just using a regular ink pen here. Obviously, if you had ah, marker, you might make it thicker and places so I'm just going to sort of play around with that and think of this. I really want you to think of this is more like a drawing project than a lettering project . Because then I think for me anyway, when I just think I'm just drawing shapes, I suddenly feel a lot more confident about it. And then if I think I'm doing lettering and I don't know how to do lettering, so I'm just kind of making it a little bit more dramatic and you can you'll see in a minute where we're going to do that more on one side of the letter than the other. But I'm just playing around and then groups and then in a minute, well, a race. And you can see what it looks like when I get rid of that pencil. And again, if I had been thinking ahead of time about doing these is tall, skinny letters. I might have made my original block letters skinnier, but I wasn't. I hadn't decided yet which one I was gonna do, which example here. So this is kind of more like how it works when I'm out traveling and adding letters to something All right, well, anyway, so there's just tall, skinny letters, That's all that is. And anybody can do that now for this one for Barcelona. What I'm gonna do is use my, um I'm gonna use my brush pin, but let me first just make the letters. So once again, I'm not gonna worry too much about erasing, because when the ink is dry, I can erase. I'm just going to make regular block letters again. Just use your own handwriting. Maybe a little bit meter. This is neater than anybody who knows. My handwriting knows that this is neater than my own handwriting. But it's nonetheless I'm not trying to follow a style. I'm just putting letters in. And I'm really glad that I did the pencil first because I get so caught up in trying to make the shapes of the letters that I really do forget how to spell something, and I get kind of lost in the word, so it really does help to do that. So I just wrote out this word Barcelona. And now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna thicken up the left side of each letter, and this is not even a calligraphy technique. A calligraphy technique might be more like, um, you know, thin upstroke, thick down stroke, for instance. And then you're always having to remember Well, which is the upstroke in which is the down stroke. This isn't even that this is just the left hand side of every letter. So it's a ridiculously simple effect to create. So I'm just gonna come in here with my brush pin, which is probably something you carry with you. The idea here is to really just use, um, supplies that you already carry and not have to go out and buy calligraphy pans or anything very special or different. So just doing the left side of every letter. And I'm trying to be kind of careful with the curve so that I get a nice transition, um, again, just really thinking of it like a drawing project more than anything else. So that's all it iss. This is not super fancy. This is something you can remember how to dio. And you might even kind of develop some ideas about how toe make it your own. I'm just kind of playing around with these letters and just making aesthetic choices just like I would with a drawing. And that's it 6. Ink and Watercolor: So now the last couple that I'm going to show you in this, like really simple freehand section are a couple that incorporate pain and pen. And so I've done Orvieto and play a here. And I've been the same thing where I figured out where the center is, and I've given myself some guidelines, and I'm just gonna use a pigment liner here that's waterproof because I want to be able to go fast and add the color on top and show you how that works. So this one all I'm gonna do is make all the round things square. So again, you don't have to learn or practice anything to just do this. If you just think, Oh, round things are gonna be square That is literally the entire style. It's super easy to dio. So there's that. We're gonna come back over and do something cool with watercolor with that in just a second . But now So this other one for the play Uh um this I would call, like a gesture drawing. So this is basically just you doodling and it's gonna be really free. And it's gonna be really unique to you, and I don't even know what this is gonna look like. So let's just see what I come up with here. The idea is that you're just you're you're scribbling. And if you've ever taken a class where you had to do gesture, drawing, it's a lot like that. So that was me just winging it. And every time I do it, I probably do it differently. And it's very scribble e, but we're gonna put some pain on top of it. And the paint is what makes it look really cool. So let's erase all that. And now I'll show you what the what? The idea here is with the style is And of course you could. You could make this your own. You can do something totally different to remember how with Barcelona, we made the thick part on the left, so I'm gonna kind of do that again. But I'm gonna use the water brush, this idea of putting down a clear glaze and dropping colors in and um let's see, I want to use kind of a consistent color scheme. So I'm gonna use new gambo je and a little permanent rose and just let him, um, blend together however they want. And I kind of like it. If the if the paint is a little bit, what would be the word off register? I guess from the letter. So it's sitting on top of the letters and it's just it's doing its own thing. I'm only doing it on the left. I'm using permanent Rose. I'm using new GAM bows and just kind of varying the amount of each. I mean, this is this is again something that's supposed to be just super loose and fun. So there's the I. My eye is a little bit close to my E for doing this style, but we're winging it, letting those blend for the e. I'm gonna actually just go with that. My brush was kind of already had some pain on it for the tea and just going to go right down the center line. And I'll do more yellow in this one because there's already kind of a lot of pink on here, but a little tiny bit. This is, um, this is quinacrine own rose. I think I may have said permanent rose before, but it's quinacrine on Rose and again going back toe basically, Clearwater I'm gonna put it in the middle this time and I'll just take a tiny drop of Quinn Rose and put it at the top. So that will take a minute to dry. Um, it's just kind of loose and fun, and you could decide to layer the pain on top of it in a different way. But it's basically just making a different shape of letter and dropping pain over it That doesn't quite, um, connects so directly to the style of the lettering. So you get kind of, ah layered vibe Now for my player down here, I'm not gonna let the paint move as much. I'm gonna be more controlled with it. So this is Cobalt teal, I'm gonna go into cobalt teal and I'm just going to kind of drop in some pain. And again, I'm forming letters that are a little bit They don't have to conform exactly to what I already made, because the idea is that it's almost like one type of letter on top of another type of letter. But this is not very wet paint. I'm not putting it everywhere. I'm just putting it in a few places and then I'll come back in. I think this time I'll use some trying to use bright beachy color. So let me use a really bright yellow, and I'll put it just in a few places you can let some of your ink show through. This is really just you. You're the artist and take charge of this thing and have fun with it and make it your own. The whole idea here is that these air styles that you can make your own that don't require you to have learned or memorized anything. 7. Drawing a Typeface: the big breakthrough I had when I started trying to teach myself something about lettering was to realize that I didn't have to memorize a particular writing style. I could find something that worked for me and treated more like a drawing project. So I went on to Pinterest and I realized there's a ba jillion, different lettering styles that I could learn, but I could learn them. Um, not in the sense of practicing over and over again, a learning how to make them perfect, but in the sense of having a style that's on hand, that I can look at and refer to and treat it much more like a drawing project than just learning how to how to form these letters and how to write like this always and for the rest of my life. So once I realized that it really changed how I thought about it, and I'm going to just show you in my own sketchbook. What I do now is that I'll find a lettering style that might appeal to me, and I just make a little head. So I just glued down a piece paper in the back of the book and I have this here in my sketchbook to refer to, so any time I'm out drawing if I want to put that if I want to put that style in here, I can just pull it out and refer to it and do it right here and after everything I showed you in the last lesson about how toe make a start in pencil and just write the letters the way you normally write them. I think you can see how this is gonna go, but I'm gonna demonstrate it to you. But the point is, you can find styles of lettering that appeal to you and that fit your taste and work him into your own sketchbook. So, for example, here in my Mexico book, um, this is Ah, this is a style of lettering that I just did in pen and kind of just did have color blocks over it. I went to an art museum and I really loved this guy's work. So I did a little study of part of one of his paintings and used a style to do his lettering here. This is very definitely a style where I went to my Pinterest board and found something I liked and did it and colored it in just kind of match what was happening there. And this one is, Well, you know, this really just becomes a drawing project in the same way that this is a drawing project and it's just about lines and shapes, So that's what we're going to do next. One thing about finding funds that you like. I'm gonna put a link up to my Pinterest board and you can go there. Look at everything I have. It's very much to my taste. But once you start searching around, you'll assemble something that's more to your taste. The other thing is that I use a lot of funds that I find when I'm out and about traveling. I take pictures of signs and I pick up brochures and maps, and I'm always looking for a lettering style that seems indigenous to the place I'm at. And the cool thing is, when you do that, even if you don't have a complete alphabet, once you've practiced this a little bit, you'll realize that you don't need to see all the letters to know how to make them as long as you've got a pretty good sample. You'll be able to do it. And you're going to see me do this right now. Okay, So what I have here is a vintage style of lettering that I think is really cool. And I'm just gonna work through it, and I'm gonna show you some things to think about when you're doing this. But let me just show you. This was when I started practicing this. These are some of my earliest just practice pages, and you can see I left the pencil line like this is a little awkward. The first few times I do it, I think this looks cool, but it's sort of obviously my first attempt at it. Ah, lot of these, I'm just kind of playing around. But in every case, I'm using the same approach that we have already used. Where I'm drawing the lines. I've put the letters underneath. I'm going on top of, um and I'm really treating this like a drawing project. So that's what we're gonna do is we're gonna treat this. It was like any other drawing project. What I have here is I've I've put lines down like we've seen before. you can see where I did the center line to make sure that I got the right letters in the center and then put these on either side. I did him in pencil and block letters, more or less in my own handwriting, but I did pay a little bit of attention to how these letters reforms. Are they really around? You know, it's like this is a big round see, as opposed to something tall and skinny. This G is very around. So I looked a little bit at how these reformed, but I didn't do him in detail, because why do all that work in pencil when you're just about to do it in pen? So now that I have this basic thing, I'm gonna do this alphabet and I'm again. I'm just going to use ah, pigment liner. So this is basically just like a permanent marker. It's waterproof. And, um, what I'm thinking about when I do this is I'm looking at it again. I'm looking at it exactly the way I would look at, say, a building where I may be looking at the trim around the windows or you know anything else about how that building is is built, how it's put together for the moment, I'm going to skip these dark lines in the middle because I just want to get through a few these and talk about a couple of things that you might want to think about as you're doing this. So I'm looking for this. These air called Sarah ifs. So the little hooks on the ends of letters are serifis. If they don't have this, it's called a sand Sarah font. So, like times, new Roman is a serif font, and aerial is a set sand Steira font just to give you an example. So I'm making sure that I include those I'm also noticing, like the top and bottom of this be is really flat. And again, if you're used to drawing and making these kinds of observations, you're not gonna have any trouble forming letters like this. One thing I want to point out here, I mentioned earlier that you don't always need a complete alphabet to do this. If, for example, um, you take a picture of some cool lettering on a sign and you really want to use it. And what I mean by that is that once you've done a little bit of this and just worked through an exercise like this once or twice, you're gonna find out real quick that there's always certain letters that air made similar to other letters. And then if you know how some of them are made, you can kind of wing it and figure out the ones that maybe you don't have. You know, maybe the sign that you copy didn't have a letter h on it. So you can be quite sure how they make a letter H But you've got other letters, and you can use those as reference. So, um, let me give you some examples here. If you know how a P is made, you can probably guess how a B is made. If you know how an E is, you can probably guess what the F looks like. Um, obviously M and N are usually similar, but you can see in this case the diagonal only comes halfway down on the end. It comes all the way down. They could have in theory, brought that diagonal only halfway down. But usually the M in the end are pretty similar. Um, if you know how a tea is made in? Probably guess what the eye looks like. O and Q are generally quite similar. Um, you know, if you've got a V, you know, the W, um ex, And why often have a lot of similarities. So this is the kind of thing like even the l, the L and the I. You can kind of look to those and see how they how they form them. The P and the are going to be quite similar. S is usually a wild card. There's no telling what what the s might be, but but you get the idea. So once you've worked your way all the way through an alphabet, you really just sort of start to realize like, oh, these letters, they do have a lot of similarities to the my head really thought about that. Something else that I look at when I'm doing these is I'm looking at things like Steve, this diagonal look where it meets. It meets in a really weird place like I don't normally make a K like that. So again, what this is so great for It's people who do a lot of drawing and are used to just really looking and observing. And if you are accustomed to doing that anyway, you can totally do this kind of lettering. Now, here's why. I would sit go through this exercise of doing an entire alphabet like this. I would do it. I might pick the type face and decide this is gonna be my type face for the whole trip or for the whole sketchbook. And if that's the case, I might go ahead before I leave on my trip Her Before I, you know, embark on that new sketchbook. I might go through here and just do the entire alphabet, maybe on the first page of the last page of the sketchbook so that I've tried it all out once and I just have this familiarity with it. So you saw in my Mexico sketchbook how I printed out a type face off the Internet and just glued it into the back of my book, and you can definitely do that, but it's even cooler to just go ahead and draw the whole thing out and kind of really experience it and get to know, like see how this are, see how this little diagonal comes and curls like that's a little bit unusual, and the S is super weird. So, like just practicing this and getting familiar with it, Um, usually you can find a typeface that has a lower cases. Well, so you could do the upper and lower case if you really wanted to. Um, see, the T has this little serif that's hanging off of it, and so that's the kind of thing that's just really useful toe notice as you go, the u the This is one of those type faces were the left side tends to be this side that is thicker, fatter than the um then the right side. And then here we go with, um V and W, which are quite similar. And you see, it connects in kind of a weird place. Like I love noticing all this kind of stuff and to me, rather than the pressure of feeling like I can't possibly make a perfect um, I can't possibly learn lettering and learn how to do all this perfectly. Instead, I really get that the pleasure of doing really close observation, which is what I love about drawing, and it's that same kind of nice, meditative exercise like I can really kind of get lost in all these details. And you can, of course, take a typeface like this and make it your own. You can make stylistic changes to it. Once you've done one of these once and you realize how they work, You think to yourself. What if I did it? But like instead of that stripe in the middle, I do something else. I do a squiggly line or Cem dots or something like that. Um, and that's why I left this Aiken. We can sort of think about that a little bit, and I didn't plan ahead. What? I was gonna dips. Well, this I didn't quite. I didn't quite make that Z right. Anyway, I didn't plan ahead. Um, what I was going to do differently than what's on here, but I just left out. I left out thes thicker lines so that you could see that there are different things you could do. So I'm using. This is maybe a starting point, but then I could do something really different so I could go ahead and put in the thicker lines. And in this case, I'm using my same pin, I might pull out a thicker pin to do it with. But I can also do something else. Like I could decide that I want to go like this. Um, I could fill the whole thing in, and I guess that's like an option. It's actually kind of cool looking to leave a little bit of white space and not totally fill it. And I actually kind of like that one. You know, I could do some sort of silly design things like put a bunch of circles in here. I could do more than one stripe like a bunch of stripes here. Again, I'll try to just follow the follow the typeface and just put in that darker, thicker line. Um, I could do a bunch of dots. I guess so. You can see. I'm just winging it here. This is just a way for Amita. Kind of play around and just ask myself, like, what else could this be? This typeface could be mine. I can make it. I could make it anything I want. Okay, that may be a little more whimsical than what you have in mind, but the point is, once you get this structure And once you kind of maybe get over feeling intimidated like I do with with lettering and realized that all you're doing is drawing structures. And if you're and our been sketcher, you're someone who goes out and draws. Then you know that you're drawn structures all the time and that this is really no big deal . Once you've done that and you've gotten kind of comfortable with making these letters, I hope that you can see that you can improvise within whatever style you found and do what you like with it. But the important thing is, don't feel like you have to spend hours and hours practicing a lettering style and memorizing it so that it comes as natural to you as your own handwriting does. See, I thought initially that that's what this meant, that I had Teoh, that I was gonna learn this, and eventually I was going to be able to just write like this all the time, and then I realized like that's not necessary at all. There's absolutely nothing wrong with having a little cheat sheet, whether it's a piece of paper that's tucked into the back of your notebook like this is, or whether it's something that you just keep it on your phone and you pull out your phone and look at a photo every now and then when you want. Teoh do a particular typeface while you're traveling while you're out with your sketchbook . But it's just drawing, and if you can draw, you can figure this out. 8. Putting it All Together: Okay, let's put this to the test. So let's say this is your sketchbook here visiting my nice hometown of Portland. And you've decided, Teoh, you drawn this little scene and you want to put the word Portland up in the top there. So we've already done this, and by now, I do know. I need to tell you that Portland is eight letters long. You know it. But, you know, you do this kind of process, you work out what you want to say. You might be doing a much bigger, more complicated words in this, but, um, that's what we're gonna dio. I'm going to sort of figure out where the middle point iss and I'm gonna Once again, I'm gonna dio Oops. Yeah, that's fine. Oh, a So, um, again, I'm kind of winging it in terms of how tall I want my letters to be. I'm just eyeballing it. I'm just using my own kind of thoughts about that as an artist. Portland. And then once I've written it and I'm happy with how it looks, then I'm going to go and put in this upper guide. It helps so much if your lettering is really even like this, you can be a lot more loose and free and fluid if you have a little structure behind it. So that's the reason that I'm really in favor of using a ruler and giving yourself some guidance to go by. Because then if you're lettering is just a little bit funky and weird and totally looks hand drawn, it's It's no big deal because you do have that little bit of structure behind it, and it just kind of helps with that. So we're gonna once again, we're going to do this bubble letters with the clear water glaze for this. So I'm just making block letters in my own style with my own handwriting. I'm not worried about exactly using a particular typeface for this. One will do that in the next example. And I'm wanting to really let this water move and go where it wants to go. This can really, you know, doing this kind of thing where you're putting down a water glaze and then you're wanting the water color to just move around on the paper. That kind of thing can really, depending on the humidity where you happen to be, uh, There can be a lot of variation in how long that water will sit on the paper before it just starts to dry. So that's why I'm kind of having to coax this a little bit. It happens to just be very dry in the room that I'm in right now, so that water evaporates pretty quickly. And that's why I go and do this one letter at a time, because otherwise I'm gonna drop a little green in there. I think that would be cool. I've done these letters in pencil, but it's OK if you've got a disregard your pencil just a little bit. It's not the end of the world if you wanna. Once you get in here and start painting, you want your letters to be slightly different position than then where you had him originally. It's just like any other pencil sketch where you do your pencil sketch. But sometimes when you come over that and pen, you realize how I want. That's not quite where I wanted it. I want to change it just a little bit. So, of course, does your drawing do that? I'm really liking the way that green looks, that was just a little bit of Aridi in that I dropped in there, and it looks really cool. And I think don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure that this Daniel Smith shadow violet has some meridian in it. Um, which is maybe why I like it so much in there. It looks really cool. I dropped a big blob of water right there, but it's not gonna hurt anything for it to sit there for a minute while I finish this up, Get in there with my graze. Just make sure there's enough of it, and it's gonna blend on its own. And as it dries, the other thing about doing this sort of thing where you just let the watercolor kind of move around and then you let it settle on dry is that you get really interesting gradations and variations in color as it dries. Because some of these pigments are bigger and heavier than others. And so how they sink into the paper is different. I realized I never did put any yellow in. I was thinking about a little yellow, so I put it in right there. Gonna bring Paris into the mix And for this one, I'm gonna actually do, ah, do a more formal kind of lettering style. So once again, just as a reminder, we figured this out it super easy. It's a very short word, but Okay, there it is. And, um, I'm gonna put in. I'm gonna bring it down kind of low. You know, this is where you're just sort of making artistic choices about. This is one more graphic element, right? This is just one more piece of visual information and so you can make your own choices about where you want it to go. Now I'm feeling out. Maybe I wanted even lower. I don't know. I'm gonna try right here. Okay, So I'm gonna go to 20 centimeters with 10 in the middle, and once again, I'm gonna write it out to just just in my own handwriting. And it's Paris. The R is right there on the center line. So I'm gonna do this pretty big. And I am being somewhat mindful of this typeface and how fat these letters are. So I'm not copying it exactly in pencil, cause that's what the pins for. But I am just sort of remembering it's got this weird s and so I'm kind of sort of putting that in, but on Lee, just to make sure that I'm making the letters wide enough cause this isn't unusually wide. Um typeface. All right, so there's Paris. I've done it in pencil. I'm not gonna worry about erasing so much because there's not gonna be any watercolor going down on it right away. I'm doing ink, so I'll be able Teoh. Totally erase that pencil once the ink is dry. So let's see now I'm gonna be I am not. Wait, I'm just realized. But I didn't give myself a top line and see this where I get myself in trouble. If I think I can just eyeball this, I will pay a price because the letters will be, um, pretty uneven. My normal handwriting is so super uneven that it really does help if I know exactly where the bottom and the top is supposed to be. But sometimes I get sort of gold and careless, and I forget. And that's what almost happened that time. I'm going to speed this part up. I think you get the idea. I would encourage you when you're doing this to Ah, actually work pretty quickly, you know, be loose with this. And, um, don't worry about making it to Precious, I think kind of. The quicker you go on, the more confidence you put into your letters like this, the more convincing they'll be. And you'll get bolder, straighter, better lines if you just move it right along. And don't treat it like something that's so precious. But try to just approach it like everything else in your drawing. Okay, so there's my letters, and I want to do this stripe in paint. So that's gonna be my variation of this. So rather than fill in these lines with just a black, just another black line, I'm gonna paint it in. And this is again about making this your own. So I'm gonna go ahead in a race so that I can get rid of the lines before I put paint on on the paint. Makes this pencil marks sort of permanent and get rid of Okay, there it iss, and I'm gonna use my quinacrine own rows, so I'm gonna have this be pink. I don't have a lot of room on my palette for a pink um, it's going to get a little bit of yellow in it, but I'm cool with that. Part of the reason that my palate is kind of dirty is that I actually like that Thes colors don't go down very pure and that there's a little bit of, Ah, there's a little bit of a blend happening now. I'm gonna be very careful doing these stripes, so feel free to turn your paper to whatever is comfortable for your hand. I'm speeding this one up again. I think you can see how this goes. Um, the important thing here is to make sure you're using a pretty dry mixture of paint so you don't get too much paint sloshing around and there it ISS. There's Paris. 9. Bonus: What to Write: because I make my living as a writer. I think a lot about what to write in my sketchbooks. I think this is something that a lot of artist struggle with. So here's some of my suggestions. When you're doing this kind of big hand drawn littering we've been talking about, you're probably just doing a word or two that acts as a kind of title. It might be a place name, like the name of the country Park, a tourist attraction. It could be an event like a parade or a farmers market. Or it might be a new discovery, like a new food or an ingredient, or, you know, a word in a foreign language. But then what about for your notes or your journal entries, or just everyday writing in your sketchbook? First of all, I don't worry about a fancy lettering style here I write in my own handwriting. Sometimes I'll put in an interesting shape like I did here, just to make it more of a visual element. But, you know, I'm writing to express myself not to win a beauty contest. One thing that happens to me a lot is that I'll have a drawing that just doesn't turn out so well. You know, for whatever reason, I'm just not thrilled with it. So all right, directly on top of the drawing and that way, the text, the writing becomes the whole point of that page and the drawings just kind of a supporting character that's in the background. Here's a little street scene in Mexico that I just didn't love. Um, here's a painting that I started in Italy, but it kind of failed almost immediately, so I just used it as a background and wrote on top of it. But remember, what you write does not have to relate to what you're drawing. I think we as artists feel a need to write some little comment about our drawing, but you can just let it stand. It can be really interesting to have a juxtaposition between the image and the text. So, for example, you might be sitting and drawing is street scene, and you'll just right little snatches of overheard dialogue that go floating past while you're sitting there. I often have a whole list of unanswered questions about a place when I'm traveling. Maybe I took a tour of an old building, and there were just a whole bunch of odd things that weren't explained. And we keep wondering about. I also love to keep vocabulary lists in a foreign language. Just whatever new and useful words and phrases like Pick up and I jot them down in the back of my book, I almost always do top five top 10 lists or best of awards like you know, the Oscar awards for my trip or whatever my sketchbook is about. It might be best meal, best musical performance, whatever. Um, and if I'm traveling with other people, I asked them for their ideas and let them have a vote. Sometimes historical trivia or just odd facts that you learn about the place you're visiting, especially if it's something you learned from a person to person encounter and not the sort of thing you confined in a guide book or on the Internet. You might have a list of the biggest surprises, the most unexpected things, and keep that on one page and keep adding to it or even things you learn how to dio. For instance, I made a page on how to ride the bus in Mexico. There might also be a theme to the trip. Like when we were in Cuba, everybody was constantly running out of everything. The phrase you would hear over and over again was no. I, which means there isn't in here. We don't have it. We heard that so often, and it was so emblematic of the kinds of shortages that people in Cuba live with that we kept a no I list. A daily spending diary can actually be fun, because years from now you'll look back and you'll be surprised at what you bought and what everything cost in that country's currency. In Cuba, my husband kept a treasurer's report, and apparently on February 16th I spent a dollar 50 in Cuban dollars on papaya gelato, you know, and often when I'm traveling, there's little things I need to jot down like a grocery list or directions to somewhere. We're going the bus schedule what time the museum closes. Don't hesitate to just make that part of your sketchbook. It's part of your day, and it's worth keeping those bits and pieces and also let other people write in your book. When you're sitting around in a cafe, pass it around and encourage people to add their own memories and observations. I especially like to do this at the end of a trip when I'm making top five lists. Now. These suggestions mostly have to do with what you would write in a travel sketchbook, but whether I'm traveling or I'm at home. Or maybe I'm doing a little garden journal and I'm making observations about what I see in my garden. It's the same kind of thing. I try to bring in as many different elements as possible and not get too hung up on making everything connect with the art itself. 10. Final Thoughts: Okay, that's it. I hope you'll try out one of these lettering styles and post a picture of what you've done in the project section. I'd like to see it. And you can also put a question in the discussion area. I will definitely pop in an answer on. And I teach a lot of other art and writing classes. So check those out. Come find me on Instagram and please stay in touch.