Watercolor Lettering | Peggy Dean | Skillshare

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Watch this class and thousands more

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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.

      Tools & Materials


    • 3.

      Water Control


    • 4.

      Basic Lettering Rules


    • 5.

      Blending Color


    • 6.



    • 7.

      Tombow Water Blending


    • 8.

      Texture: Salt


    • 9.

      Texture: Brusho


    • 10.

      Texture: Splatter


    • 11.

      Project Time!


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About This Class


Take your brush lettering to the next level by incorporating watercolors! Not only will you open up a door full of unlimited colors, but you'll be introduced to varying degrees of transparency, color mixing/bleeding and effects, adding texture, and even some tricks with our favorite Tombow Dual Brush Pens!


Creating watercolor calligraphy is easier than you might think, and I'm thrilled to introduce you to multiple ways to incorporate water into your lettering.

For your reference, the tools used in this class can be found here:

Artist Loft 36 Color Palette
Confections Classics 12 Color Palette

Canson Watercolor Paper

Winsor & Newton 00 Round
Pentel Aquash Fine
Loew & Cornell 4 pc. Round

Tombow Dual Brush Pens
Brusho Watercolor Powder

Meet Your Teacher

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Peggy Dean

Top Teacher | The Pigeon Letters

Top Teacher


 Snag your free 50-page workbook right here!


Hey hey! I'm Peggy.

I'm native to the Pacific Northwest and I love all things creative. From a young age I was dipping everything I could into the arts. I've dabbled in quite an abundance of varieties, such as ballet, fire dancing, crafting, graphic design, traditional calligraphy, hand lettering, painting with acrylics and watercolors, illustrating, creative writing, jazz, you name it. If it's something involving being artistic, I've probably cycled through it a time or two (or 700). I'm thrilled to be sharing them with you!

Visit my Instagram for daily inspiration: @thepigeonletters, and head over to my blog for more goodies curated just for youuuu.

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1. Introduction: Hi guys, I'm Peggy. I'm a hand letterer and illustrator. In this class, we're going to be going over brushed lettering with water color. If you are already a letterer or you play with brush pens, or you're just a watercolor artist, this class is going to be an awesome branch into a different type of technique. We'll be going over some water control, brush control and simple techniques to create some ombre effects and mixing color together to create a really cool bleed between those colors. I look forward to seeing you guys in the class. 2. Tools & Materials: Started in watercolor lettering is so fine. You only need a couple of tools to get started, you will need watercolor. I have here the Artist Loft pods, and then I have the confections classic palette and it's just real simple. These guys come in individual pods and then you unwrap them and they have little pallets on each side. Then there's obviously tubes, liquid, even food coloring for watercolor lettering, so lot of options. This palette you can get at your local craft store for about six bucks. It's a great deal I would recommend going that route. You do want to make sure that you're using watercolor paper. It will ensure that your paper doesn't warp or tear and it won't get overworked. That's usually a cold press, 140 pound textured paper. Then for brushes, I would just recommend just a fine round brush. You can use the aquash where you can fill the inside with water and then squeeze the amount that you want out. There's a lot of control with water that way, or you can use a regular paintbrush, then round brush. This one is Winsor & Newton and it's a double zero so it's really nice and thin. This one is at two, it's going to create some thicker, broader strokes. I tend to stay with the smaller guys just because even with these, you can create some larger lettering. That's about it for tools. Obviously, you can branch off as much as you want into more sophisticated tools, but you don't need a lot to get started. I'd start here, just grab your watercolor paper. Grab those things, and let's get started. 3. Water Control: If you're already a brush letter, you'll be happy to hear that this is a very simple transition from brush pens into watercolor. If you haven't used watercolor before, this is very simple and I will give you a walk-through that makes plenty of sense. I say the wetter the better. You will notice as you start practicing, which I would recommend doing some basic strokes first, but as you start practicing, you'll see the difference, the variation, and transparency is in where you want to add color. The key thing to known is that anywhere that there's a lot of water, if you dip your brush into the color that you want and just set it into that wet area it will expand just right there. So don't fret if you don't have enough pigment in there. To get started, I always like to wet my watercolor palette and I just do that with a spray bottle or a spritzer. That way they're ready to go and then I want my brush with regular water, I'm just going to go over sum basic strokes with you. So I am going to dip it into one of these pods and then make a stroke down. So you can seen this is an exceptionally wet, and in that case, I would just go back and grab more color and set it into that wet area. So you can see that it's expanded only there and it's not bleeding outside of that. Then try, so wet your brush, after you wet it you can dab it, so it's not as wet. Ideally, this is what I want my letters to look like, I like when it fades from the pigment to the transparent, I think that it gives them more of a organic watercolor feel. But let's say, so this pod is completely dry, I'm just going to get my brush a little bit wet and you obviously need to get this wet enough to use it. But then if you come in, it is a lighter color so it's not the best example, but it's pigment's a little stronger. I would say to play with those, so that you really know what control you're going to get with how wet either your paint or your brush will be. So do some basic strokes like that and then in the next video we'll move into starting to create words. 4. Basic Lettering Rules: Lettering comes with its own set of rules, and using watercolor for lettering is no exception. The basics that you will need to know include your upstrokes and downstrokes. If you learn nothing else, that's the most important, I would say. Yes, lettering is more drawing letters versus handwriting, so it's not so much like you'd just do your normal handwriting. It's actually more structured. I do have another class that goes over the structure of letterforms, but for a brief overview in this class, I would pay attention to your upstrokes and downstrokes. Your upstrokes should be nice, hairline strokes, that they're thin. Then your downstroke would be more full belly down like so. For example, like this, and then up, down, and around. Notice that here is my upstroke nice and thin, downstroke is nice and bold. Thin upstroke, thick downstroke, and then that curve is where that transition happens, and thin upstroke again. Practice creating those thin upstrokes. Thin, thick, thin, thick, and thin. Then the other thing to know that will be helpful is when you do your connections with letters. It's not cursive. It's not going to demand that connection immediately. I would just keep your axis stroke at an angle, and then go back in with your connecting letter. It doesn't have to be right where you left off. I can start my D and just have it touch over there. Those are some real quick basic rules to help you in creating your letters. 5. Blending Color: If your blend need a lettering, I do recommend taking my intro classes to form your letters, just so that they're properly formed and look the way that you want them to look composition wise before you get started. My brush lettering class for alphabet basics is also really helpful. If you are familiar with those, then you're at a good place to start, and if it's not important to you and you just want to get used to the way that the paint is flowing through letters, that's totally fine too. It's just in your artistic preference. I am going to get my brush wet and as we go, we will see some areas to adjust as far as the transparency and water control goes. I'm just going to start with the word hello, it's very easy, it's one of my favorite words to practices because it can be pretty bouncy. Wet my brush, dip it into my paint, and then know that you are doing your thin upstroke and with paint brushes, your upstrokes, it's really easy to thicken these way more than you want to. Just be careful with those just because they tend to expand more than your brush pens and then a thicker stroke down. From here, you can see that toward the bottom, it's getting a lot lighter so chances are there's not a lot of paint left on my brush. I'm going to dip it again, go back into my color, bring it up, down and out. Then go back in, and then bring this up. Then go into my e, like that, dip again, go back in and begin my l. With these real thin brushes, it's easy to lose water in the same letter. Just keep dipping your brush to make sure that you are saturated with water. Lastly, like that. It's pretty simple. It's just a matter of getting used to how much transparency a certain amount of water will create and then the way that you want the blend to be. Obviously, if it's water right here, that would have bled up higher, things like that. Which will be really helpful. The next step, we're going to do the same work. We're just going to be using several colors. When you see that bleed, that's another area that you can focus on with the amount of water that you have on your brush. I'm going to start with an orange color, and come up real lightly, loop around and down, losing some water. I'm going to bring that back in, and then dip again, and this time, instead of picking up the same color with my brush, I'm going to change it to more of a red color. Then, before I just start, I'm going to set my brush inside the color that I just did so it creates a natural blend and then come up and create my stroke. Then, do make sure that the end here is wet still, because you're going to want that bleed to be here. My next color, I'm going to grab a teal, set that here, ends in with my e. Make sure it's wet at the end. Then going in with a different color, set it down. See how when it's nice and wet, comes all the way up and back. That bleed can look really pretty because it is that natural watercolor organic feel. After this, I'm going to go into another color. Then, if you set it down, it's not doing any blending. Clean your brush off, come back in with water, bring it up and then just start again. See how it shoots down. You may want to go back and collect some more pigment, but because I can still see it, I actually like the way that looks. I'm going to leave it, I'm just going to add some water. I'm going to come back and return to this original tone, but I'm going to use a darker yellow. That is how you will start blending colors together, which is so much fun. In the next video, I'll show you how to create ombre effect. 6. Ombré: Now that you know how to blend those colors together, here we're going to create more of an ombre effect. Wet your brush and select two colors. The first one that you'll want to use is going to be the lighter of the two. I'm going to use a yellow lettering the word sun. I'm going to do the entire thing with just one color. Then make sure that it's nice and wet. From here, I'm going to go in and pick up another color, the darker of the two that I've decided on so that just going to be an orange color. I'm going to set it in the area toward the bottom only. Just make sure that these are nice and wet. If they're not, go back and just add water. Then take your darker color and just set it toward the bottom. Then clean your brush off and come back in and just help it spread a little bit but you don't want to guide it too much, because you don't want it to come all the way up. It will end up bleeding exactly where it wants to. Once it dries, it will look really pretty. That's it, really simple. It's not quite dry but you get the picture. It creates a really cool ombre effect. 7. Tombow Water Blending: You may own or have heard of the Tombow dual brush pens. I'm going to show you a real quick technique that will create a fun watercolor blending effect with markers instead. The reason these brush pens will create that effect is because they are water-based. I'll show you. I'll just write my word and then go back and with the other color, just where I want it, which is going two be toward the bottom, I'm going to push that color, and it doesn't have to be perfect because where you're going to use our brush. Then we're going to get that wet. Just go over that color that we just added and spread it into the other color. It will create a natural looking blend. That's it. That's what that looks like, really pretty. 8. Texture: Salt: Two ways that I like to apply a texture effect. One of them is inside the lettering and one of them is on the outside. The first way I'm going to show you is on the inside of the letters, and they are two very different things. One of them is to create more of an oxidation, where it actually separates a little bit and leaves some empty spaces. I am just going to go in and make sure that this is nice and wet with plenty of pigment. Once that's done, you would just take a pinch of salt and sprinkle that over your letters and then let it dry, just like that. Once it's dry, you can see the granules of salt that are leftover. So what you'll want to do, is just brush those off, and then you have all of this texture. The area that it was not quite as wet, you can seen that it created sum oxidation where the paint was actually separated. So it's a little bit whiter, there's a little more transparency, but instead of being in the stroke, it's actually just set in certain areas. You see here, here, here, there's also some of that effect through here, and then right here, it's more concentrated so you can really see it. Then you can actually see the texture that was created. You can do a lot with salt, it's really fun. It's also a lot of fun to do in regular water-coloring, but that's how you would add texture with salt. 9. Texture: Brusho: The other way to create texture inside your letters with watercolor is by using a product called Brusho, and it's actually a powder version and it looks like this. Then the inside are these little granules. Once they hit water, they expand into really vibrant pigment. So you do want two be careful with this because if you get some off to the side, once that gets wet, you will see it everywhere. I am going to use my Aquash brush for this, and I want to make sure that my letters are puddles. They want to be completely saturated as way as I can get them. Then just go and you'll just very slightly grab really just a tiny, tiny bit like I'm not using hardly anything here and just sprinkle that over your letters that you just created. Then it will bleed to all of those wet areas and then you'll let that dry. Once it's dry, then you can flick off the excess. So that is what that looks like. It is so cool. If you can seen this natural variation that's happening with the bleed, it looks so cool. Since that has dried, this is what it looks like. So it creates a really cool blend. So some of it will be more of a solid color and then some of it will be more of like that, almost a tie-dye. But if you use your brush with water and you actually spread that through, instead of just letting it dry as is, it will create more of that solid line. But this is what I like about using that product is that it actually makes that texture in here. 10. Texture: Splatter: Another way to add texture would be to keep your lettering the same, or your piece. It doesn't matter if it's an illustration or lettering, and I will just speed through this real fast to show you the final result. When you're done with either your illustration or your word, you can use the same paintbrush, or I'm just going to use one that's a little bit bigger and I'm going to dip it in my water, and then pick up some color. It can be the same or it can be different. Then I'm just going to hold it over like this and then tap the ends. You can also hold the end hear and tap the front. The more paint and the wetter that your brush is, the larger these paint drops will be. That's it. So that's what that looks like. It can create a fund splatter effect with some texture. 11. Project Time!: Thank you guys so much. I hope you enjoyed the class. I can't wait to see what you guys come up with. Please do upload your projects and your progress. It's always helpful for everybody else to see as well, because then they can see the steps that you took, and we can all learn off of each other. I'm actually really excited to see what you decided to create. Thank you again so much.