Lettering for Designers: One Drop Cap Letterform at a Time Premium class

Jessica Hische, Letterer and Illustrator

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13 Videos (1h 40m)
    • Trailer

    • Research

    • What is Lettering?

    • Brainstorming

    • Upload, Share, and Critique

    • Sketching Tips

    • Initial Sketching

    • Choosing a Direction

    • Drop Cap #1

    • Drop Cap #2

    • Letterform Basics

    • Plotting Vector Points

    • Self-Critique


About This Class

I've been lettering for years, working on all sorts of projects from Wes Anderson movies to Dave Eggers book covers. For every lettering project, the basic unit is the same: a single letter.

In this self-paced class, I'll teach you my process, starting with that crucial unit: a simple and beautiful single letter in the form of a drop cap. A drop cap is the large letter that starts a chapter in a book, an artform found in manuscripts dating back 2,000 years.


What You'll Learn

I'll teach you my lettering process along with plenty of the tips and tricks I've acquired over the years. We'll cover:

  • Research. The importance of starting small and picking the right book.
  • Brainstorming. The keys to letting ideas out of your head and onto paper.
  • Sketching. The real-world process for how letters are designed. I'll share my sketch books and sketching process for a true behind-the-scenes walkthrough.
  • Digitizing. My essential tips and tricks for Illustrator, including how to use handlebars and where to place your vector points.
  • Critiquing. The constructive, core process for critiquing your own work and getting those perfect finishing touches (ahem, perfect curves). 

What You'll Do

Building off Daily Drop Cap—a project I started in September of 2009, in which I illustrated a decorative letter every day (or at least every work day)—you'll design a drop cap of your own, inspired by your favorite book. 


Daily Drop Cap Project x Penguin Books

Building on my work with the Daily Drop Cap project, I'm now working with Penguin Books on Penguin Drop Caps, a series of twenty-six collectible hardcover editions of fine works of literature, each featuring (on its cover) a specially commissioned illustrated letter of the alphabet by yours truly!

A collaboration between myself and Penguin Art Director Paul Buckley, whose series design encompasses a rainbow-hued spectrum across all twenty-six books, Penguin Drop Caps debuted with an 'A' for Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, a 'B' for Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, and a 'C' for Willa Cather's My Ántonia. It continues on with more perennial classics from Penguin.


914 of 921 students recommendSee All

Great for newbies and experienced designers alike.
Katie Leavens


Amazingly clear and focused class. Loved the way Jessica explains in her own fun quirky way. Really breaks down the process nicely and inspires me to do more! Thanks a ton!
Jaljeet Ajani

Learn ON!

Very good class if you're just starting with hand drawn letters (like me), but there is also probably enough to learn when you've been around. Also the focus on one letter really helps to get started and not overcomplicate things. A really good tutorial, so I recommend it to everybody who wants to learn about letters and lettering.





Jessica Hische

Letterer and Illustrator

Jessica Hische is a letterer, illustrator, and self-described "avid internetter." After graduating with a degree in Graphic and Interactive Design from Tyler School of Art, she worked for Headcase Design in Philadelphia before taking a position as Senior Designer at Louise Fili Ltd. While working for Louise, Jessica also maintained a busy freelance career, and, after two and a half years of little sleep and a lot of lettering, she left to further her freelance career and embark on several personal projects.

Jessica has become as well known for her side projects as she has for her client work. While she doesn’t consider herself a web designer, many of her personal projects are web-centric. Her project Daily Drop Cap is probably the reason you first stumbled across her work, and she’s created several educational micro-sites including Mom This is How Twitter Works, Should I Work for Free?, and Don’t Fear the Internet (a collaborative project with Russ Maschmeyer).

Jessica’s clients include Wes Anderson, Tiffany & Co., The New York Times, Penguin Books, Target, Leo Burnett, and Wired Magazine. She’s been named a Print Magazine New Visual Artist (20 under 30), one of Forbes 30 under 30 in Art and Design, an ADC Young Gun, and a “Person to Watch” by GD USA.

She is currently serving on the Type Directors Club Board of Directors.