Lettering 101: Drawing Consistent Letters With Basic Supplies | Kiki B | Skillshare

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Lettering 101: Drawing Consistent Letters With Basic Supplies

teacher avatar Kiki B, hand lettering & illustration

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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

6 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Introduction & Materials

    • 2. Lesson 1 - Straight Letters

    • 3. Lesson 2 - Slanted Letters

    • 4. Lesson 3 - Rounded Letters

    • 5. Lesson 4 - Compound Letters

    • 6. Class Project

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About This Class

Hand lettering is an art form that goes back to, well, the beginning of letters. From ancient stone carvings to the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, it seems we've always been fascinated with beautiful letters.

In this class, you'll join illustrator and lettering artist Kiki B as she takes you step by step through mastering the essential shapes of block lettering, using just 5 simple materials you already have in your home (hint: one of them is paper). And best of all, there are absolutely no special skills or previous experience required! These fundamental letterforms are the basis of dozens of beautiful typefaces throughout history, from post-industrial Victorian letters to mid-century Mad Men styles (and beyond).

Whether you're an artist, designer, or someone looking for an enjoyable creative hobby, you'll find that the timeless craft of drawing letters by hand is not only practical and beautiful, but relaxing and rewarding as well. 

Fun jazzy music: "Apero Hour" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Meet Your Teacher

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Kiki B

hand lettering & illustration


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1. Introduction & Materials: Hi, I'm Kiki. Be welcome to my studio and welcome to lettering 101 on skill share in this glass, you're going to learn how to draw even consistent block capital lettering, using a simple method that breaks each letter down into basic shapes, starting with simplest and working our way up to the most complex letters. And the best part is that we'll be using supplies you probably already have around your house. My method of teaching lettering is actually pretty simple. It's a little bit like figure drawing. If you draw some clothes with hands and feet and a head sticking out, it's not going to look much like a real person. But if you draw body first and draw the clothes on afterwards, then it starts to look like something. So I'm going to take you through, drawing the body or the skeleton of each letter. I'm drawing them in pens that they show up well on the video, but you'll draw them in pencil and then outlined them in pen After. Then you can erase the pencil marks and you're good to go. This method of drawing opens up endless possibilities for variation, and it's the same basic technique that will use in all my later, more advanced classes. Now let's talk basic supplies. The first thing you're gonna need a recent paper plain old printer paper will do just fine and grab a pencil, an eraser, a ruler and last but not least, a pet of some kind. Just about any kind of pen will do. Once you've got these things together, you're ready to go, so let's get started. 2. Lesson 1 - Straight Letters: Okay, let's tackle the straight letters. These ones are super simple. We're starting off easy, and I'm just going to walk you through a few of the details. The letter I has to common forms. The 1st 1 is generally used in a word, while the second one's usually reserved for when the letter has to stand alone to make it easier to distinguish from lower case L. You can see I've drawn out some horizontal guides to help keep my letters and even height without having to measure each one. My letter height throughout these lessons will be seven centimeters, and most letters will be four centimeters wide. I is narrower, of course, and M and W will be wider. If you're working on dot grid or graph paper, that's a four letter size. You'll probably be most comfortable working on a smaller scale. The reference sheets I've linked to for the class or drawn at 3.5 centimeters high and two centimeters wide, so each centimeter in the video translates to one block or five millimeters on the dot grid or graph paper with e and f. You can extend the middle crossbar out to the edge of the letter if you like, but I found that there's rarely a stylistic reason to actually do that. I like to keep it at about 3/4 of the letter with so here. That's three centimeters. - The l is really, really easy. You could make it nearer if you like, but for this lesson, we're keeping consistent letter with throughout, so we're going to stick with four centimeters. Three also looks nice. Sometimes it kind of depends a bit on the lettering style. Now, with the tea, just make sure you get that stem centered properly. This is also another letter that you could make a little bit narrower if you like. If you want to keep it at three centimeters, that's perfectly fine, and it also makes it a little bit easier to center that stem and rounding out the straight letters we have. H that's it. We're done with those 3. Lesson 2 - Slanted Letters: the slanted letters over things start to get a little more interesting for V. First thing you want to do is mark out the center of the letter space and make a little line that's the same width as your letter stems. Then you'll just connect the dots from the corners and overlapped those lines. - A is basically an upside down V with a crossbar, but notice that the crossbar isn't up in the middle, like with E and F. If you drew that high, the letter look strange and be harder to read. I've placed the bottom of this crossbar 1.5 centimeters up from the baseline. X is a simple enough matter of connecting the outer top corner to appoint one block inside of the opposite lower corner. And if you notice this is when a little protractor like this one comes in really handy, I recommend you pick one up when you have the chance. It's by no means a necessity, but it's really convenient, and it makes measuring these kinds of things much easier for the end. You'll want to draw your stems first. Once that's done will connect the outer and inner points in the same way that you did with X, the only difference being that you'll create one diagonal stroke instead of two opposing ones Z can be a little fiddly. Don't draw the complete upper crossbar. Start. Just lay down that top line, then you're going to connect that over right corner to a point about 2/3 of a block in from the lower left corner. If that makes sense in the reference cheat, I've sketched out an alternate form frizzy that you can use if you prefer for the why you'll draw a center stem from the bottom. That's half the total height of the letter, and you'll draw on line connecting the upper right corner with the right point of that stem and the upper left corner with the left point of stem. You can also use a shorter or longer stem, which then changes the angle of your slanted lines. But these proportions here are the most balanced and readable. Que is the last of our slanted letters. You want to connect the upper right corner with a point that's one block above the lower left corner and the lower right corner with a point that's one block below the upper left. As with most letters, there are other, slightly different ways to do this, but this creates the most balanced, an aesthetically pleasing shape. 4. Lesson 3 - Rounded Letters: time for the Browns letters. First, let's go over drawing the basic curve. You'll want to mark the center of your letter and then mark a point on the sides. That's the same distance as half of your letter with. So if your letter is four centimeters wide, he'll mark a 40.2 centimeters below that top line. You can draw your curves using a compass, but if you don't have one, you can simply measure out that same distance two centimeters. In this case, from the center point of the curve, you'll rotate your ruler around this point, mark a few spots along the line and then connect the dots. It also helps if you turn your paper to a more comfortable angle. At least it does for me. But in the interest of making this class easier to watch, I'm going to keep my paper straight, so you'll have to excuse my messy curves. Once you've practiced this a few times with guidance, you should be able to just eyeball it, especially on smaller letters. So let's start with the O, marking out a few guidelines here that will hopefully make it a little easier to see how I draw these letters, the sides connecting the top and bottom curves will be completely straight. And when you draw your curve, make sure that the beginning and the end of it are completely aligned by the vertically or horizontally. Is that the line up evenly with connecting parts and create a smooth line for the inter curfew going to mark those same points either straight up or straight across from where they are on the outer curves, and then you're just going to connect them in the same way, but in miniature Now the sea is just an O with a piece cut out of one side, you'll mark the same guides with the one difference that you just won't close up the right side. And, of course, remember that you'll be drawing all these guidelines and sketching out your curves in pencil before going over them in ink. I'm just using pen for these to make them easier to see for the U, you'll draw straight stems down to the point where your curves will connect in this case two centimeters from the baseline and then connect them with your curved lines. - Jay is the same stories that you just minus one stem. - There are a couple of different ways to draw D, and you'll find a different version in the reference sheet here. I'm drawing straight lines one centimeter out from the stem at the top and bottom, and I've marked the vertical center on the right side, and I'm going to connect those points with a more elongated curve. - Last is the P, and I actually made a little mistake here. I should have drawn one centimeter horizontal lines at the top and on each side of vertical center, similar to what I did with the top and the bottom of the D. Instead, I forgot them, and I connected the curves to straight onto the stem. The shape isn't is pleasing, but mistakes happen. 5. Lesson 4 - Compound Letters: our last group of letters is what I call the compound letters thes have elements that are either combinations of several letter types or have multiple elements of a single letter type. So let's start with the G. In essence, this is a C with a tiny upside down. L stuck to its side. - The crossbar here is centered vertically and is half the width of the letter. Also, I have given a couple of alternate forms in the reference sheet, - Que is up next, and no surprise will start out by drawing an O. - Now , when we add, the little tail in the top of it will be centered inside the letter. I'm drawing mine two centimeters above baseline, but a little higher is also good for the B. We're going to start out the way we do with P. The only difference is that we're going to add those little horizontal lines to the bottom of the stem as well. Then you'll draw one curve connecting the uppermost line to the lower middle line and another one connecting the bottom most to the upper middle line. In this way, the two loops of the letter overlap neatly in the centre. Now, just finish it off with those inter curves and you're good to go. - Are is very similar to the B. We're going to draw the same top loop, but on the bottom, Instead of curving a second loop around in his full semi circle, we're going to curve only to the outer edge of the letter and then end it off with a short stem. - S is probably my favorite letter to draw. I know it gives a lot of people trouble, but I'm willing to bet you'll have a much easier time with it. After you see this trick first, we're gonna mark guides for half circles at the top and the bottom of the letter like we did for Oh, but then we're also going to mark the vertical center like we just did in the B and the are what you're basically going to be doing is connecting to 3/4 circles. Being the center of the letter AM is up next, and it's probably the simplest of all the compound letters. This letter is six centimeters wide instead of four, and you're gonna start with two stems on each side, then you want to mark the center of the letter at the baseline and going to connect the upper outer corners with that center point and you know what to do from there. W is just two overlapping These this letter should actually be seven centimeters wide. I made it six by mistake, going to divide the space in half and mark an overlap space in the centre and then divided in half again and draw two V's that connect in the middle. 6. Class Project: So now that you've learned everything there is to know about drawing block capitals time for your homework. This is your chance to show me what you've learned and my chance to find out if I've been a good teacher. I'd like to get to know you guys a little bit, So when I'd like you to do is letter the name of your hometown. This could be where you were born, where you live now, or even where you feel most at home in the world. You can keep it simple, just plain old letters. Or you can add some doodles or color or other embellishments, whatever you like, and to give you a little inspiration and help you get started. Here's a time lapse of mine. Oh oh, it's I hope you've enjoyed this class and you've learned some new skills. If there's anything you'd like to learn in an upcoming class, please let me know. I'd love to hear from you. And if you enjoyed this class, I'd really appreciate it if you'd recommend it to your friends. But I guess that's good bye for now. Happy lettering and I'll see you in the next class