Ribbon Lettering: From Sketch to Wordmark | Luke Lucas | Skillshare

Ribbon Lettering: From Sketch to Wordmark skillshare originals badge

Luke Lucas, Typographer & Graphic Designer

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9 Lessons (44m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:59
    • 2. Project: Letter your favorite word

      1:29
    • 3. How Letters Work

      3:11
    • 4. Working With Ribbon to Build Your Letterforms

      10:49
    • 5. Digitizing Your Sketch in Photoshop

      7:18
    • 6. Making Ribbon Forms in Photoshop

      7:29
    • 7. Adding Color and Effects in Photoshop

      8:34
    • 8. Wrapping Up

      1:20
    • 9. Explore Design on Skillshare

      0:37

About This Class

Join Lettering Artist and Graphic Designer Luke Lucas for a fun, 40-minute class on his unique, trademark folding ribbon lettering style. Luke walks you through a step-by-step process for styling your favorite word — sketching, defining letter proportions and connections using a ribbon as your letterform guide, and finalizing your word in Illustrator with some cool effects. Perfect for a portfolio piece, fun print headline, or even just for fun, you'll not only master this technique, but you'll be able to add all kinds of finishing touches to create a custom script of your own!

This is a fantastic exercise in bringing real objects and forms into your lettering, enhancing your work with accuracy and elegance. This class is great for designers, illustrators and lettering enthusiasts looking to hone in on a fun style, and get outside their comfort zone.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Luke Lucas. I'm a Freelance Graphic Designer and Lettering Artist from Sydney, Australia. I'm largely self-taught. I guess I've learnt to do my lettering through experimentation and trial and error. My interest in lettering really took off when I started working with publication designer namely, Lifelounge Magazine, which is this magazine here. It gave me an opportunity to express different ideas and design things through my lettering. Each edition had its own theme, and I got to interpret that in different ways. So, here's an example of me interpreting it through a food theme. This is me using plumbing and piping creating the lettering as well. So it's really through that magazine that I started to experiment and learn new techniques. I've always loved that you can express so much more than the literal meaning of the word or phrase through the way you display it. Lettering in the written word is a vehicle for communication. Successful lettering can add an emotional time and all kinds of dimensions to its meaning through the way it's traded. A learning style that I'm often commissioned to create is what I call ribbon lettering, and by ribbon lettering I mean lettering in letter forms defined by a seemingly three dimensional contorting ribbon-like form. Using a ribbon to create your littering is an effective way of adding a touch of class and a playful elegance to a word. My favorite projects are where I'm able to combine illustration techniques and digital imaging with a custom lettering style. The title of this class is ribbon lettering from sketched to finished illustration. You're going to see my step-by-step process for creating a realistic folding ribbon style lettering. You start by defining the letter proportions, and considering how the letters might connect to one another as if they were created from a continuous ribbon. We use an actual ribbon as a guide to understand how ribbon behaves when it folds in different directions and how we can use this behavior to define our letter forms. I'll show you some tricky spots, and how to overcome them. Then, we'll work and finalize the sketch using both Illustrator, Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop. Finally, I'll share some ideas for taking your project to the next level with some cool effects. In this class, you'll learn a basic technique for creating a custom ribbon lettering treatment. The technique that we use to create these illustrative style is the foundation into so many illustrative lettering styles. Once you know this, the possibilities are endless, and you can take on words and styles with greater complexity. This class is suitable for designers, illustrators, creatives, and general lettering enthusiasts. Basic familiarity with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop is recommended. I'm really looking forward to sharing my process with you so that you can take these techniques and create your own ribbon style lettering treatments with your ankle twist. This is going to be a ton of fun. 2. Project: Letter your favorite word: Your project is to create a favorite word or name in a folding ribbon lettering style. By folding ribbon lettering style, I mean creating your letter forms from an illustrated strip of ribbon. The techniques learned in this class not only will teach you how to create ribbon lettering, but form the foundation for so many other illustrated lettering styles. Depending on the length of your choice of word, and how fast you are using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, you should allow around four hours to complete your piece. You'll need a ribbon, a pencil and an eraser, some sheets of paper, also some tracing paper, an image scanner or a smartphone, a printer, and finally a computer with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator loaded on to it. One of the trickiest parts of this assignment is how to connect your ribbon letters in a way that doesn't overly affect the legibility of the word. Something to be mindful of is if your word is illegible, then it might look cool but it might not necessarily be doing its job. I encourage you to take some artistic license. It's okay if your piece is made up with several ribbons, because sometimes, knowing where to break a ribbon and start a new one within a word can actually make a piece. I'd love to see every stage of your process, so I encourage you to share your word, early sketches and digital files, as well as your final piece. Remember, you can update your project over time, so ask questions, collaborate with other students in the class, and show us how your work evolves. What makes a project okay versus great is the quality of the connections, and how you treat the folding ribbon both in form and lighting. So let's get started. 3. How Letters Work: In this video, we're going to talk about connecting your letters and starting to sketch. First, you want to define the basic proportions of your letters. The easiest way to do this is to use an existing typeface on your computer and type out your word in all caps. This will serve as your guide. Try and find a typeface that utilizes a fairly consistent line weight for each part of the letter form. Something like Hoefler and Co's knockout font offers multiple weights and proportions, so it would work well for this. Top your word large on the page, it's much easier to work with all cap also. So this is your first time tackling Rubin lettering, I suggest you start there. For my pace, I'm going to use the word amazing. I've chosen these because it has some tricky letters, both angular letter forms and random ones. It also has some challenging connections to consider. Next, you want to consider how the letters within your word can connect to one another. The goal is to find out how to connect the letters in your word while maintaining legibility. Remember, ribbons can fold forwards and backwards to connect to your letters and you can use this to help with legibility. The part of the ribbon that is in the foreground will command more attention than that in the background. So, if you'd like to partially concealed your connection then you can choose to run it behind. On your printout, loosely note which elements within your letters and words you'd like to go in front and behind and where you'd like to letters to connect. So, now that you have an understanding of how your letters are going to connect, you're ready to begin working with a real ribbon to finalize your sketch. My prices from here would be to take the printout that I've got and work out how the letters will connect to one another. So I'll start at the left hand side and I work out that this part of the A will be in front, but how am I going to treat this crossbar? If there was a ribbon, it needs to be a continuous form. So potentially, what I could do is, then from the middle part of the rot, right at the center of the A, and then go across, like that. Could then connect the bottom of the A with the bottom of the M. That portion of the M might be in front and go through, from left to right, work out where the letters can connect. I may want to reflect this detail from the A on the second A here, so you potentially have it than the other way. Connecting the A to the Z, here, will create a new kind of letter shape, almost like a V, which will be a bit of a problem. So I might leave it at that point and come over to this side and work back in. I know that I can connect this part of the G to the top of the N, that will work, and N we'll be fine. Connecting the bottom of the N to the bottom of the I will create an L-shape, so that's going to be a bit of a problem. Then maybe, I could connect the Z to the bottom of the N, and then from the bottom of the I, I can maybe come up through to the I like that. You still need to experiment a little bit and see what will work. Once you kind of establish which connections are going to be the ones you want to work with, then you're ready to start sketching. 4. Working With Ribbon to Build Your Letterforms: In this video, you're going to see how to use a real ribbon as your guide for sketching your ribbon letterforms and connections. I find using a real ribbon removes a lot of the guesswork, and can be used as an inspiration for showing the different shapes that a ribbon makes when it falls in certain ways. Any kind of ribbon will work for this, but I find that a thicker ribbon works better for me. We did print out with the connection guides drawn on it. Place a sheet of tracing paper or if you have a lot box, you could use just regular copy paper. It's good to stick it down, so it doesn't move around too much. Now, I'm going to start sketching the ribbon form, and the connections in the way it folds on this tracing paper. So, starting on this end, I'll use my ribbon as a guide. I might want the ribbon to come in from that way. So, I'll use my ribbon as a guide to see how the ribbon might behave when it folds in that way. So, if you watch this edge of the ribbon, it bends around in an arc shape to the right hand side of the ribbon. So, I can do the same thing here, although I actually want to go in front. In which case, the bottom edge curves around to the left hand and to the vertical part of the A. So, I sketch that in. If you look at this edge, it's actually on an angle. So, I'll sketch that in as well, draw that all the way up to the top. At this point here, I need the ribbon to fold over onto the other side to make the peak of the A, which we'll look at it like that. So, the top it is flat, and this edge of the ribbon curves around to the right hand edge of the bottom ribbon shape. So, control that in like that. It doesn't have to be perfect, because you're going to replace all this stuff in Illustrator later. So, I've drawn that part of the ribbon, and I'm going to work through the whole letter, the whole word, each letter and each connection in the same way. So, this part is a diagonal that connects to the crossbar. You can see it goes like that, but I want the crossbar to be in the foreground. So, I'll draw that in here. It's coming on an angle. This actually, will be on a bit of an angle too, it might be flat, so I'll do this edge, the ribbon like that, and that might fall down. Like that. Now, I want the bottom of the A to connect to the M. That would be a basic loop shape. So, I can either do, so the loops in front like this or the loops behind, which will be my preference. So, I'll draw that in, drawing this edge of the M. The top part of the M, will be quite similar to the A. So, I probably don't need a line to this, just bend it over like that. Then down, and this will be an inverted version of what's happening on top of the I. So, I can be under like that. Do the same shape again. I'll curve over at the top there, then down, it's from the other side of the M. The bottom of this M, and the connections that I will with the same, as this connection here. So, I can re-draw that. For your interest I might make this A, the reverse of that A. So, where it's folding to the left there, I can have it fall in to the right in the same way. Draw the A in the same way. So, I was talking about connecting this part of the A over to that I, the bottom of the I there. But I actually want the Z to be in the foreground or the Z to the foreground. So, I'll draw the Z first to be that kind of a shape. I'll go over here. On the top of the Z will be a reflection of that bottom part of the Z. I'm not continuing the Z cross, it's over here. This is Z. To come all the way over to the end and go up like that. So, there will be a diagonal on the right hand edge, and the right angle and in the inside edge. So, for this, I might do a similar treatment to this I over here, at the top of the N, and then the opposite, to the bottom. The disconnection on I and that part of the N to connect to that part of the G. So, that will be on an angle similar to that, with the end in the foreground. So, that's on a bit of an angle here, and needs to bend up to the G. The top of the G will be similar to the way these connections work, so it'll go up to the top like that, same down here, and up again. Then, finally, the right angle return on the G where the ribbon will go like that. Now, I'll go back to the A and connecting it to the I. I need to get to over there. You might add a little nick in the top of the I. So, that's the basic sketch, so I don't think there other details that I've missed out. 5. Digitizing Your Sketch in Photoshop: Now that you've finished your sketch, you're ready to scan it in and put it onto your computer and load it into Adobe Illustrator. You can always use your smartphone or you can use a scanner. I find it's easier just to use my phone camera. So, I take a quick photo, and it's ready to go. Okay, so the next step is to load your scanned image into Adobe Illustrator. So, here I am in Adobe Illustrator with my sketch on the canvas. The next thing to do is to drop some guides to help align all the ribbon shapes and keep everything nice and even. So I do this by dragging from the ruler up the top, creating a baseline. I want to keep these crossbars on the A even also, so I'll drag some other guides down here. Then with the pen tool, I'll begin drawing the ribbon shapes. It doesn't matter if you sort of run behind the foreground shapes because they will be covered once you draw them in. So tracing around the image to really try and keep all the curves as smooth as possible. I might actually draw this crossbar so it doesn't get concealed too much. Make sure everything lines up, just work my way around. You can go around and clean all the stuff up after, but I'm drawing in all the shapes. So you do this for the entire image, all the ribbon shapes. Okay, so I'll continue on drawing the remaining few shapes. What I'm actually doing here is creating the masks that I'll use in Adobe Photoshop for brushing in the lighting and shading detail on the ribbon, till we get to the end. Go around and make several of these clean connections once you've finished. When you get to a finished vector shape drawing like this, now it's time to establish which parts of the ribbon are in the foreground and which parts are in the background. Now, I like to start at the very back first. So I'll look at the shapes within the ribbon form that have the most number other ribbon formed in front of them. So, I go through the whole shape. I look at this piece here. This has something in front of it, so I'll black that out. I'll give that a color, just so I know that it's different. I'll group it with this one as well, which has other ribbons in front of it, but it's at the very back of the piece. This one here is also, this one here is also, that piece there is, that piece there is. So I'm looking for the pieces that have nothing else behind them. They are at the very back. That one there, that one there, and that one there. I'll work my way forwards in layers until I get to the very front of the piece, which would be like these portions of ribbon that have nothing else in front of them. So what I want to do is group shapes according to their layer. Eventually you get to the stage where it looks similar to this, where you've got different layers color-coded so that you know where they exist within the depth of the image. Once that's been defined, you might choose to arch your lettering so it has a bit of a knocked baseline, you might want to morph it in some kind of way. So what you can do there is just group all those shapes. Then using the Envelope Distort tool, go to the option where it says Make with Warp, and you can select the kind of warp that you'd like. You might want to do something similar to that but maybe not as dramatic. Next, we're going to take your vector forms and paste them into Photoshop to apply lighting and shading. 6. Making Ribbon Forms in Photoshop: So, now that you have you finished database, what we're going to do is copy each of these shapes into Photoshop and create masks from them to use brushing asset, I want highlight detail. So, I'll start with the back layer here. I'll copy that, so that's command C, now easy way to copy. Then open up Photoshop, and paste that layer in. I like to paste my layers in as shape layers, so that the path information is still intact. That gives me the most amount of flexibility in terms of scaling and image up. So, I'll do that with each of the shapes. It's waiting for that to finish, and aligning it up, so it's in the right spot. Sometimes it's helpful to copy the entire image over into Photoshop to use as a guide, so that you know how to place each the layers in the right spot. You can drop the opacity back so that it's not too much of a distraction by using your number keys. So, now I can lift that new shape that I've copied in. I sometimes use a screen layer style so that I can see what the overlaps look like also. I've actually done this for the other, the rest of those types in the same way. So, you get to a point where you are needs looks like this, we have all the vector shapes copied into Photoshop. From here what you want to do is actually create layout group masks. So, from each layer you make a selection by holding down the command key and clicking on it. So that you get this flashing vignette line around the outside. You group the layer by using command and G and it creates a little folder. Then to make a mask from that shape, there's a little icon down the bottom here with a circle in it, that creates a mask, and you do that for each of the shapes. So, the second shape, third shape. So, I'm just command clicking on the shape, grouping it, then clicking on the mask icon. Command clicking, grouping and clicking on the mask icon, until I've done all the shapes. Now, the reason why create this mask is now that the mask there, everything that I paint in that and on the screen will be oscillated to that particular area. So, if I go to the back layer and I'll just use this as an example, and I get a brush, maybe a soft brush, I drag it across, it'll be oscillated to those areas that the mask is covering if you can see there. That's what I used to brush in the shadows. Okay. So, now that you've got all of the vector shapes copied into Photoshop, and you've created the layer masks, you ready to start brushing in the shadows that helped define the shape of the letters. So, to do that, what we do, is add a new layer within each layer group. So, to add a new layer will click on this little icon down the bottom here, and for that layer we want to set it. Set the lifestyle to multiply, which is that one there, and then we create a brush by clicking on this icon here. You go to the where the brush parameters are defined, up in the top of the menu bar here and set the hardness to zero percent. So that's the soft brush, and you adjust the size so that it's roughly a fraction fatter than the the ribbon itself. So, the easiest way to do that is by using your square bracket keys. So, the right square bracket makes it larger, and the left square bracket makes it smaller. For the shadow color, we want it to be a darker shade of blue, but on the gray, grayer side of the spectrum. So, hyping the color picker by clicking on the little blue square there. I'll pick a grey blue in that area. That's what I'll use to brush my selection. Now that I have my brush, I'll start to click and drag, like this until the shapes are starting to be defined. If you need to remind yourself where your where the site masks' active you can always click on the layer and it will highlight, by clicking the income on click so that the little flashing lines go on the outside of the shapes. You can keep on doing that all the way around. I guess suppose should have mentioned this before, prior to doing the brushing on the shadow you need to redefine your light source. So, if the light is coming from the top left then the shadows will be cast to the bottom right. If they're coming from the from the bottom-left, they'll cast above to th top right. So, you need to really define that before you start brushing. But this particular pace I'm brushing from the top left. So, we can take it to work around. You can go over this at any point, I should mentioned here actually the capacity of the process at 30 percent. So, you're not committing to a really dark brush. For the shadow you can work it in by repeatedly clicking over it. So, we'll go around and do that for each of the layers. 7. Adding Color and Effects in Photoshop: Okay. Once you get to a point where all of the shadows are brushed in and you're quite happy with the way it's looking, you're ready to start brushing in your highlights. To do that, you use a similar process, although rather than using a dark brush, you use a light brush. So, within each layer group, at a new layer, which you can label highlights. I've actually gone back in and relabeled all those shadow layers as Shadow just so that I know the difference, so I call this one Highlight. For this one, I needed another soft brush but with a light color in it. So, I can use a wash rather than it being a multiply brush, I'll use a normal brush and I'll set my layer style to screen. Okay. Now, what I want to do is make a selection within each layer mask. So, I might start with this top one actually. Rather than being a selection that goes right to the edge of the ribbon, I'll actually contract it a little. The reason why I do this is it gives the ribbon an edge so it has more dimension to it. It doesn't have to be contracted that much, it might be two or three pixels. Then, using the brush, I'll start to brush in the highlights. Let's work around the image. Adding highlights where you think that that work well, and adding some extra ones and random ones I guess because it's a semi-reflected surface so it can pick up highlights from a variety of places. Another thing you can do here is to find the edge by inverting that selection. To invert your selection, you hold down command, shift, and I, and then you can go and really tight on the image. Please ignore the spinning wheel of death here. All right. So, now that we've got an inverted selection, we can go in really tight. You can hide that selection by holding down the command and H key, and you can brush in a highlight on the edge. It's a subtle little edge, but it really helps to find the ribbon. We can do it on this edge here too. So, you work around the image doing that on each layer group. So, you add a new layer, you can label it Highlight and spell that correctly, and you use the screen layer style and continue to brushing the highlights in the same way. So, once you get to a point where you are happy with the highlights on your piece, you can start looking at the finishing touches. There's a few things that you can do quite easily. You might want to change the coloring if you please. An easy way to do this is by adding an adjustment layer, which is this little circle icon down here that's sort of half solid half empty, click on that and you can go to a number of these options, but maybe you'll choose the hue saturation option. What you can do here is by moving this slider to the left to right, under the hue section, you can change the color of your piece quite easily. You might want to make it purple, for example. Or to have a gradient, you can actually just do that by brushing in on the mask over here that's been created for the adjustment layer. So, you can use a really big brush perhaps and brushing black, and it'll create a gradient for you. You might want to add some stitching. Now to do that, there is a really easy way to do stitching, and it's done by going back into Illustrator. So, hop back into Illustrator over here, and we can create a path and make it washed. Then under the stroke palette menu up here, if you set it to dashed line, which is this little check box here and make it maybe three point, it maybe a three-point gap, you can test it out, you can start to drawing some dashed lines. It's good to do this in groups, so do it to the same color layer because you'd be pasting this into the mask groups that those layer colors represent. So, drawing a little stitching. You can see here I'm not being too precious about the overlap. Everything outside of the blue area here will be concealed by the mask, so I'm not too worried about that. So, drawing in all the stitching. When you finished all that, you can copy it, copy those stitches, and go back into Photoshop. Within that back layer group, you can paste the stitches in and then line them up. You can do a much better job than I because I just did it quite quickly, but you work your way around the entire ribbon form and you end up with something that looks like this. You can take it even further if you want by adding texture to the ribbon, and the beauty of having a mask layer is that you can do whatever you want and oscillate it to that specific part of the ribbon. Here's an example of me adding a denim texture to the ribbon form. 8. Wrapping Up: So, here we are. This is my final piece. This is ribbon lettering style with a denim texture applied to it and some stitching as my little finishing touches. We've learned a lot of techniques during this class, and I can take you through it. The very first part was taking an existing typeface and interpreting that in a ribbon lettering style using a ribbon as a guide. From that, we sketched the ribbon letter form and took it into Illustrator to draw the vector shapes. We then took those vector shapes into Photoshop and use those to define our masks which we use to brushing the highlight and shadow detail, which ended up defining the depth of the ribbon form. Some things to remember in your piece is it's okay to break your ribbon. It doesn't have to be created out of one entire length of ribbon, although it's nice if you can do that. It doesn't need to be at the expensive legibility. So if you need to break a ribbon as I have here with the Z in the I, then it's fine to do so. So, this is how my piece ended up. Now, it's your turn. Remember, the best way to learn is by doing. Show off your own ribbon lettering piece and share your process in the project gallery. Ask questions for feedback and leave comments on each other. Thank you so much for taking this class. I'm so excited to see your lettering projects. Till next time. 9. Explore Design on Skillshare: way.