Tactile Lettering: How to Make Art with Food & Objects | Olga Muzician | Skillshare

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Tactile Lettering: How to Make Art with Food & Objects

teacher avatar Olga Muzician, Lettering Artist & Illustrator

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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

13 Lessons (1h 6m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project

    • 3. What You'll Need To Start

    • 4. Choosing Your Food & Copy

    • 5. Choosing Your Background

    • 6. Sketches

    • 7. The Challenges of Working with Food

    • 8. 3 Ways to Make Letters with Food

    • 9. Building Your Composition

    • 10. Adding Props & Decorative Elements

    • 11. Photographing Your Work

    • 12. Retouching Your Work

    • 13. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Have you ever wanted to learn how to create tactile lettering or designs out of food and objects but didn’t know where or how to even start? If so, this class is for you!

My name is Olga Muzician and I am a lettering artist that specializes in digital, chalk, and tactile lettering. I have spent years learning how to create lettering out of food and I want to walk you through my process and show you everything that I’ve learned so far to help you create a tactile lettering piece of your own.

In this class you will learn:

· The basics of tactile lettering and all of the things you’ll need to consider before and during the creation process

· How to prepare sketches and the different ways in which you can utilize them in your final artwork

· What the challenges are of working with food and how you can anticipate and prevent them

· The 3 different ways to letter with food and objects

· How to set up your tactile lettering composition and add props and decorative elements

· The best way to shoot your final art and how to retouch it before presenting it to clients, in your portfolio or on social media

For your class project, you’ll be creating your own tactile lettering piece using your favorite snack or treat as your inspiration.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned lettering artist or illustrator, this class is for anyone who wants to learn more about how to build letters out of tactile objects and wants to expand their work into other mediums.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Olga Muzician

Lettering Artist & Illustrator


I'm Olga of Olga Muzician Studio, a lettering & graphic design studio based in New Jersey & New York. My specialties include lettering and illustration using bold colors and natural elements as well as food and chalk lettering.

I have worked with both start-ups and large corporations creating digital, food, and chalk hand-lettering, illustrations, branding, greeting cards, book covers, coloring books, and editorial designs. I studied art my whole life, starting out as a painter and transitioning to graphic design and now lettering and illustration.

I have worked with clients like Snapchat, Trader Joe's, Dolce & Gabbana, Netgear, Chili's, Papyrus, Tillamook, Winsor & Newton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Harper's Bazaar, and many more.

On my days off, you can fin... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Tactile lettering is the art of creating letters and words out of objects. The beauty of tactile lettering is that you don't need any fancy equipment if you don't have any and you can easily create something beautiful with things you already have in your home. I think people are always amazed when they see an artist build words and phrases out of food and everyday objects. It's one of those things that when you look at it from far away, you just see the beautiful letters that are a composition. Then, the closer you get, the more details are revealed to you. It's mind-blowing what people can create with just their hands and some very simple everyday objects. Hi, my name is Olga Muzician, and I'm a multi-disciplinary freelance lettering artist and illustrator. For my client and personal work, I create a lot of digital hand lettering, murals, chalk signs, branding, licensing art, editorial work, and, of course, tactile lettering. I've always been drawn to making art with my hands, given that my background is in fine arts and painting, and I fell in love with tactile lettering pretty early on in my freelance career. So far I've created work out of candy, fruits, cheese, cookies, chocolate spreads, marshmallows, cereal, even my own hollow bread dough. In this class, you will learn the basics of tactile lettering with a focus on food lettering. I'm going to go over everything that you need to know to prepare for your project because there is some preparation and planning involved. We'll go over how your sketches and ideas can translate to tactile lettering, how to choose your backgrounds and surfaces to work on, we'll go over the challenges that come with working with food as a lettering medium and how you can anticipate, plan for, and even in some cases completely overcome and avoid those challenges, and, of course, we'll go over how to shoot and retouch your final artwork so you can share it with the world. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned lettering artist, this class is for anybody who wants to learn more about tactile lettering or wants to expand their art into other mediums. By the end of the class, I hope that you will feel more confident in creating fun lettering compositions out of food and objects, whether it'll be for your professional work, for personal projects that you want to share on social media, or for things even like lettering on cakes, and pies, and cookies, or making cool typographic cheese trays for your next get-together. I don't know the possibilities are endless. Are you ready to get started? I can't wait to see you in class. 2. Class Project: For our class project, I want you to create a very simple tactile lettering piece using your favorite snack or treat as an inspiration. Feel free to use any food that you have in the house or that you want to use if you already have an idea. This prompt is just a good jumping off point, if you don't know where to start. You will letter a single letter, a short word or a very short phrase, if you're extra ambitious, using your snack or the ingredients within it as your medium. Feel free to follow along with this class and pause as you go to gather your materials and to prepare or watch it once through to get a sense of what you need. Then just come back to any lessons that you feel like you need to hear again. I would love to see you share your progress in the class projects. Feel free to post your sketches, your unretouched photos and then finally your retouched final artwork. That way we can see how your project evolved from start to finish. It'll always be great to get feedback from other students. I'll be here along the way watching all of your projects come to life. The main thing is I want you to just have fun with it. I'm so excited to see what you come up with. Whenever you are ready to start, join me in the first lesson where we will go over the tools and supplies you need and everything you need to think about to prepare for your first project. 3. What You'll Need To Start: Hi, I'm so glad you decided to join my class. Welcome. In this first lesson, we're going to go over all the tools and supplies you need and everything that you need to consider and think about before you start your project. Tactile lettering can be a very time-intensive process, but when it comes to food lettering specifically, unless you're dealing with foods that can stay out for a very long amount of time and not change, you're going to have to complete your entire building process in one day or less. Of course, you can prepare, plan, and do your sketches the day before, and you can retouch the day after, but if you do that, you're going to have to make sure that you really got all of the photos that you need before you destroy your piece. The first thing to consider is, do you have an uninterrupted chunk of your day to dedicate to your project? Of course, again, if you're dealing with foods that don't change, you can build it over a period of several days, but if you do that, just make sure to set up somewhere where nobody can accidentally bump into your work area because the last thing you want is to spend hours building out one word, meticulously out of little pieces of food and then somebody accidentally bumps into the table and everything shifts and you have to redo it. Now if you don't have soft boxes to light up your area, just make sure to set up somewhere by a window where you can have plenty of natural light coming in, just make sure it's not direct sun rays hitting your work because that will cast really deep shadows and it'll change the colors of your foods when you're photographing them. The best day to do it is when it's a little bit overcast, there's no direct sunlight, but it's still really bright outside. The tools you'll need to help you build your project will really depend on your specific needs and the foods that you're using. But I've used things like toothpicks, paint brushes, tweezers, anything really that will help you maneuver the foods if your fingers are feeling too big for them and they're moving the foods around too much. Sometimes I have used a spoon just to put a little bit of whatever foods I'm using onto my work area, but it'll be anything that you feel will help you deal with the foods you're dealing with. Then you, of course, need a camera to shoot your work. I usually use my old Nikon DSLR to shoot my final photos and an overhead process video from working on a piece that I want to have a video of, and then I'll use my iPhone for a little close ups for just process shots. You can feel free to just use your iPhone, I've seen other artists do this, but if you are doing something really professional and doing something for a client, you'll probably want a good camera. Then for post-production, you'll need Photoshop to retouch your photos and you will need to reattach your photos, sometimes it may seem like it's perfect, the photograph is good, but there's always some adjustments that you can make. Then optional equipment, you can have an overhead camera setup if you're looking to do a video of your process, and of course, soft boxes or any studio lighting that will light up your work so that you don't have to depend on daylight. Now that we've gone over all the supplies and tools you need and all the things you need to consider before starting, we can jump in. Join me in the next lesson where we will go over choosing your copy and the foods to work with. 4. Choosing Your Food & Copy: In this lesson, we're going to talk about how to decide what to letter and how to choose the foods to letter with. In the case of client work, most of this information will typically be given to you because you'll have a food company reaching out to you with a specific food that they want you to use and they'll often send you that food. Then they'll either give you a phrase or they'll ask you to come up with a few different ideas, and then they'll pick the final. If you're doing a personal project though, there are some decisions that you need to make at this point. I grouped choosing your foods and your phrases and your copy in one lesson because they tend to go hand in hand. Sometimes you'll have an idea for a phrase that you really want to letter and then you just have to find some ingredients to match with that phrase that relate to it somehow, and sometimes you'll have the foods that you know you want to letter with because then you just need to find a quote that goes along with them and make sense. For our class project and my demonstration, we're going to be doing the second method where we're picking our favorite food, our favorite snack retreat. Then we're going to find a phrase to letter with it or a word. For my demonstration, I've picked my favorite treat, Almond Joy. You can use the actual snack to letter with or you can break it down into its main ingredients, which is a lot of times what I do. For Almond Joy, specifically the three main ingredients are chocolate, coconut, and almonds. These seem like a lot more fun to letter with than a chocolate bar. For my phrase, I decided to go with, I'm coconuts about you. I like that phrase because not only does it have the word coconut in it, that's the main ingredient of Almond Joy, but also because when I saw it, I already saw in my head that I wanted the word coconuts to be the large keyword in my composition and then having the part coco be lettered in coconut and nuts in almonds, and then some details around or the smaller words in chocolate chips. That altogether looked to me visually like a nicer composition than just lettering something in a chocolate bar. Plus I would need a whole lot of chocolate bars to make anything out of it. Your ingredients in your copy should always go together and relate to each other because you want them to tell a story together. For instance, you wouldn't letter the words coffee time in something like garlic cloves, that would just wouldn't make any sense. You want to create a little visual story with your ingredients. What I like to do at this point is make a brainstorming list, where I write down any word that I can think of that relates in any way to my food or my phrase. For my phrase, I chose to put down the obvious things like coconuts, chocolate, almonds. Then I think about the ways in which I can represent those three things. For coconuts, there's chunks, chips, shaved, real coconut. For chocolate, I can do chocolate chips, chocolate powder, melted, chocolate shavings, broken chocolate bar. For almonds, I happen to already have whole, slivered, and sliced almonds at home so I can use any one of those. Then I try to think of any words that make me think of my phrase, not really even having to do with food. For example, for this one, I put palm tree, palm leaves, tropical beach, paradise, sun, sand, pina colada, tiki. I can put ocean. Anything that makes you really think of the phrase that you're lettering. This list will not only be good for your main phrase, but also for any of the supplemental items that you can place around your lettering composition. Say you're lettering something on a pie, your brainstorming list might include things like a whisk, a spatula, a cooling rack, a cutting board with a knife, anything that makes you think of pie and baking. When it comes to predicting how much ingredients you're going to need for your composition, most of the time you just have to make your best educated guess. But with some planning, once you know which items you're going to use for which part of your composition, you can predict a little bit how much you're going to need. Say you have a big word and you're going to letter that with jelly beans and then you got to have some smaller words with other candy. You're going to need more of those jelly beans than any other candy because that's the one you're going to use the most. I tend to always overestimate how much I need because I'd rather have too much than have to stop in the middle of my work and then have to go to the store and look for these items again and then worry if they don't have them, then how can I proceed? I always tend to buy a little too much. Now that we've gone over choosing the copy to letter and your foods, and we have a brainstorming list of all of our ideas, join me in the next lesson where I will go over choosing a background surfaces and we'll go over various options from buying them to making them yourself, to just using what you already have in your house. 5. Choosing Your Background: Now that we've gone over the foods and words you'll be using for your project, it's time to select our background surface. In this lesson, we're going to talk about how to select the right surface to work on and what are the things that you need to think about and consider when choosing your background. This is a very important decision because unlike with digital lettering when you can keep playing with your background color as much as you want even after you're done with the piece, with something like tactile lettering, once you've spent all the hours laying your foods out on your surface, you can't change it. That's not to say you can make minor edits and Photoshop later, but you can't make any sweeping color changes at the end and make it look realistic. Plus, you'll have a bunch of photos and you'll have maybe videos and you can't possibly change the background color in all of them because that'll be way too much work. So select your background color carefully because you'll be sticking with it until the end. Here are the different types of backgrounds you can work on. You can use regular colored paper or a special photographic colored backdrop paper if you have it. If you're using wet ingredients like fruits and veggies, for example, you'll have the option of getting a really inexpensive non-glare clear acrylic sheet at your local Home Depot or Lowe's to place over the paper. This will keep your background protected and it will keep any fruit juice on top of the clear sheet that you can easily wipe off. One time, I used vinyl flooring for a cheese lettering piece and it was great because it doesn't get ruined with food and it's so easy to put together and then take apart to store. You can also get a sheet of MDF at your local hardware store and accord or sample of any paint color you want and just paint it. This is a nice option too because you can keep the same sheet and just repaint in different colors for different projects. I painted one board with chalkboard paint, and I use it for a project that combines chalk and food lettering, and for my demonstration today, I got a sheet of MDF that I painted with eggshell paint. For my color, I chose this beautiful turquoise because I knew I wanted it to be in the blue family because that goes along with my ingredients and my phrase plus the Almond Joy packaging is blue, but I knew I wanted it to be a little bit more of a seafoam color because it makes me think of the ocean or paradise, of all the things that may brainstorm your list. Now you should always test your background before you use it. All you have to do is take your foods and simply lay them out on your background. This way you can see how the colors interact and how your food interacts with the background surface that you've chosen. You can also always photograph it and see how it looks in photos before you proceed and here are some things to consider when selecting your background. How will your food interact with your background? Don't use wet food on paper backgrounds or foods that will die any background you don't want to ruin. For example, don't use cut-up beats on your wooden kitchen table because you'll be buying a new table very soon. Consider contrast. If you're using something like dark coffee beans, don't choose a black background as you won't see it in photos. Make sure your objects will stand out enough on the background color you've chosen. Can you select a background that somehow relates to your phrase? Because I'm laddering a phrase with such tropical ingredients, I wanted my background to be this turquoise color. Is there a surface already in your home that you can use like a table that would work well with your foods? This way you wouldn't even have to find anything special. Now that we have gone over choosing your background surface, join me in the next lesson where we will go over sketching for your composition and preparing for your project. 6. Sketches: In this lesson, we'll be going over how to start your sketching process and what to think about when you're sketching for a tactile lettering piece. How is with any lettering, the sketch is an important part of the process here, but especially with tactile lettering, when you're dealing with foods that will change appearance over time, you need to be quick with forming your compositions and your letter style so you won't really have time to think about it at that point, so you need to have your sketch ready ahead of time. Sketching for a tactile lettering piece is not the same as sketching for a digital lettering piece. With a digital piece, you start with your thumbnail which then progresses to a tighter sketch which then you can use to actually trace over and make your final piece. With tactile lettering, you'll have a really hard time getting too exact with your letter styles because you'll have a hard time gauging how big your foods are going to be once they're laid out on the table. Also if you have any supplemental items that you're going to placing around the lettering say like a spoon, then you won't really know how much space that spoon will take up in your composition, so when you're sketching, keep it really loose in general. Just have a general idea of how you want your words to flow, what the styles of the letters would be, but know that when you start working with the food, it might change a little bit. When it comes to textiles, keep it really simple here as well because you'll have a really hard time forming any type serifs or small details with bulkier items like say blueberries unless your piece is giant. If you're working with things like flour or sugar, you'll have an easier time forming little details like that, but we'll talk about that a little bit later, how you can use them. The best way I'd say to start with tactile lettering is to use very simple sans serif and script lettering. As with any lettering, sketch consider hierarchy and contrasts here so if you're going with a phrase, you'll probably want only one or two larger words in your composition and everything else will be small. Also always start thinking here about what foods you'll be using for which part of your composition, so what I like to do is as I'm working on my sketch, I'll write down little notes of what foods I want to use on which part of the sketch, so as I said earlier, I wanted coconuts to be lettered in coconut and almonds, so I'll write down that I want almonds for the part of the nuts, coconut for the part of the cocoa, and then for my smaller words, I might use something like chocolate chips, and for my details, I have little dots that I might want to use either chocolate chips or pieces of almonds, and then on the edges of my composition and this is not final, I'm just making it rough here, I might place some of the chocolate bars around, and then I have little chunks, pieces of actual coconut that I was thinking of putting around the edges, but I'll have to see how that works once you actually start laying them out. Another thing to consider is how will you be able to use your sketch for your final piece. There are several ways you can do this, so will you be able to project it onto your surface or lightly sketch it out? This is best done when you know that you can cover up the sketch fully with your foods because you don't want to be retouching every single sketch in your final photos. It may seem like an easy thing to retouch, but when you get down through retouching, you'll probably be working on a few photos, and retouching all of the sketch lines and all of your photos will actually get really time-consuming. Will you be eyeing your whole composition? If so, you want to make sure that your sketch is something that you can easily replicate with your foods later on. This is the method that I usually use, so my sketches tend to be very loose in general. Will you be blowing up your sketch to full size and laying it under your lettering composition? You can only do this if you're using a non-reflective acrylic sheet that we talked about earlier, and if you're using this method, your sketch can be pretty precise as you'll literally be tracing over it and then removing the sketch from under the clear sheet. Will you be using a cutout template for your entire piece? This is basically where you print your drawing in a size of your final piece, cut the letters or words out, and use them to sprinkle your ingredients over them. This is best done with really fine ingredients like chocolate powder, salt, sugar, flour, but we will go over that shortly, so once you're happy with your sketch, we can move forward. In the next lesson, I want to talk more about the challenges of working with food as a lettering medium, and how you can anticipate those challenges and possibly even prevent them and overcome them. 7. The Challenges of Working with Food: In this lesson, I want to talk more about how to work with food and what challenges and issues you might run into and how you can avoid them, or at least anticipate them. Food can be tricky to deal with. You have to always be so mindful of its temporary nature when you're dealing with it. While some foods like coffee, nuts, candies will remain looking the same after hours and days of being left out, a lot of fresh foods will change pretty quickly. Things like apples, avocados, bananas, pears, they will brown very quickly if you cut them up and leave them out. Cheese will sweat and I learned that one the hard way, because I had a client project where I had to make a word out of cheddar cheese and I didn't realize that cheese sweats and lets out actual beads of moisture and then dries up just as quickly. That was a really challenging project because after realizing this, I had to change up all of the pieces that I had laid out in the beginning with fresher pieces of cheese and even then, it was still changing so quickly that I had to do a lot of retouching at the end. Any herbs and leaves will wilt really quickly if you leave them out, and of course things like ice cream, ice, and whipped cream will deflate and melt within a very short amount of time. This is important to think about because when you've spent hours laying out your food into letters, you don't want it to look old and wilted before you even had a chance to shoot it. The thing with food lettering is that it always looks best if it's fresh and colorful and it looks appetizing. Also, if you're working with any type of dough, just be mindful of how it might change if you decide to bake it. A lot of dough will puff up when you bake it so that your letters will actually end up looking a lot thicker than you meant for them to look. How do you avoid the problem of your food going bad before you have a chance to shoot it. Well, for foods you're not familiar with, always do a test. Leave them out whole and cut up in all its forms out on the table and just see how long it'll take for it to change. You can also take a photo of it for before and after and that way you'll know exactly how different it'll look from the beginning to the end. If it changes too fast, consider maybe using something else. Or if it's something like fruits that go brown really quickly, you can always use a product called fruit-fresh. It's a powder that you just put over your fruits and it's supposed to keep them from browning for up to eight hours. For things that melt like ice cream, try not to use it as the main part of your composition if you don't have to, unless you want it to look melted, in which case, go ahead. But if you're placing it on the side of your composition, you can make a bowl, leave it in the freezer and then when you're done and you're just about ready to shoot, just put it into your composition and then shoot your photographs. If you have to use these things as the main part of your composition, consider replacing them with something else. For example, I've read of a lot of food photographers using shaving cream in place of whipped cream because it doesn't melt at all, but it looks exactly the same. Also for things like ice cream, you can use mashed potatoes with food coloring. That's a really fun trick and you can find a whole bunch of them online if you search for food photographers' tricks. For herbs and fresh greens, keep them in a cup of water next to your table and use them as you go. If they happen to wilt a little bit before you have a chance to shoot them, just quickly replace them with a fresher version of it. One time I did a piece out of flowers and leaves and that's what I did. I had a cup of water and I marked out where the flowers would go first, and then I put my leaves around, because flowers usually will wilt a little bit faster than leaves and I put the flowers down at the end. If you're dealing with anything static or jumpy like poppy seeds or salt or ground-up coffee beans, a lot of times I've found that a damp paintbrush really helps in shaping your letters from those items. The trick is to wet your paintbrush but dry it off a little bit so that it's not wet and it doesn't leave any moisture beads on your background. All in all, it's necessary usually to work pretty fast when you're dealing with fresh fruits. That's why we talked about setting an uninterrupted chunk of your day to your project. The faster you work, the better your food will look, and the better your photos will look. In the next lesson, we'll talk a little bit more about the different ways in which you can form letters out of food so that you can pick the one that works best for your project. 8. 3 Ways to Make Letters with Food: In this lesson, we will go over the different ways in which you can use food to shape letter form. This will help you to decide how you can use the foods that you've chosen for your particular composition. Now, the three main ways in which you can build letters out of food are using very fine powder and loose foods like oats, ground coffee, and similar with or without a cutout template. Building letters out of many small items bit by bit. For example, using M&M's or blueberries or cut-up fruits and veggies, and molding letters out of food such as when cutting them out of a cookie dough or shaping a creamy or liquidy food into words. We'll talk about each of these one by one. Let's start with the first one, shaping powdery foods and loose foods into letters. The most accessible and the simplest way to get started with food lettering, in my experience, is to use foods like this with a cutout template. To do this, you can either draw or print out your letters and then cut them out by hand or using something like a Cricut machine. Then you can use the templates to sprinkle your foods over them. For example, in the title lettering of this class, I used cut-out letters to form the word tactile out of negative space. Positive space would have been me using a larger sheet from which I cut the letters out instead of the actual letters. In this way, the letters would have been formed out of the flour instead of inside the flour. For this method to work well, just make sure that you're sizing is correct. A lot of times if you're combining it with another method like I did in my title lettering, then you can build the rest of your phrase out first and then see how big your cut-out letters need to be, and then do that last. Then once you're done with the template, you're still going to need to clean it up a little bit, it will never be perfect. This is where a paintbrush comes in handy because it will just brush away any of the little specks inside or outside the letters depending on how you use the templates. The second method and the one that I tend to use the most in my lettering is building letters out of many small items. This is probably one of the more time-consuming and difficult methods because a lot of times this is where you're dealing with foods that can change in appearance after a short amount of time. It's also the method where you're most likely laying them out free hand. It requires the most patience, and precision, and ability to work quickly. The third method is using multiple foods to create the entire shapes of your letters. This is things like dough, chocolate spreads, jello, pudding, jelly. Now I'm getting hungry. So you're literally making the entire shape of your letters out of these foods. With things like jelly and chocolate spreads, you can even do a really light sketch underneath. Usually what I would do is I would put my sketch lines slightly inside my letter shapes so that when I put my food over them, I cover them up, and I don't have to retouch anything later. Now that we've gone over the different ways in which you can use your food to build your letters, I hope that you have a better idea of how you want to use your ingredients in your project. Join me in the next lesson where we finally build our piece. 9. Building Your Composition: We're finally ready to start building our composition. I know it took a little while to get here, but trust me, all the prep and all the knowledge you have ahead of time will make this whole process so much smoother and easier for you from here on in. You've got your surface ready, it's all clean and ready to go, you've got your ingredients right next to you, they're all ready. There are some decisions you're still going to need to make at this point. Like if you're cutting any fruits or veggies up, you're going to have to decide now how you want to cut them up to form your letters. Usually, the way that I do that is I just cut them up in different ways. If I'm cutting a strawberry, I'll cut it horizontally and vertically, and I'll make sure to try all kinds of different combinations, and then I lay out either just one stroke or one letter, just a small part so I can see what it looks like, and then I choose my favorite. Then you have your sketch next to you. You know how you're going to use it from all the methods that we've talked about. I'm just going to follow it by eye and I'm just going to start sketching out with my food. The way that I'd start, if I'm not limited by the size of my surface, and I have a pretty big board here, is I'll take the biggest word from my composition, like my main word, and I'll sketch it out with food. What I mean by that is I usually take whichever part of my ingredients that doesn't really go bad really quickly, it doesn't change in any appearance, and I literally just place it out on my canvas really loosely just to get the correct sizing and style of my letters. It doesn't matter if you have thicks and thins, it doesn't matter right now, you're just laying out one by one your foods to sketch it out. Then from then, I will mark off the edges of my composition and I'll mark off how big it's supposed to get at the end. I'll start now. Since I'm doing the word coconuts in coconut and almonds, and both of these ingredients don't really change, I'm just going to do it in the actual ingredients. That way I can also see how they'll look together. The word is right in the middle. I have to gauge where the middle of my canvas is. You have to always look at your composition from the top because you're not going to see any irregularities in your letters and your slants if you don't look at it from above. Make sure that your canvas is low enough that you can look at it from above. Right now I'm just going to speed through this and I'm just going to lay out my little sketch. Actually what you can do at this point is if you have a slant in your composition, you can just take a piece of string that I'm going to use later to mark out the edges of my composition and just put the tape and the string over so that you can follow a slant here. It's about this thick, so I'm just going to cut. Now, I've got my rough sketch laid out, and I know how big my word is going to be approximately. What I'm going to do is look at my sketch and see how far my words are from the edges of my composition. I'm just going to add just a couple of inches on both sides. What I'm going to do is just measure out from the edge of my board how big my composition will be, how wide it will be. For this particular piece, I think I want to make it a square so that it's very social media friendly. Then I'll just take my string. I'm going to put it down at the edge and I'm just going to tape it down. Now, I have the edges of my composition marked out, and I'm just going to start adding weight to my almonds here to see if I can fit a two almond thick stroke into my current sketch. I'm just looking for similarly sized almonds here to play side-by-side for a cleaner look. Then here at the top, I'm adding a horizontal element to cap the letter off because it was looking a bit too short to me, but I knew that adding another two vertical almonds would be too tall, so as long as I keep that treatment consistent, it will look intentional and not distracting. If you were dealing with foods that go bad or that change, if you can, try to do the foods that don't change first and then leave the ones that do change until the end. That way it's closer to shooting and it looks fresher when you shoot. Now that I'm done with nuts, I'm going to start with my coconut. I just also, I keep squinting my eyes so that I see just the overall shape of the letter, and then I can tell if my curves are going the right way and if my shape is correct. Now I'm going to move forward and see what I want to use for the rest of the words. I have two sizes of chocolate chips here. I'm just going to use the big ones for my top works so it stands out more, and I'm just going to do a simple one line sensor type, it'll be really easy with these. The number of chocolate chips in each stroke will determine the height of these letters, and then I don't really need to think about making sure that my letter heights are the same throughout my word because all I will need to do is just count the number of chocolate chips and then I'll know they're even. What I'd like to do here also is I'd like to mark out the extremes of my letters first so that I see how big they can be and the general direction of my word before I build out the full letters. In this case, I'm placing one chocolate chip for the bottom-most and uppermost parts of the M here to see how thick it can be and where my stroke should meet. Then I just build out the rest of the strokes to meet my extremes. Then for my curves here, I'm working with the slivered almonds to add some extra color and contrast to my composition. They're also very thin and straight, so it's the perfect shape to build out a thin curved stroke. Now, that it's done, I can start with the words inside which I will build from smaller chocolate chips because I don't want these words to be too large and take away from my main work. Again, here I'm also marking out each letter first by placing the chocolate chips at the top and bottom of each letter and gauging how wide each letter would need to be to fit inside this curved shape. Before I waste my time building out each letter fully only to realize that it might not fit at the end, I did this quick mark-ups so that I know I'm working efficiently and I'm using my time well. At this point you can decide on how detailed you want to get and how much time you have, because I usually like to add a little bit of a drop line to my letters. This is where sometimes I'll try it on the side. To test this out, I'm just going to grab some paint brushes and a little bit of water. I have this little tiny cup of water and I usually have a selection of paint brushes, a little bit of a wide brush, a big flat brush, a smaller flat brush, and then some really small round brushes. The best way to deal with things like cocoa powder is to use a damp paintbrush like we talked about. I'm just going to try it all the way on the side of my composition, that way I don't have to ruin anything. I'm just going to pick it up with my paintbrush and move it around a little bit and see what happens. I'm going to have to do a lot of wiping off. If I wanted to build out a thin line, I'm already seeing I'm going to have a lot of dirt around it, so this surface is actually perfect for this because I can easily wipe it off with a damp paintbrush. I think maybe cocoa powder will look good next to the coconut. Then the shaved coconut might look good next to the almonds because there's more contrast. Since my coconut is white, it's nice to have a little bit of a white contrast here. Then it's the opposite with coconut because I have the letters and coconut and then the in-line would be brown, like the almonds. I might do that. I'll just do the in-line on the end first. This is going to be a little bit tricky. I think, I'm just going to do one line of shaved coconut. I'm using my paint brush here to move things around because I don't want it to move too much or stick to my hands. What I tend to do is just drop a little bit of whatever fluid I'm using into the area where I need it, and then you just move it one by one from that little pile with my paintbrush or tweezers, whichever one I'm using. Now here I'm just going to try the coconut over the cocoa part to see if I like how that looks. I mean, this was extremely time-consuming just now. I actually like the way the shaved coconut looks here. I also feel that I should keep this drop line consistent throughout the whole word, so it looks cleaner. My word is already split up into two different ingredients and I'm adding a third here with this in-line, so I'd rather not add another texture and color into here and make it messier. Now I'm on my last part of this in-line. This took me as long to do this one in-line as the entire rest of the composition so far. Then sometimes what I like to do to keep my hand steady is I'll put my finger down onto the empty part of the board and I'll keep it steady that way. Now I'm done with this part and I'm going to clean up a little bit. Look at that, our main part of the lettering is complete. This took me, just for reference, about three hours and really the actual lettering part probably took me about an hour-and-a-half to two hours. The drop line is what took me the longest probably. It's the most meticulous work. But now we're ready to add our extras, our props. Join me in the next lesson where I'll go over how to add your props to make your composition more impactful. 10. Adding Props & Decorative Elements: We're almost there. In this lesson, I want to talk a little bit about adding props to your composition and filling out the space to make it a little bit more interesting. You don't have to do this if you don't want to, it's up to you. If you want to just have the lettering by itself, that's fine, you're done, and you can start photographing. But I like to add a little bit of props around just to make it a little bit more interesting and tell a story. There's two ways in which you can fill out the space around your lettering. One is you can use some of the items that you already have, some of the foods, and just make a design around your composition. For instance, in this piece that I made, I used pineapples, nuts, and blueberries to fill out the space and make flourishes around my lettering. The second way is what I like to do most often. What I do is just add props around my composition that are somehow related to your phrase and your ingredients. For example, in this piece, where I did lettering out of cookies, I used a bunch of baking tools to place around my composition. I had a whisk, some spatulas, a cooling rack with some extra cookies, I had a bottle of sprinkle spilling out on the side. If you're making something inspired by tacos, say, you can put some limes, a glass of margarita, maybe some hot sauce, anything that makes you think of tacos. This is where your brainstorming list comes in handy because all of these items should already be on it. You're just looking at your list and seeing what will work best and what do you even have in the house. When you're adding props, the thing to think about here is balance. If you have two larger things that you want to place in your composition, try to place them far apart from each other. That way you're balancing out the sizing in your props. Because if you place them next to each other, the viewer's eye is going to automatically be drawn to that particular corner. The composition will feel lopsided and it'll distract from your main lettering. Balance your items out based on things like size, shape, and color. If you have two red items, put them apart from each other, that way you have some red on both sides of the composition rather than just in one corner, and then it'll distract from your lettering. The goal here is just to make it seem like these items just happened to be there. You were baking some cookies and you placed your whisk on the side and you placed some spatulas here. Here you're just cooling off some cookies and, oops, I spilled a bottle of sprinkles and they just went all over the place. It's supposed to look very organic and natural even though you're intentionally placing them. Think of these items as just adding a nice atmosphere to your lettering. They're not there to distract, to take away from the main focus. They're there to just add a feeling and a story to your entire composition. For my piece here, I think I'm going to use a mix of both of these methods. My original sketch had more of the flourishes around my lettering, but I'm thinking now that I might want to add a little bowl of almonds to the side, maybe a spoon with some coconut on it. I also have a cracked coconut that I can add, that's going to be really cool, I think. I'm just going to try both of these things together; a few flourishes and then a few props, and then see how that turns out. I'm going to add this little sunburst that I had in my sketch on the top and bottom. I'm going to do them in almonds and chocolate chips, and then we're going to do the same at the top. Try to be intentional with your placement. All of my almonds are facing the same direction. If at all possible, that usually looks the neatest. Sometimes it's not possible and you have to twist things around, and that's okay. But if you can, it looks a lot prettier when everything's facing the same direction. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to actually check out my overhead camera. Sometimes I'll take a picture or I'll just look at the video that I'm shooting. I want to see that these bursts, they're symmetrical on both sides in my composition. They actually look pretty good. Now, I'm going to place some of the props that I have first, and then I'll see if I want to add some more swirls. Because I did have some flourishes around my lettering, and that might look actually really nice in chocolate chips, but for now, let me see. I have this really awesome coconut that I really want to use. I'm probably going to place it up in this corner. As you see, my composition is slanted this way. That means that if I do symmetrical flourishes on both sides, they're going to take up more room right here up to the corner, and they're going to take up less room here, so I'm going to have a little bit of an empty space in that corner. I think I'm just going to place my coconut here. The thing to note when you're placing your props, if you're doing this method, is you don't have to be married to one particular idea. You can keep changing it around, especially when you're taking photos later. If you're seeing that these coconuts aren't really working, I want them a little bit off to the side, or they don't look good together, maybe I should put one right here, this is what I'm talking about when you're balancing things out. Maybe it'll be better this way. But I'll have to see once I'm taking the photos. These things are so easy to move around that it doesn't really matter. With something like flourishes, obviously, you're going to be stuck with your design. I have some Almond Joy, so I'm probably just going to put some around it. Again, this is not final placement. I might do something different once I take photos. But for now, I just want to lay out some of these extras that I have and see how much room they take up. Because, for instance, in my sketch, you could see that the Almond Joys and the coconut actually took up a whole lot more room than they're ending up taking up here. They're much smaller because my composition became much larger than I predicted. This is where you have to go with the flow and play around with it because it's not going to be exact because you can't really know in the beginning how big everything is going to be on your page. Then to build out my little curvy shapes here, I like the idea of using both the small and large chocolate chips to give this some weight variation. I'm placing the smaller chips on the edges and the bigger ones inside. To make the flow from thick to thin as smooth as possible, I'm looking for the smallest big chocolate chips I can find to place at the ends of my thick part, and then I try to find the biggest small chips to place next to that. This way the line between thick and thin is not abrupt and noticeable. I'm pretty much done with my flourishing, and now I'm going to add the rest of my props. I'm just going to take anything that I don't need out of the way. What do I got here? I got some chocolate bars. I got this bowl right here, so I think I'm just going to put my spoon in this area right here because it's pretty empty. I'm just going to get a little bit of coconut here and just place it here and just sprinkle it around. I just looked at my composition from above just to make sure that everything is even in all sides, that my props are looking even and balanced. The one thing that I did notice is that I have more space at the top of my composition than at the bottom. I think, in retouching, I'm actually going to have to move it a little bit down and add a little bit of background to here. I have to be mindful of how I place my items because right now my coconut is right at the edge. I think I'm just going to try to have it fall off the edge so that I don't have to add the background right behind it. Worst case is I can just use the stamp tool later and just move it down so that it's off the edge here. Join me in the next lesson. We'll go over photographing your work and how to make it look the best that it can. 11. Photographing Your Work: Now that our piece is ready, we're ready to start photographing it. As you can see, I've set up my studio lights. I have two on the sides and one above me. This is the way that I light my work because this creates less shadows all over. You can either photograph this with your phone or your camera, it doesn't matter. Your main and final shot will be an overhead, so you have to place your camera directly overhead, parallel to your surface. You can either just do it with your hands. Just hold your phone or hold your camera above, just make sure you're even on all sides, or what I use is I take an overhead camera mount and I just attach my camera to it and use a remote control just to take photos. I used to not have the remote control, I just used to just press the button on the camera, but it'll be right or directly overhead, you can see every edge. This is actually also the point where I'll take off my edges, my string, because I'm not going to need it anymore and I don't want to have to retouch it later. Then, I'm going to take this off. I'm going to set my camera up overhead, and I'm going to start photographing. The thing here to make sure is that you don't have any deep shadows. If you're doing this in front of a window, just make sure there's no direct sun rays falling on your work, make sure everything is even. Try to clean up as much as you can because even if you see little specs, and you think that's really easy to retouch later, when you have a bunch of different photos, and especially if you're going to do variations with your props around, you're going to probably end up with like 20 photos that you like, and to research the same spec out of all the 20 photos, it's going to get really time-consuming. I'm going to take some overhead photos, move things around if I feel that they need to be moved around, and I'm going to check the photos before I do anything with my composition because I want to make sure that everything is correct and everything looks good before I move anything around or before I destroy my work. I like to also take photos with different settings on my camera just to see if maybe one of the settings will give a better lighting or better contrast. You'll do it on manual or shoot it in RAW mode if you're using a DSLR. Once you've finished taking overhead photos, take some side shots, some close-ups. Use both your phone and your camera, if you have them. That way you'll get different lighting and different details in each one of them. Then look through your photos on your camera, or if you want to be extra sure, put them on your computer and look through them there. Just make sure that you have at least a few photos where the entire composition is visible in the shot, that the edges of your surface aren't skewed in any way, that your camera was actually parallel, and overhead, and even, then you can move some stuff around if you want to. I didn't do it with my piece here, I think everything is in a good place, but you can move things around, take some more photos. Now it's time to take it into Photoshop and start our retouching process. In the next lesson, I'll go over how I retouched my photos to share them with a client or to put them in my portfolio or on social media. 12. Retouching Your Work: We've finally made it to the last part of our project, the retouching part. Now, this can be the easiest or it could actually be the hardest depending on how happy you are with your photos. This is why the prep and the planning is so important because if you've got everything down the way that you wanted it to be and everything worked out, you really don't have to retouch too much. I've done everything from just minor brightness contrast adjustments that took me a couple of minutes to, unfortunately, realizing after I created my piece and couldn't change it anymore that I would have preferred it to be on a different background color. Now, this is usually not even worth doing because it's way too much work, it's so time-consuming to have to select out every single item of your composition. Considering shadows, considering the way that the background color reflects off of your items, and you can really only make a very slight adjustment because otherwise, it won't look real. For example, on this piece, I shot it on white background and then realized that I wanted it to actually be on pink. It took a lot of hours of work, and it was really just an experiment, I didn't really need to change it. Some things that I've done in retouching include adding certain props from different photos. For example, in this piece where I did the lettering out of cookies that I showed you earlier, I liked this final photo with my hand touching the cookie, but in this photo, I really liked the way that the hearts added some nice brightness and color to the overall feeling of the piece. I selected out the hearts and I added them into my final photo, and then I just adjusted the coloring and the brightness so that the hearts matched the background of the original photo. This was my final shot. This is why it's a good idea to shoot all of your final photos from the same angle, from the top of the composition, that way all of your items are at the same angle with the same shadows, it's very easy to just swap out a few things later. Sometimes you can adjust sizing of certain props. For example, in this piece, I created the lettering out of cheese and then the plate of grilled cheese in a corner, ended up looking way too small compared to my lettering, so all I did was I selected out the plate and then made it a little bit bigger so that it stands out more in the composition. But hopefully, the only retouching you really have to do is just adjusting lighting, contrast, sharpness, removing any specks that you didn't notice, and just overall changing maybe a little bit of a saturation just to pop some of the items out. But let's see what we can do in this piece. This is the photo that I liked the most out of all of the ones that I shot because the colors here stood out really nicely against the blue background. Everything looked pretty well-placed. The first thing that I usually do is I make sure that the size of my composition and the proportions work for my final piece. This one, I wanted it to be a square. I'm just going to adjust a little bit of the height here. Right here you can see that I still have some of the edge of my composition visible, but I don't want to crop in anymore so I'm just going to leave it and maybe eventually I'll just clone stamp some of the background into here. I'm going to go to my Canvas Size and just match my height, copy and paste to my width. This way, it's exactly a square. Then I'm going to check if the edges from this part of the lettering to this part right here, to the edge, is about the same. It's not really the same so I'm just going to undo that for a second. Then I'm going to adjust this manually and make sure that I adjust the edges to about the same distance. Then I'm going to go back into Canvas Size, and now I'm going to copy and paste my height to my width. It'll be a little bit more even, there we go. What I like to start with is go to Adjustments and go to Shadows and Highlights because this will pull out some of the darker and deeper shadows in your piece. I mess with that a little bit, I change the radius because it makes it look a little bit more realistic. But here's the preview if I click off and on, you can see that it pulls out some of the shadows and coloring in the almonds especially really nicely. I usually like to do this adjustment first. Makes your highlights darker so I don't like to do this part because I want the whites of the coconut to really pop. I'm just going to click "OK" here, and then I'll go into Brightness and Contrast and then I'll just adjust some of the brightness, then you can make it a little bit brighter. I don't want it to go too bright because then I don't want the white to glare too much. Then maybe some contrast. Let's see what the preview looks like. It looks pretty fun I think, but I'm going to undo some of the brightness because I think I made it a little too bright, and undo some of the contrast. You can tinker around with it's really your preference, how contrast you wanted to get I usually like to make things pretty colorful. Then I will just zoom into my piece and go through bit by bit and clean up any of these little specks, do you see them? It's just things that sometimes you don't see them when you're shooting. I just use the Stamp Tool which is right here. Then you click "Option" and you select out the background color that you want to copy. Then when you deselect "Option" you can stamp that background into this part. Just make sure that it matches the exact color. Sometimes you have to do it a couple of times. There we go. I'd like to make the brush, blurry at the edges, sometimes I change the opacity a little bit lower, but for now, I'm just going to maybe stamp out some of this and see how sometimes it doesn't look that bright so I have to keep doing it. Then sometimes if you make the brush bigger, it helps you to blend the edges a little bit better. I'll just stamp some of these things out really quickly. Now as you can see, I already started this process, I just use the Stamp Tool and I just added this background in here, it's super quick and easy to do, this is why I didn't really mind that my composition fell off the edge a little bit because I knew that this would be a very quick thing to do. See and now it's done. Now I'm noticing here and I was really conscious of it when I was building my piece, but some defective almonds slipped in that had some cuts and white spots in them so I'm just going to zoom into them and edit them out. Not all of them though, only some because I don't want it to look fake. You still want it to look real. It is food and you want it to look like real food. There are going to be some little imperfections and irregularities and that's okay, but if something just doesn't need to be there, you can just retouch it out. Like this little almond, for example, it has a little dent in it. I'm just going to leave it in because it's just a small imperfection and it doesn't distract from the overall piece. What do we have here? See, sometimes you make a little mistake or something moves during shooting and you don't notice. See this little piece, in the O here, it's not supposed to be here, I'm not sure how it got there. I'm just going to reattach it out. I think this is looking pretty fun. Sometimes I'll also take the Dodge Tool right here. If I have any parts that look too dark like these slivers here, this is nice because it's just going to pull out some of the little details in your shadows. I'm just going to brighten that up a little bit. Just make sure to get all of the chocolate chips. There we go. This is our final piece. I hope that you're happy with the way that your project turned out. Hopefully, you didn't need to do too much retouching, my demo, I didn't really need to do too many crazy adjustments, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, here's the before and after. Now you're ready to share your piece on social media, show it to all your friends, send it to your clients. I hope everybody loves it. 13. Final Thoughts: Well, I had so much fun walking you guys through my entire tactile lettering process. I hope that it doesn't feel too overwhelming. I know there's a lot of information to absorb and process, but I think it's one of those things that once you hear it one time it's in the back of your head already next time, so you don't really need to think about it too much. But as always, if you forget something you can come back to any of the lessons to listen to them again. Don't feel pressured to make something really complex and elaborate. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want. You can spend an hour on it. You can spend 10 hours on it. The beauty of tactile lettering I think is that you can just keep building on it as much as you want. If I were just want to spend an hour on this or an hour and a half, I did my lettering and without the drop line I was pretty much done. But then the drop line added about an hour, an hour and half then the extra details add in another hour. So altogether it took me maybe less than five hours to do this entire piece. Anything you just have to accept also that with something like food lettering and tactile lettering, nothing is ever going to be absolutely perfect and really precise, not the way it is with digital lettering. I think you have to learn to go with the flow and realize that foods tends to have a mind of its own. Sometimes things move around the way that you didn't predict and you have to adjust your designs. I have to figure out a lot of these things on my own. I have to Google things to figure out how they work. I'm really happy to be able to share with you everything that I've learned so far in my tactile lettering journey. I really hope that you guys share some of the work that you make in this class in the project gallery. Feel free to post your sketches, your unretouched and retouched photos so we can see how your project evolves. Ask questions, I'm here for you. I'm so excited to see what you come up with and what all your favorite snacks are. I hope you guys enjoyed this class and that you learned something new today. Thank you so much for being here..