Hand Lettering 3D Style | Jane Snedden Peever | Skillshare

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Supplies And Project


    • 3.

      Basic Letters


    • 4.

      Giving The Letters Body


    • 5.

      Creating The Depth


    • 6.

      Variations On Letter Depth Part 1


    • 7.

      Variations On Letter Depth Part 2


    • 8.

      Faceted Styles


    • 9.

      Script and Faux Calligraphy


    • 10.

      Dream Create Inspire


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About This Class

This class will explore the fun and unique ways you can add depth and dimension to your hand lettering and achieve that 3 dimensional look to your letters using pencil and paper.  I will walk you through step by step from forming the framework or "skeleton" of your letters, creating an alphabet, adding some body and style and finally giving them depth and dimension.  We will work through multiple different styles and create complete alphabets for each style to use in your designs.  I have included downloads of the lettering alphabets we work on to use as guides in the lessons.  I have also included a lettering layout for the final project for you to work into an art poster with style and dimension.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jane Snedden Peever

Living the Creative Life

Top Teacher


- Create Some Space For Yourself, And Enjoy Simply Creating Something From Your Heart-


Hi I'm Jane and my favourite ways to relax are crocheting and doodling.

I love exploring creativity through texture, colour and shapes

and sharing this with you through

Simple and Fun Classes.

One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to carve out some space everyday for a little creativity. 

It doesn't have to be elaborate or complicated, just simple and fun and speaks to... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hey everyone. My name is Jane. Today I'm going to show you how I do my hand lettering with a 3D style. In this class, I'm going to take you through the steps of building a simple alphabet into styled letters, into a three-dimensional look. Just using some techniques with pencil, paper, a ruler, and some tracing paper, I'm going to show you how to add some style to your lettering and how to make those letters pop off the page. We're going to learn how to create different kinds of alphabets that we can use going forward in a lot of our designs. Once we've learned all the techniques in the course, we're going to put it all together and create a stylish piece of inspirational art using our letters and making them come to life. Join the fun and learn something new. Hit Enroll, and I'll see you in class. 2. Supplies And Project: Hey everyone, thanks for joining me today. Today I'm going to show you how I do my hand lettering with a three-dimensional block. I really love working with pen and pencil on the paper, and I really loved the portability of that. In fact, I can take you anywhere, and even though I digitized most of my designs and work with them on the computer, I really loved the challenge of seeing what I can get down on the paper first. Today I'm going to show you my tips and tricks on how to use tracing paper or a light pad to get some of that three-dimensional look into your lettering. We're going to explore some ideas, we're going to try some different styles, and we're going to end up doing an art inspiration poster for our project to mix up these styles and see if we can get those letters to pop off the page. Again, you don't need much for this class paper or a pencil and eraser, a ruler, some black pens or markers of various templates. I tend to have a lot, but just a few will do. Some tracing paper which you can get at almost any department store, and if you have one or would like one, our iPad comes in handy, I just recently took the plunge and got one and I love it. However, I've use tracing paper for years and I will continue to use tracing paper because it does the trick perfectly. I've included a number of downloads as well. You will need graph paper, but I've included my own in the download so you can just print that off. There is a printable of the basic alphabet letter structure that I use, as well as a block letter, bubble letter and fascinated letter alphabet that we will be drawing in the lessons. Finally, there is the lettering layout for our project, dream create, inspire. In my last lesson, I do a speed drawing to show you how I use this layout to create a design using the techniques in each of the lessons. Grab your supplies and print out the downloads, and let's get started. 3. Basic Letters: Using your graph paper, we're going to start by creating our basic letter forms. I'm going to work with uppercase letters, but you can also do it for lowercase as well. First, I'm going to mark it with dots where my letters will fall. In this case, I'm making them in three squares wide by five squares high. There will be a few letters that will need a little more width, but the height will be consistent throughout. When forming the letter "A", I choose the halfway point across the top to create the apex, and then the crossbar I place three squares down. When drawing the "B", I put the center crossbar at the two and a half square mark, making exactly half the height. Choosing how you balance the white space for your letters is part of the process and keeping my letters symmetrical and boxy but your style can be anything that you prefer. I want these letters to be something I can use over and over to form my letter shapes. So for my layout, I have six letters in the first row and five letters in each of the following four rows. Some of the letters will be needing extra width, such as the "W" and the "M" so I'll allow for that as I go. Again, I'll mark out the space as I go with my dots. A lot of the letters have similar shapes so I try to keep these parts consistent as I form my letters. The bowl of the "B", the "P" and the "R" are the same. The "C" and the "G" have the same shape and are oval like the "O" and the "Q", and the "M" and the "N" have sharp points. When I get to the letter "J", I will be giving it four squares of width to keep the balance I'm looking for. This comes with trial and error sometimes, you may have to experiment to see what appeals to you and works well with your letter set. In order to create an eye-appealing design, you'll want your letters to work together in a harmonious way that flows and carries the eye across your work. When I get to the "M", I give it four squares of width, choosing my center point, and then I balance both sides around it. The only time I don't want my letters to be harmonious would be, for example, if I wanted a chaotic style, which you can often find being used in scrap booking, where each letters cut from a different magazine on purpose to create a word. This is done with intention and can have a fun-appealing look. But normally if your letters have a slight difference in their style, it will set your design off and you may wonder why it just doesn't seem to flow. So take the time to go back over your letters once you have them completed to be sure that your style is consistent throughout. There are only so many shapes used in the alphabet so once you've created the first few letters, you've established your style and should use this when forming the rest of your letters. Remember these letters we're working on right now are just going to be the skeleton of a few different letter styles so simple is best for this page. We can get fancy once we start to add in the body. This page is capital block letters, you can create a page of simple script style and a page for lowercase as well later on. So now when I've reached the "W", I've decided to give it five squares of width. I'll choose the center and place it two squares in height then I work both sides to be symmetrical based on these chosen points. The "X" will automatically cross at the center so you can use it as a guide to draw the "Y". Again, you can do this exercise just by drawing some guidelines and getting a little more free form in your letter widths but I like to use graph paper to help me get the consistency in my letter height and make the width harmonious. 4. Giving The Letters Body: Now that we have a page of letter frameworks complete, let's use them to create some block letters with body. Here's where you can choose to use a light pad or a tracing paper. In this case, I'll be using tracing paper. We'll place our tracing paper over the page of letters that we just created so we can see the skeleton of each letter. Then we'll start to trace around the entire framework of each letter, equal distance, to create its body. Once we get somebody on our letters, then the next step will be to use these new sets to create a 3D look. But for this lesson, we're going to experiment with different styles, just for the body. In the first instance, I'm drawing boxy block letters. You can choose to draw close to the skeleton or farther away to create a bulky style letter. But whatever you choose, be consistent with every letter of the alphabet. You will see I've included downloads of a couple styles I've drawn so you can follow along with how I created these. Then you can experiment, and come up with some of your own styles as well. The skeleton of the letter will always be in the center of the box letter that you're drawing. This will be handy to use in some styles as well where we want the base skeleton to be part of the design. Always keep in mind, these are hand-drawn letters, so irregularities are welcome. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to get perfect straight lines. Hand-drawn letters have a wonderful, quirky look to them that gives them a beauty of their own. The next style we can try is a bubble letter. Here the curves will be rounded and softer. In this first bubble style, I will draw fairly tight to the skeleton on the exterior, not leaving much room between the body and the frame of the letter. But I will draw the center sections further away from the framework. When I draw this style, the centers are very rounded, such as in the A, I made the center hole a circle instead of a rounded triangle. Again, this is just preference and you can choose what you like. The next style I'm going to do will also be a bubble letter. But I'm going to draw the letters with more volume. This will create a fatter bubble style. It may take practice to draw consistently around the letter frame, but it's okay to erase and redraw. This is how we learn it. Eventually, your eye and your hand will start to get the feel of what you're trying to do. Keep experimenting with styles to find what you like. It's fun to have a mix of alphabets to choose from. Although I stressed in the last lesson to be consistent in your style when creating a single alphabet, this is so a single word can have a flow to it. However, as you'll see in our project, each word can use a different style of alphabet. It's fun to mix and match font styles when creating a design piece with multiple words. It gives your words life and character, and helps your message convey feeling in a whole new way. In the downloads, you'll find one of my block letter alphabet and one of my bubble letter alphabets, to help you get the feel for both of these styles. 5. Creating The Depth: Now we're going to tackle giving our letters some 3-D style. I've chosen to work with my bubble alphabet to start, and again, I'll be using tracing paper. But you can also do this on a light box or light pad. I place a new blank page over my letters and I start by tracing the actual letter forms first. I'm going to work with A, B, and C. Once we have the first set of letters traced, we're going to shift the top tracing paper to the right and slightly down. We need to be sure we shift the paper in a straight line with the horizontal and vertical axis of your letters. To ensure we get this right, we're going to use a ruler to draw guidelines to help us. First, we'll draw a horizontal line, three-eighths of an inch above the top line of the letters, and then draw a vertical line, three-eighths of an inch to the left of the first letter. Now when we shift our page to the right and down, the top of the letters will now line up with the new horizontal line, and the first letter will line up with the new vertical line. This is when it comes in handy to have the letters on graph paper and use the lines as a guide when shifting. You can also layer the graph paper underneath if you're using a light pad. Once the page is shifted acutely, we then trace out the letters again. We don't need to trace the entire letter, only the parts that are not covered up by the first letter traced. Once the second set is traced, we then proceed to join the back letters to the front letters. This is done on the same line angle that we shifted the paper, so we shift it down and to the right, our joints will all slant down into the right. The amount of shift will alter the look of the letter. But you can play around with this to see what effect you like the best, that's the nice thing with being able to see your work underneath. You get an idea of what it's going to look like before you draw it. Shifting the paper more gives you the illusion of more of an angle and a thicker depth to the letter, where a smaller shift will give less angle and less thickness to the depth. Once the letters are traced, you can shade them in with the same line angle as the shift to finish off your realistic 3-D style. 6. Variations On Letter Depth Part 1: Now that we have the basics of the technique, we can try some variations on it. This time, I'm going to use the block letters and we'll work with the G, H, and I. Again, I'm going to place the tracing paper over my framework letters and trace them. Try to keep your trace accurate as you want the second trace to be an identical match to the first one. So it's important to trace right on your lines as best you can. This time, I'll shift the paper in the opposite direction from last time, which will be up and to the left. I'm not using guidelines this time as I tend to like to play around with it and see where I like it. I just have to make sure when I settle on where I want it, that I've kept the axis straight so each letter is getting the same depth. When we draw block letters in this style, the letters will be joined at every corner. This will mean drawing more joins between the two tracings than we did with our bubble letters. Again, the lines are drawn on the same angle that you move the paper. This gives your letters at three-dimensional block appearance. When you start to shade your letters, you should be aware of where your light source will be coming from. In this case, it would becoming from the upper left so that the size of my letter created by the second trace will be in the shadow. I can shade them in to give the letter even more dimension. For the next variation, we'll use the block letters again and use L, M, and N. First, we trace the first set of letters and when we've completed that, we will be moving the paper down and to the left. I'm also choosing where my light source will becoming from for this example, which will be from the bottom left as well. Then we trace the letters again, same as we've done in all the other examples. Once I have them traced, I'm going to do something different. These letters will not be joined like the last couple of examples. Instead, I'm going to shade the last letters I traced only. This will give the second letters the appearance of shadows that are cast by the front letters. So there's a bunch of examples on how you can achieve different results with this technique. In the next lesson, we're going to explore a few more. 7. Variations On Letter Depth Part 2: Now we'll try some variations with the bubble alphabets. So let's work with the letters q, r, and s. This time, I'm going to create a simple line drop shadow behind the letters as though a light source is hitting them from an angle. So after we trace our first set of letters, we'll shift the page down and to the left, which is where the light source would be coming from. Again, you can play around with how you want this to look, moving the page around until you're happy with it. This technique of a drop shadow line usually is done quite close to the first trace. Now we'll just trace the outline, making sure the secondaries doesn't touch the first trace, leaving a space between the two sets of lines. This gives a simple drop shadow effect that is more representational in nature than the full drop shadow. Another variation is creating an inner shadow, giving the illusion of roundness to an object. In this case, we'll use the letters v, w and x, and once we had the first letters trace, we'll shift the page to the right and slightly up. Now instead of tracing lines, I lightly shade where the lines are to create a thin shadow look on the letters. This will give the appearance of a rounded look to the inside of the letters. So now for one more variation, I'm going to use the l, m and n again, and create another inner shadow. But this time it's going to be a light reflection. Once the letters are traced, I will shift the page to the left and up very slightly. Then again, instead of tracing the lines, I'll use them as a guide to draw thin bubble-like ovals on the inside of the first set of letters. Instead of a shadow, it creates the look of a light reflection as though the light source is coming from the left and bouncing off the rounded letter. So play around with it and see what neat and fun ideas you can come up with. 8. Faceted Styles: One additional style I want to show you that I've included in my downloads is the faceted letter alphabet. We're going to use our block letter alphabet that we created. So go ahead and place your tracing paper on top of the block style letters, and trace the letter A. Then, draw in the original skeleton of the A in the center of the block. Now draw lines from each corner to the center A skeleton. This gives you the look of a three-dimensional block letter as if it was chiseled in stone with a faceted appearance. I'll show you how I do the letter B and the letter C as well. It can be tricky at first to understand where the joining lines are placed to create the faceted look. So I've included this finished alphabet in the downloads section, so that you can work through the letters yourself, and see where all the lines that create the facet belong. There's so many styles you can play with using this tracing paper technique. Look around you on signs, books, and magazines to see the many styles used to give the look of a three-dimensional letter. It's just a trick of the eye, and once you understand these techniques, you can go on to create your own styles and ideas. Another form of the faceted letter that you can try, is one with a flat surface on top and the faceted edges all around it. In this style, you place your tracing paper on top and trace the letter A. Then you'll trace an outline equidistance around the outside of the first tracing, and then the next step will be to join all the corners of the first tracing to the second tracing. This gives the illusion of a flat surface letter with slanted or faceted edges, framing the letter all the way around. When we do the B, we do the same thing where we draw all the way around the outside, and then in the B, the centers are large enough, that we can also draw inside of them as well, and again, we join all the corners and points with minds. You can add a bit of shading to make the edges look like they're receding away from the top surface. You can do these techniques with lowercase letters as well as script letters. Practice these styles, and when you feel confident with them, go ahead and experiment with some of your own creations. 9. Script and Faux Calligraphy: As I said, you can use the techniques I've shown you with lowercase and script letters as well, just following the same step-by-step techniques that we've learned. But here, I want to show you something a little different. I want to show you a way to use this method to help give your script lettering the look of faux calligraphy. It can be difficult to know where the down-stroke should start and end when you're drawing it in, so this helps take the guesswork out of it. Using the graph paper, I mark out with dots where I wanted to set up my script letters and then I draw it with the script letters. For the purpose of this lesson, I'm just going to work with the lowercase letters a through e as they fit nicely onto one line. Once I have my letter frameworks established, I'll place my tracing paper over top of them and trace each one of them out. Again, all of this can be done on a light pad as well. Tracing paper is easy to find and inexpensive, but if you have a light pad, you can use any blank paper and this works well if you're making a finished piece that you'd like to be on a nice piece of paper. Once my letters are traced, I will shift my paper to the right almost one full square on the graph paper. Now I start tracing. Because I'm going for the faux calligraphy look, I will only be tracing the portions that would be considered the down-stroke of the letter. This will leave the upstrokes thin. This method gives a nice tapered look to your letter strokes. When you have them completed, you can fill them in and you'll have the look of faux calligraphy. You can create your own alphabet of lowercase and uppercase letters in the style. 10. Dream Create Inspire: So now we're going to put all of our techniques to use and create an inspiring art poster for our project. I've included this framework in the download section. You can just print it out and get started. As you note here, I'm working on a light pad and I used tracing paper in all the lessons. I wanted to be able to give you an idea how the two different techniques and methods work. So since this would be a long video, I've just done the first two letters of each word to get you going and then you can take it from there. I've also spread it up and I won't go through all the descriptive stuff again, so you can find all of those techniques in the lessons we just took. So have fun with it and if you want to experiment with your own ideas, then go for it. Happy drawing. That's one way that I would tackle this design.I'm going to post the finished example in the project section. You can give this a shot. You can even try some of your own ideas if you want to and I'm really looking forward to seeing your projects. Thanks so much for joining me in this class.