Creative Hand Lettering: Design Exercises with Image and Letters | Erik Marinovich | Skillshare

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Creative Hand Lettering: Design Exercises with Image and Letters

teacher avatar Erik Marinovich, Co-founder of Friends of Type

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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.

      Project Overview


    • 3.

      Mind Mapping Exercise


    • 4.

      Taking Photos


    • 5.

      Editing Image 1


    • 6.

      Editing Image 2 + 3


    • 7.



    • 8.

      Lettering Exercise


    • 9.

      Finalizing Album 1


    • 10.

      Finalizing Album 2 + 3


    • 11.



    • 12.

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About This Class

Looking to push your hand lettering to new heights? Join acclaimed letterer and designer Erik Marinovich for a fun, immersive project that will jumpstart your creativity today!

Inspired by one of his favorite personal projects, Erik shares his step-by-step process for combining hand lettering and iPhone photos to create album artwork. From an outdoor photo excursion to experimenting with every tool you own to create unique lettering, you’ll immerse yourself in music to create one-of-a-kind artwork that’s totally your own. You’ll learn how to:

  • Use mind mapping to push your creativity
  • Take unexpected photos in your neighborhood
  • Create expressive lettering with tools you already own
  • Edit your images to create a final piece

All are invited to join this class and flex their creativity. Whether you’re a seasoned letterer or are new to hand-lettering, this class will push you to see creative opportunity all around you, allowing you to break out of the mold and start producing work unlike anything you’ve created before.  

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Erik Marinovich

Co-founder of Friends of Type


Erik Marinovich is a San Francisco based lettering artist and designer, and is a co-founder of Friends of Type. Since 2009 he has drawn letters, logos and type for nice folks like: Nike, Target, Google, Hilton, Facebook, Sonos, Sharpie, The Criterion Collection, Air Canada, Gap, Ford Motor Company. In 2012 he co-founded Title Case, a creative work space that conducts workshops and lectures. Between client work, teaching and side-projects, you’ll find him on the road promoting Keep Fresh Stay Rad and Let’s Go Letter Hunting, two new releases from Friends of Type published by Princeton Architectural Press.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: The amazing thing about lettering is just how many options exist. There's no right or wrong way to do something as long as you were doing it and it's legible. There's just never a dull moment. Hi, I'm Eric Marinovich. I'm a Lettering Artist based in San Francisco, California. Any time I'm in a creative rut or have a little bit of space between client projects, I always end up going back to the music that I listen to to inspire me to make a new body of work. For this assignment, we'll be making album artwork. We will be focusing on making image, and also making expressive lettering and how that is inspired by the music that you are listening to. For the first lesson, we will be picking a song or any particular album you're listening to. Then, we'll follow with the mind mapping exercise to figure out the mood, the color, the tone, or the texture that the album is making you feel. Then we'll go outside to look for images that correlate with the music that we're listening to. From there, we're going to come back and run through a 15-minute exercise in which we're going to look at doing expressive lettering, and then compositing them with images that we took outside to making a final composition. This project is an awesome opportunity to create work that you've always wanted to create, that you've never made time for, and produce work that speaks more volumes to the actual person you are and potentially the music that you are into. Ultimately, what you might find is that this personal project ends up getting you new client worth. Thank you so much for joining me. I cannot wait to see what you made. Let's get started. 2. Project Overview: What's really great about either listening to a song or an album is that, there's always these nuggets within it. What's great about music is the variety that exists. There is something out there for everybody, and as of late, I listened to a lot of hip hop and R and B. I just find that there's something within these songs that spark some interest, and that interest then develops into, "Oh, my God, I want to make a piece of artwork for what I'm hearing" and I love the challenge of trying to translate something you hear and letting it exist into how do you visually express either a melody or a lyric that you're hearing. A lot of the times, it challenges you in ways that you don't get challenged per se with the client work where they're just asking you, "Here's a lettering style. Do that with these words that the client sets for you to make," while this, the world is your oyster. So, by challenging yourself, if you don't use color, this is a great opportunity to do that. If you work with certain lettering styles, this is another great opportunity to challenge yourself to try something that's slightly out of your comfort zone. Now, I'm going to take a minute to show you a little bit of a look behind the curtain on how I developed some of these album of artwork. Each year, two friends, Eric Mortensen and Richard Prendes, put on this yearly series in which they invite a bunch of designers to take a moment out of their busy schedules to create album artwork for their top 10 favorite albums of the year. I'm going to walk you through a couple of these. This was one in particular which was Kamaiyah and the album was called A Good Night in the Ghetto. What I found that this particular album at least, what it spoke to me is just trying to find the silver lining in a bad day or a bad year. The idea that came across to me was a floral arrangement. But instead of being in a vase, I thought that there could be the subtlety of that vase as either a broken bottle. What I don't recommend is breaking glass in your studio. It can be quite dangerous. All of these images were just shot with my iPhone, and I had bought some French paper and I used that as a back color. Then this is a look at how I handled the file. So, since I'm using my iPhone, I had to utilize some effects and Photoshop to either make the image more sharp or mess with the hue and saturation to evoke the color palette that I was looking for, for this particular cover. So again, just doing clipping mass, either using hue and saturation, skewing with the curves, then again ultimately laying on top of it, this pink color on top. Eventually, what we got it to is a place matched with the lettering style, that in my head translated what I was hearing with that particular album. As far as the color palette goes, Eric and Richard always suggests with each year for their 10 by 16 series, a limited palette. So, for this particular year, it was three to five colors. What I found was really helpful is, by having a limited color palette to work with, that if you're using image, you can make it much more stark and much more impactful by limiting it in a way that the image becomes the hero. Another album that really got me inspired to make artwork for was when Frank Ocean released his last album Blonde. I went through each track, and then focused on one particular set of lyrics that either there was something within it that was relatable, or was strong enough that I could conjure up some image that I felt married the idea or the intent of what he was trying to say. So, for this particular lyric from his song Pink and White, though lyrics that I pulled out was won't let you down when it's all ruined. The idea that came to my head was the mushroom of an atomic bomb, and sitting there to realize it's beautiful in its appearance, but of course, it's deathly and it's destruction. So, I immediately went to a place where I had to purchase a bunch of inks. You can utilize any paint that you have around. The ones that I had, I started mixing. I put them on a paper plate and literally would move the plate around and almost get this kind of river effect. I wanted to use vibrant colors, that almost had this toxic air feel to it. But then, have a juxtaposition where it was still captivating and its beauty. So, this is just again a photograph that I took of that experiment in which I used these inks on a paper plate to mix around. Then of course, made a composition of making almost this like symbolic mushroom shape. Then again being subtle on how I utilized the lettering, and it was again much more of something that was calligraphic that felt like it was him writing the lyrics on a pad. Under first impression, look at the color, and maybe it's perfect as is. But, I always think it's very helpful to utilize the software that all of us creatives do day in and day out to really tweak to see if either there is a warmness that the original image wasn't capturing that you can utilize, say, by just putting a saturation effect in Photoshop to get that color more skewed towards that warmer place. Or if it's something that you want slightly more cold, again utilizing effects and filters that, say a program like software that Photoshop has to push the initial image towards that direction. That way you don't have to invest in all this lighting and worry about spending hours of post-production. You can use some simple tips that I'll go over in this lesson to help you push an image and get it to the place that you see it in your head. What's really great about utilizing a background image is that, you can repurpose it. So, for this one that I use for the Frank Ocean piece, I also ended up using for the 10 by 16 project. So again, it was the same background, but what I utilize in Photoshop is basically messing with the hue and saturation to get it to the palette that I needed it to be. So, this one was almost like a dual tone. Sometimes, deciding on why the lettering would become the hero versus the image can be as simple as it's a short word and it's iconic enough, that by putting it first and foremost on the cover, that in my opinion might have the most impact. So, if the image isn't carrying the visual weight, sometimes allowing the lettering to do all the heavy lifting is also important. So, being mindful of what those situations are, and for this particular one, with a word like Stoney, I just felt like it's short and the word is also relevant to the times we live in, especially San Francisco. That was important, that it had the most predominance on this cover. If you're like me, I can noodle till kingdom come. But by giving yourself a time constraint, you were literally working off of what you're feeling in your gut and in you're responding to the music that you're hearing to generate something that has a little bit more authenticity to the music rather than something that's overproduced, and doesn't necessarily feel like it was spontaneous in its nature to begin with. For this project, you don't need an expensive camera, your phone in your pocket is expensive enough. All of the work that I just showed you was all shot on the iPhone. I want you to utilize the material, that stack of paper that you've been wanting to use forever, but you've never had something to use it with. This is the project where I want you to utilize that material that's been laying around. The more DIY we can make this, the results that you'll yield from just utilizing the things at your disposal will generate something that's more genuine in appearance. We won't be able to do much with this project if we don't have a song or an album, so don't mull over this. I really want you to just focus on either picking that song that you're listening to right now or that album that you just listened to in your car right to work. Don't mull over this, just pick a song that's on heavy repeat, and let's move forward. 3. Mind Mapping Exercise: Now that you've picked your song, now is an important process of kind of mind mapping and figuring out what the look and feel and the tone of what you're hearing musically and how that's going to translate into kind of a visual expression. The band that I've picked is Metavari which is by a friend of mine Nate Utesch. What I'm going to do is put on my headphones and really just kind of immerse myself in the music and write a series of notes to myself of what I'm hearing. Those notes can relate to the sort of images, that it might relate to, even potentially like lettering styles. Is it something that's going to be more calligraphic. Is it something that's going to be actually a typeface. Maybe there's a typeface off the top of my head that I'm thinking. So I'm literally going to kind of like write out a list that's being generated while listening to the music. So, I'm going to get to it now and I recommend you do the same. Put on headphones or just turn on your speakers really loud and join me as we kind of take on the process of mind mapping about what we're listening to. So for this, as you've immersed yourself in the song or the album that you're listening to, as far as mind mapping goes, this really helps me figure out the type of images I'm going to look out for, the type of color I want to evoke and then also the style lettering that I want to all put together to make this composition. But in order to get those gears running, I have to start with a stream of consciousness before I go into kind of the three pillars which would be the image, the color and then the lettering. So that stream of consciousness, what I wrote down as I'm listening to the Metavari's Symmetri album was late night, celestial, rising moon, the first sign of morning light, introspective, cloud gazing, reflective, meditative, that strong lens flare. What I found is that those started to generate kind of the image of where I would want to be when listening to this. So, I wrote these all of these three images of where I would be while listening to this all at the same time. So the first one was rocking my daughter to sleep. The second was remembering someone that was close to me, that's no longer here. Finally, that view after a really long hike. Once I've established those, then I kind of, I move into the color camp. Then I'll look out and cross reference again that image of where I see myself while listening to this. So, for instance, rocking my daughter to sleep. I thought about being immersed in kind of her room and the encompassing of all the darkness around except for that small little glow which is the night light in the corner, which is enough light to kind of make out the subtle detail of what the room looks like. For remembering someone close that's no longer here. I really thought about the character of that person. So, I think about these vibrant colors that kind of reflect that friend who was really jovial, and finally, that view after a long hike. What type of color do I think about. Is that really intense bright glow of that hot sun hitting your face, while you're resting there and enjoying the view. Once all those are established, then I move on to lettering and I've kind of allowed myself to kind of reflect on the image camp and then the lettering camp. So for lettering again, I'll cross reference kind of what the image was and what the color was. So for the first one, rocking my daughter's sleep. I really think about something that's a lettering style that's calm and relaxed. So immediately I'm drawn to this kind of maybe it's a script or maybe it's this free flowing kind of handwriting style that's almost more calligraphic in nature for remembering a friend that's no longer here. I thought about again the character of the person and what that would feel like. As far as letterforms and I thought about something maybe that's bold and narrow condensed. That's just kind of louder than life. Finally, the view of a hike and considering color which was the bright glow. How would that translate into lettering and I really think about something that's really extended. That's all set in all caps and that's really tracked out letter spacing to kind of express that visual of the expansiveness of a view. This is what I found out works for me and I don't expect everyone to do it this way. So, if you need to jump around and just literally focus on the style lettering that this music makes you feel like by all means do that, because sometimes as you map these out and maybe take a minute to walk away and then come back to it, you actually see these connections. But allowing yourself to actually list everything and then even giving yourself a break to come back to it, that you will start seeing these points of connection, either like the sense of image that it gives you. There's a color palette that you actually wrote down that you can attach to. Then, one of the lettering styles that you wrote down in your stream of conscience, you also realize like oh, these three are actually- these are all significant to each other and maybe I can pull these all into actually considering to making a considered composition. For this, I would really love if you can find at least three if not five. I think that just helps you take a little bit time out of your day to actually sit and think through what you're actually listening to. By listening to the music and attaching images to what the music's making you feel, will ultimately make this project feel more genuine. Some of you might be asking well, I mind map, but how does this translate to actually making some work that I might be able to play with? So for this next segment, we are actually going to use this and what we wrote as a foundation. It will either help some of you who are taking the class to influence you to find the certain images that you listed out, or for those, it's just to kind of get your mind working in a way, and once you step outside to look for images that you wouldn't necessarily look out for. I think we have a tendency to kind of look at everything just as this flat, flat panel in what's in front of us. This is the moment and this is the project in which I want you to turn that lens or that filter you have and look all around you. Be aware of all of your surroundings. Again, using this mind map to help influence that mood of imagery that you're looking for. 4. Taking Photos: Now, are you guys ready? Next step we need to do is actually go outside and take images. So, get your camera or your iPhone camera and we're going to go outside and take photographs. But before we go outside, I want to give you one quick recommendation. It's maybe something some of you learned in art school and have forgotten, and that is making an analog viewfinder. I am a fan of giving things a second life. So, a lot of you if you use tracing pads, I do. While you've used them up, I think it's really great to maybe utilize the material in it. So, I'm just going to make a viewfinder out of this chipboard on the back of my tracing paper. Really quick, this is as simple as just taking something like a postcard or whatever you have. It can be a square, it can be rectilinear. It really doesn't matter. It's just the act of making it. Don't worry, none of this is precious. If you lose it, that's fine too. What's really good about using a analog viewfinder is, it separates yourself from the phone where I find I run into the problem where as I'm looking out my screen, I might check my Twitter, I might check my Instagram. By detaching yourself, it really lets you be present when you're looking for a photograph, and especially cropping it. Once you find that image that you're looking for, that you've use your viewfinder defined, at that point is when I bring out my phone, set the viewfinder away and just relatively find the same place that you had held your viewfinder, and then that's when I take my image. I also utilize that time to maybe look around the same environment where I had the viewfinder but with my phone, and then that's when I'll start documenting images. I'm not a professional photographer, but I want you to keep in mind that I don't want you to put stress on yourself of like, it needs to be extra crisp, it needs to be an extra sharp image. What I'm looking for is you capturing something in a moment that stopped you to make you actually take that photograph. Either I was looking through your analog viewfinder or it was a moment in the song that stopped you at your feet, or it's just something that caught the corner of your eye that made you stop and document it. If it's blurry, that's great. We can work with those type of images and translate them through our software to get them to a place that you'll be happy with. We all have a tendency if documenting a house where we go across the street and we're getting the whole house in the frame. What I want you to be vigilant is finding that detail on the house that attracted you to photograph it in the first place and actually get close enough to where we're actually getting an abstract image of that detail. This is one of my favorite parts of the project. So, grab your gear, your headphones, your music, your camera, your smartphone, and let's head outside. For this, it can take 20 minutes. It doesn't need to be that long. Really, it could just be a short walk around the block. But in 20 minutes, just really utilize this viewfinder to inspect areas that again you would tend to overlook. What's really important is make sure whatever music you're listening to, put that song on while you're going through and either listen to those lyrics or just listen to the melody. Sometimes, the image can be reactionary. So, you can either see something in the moment that you're hearing a particular, again, a melody or beat that just captures that moment. Another thing could be either looking for some sort of movement that's in the cadence of the song. Another can just be something that's abstract that somehow subjectively speaks to you in what you're hearing in the song. So, again, just be present, let yourself get lost in the music. Use the viewfinder again to detach yourself from your phone when you're inspecting the environment in ways that you don't normally, and just allow yourself to find those abstract beautiful moments that exist in your neighborhood and anywhere else. 5. Editing Image 1: Now that we're back in the studio, I've transferred the images from my smartphone to my computer and have brought them into Photoshop. So I'm going to walk you through the three selects that I did. The first one here was literally just a close-in crop of a crack in what was a step, I think, for someone's entrance to their house. What I loved about it is that in my mind mapping exercise there was this mood that reminded me of after a long hike, and what I thought about this one is literally like it's a bird's eye view of terrain that you're getting. You're seeing all the different colors that are happening when you're that high up. On the second one, again, back to the mind mapping exercises is that the music just really reminded me of a friend who I dearly miss, and the image that I found was just literally that light that's breaking through a bunch of the leaves. What I really like about this one too, is that it's not focused, it's blurry, but utilizing the fact that the image is blurry to kind of even abstract it one step even further. Then finally, this is the reactionary one where I would just notice like how strong of a shadow it was at that time of day and just love that moment of, it could even be the tension between what is real life and what's going on in the background. Sometimes what's going on in your mind and how those kind of moments intersect in life. Now that we've selected our images, it's really helpful to get back into the mode of listening to the song. So, I'm going to go ahead and just put on my headphones and what's really great, too, is as you're editing it, you can either start the whole album and listen through it. What I have a tendency of doing is kind of jumping from track to track. That just works for me. So, I try to maybe attach a certain mood while I'm editing to that certain song that I'm working on. Another thing to do, too, is pace your editing to maybe one or two songs which is really good to help you expedite the process of actually making this composition. So, those are just kind of helpful tips as you go along. So, you're not working on this for three hours because it's really easy to get lost in this process and totally forget about time. Awesome. So, now we've gotten all of our pieces to a great place, I'm going to walk you through layer by layer and walk you through all the different techniques and processes that I use. So, this is at a good start. Really quick steps that I like that are really easy to do to kind of get you one step further or push this image a little bit more is, step one, for me, is changing the color mode into greyscale. That allows you to see it as more of a flat canvas rather than as a color image, which is fine to use if that's what you prefer. It gives you a little bit more playing field and allows you to look at it with a more abstract eye, and sometimes will help influence, maybe, how you're going to add color to the piece or are there parts of it that you're actually going to take out completely or are there parts that actually need to be finessed? Another thing that I love to do is play with levels. That even takes it one more step to abstraction where we're losing some of the actual information and it's becoming much more high contrast. We're getting closer to the spectrum of stark whites and really pure blacks. One thing that I notice, and a lot of the times I will allow myself to just have a moment with the image and just kind of play out what I think might work well. I'm going to play off the fact that we do have this crack that's happening within the actual image, and I love that there's these two forms that are meeting almost like two tectonic plates, and there is, again, some friction that's happening here, and we have this really dark black that's happening here to separate those two fields. So, I thought it would be interesting if what if we just separated these two elements with two different color palettes? So, on the first approaches, I'm just going to add this almost peach orange and what I'll do here, too, is I'll just quickly just crop these out with my Lasso tool and I'm just going to do a color fill. There are certain key commands that will just help expedite the process. So, a key command that I like to do for color fill is just command Delete. That is just drops of color in place if you've highlighted it with your magic wand. Then also I'm going to now color in this bottom part and it's the same method. I'm just going to crudely, with the Lasso tool, cut this out and then pick a complementary color that I feel will either make it recessive to the background and let this lighter peachy color that I've got now that I've altered and bring it to the forefront. A lot of the times what I'll do is just process of elimination. I'll literally go through and I'll look at what does this look like as a color burn? What does it look like as a linear burn? And so on and so on and allowing yourself to just go through all these different modes. It's a really great way to, again, altering the photo in a way that makes it more abstract if that's the thing that you want or even more iconic than just say, some image that you took on your iPhone. Album artwork is usually known as a square. So I like being able to have more information to play with before actually going in and cropping it to its final size. So, at this point I'll make a new layer in which I make a square. This is really nice because this lets me play with examining what part of this image to use. If we hadn't done this before we would be much more restricted to this one area and by letting yourself do this, there's a little bit more wiggle room to find something more unique in the image. One thing that I noticed that could be interesting is, the Metavari album is symmetry. So, there's this play on this right where we have this even break that's cutting the half of the composition. What if we took that one step further and actually play with the image slightly more where we select all of the layers that are working and command to use the shortcut key for transform, and we just look at what does this look like? In my opinion, that's slightly more dynamic of an image rather than something that's maybe more predictable and it's at a good place, and I'm going to move on to the next image. 6. Editing Image 2 + 3: This is the one where, in the mind map exercise, it talks about remembering a good friend who is the life of a party. I decided to kind of capture an image of just light beaming through the leaves of a tree. Again, similar to what we did on the last one is in color mode, switching it out to grayscale and again, that lets you see it kind of more of a flat image than it was, say, with having more color to decipher. Again, next step would be levels. The key command for that is command L and it's just a really, again, helpful way to up the contrast. Another technique that I'd like to do that's really quick is now shifting the color mode from grayscale to duotone. In that exploratory, I look at color and sometimes all reference the original image. So, if this was capturing light through the leaves of a tree, maybe staying true to that and picking a color that refers back to nature. In this image, the part that I wanted to showcase was that bright light coming through the leaves of the tree. In order to do that now that we're working with a monotone green palette is that on a new layer and quickly just with a Lasso tool and kind of mimicking that aura of the light that you would see through the tree, I select a color that's closely related to light. Again, I'm going to toggle through these modes that we have in Photoshop just to see what one is going to work best. Another thing that I realized is that with a lasso tool and then doing the fill, there's these really hard edges that are happening, which is totally fine and that is as acceptable as anything, but I wanted there to be a little bit more softness to it like the softness of the light that was coming through. One technique that I'll use is we'll put this back to normal, is really the Gaussian blur. For this, I'll set it a little bit higher so I'll get much more softness on that. Now that we've done the Gaussian blur, again, it's blocking the original light coming through the tree, so that's quite an easy fix. Again, it's playing with the modes that we have at our disposal in Photoshop. I know that overlay is going to work really well with this one but again, it still doesn't have the depth of light that I know that was there in the original image. I'll go through the same technique and actually do three additional layers and each time that I'm adding a new layer to represent this glow, I'm going to do a slightly small version of that circle, again, go through and make it a Gaussian blur and also, switch the color where I'm ultimately ending to what would be more of a pure yellow. Then each time going through doing the overlay and then again doing one final one. We get something that in my mind was more close to that image I was taking originally. One thing I notice is that there is a little bit of flatness that's happening in the monotone green and what I find that's really really helpful is just adding in a gradient to add some additional depth to the image. That's as quick as starting a new layer in your gradient palette. The shortcut key is G. You can go up here, set the color that you want and what's great, too, is that you can come over here to this end and you can set the opacity here on the top one to zero. Meaning, you're just going to get ahead of the green and nothing else. We'll leave this. What I've done is actually made a new layer and just laid that out. This is pretty nice, too, because there's a softness to it but I always like to investigate and look at the different modes to see how the effects are going to turn out. There is something really nice about this, so I'm going to keep it here and again, we'll have a little bit more depth from this green that we started originally with the monotone. But now that we've had this gradient layer, we're getting much more of a better saturation of that green and something that almost feels like that light is hitting you through the tree and really illuminating the leaves inside of it. On that last step, we're going to do is, again, similar to the last one is make a new layer in which we're making a square box to what the final size will be and playing around with what part of this image do we really want to crop in. This is kind of nice. For our last image, this was the reactionary one where I was just being present in my environment and really letting the song guide me in what I was looking for and the immediate reaction I had was, at that time of day, how strong the shadow was on the concrete. I thought it would be a useful exercise to show you, it's like what if we have something that's more figurative. I decided to use my hand and contrast that with the image of the same hand but as a shadow. I just like the duality and how those two play with each other that I thought it would be significant enough and that I knew I can get this to a place in the final composition where it would be an image with more impact. Similar to the last two, I'll go through the color mode of changing it to grayscale, but I did notice that there is quite a bit of additional information that was in the background of this image and this is a perfect process to show you how I would get rid of some of that additional information that I don't want in the final composition. It's a really quick method is that with the healing brush it's shortcut key J, I go in and I see that there's some leaves here on the ground and knowing that they potentially could be in the final background of the cover artwork, I'm just going to quickly go in and erase these out. Another technique that I like to use is sharpen. If you go to filter and go sharpen more, that sometimes take images that are slightly blurry and will give them that contrast that you originally wanted but didn't get with the camera that you were using. I know that I want to separate my actual hand from the shadow, so I'm going to crudely just use the lasso tool to crop it out and make a silhouette of it. Sometimes it's really easy to get stuck on color. Sometimes, I like to just refer to magazines. Fashion magazines are a great source of inspiration for color. These are ones that I just have laying around. This is a kids' magazine La petite and in it I found this image of this girl. Again, there is a tone in this color that I thought would be appropriate to color the hand with in this image. I'm just going to roughly guess what this color is and select it and then actually fill it in. One thing that I also love from the image is that there's this little bit of dark light happening in the background image. So, I'm just going to look at exploring what that might look like in my image. So, I'll select the same color that I use for my hand and we'll make this into soft light and then dropping that gradient in. Now, that we've gone in it to a place that I like, I'm going to add in that last layer where I'm throwing the cropped viewfinder of what the actual final artwork might look like. Again, playing around with ultimately where I want this to look like. I think this is, I think that's a pretty good place. There you have it. We now have three distinct images to use to take into the lettering part of the assignment. 7. Materials: Now I want to show you the materials that I will be using for the expressive lettering part of this assignment. So, these are things that I've developed, and literally it's like leftover things that I had in my house. This is just a spray bottle that I was probably using to spray my plants, that I actually filled up with India ink. Another, I'm a big fan of just going to your art store and buying a bottle of India ink. What's great about this is pouring this onto a plate and using a paper towel as a brush, literally dipping and creating letterforms like that. Even just going again back to the answer and looking at buying clay, what I really love is the tangible aspect of clay and the fact that you can morph and form shapes with your hand. Another item that I love using and I teach in a lot of my workshops are these foam brushes that I think cost 25 cents to seventy five cents. What's really great about these brushes is that you have a broad nib, but then you can also utilize and get some fine lines using the side of the brush. The big boy over here is just incredible for making forms that you want to have to look more bold or have even more contrast. So, again, you have this really wide broadening area and then you can use the fine line here on the edge. I'm a big advocate of even hacking pens, meaning messing with them so that you can create almost a new pen to use. So, this is a parallel pen by pilot, and this is their largest broad nib. But what's really great is that if you go to a sander, you can basically curve and knock off that hard edge of the square from the other one. Now, I've made a ruling pen and I'll demonstrate what that looks like. I'm also a huge advocate of raiding a lot of the pens and markers that your kids might have at home. These crayola markers are amazing, and I highly recommend using these. They are really, really inexpensive, and can yield some really cool results. I really love using chalk. It doesn't mean that you need to have a chalkboard to draw this on and then photograph, you can do something as simple as a leftover chipboard you have from the back of your tracing pad, or anything that you can mark on that would actually give it contrast. One of my favorite tools to use is a white out pen. If you're working on a lettering piece to just quickly subtract areas that you might have messed up that you want to clean up, or you can just actually use it as a tool to make a final piece of lettering with. If you want to look at doing brush script for this assignment, what I really recommend is the tombo pen. What's really great is that it has a felt tip brush nib. This is just really great, and If you like, it's really common in the practice of the lettering industry to use. You'll see a lot of really talented people just making really amazing work with this pen in particular. I recommend just buying 25 of these at a time, because as you use them, you wear through them pretty quick. Also a nice aspect of it is that if you want to do some fine line detail, there is this relatively fine felt tip on it as well to utilize. This is often overlooked, but can also make some really great line work with lettering as well. 8. Lettering Exercise: For the next 15 minutes, we're going to run through an exercise in that we're going to create as many options as we can. Set aside the tools that you'll be using and what I recommend is using one tool for a minute and then switching to another. Another thing that I want you to keep in mind is I want your floor or your desktops to be covered in paper with lots of options by the time these 15 minutes are up. Another thing to keep in mind is that I don't want you to use the reference of the image that we created in Photoshop and with our phones, I want this to be a process in which that you're getting immersed in the music again by putting your headphones in and literally letting the music guide your hand to make expressive letterforms. Let's get into this. So I'm going to put my headphones on, cue up my music, and get started. What I love about a 15 minute exercise where you're giving yourself unconventional tools to draw letterforms from is that you're yielding results that you wouldn't normally come to if you were using the traditional brush and acrylic paint, then I want to go over a couple examples that I came across in that kind of freestyle 50 minute exercise one of which was here I realized using the Indian ink and spreading it on this marker paper I'm using, and then while it's still wet, using my white out pen, what I found is that there's almost kind of this reaction that happened between the two inks and gave itself almost this kind of like smokey edges really almost blurring into each other. There are times where we are limited to the size paper that we're using. Not all of us can have space to have an 11 by 14 sheet of paper. So in those moments where this is a 9 by 12, you can actually break up the letterforms and this is a perfect example of what I did. So what's great is like as you're going you're not stopping yourself, you're at least letting yourself finish the entire word that you're trying to create lettering for. And what you can do from here is then and post bring it back into photoshop and then edit it in a way that the word would read in its entirety not broken up like you have it on the sheet. Another thing that I'm a huge advocate of is drawing large. So if this is your size of your paper, sometimes maybe just drawing an individual letter at a time is advantageous to actually create even more unique letterforms than it would be if you were actually drawing each word next to each other as you're lettering them out. So here is just kind of a series of large letters that I drew out for the album title which is symmetry and as you can see, there's a consistency between all of them which is nice but then each one has its own personality but they all feel like they're related. So this one I was using my little spray bottle. I don't necessarily if the letterforms came out as clear as I wanted them to, but there are these moments that there were some unique things happening and if I don't use it for this project, this might be something that I use just down the road that I'm going to keep in mind that I can use for a future project. Here's a look at that modified parallel pen that we use that we shaved off the corner to make it into a ruling pen. It's really expressive in that you can get these moments where the ink is splattering out of the pen and that's something that's really unique to the ruling pen itself. Now that we've finished the 15 minute exercise, I want you to set all of this work aside. We're going to get back to it. One thing that I've developed in my process is sometimes it's really helpful to kind of switch gears but allowing yourself to set the work that you just did in this exercise aside, that means when you come back to it, you'll have a fresh set of eyes and be able to look at it with a better sense of what might work and what might not work. I brought back my iPad Pro and I'm using procreate. And what I want for the next 10 to 15 minutes is put your headphones in, get back into that groove, but really spend time just crafting one particular look. In our last 15 minute exercise. We've developed a lot of options and when we get back to that we'll select few to play with on the other images but for this one, let's utilize the format that we have and the sheets of tracing paper to kind of to develop one look in one composition for this image. Now I just want to review the steps that I took in how the image influence the shape and the letterforms that I worked with on top of the image. With that first sheet that you have which you're just laying out the skeleton and seeing how the letterforms fit within that determine areas that you're laying out the artist name and album title, then comes in the second sheet where you can use one of the tools from the last exercise, and this is just, you don't have to be so rigid where you were literally following the sheet underneath it and those letterforms, this is the time where you can improve on some of those letterforms and shapes. So in this example, if we look at symmetry is I roughly just kind of laid out where each letter would be laid out in the actual composition, but when I went with the ruling pen, I decided on the fly that maybe I should drop down the Y, additionally maybe I should move over and add a little bit more character to the end and maybe make them so they're a little bit more legible rather than maybe that n in the first approach I did as the skeleton became too wide, this way also I'm allowing a little bit more space for this other n to live. Another rough example that I did is just literally opening the cap from this paint and drawing it directly on top. These are things where it might look awkward in this, how it's living now but what's great is like once we get it into Photoshop we can really start forming and fix letter spacing and if a letter form was too wide, all that can be shaped and molded to get it to a place that A, it's really legible, and B, we're happy with how the letterforms are looking, and C, that we have a really nice composition where the image and letterforms complement each other. We've walked through the exercise and we use three unique tools to kind of give us three unique options. For this particular exercise, I'm just going to move forward and I'm selecting this approach with the ruling pen tool that I use. The fact that we're using a thin weight for the letterforms allows the actual image to still have some breathing room and that you can actually possibly still make out what it was. What I found in these other examples is that they almost got too distracting is that they almost started taking away from what could be a nice symbiotic relationship between the image and the actual letterforms. So we're going to now wrap this up, put this aside and we're going to get back to that 15 minute exercise. We're going to put those up on the wall and do a quick critique where I'm going to show you how you can take 20 options and whittle them down to maybe like four or five that we then could scan in and then put in Photoshop and then apply to the actual album covers themselves. As I go through, there's quite a variety up here. I'm just going to go through the process of elimination on a kind of weeding out the ones I'm not going to use. As much as I like this style, I think it's something that might work for a future project but not for this one. I think there's so much character and personality in these letterforms especially with those paint splotches that are happening within the lines that create the letterforms themselves that they might draw too much attention to themselves and ultimately distract from the play that happens with an image and with the letterforms. So we're going to nix those. One idea I had for the first album artwork in which we photographed this cracked concrete, there's something about these forms in here that have that sort of grittiness that I found is actually also in the image. So in my mind that these might be actually a nice pairing, but again ultimately, I'm not going to necessarily know that until I start applying it on the image in Photoshop to know if those are going to work, but right now I think that this might be a potential solution for that image. We have a couple of scripts. So how I would determine which script that I would move forward with is ultimately there's something about these forms especially how these pieces actually finish off. I think I would scan this, bring it into Photoshop and actually reconnect everything so it read as one solid word rather being letterforms that are disconnected. And I'm thinking that this might look really good, even scaled down on the image that I have of my hand touching the shadow. So I'm just going to star these. Another one that I really like is there's some great variety that's happening here that I use with my ruling pen. I might just scan in this whole sheet and actually play with all the elements here to see what I can get. Again I think this option might be good for the image of the cracked concrete that I took. So again I'm going to star that. There's something really awesome about these bold letterforms that I think it's almost kind of like I could see them being almost a billboard effect on the actual album artwork if they're all tiled, so I'm just going to highlight this one and keep in mind that I'm going to work with all of these. And let's not forget the options that we used with the wideout pen. There's something really interesting about these forms especially the fact that they all connect. And there's a relationship between the band name Metavari and then also the album name Symmetri, there's just a similar style as we were using that wideout pen to dictate kind of how the letterforms are going to be drawn. So I'm going to move forward with that. So let's step back and review. We have one, two, three, four, five options. This one is actually just the album, the the name of the album so I think we can mix and match. In my mind right now, I feel like these two would be a nice pairing. So now we're going to move forward is we're going to take our selects off of the wall, I'm going to scan them and then put them into Photoshop. 9. Finalizing Album 1: So, I've picked the piece of lettering that I want to apply to our first image, so this is the first select, and here's just a couple of quick tricks that I use to get the artwork ready to be placed on the image. So, command L, that's a shortcut key for levels. I'll adjust that so I'm making it almost to the pure whites and pure blacks, so I will just use the sliding scale here. One thing to be mindful of, if there is some additional texture that you want to maintain, you might have to be mindful of, as you adjust these bars, that there are moments where some of the information will get lost right away, so just play around to see the level of contrast you want to work with. For this particular one, I'm going to go with a pretty strong contrast. Once you've gone in to the good point, I'm just going to use the lasso tool and just quickly cut out the two pieces of information that I'm going to be using, command C, copy that. Now, we've already made the final crop that we're going to use for the actual image, so I just copied the lettering piece from that other file and now I will be placing it inside of my Photoshop file of the image. Let's just name this, and of course we are copying and pasting it as it looked from the other file. Now, we're going to make the adjustments to see what's going to work. Sometimes I'd like to jump to either get the letterforms all string now and fix letter spacing. This particular one, I like how it's looking but I'm going to jump into the different modes to see what we're working with. One really good technique in this example is just use lighten. It's a mode that just dropped out the black background, and so it'll retain a lot of that information that you want to maintain. In this particular example of lettering, we have almost this smokiness, that's these fumes that are coming off the letterforms. So once we get that to a good place, I'm going to just initially line it up where I want it to be. Now, remember, when I first drew this, I ran out of room so I had to go to a second line to finish the last part of the artist name. So, quickly, I'm just going to again use the lasso tool and cut it out. I'm going to command X and then paste it back in. But that also resets it back to normal, so we're going to have to go back and change it to lighten. These are these moments where I want you to experiment. Most people wouldn't advocate, "All right, if we do command T, which is transform of just skewing and scaling the letterforms." but this is an opportunity to play and figure out what works for you. If you initially drew it too wide, again, using the transform tool to scale or skew the lettering so that actually works inside of the art board. Now, I'm putting the band name on the same line. Now that I've got the band name on one single base line, I'm going to fix up some of the actual letter spacing. When you're using expressive type, I think go with what you think looks good. But another idea that you can use is just make sure that the negative space and positive space that there's an equal rhythm to it. So, imagine a picket fence, the spaces between the actual pieces of wood are all evenly spaced out. Sometimes I will copy and paste certain letterforms from the actual whole word and just mimic them. Sometimes I would, for instance, let's just look at what if I were to cut out the M in Metavari, place it back in, and just quickly skew it like what does that look like? Sometimes adding additional height to the actual capital of a word sometimes gives it more emphasis and let's the eye know where the word is actually starting. Especially if you're using expressive lettering, sometimes if all the letterforms are filled with a lot of character and personality, sometimes it's hard to adjust especially on a page that has many words in which you're using expressive lettering. It's hard for your eye to dictate where you actually need to start. So, for this example, I'm just going to increase the cap height size for this so that our eye directly goes to the M in Metavari. Then, once everything is in a good place, I'll take what now is four separate layers for that band name and actually command E and flatten the image so that everything exists on one layer, and it always resets its mode so I'm going to go back to the lighten. So, as you can see, when I was doing the critique, I was keeping in mind about this image. I realized that it had grit almost a sandpaper quality to it, and I found that those letterforms that I had drawn had a similar vibe. So, initially, I thought there could be a nice partnership between those two textures of the image and then the texture that I had drawn in those initial letterforms. So, I'm going to leave that as is for the moment. Now, I'm going to go back to that file and add in the album title. So, again, lasso tool, command C, copy, go back to the image artwork we're playing with, and paste it in like I did with Metavari, the band name. I'm just going to go to the mode and set it to lighten. Now, this is the point where you can have a lot of fun with the image. Just allow elements within the image to dictate where you want the letterforms to coexist in. So, I am noticing that there is this nice dark void within the image. My initial reaction is let's see what letterforms would look like if we actually placed them inside of it. In this moment, I'm going to use a transformed tool to really skew these letterforms to morph them so that they fit into this cavity a little bit better. What I suggest doing is if you have intentions of really messing with the original letterforms is save yourself an original of it. So, I'll just go back to my Photoshop layer, drag and drop and make a new layer and just put that out of view. So, in case I need to go step back, I actually have that original artwork there if I need to go back and get it. So, transform tool, command T. So, I want to play with these letterforms more, and I see that there's an opportunity to scale up some of the actual letters within the album title. So, for instance, I might scale up the S, potentially an M, or scale down the R, really crafting it so that it fits in this shape. So, again, lasso tool, I've just selected the S and crudely using the transform tool to scale it up rather than scaling up an actual letter. Maybe if there is an opportunity of just extending potentially the leg of this M. Again, I'm looking for some animation like an animated baseline so your eye has this rhythm to it, almost there is a musicality inside of the album title. I mentioned that I might go into this R and scale it down and I think that's a good idea, so I'll use the lasso tool, command T. So now, let's zoom out to see how we're looking. So, again, I see an opportunity to extend out this Y. Another great thing to do, and this is a trick where say you notice one of the letterforms is missing some additional character, what you can utilize is other aspects and other parts of the other letterforms in the world to copy and paste, so almost like thinking of Frankenstein. So, I noticed my S's I want to add maybe an additional element to finish it off. So, I'll look and inspect the other part of the letterforms within the word, and look at potentially adding an element here where like finishing off, an exit stroke for the S. So, what I'll do is this T looks pretty decent or the T looks pretty good. So, lasso tool, copy and paste. Again, I'm going to change my mode to lighten. I'm going to zoom out. I feel like this is at a good finishing point, and I would like to move onto the next example. 10. Finalizing Album 2 + 3: For our second example, I'm going to go back to the final image that we had of the hand. I'm going to reference back to some of the scans that I had made earlier. Thinking back to the wall, I chose what I thought this one might be a really good option for the hand image. So, on this particular scan sheet, I have several different styles to go from. The one that I think I'm going to go forward with is this guy right here. So, again, command L. Let's skew those levels to get the letterforms with some nice, like a higher contrast. So, let's go back to our artwork. Let's paste this in. So, we have a new layer. I know that using the mode lighten, is just a great way to play with the type that I can see it. So, it's not distracting like I have the white background. So, I will go to lighten. For examples that are black type on a white background, you'll just have to do command I, which is inverting it. So, then we can get it to a place where we can see the actual background behind it. Again, this is just it's this adjustment. What's working, is there an opportunity to actually have the lettering be behind the actual image of the hand? So, I'm going to quickly look at what that might look like. But, I want to keep in mind that, if I'm going to put the lettering actually behind the image of the hand, that I need to retain enough information that you can still read the band name. Also maybe it doesn't need to be so big. There's another thing to keep in mind, is the push and pull that you're making on the fly. So, I understand that, if I'm working with a really strong image, and for this example, this image of the hand kind of touching its shadow, I don't want to take away from that image by putting a huge piece of lettering on top of it. So, maybe this is a good example to show, what if we do something that's really subtle? Where we have some really expressive lettering, but then we're still letting the image be the king. That's too good place, but I also understand that I want to include the title of the album as well. So, let's go back to the file. Command T, scale it down. You can either do this process now, command I to invert it and then go to lighten. So, here's potentially a conflict. You have to determine what becomes higher in the hierarchy. So, if you're dealing with lettering, that is kind of secondary importance where we're letting the image be the hero. I want to make sure that the information of the band name is still more predominant than the album title. You can flip those, it's up to you. But for this example, I'm thinking that the fact that both of these are done in the same lettering style, that it might be confusing where you think the band name is, Metavari or Symmetri. So, it might be a good idea to actually look for a completely different lettering style to match with Metavari, since I kind of like how that feels. So, I'm going to go back to our file, and see if there's something in here that is slightly different, but complimentary. So, this is a great opportunity to show what it would look like, that we use the same tool, but we do different letterforms with that tool. So, let's see what those two look like together. So, we're going to go back to our file, command I, go to lighten. So, there is a connection, there is a relationship, because we use the same tool to draw these letterforms. That's just a great tip that I use a lot of the times with work, where it's nice to have some variation in lettering. I don't suggest going hog wild and try to pair 10 different styles together. Be mindful and due diligence on maybe just selecting two, three max to pair with. So, let's go in here. Again, this is an opportunity where we can go into the file. I'm actually going to break this apart. The reason that I'm breaking this apart is that I'm seeing that there is a potential opportunity to kind of make a resting place for the album title. So, if I actually increase in scale the M, we might be looking at a place where the album title fits more comfortably in. So, if we zoom out, I like how that's looking. I want to play with now, how it's going to live on this image. So, I might futz with this a little bit more. So, I'm going to copy and paste and make a layer in case I need to go backwards and go back to the original artwork. So, now I want to look at, if this can live in a different area on the actual image. So, I'm going to move it up here, just because there's some breathing room up here in this top right corner. But I also realize that the background color of the gray and the white of the lettering, but there's not enough contrast to actually have it to be impactful. So, I'm going to go back to its original form. I'm going to command I, which inverts it. Then change it from lighten to multiply, just to see what letterforms in black might look like. This is a part of the process where you can noodle for hours and hours and hours, but I definitely do think if you get stuck in a rut, move onto the next image that you want to play with, if you have one. Let's forward on to the album that we worked on with the iPad. Command I, to invert, to lighten. So, this is an opportunity where I think we should play with color. What I'm going to do now is cut out the band name, Metavari, put it on a separate layer. There's a couple quick techniques to change the color on this, but one that I like doing is I'm going to select just Metavari, open up a new file. I'm going to go to image, switch it to gray scale, don't flatten. I'm going to do a duotone. The monotone already remembered, the green that I used to actually make the background image for the album image that we're actually working with right now. So, the fact that it remembered is great. I'm just going to take that green and put it back on the piece. So, now I'm going to keep that dark green, and honestly, I think I'm fine with also keeping this white. Another quick technique you can use for the symmetry is, sometimes just playing with the opacity, that looks like, but I like strong contrast, of course, as you can see in the other examples that we've used or that I'm using. So, I feel like that's in a good place. Another thing that I want to do is just quickly clean some of these letterforms up. So, with the lasso tool, I'm just selecting those pieces of information that I no longer want in the actual piece. So, that looks good to me. If I zoom out, there's a little bit of letter spacing issue. So, I'm just going to quickly adjust. Another thing too is, not that everything has to be on the same line, but I wanted to bring the M in Metavari a little bit closer to where the I is finishing on that line of curve. So, I see that there's a little more opportunity to add some more breathing room on these forms. So, again, look for those areas that are a little bit tight. If we just drop down this ruler from above, just click and drag down, I'll see that it's not a good place. I feel like that is as good as it's going to get. Now, let's jump back to that other cover where we didn't quite resolve the placement of the actual lettering. So, I still feel like something isn't right with this. So, I also notice there is this moment where the element of the letterforms is actually overlapping the hand. So, again, this is a great opportunity to use the software to expedite some editing. So, what I might do is actually bring that part of the M actually down, and I might even just trim it. So, again kind of making sure it fits a space a little bit more. So, I feel like that's in a good place. So, what we have now are three really distinct album artwork covers. What's really good is that we can utilize the image to indicate the areas in which we can lay the letterforms in, or adjust the letterforms and modify them and morph them to actually fit in the space that we dictate, might be a good holding place for them to live. If we go down to three, again, this is much more subtle, where we're letting the image be the hero, and then the band name an album title be secondary. Then finally, the one that we did on our iPad Pro, using the iPad Pro as a light box, is separating the colors. So, this is the option where we're just looking at potentially having two different colors to separate the information, making sure that Metavari reads as the band name, and then Symmetri which is second, to read as the album title. There are moments where after you've completed the exercise, and you revisit some of the artwork, that you have a different perception of maybe what that final color palette look like for the actual image. I went back to revisit this one, and after again, listening to the music a little bit more, I realize the brightness of this green to yellow in my opinion is a little bit too stark. So, what I wanted to do is a quick adjustment to see if there was a quick way to alter the actual color palette in a way that, in my mind I see like listening to this music on a more like a cold winter day that's really bright outside. So, what type of color palette does that suggest? I feel like maybe, the blues can be a little bit more on the teal spectrum, and that light, which is say like a fall or winter light, is much more warm. Now, if we look back at all the albums, we have three really distinct ideas. All of those to me personally have a relationship to the music, because even as I was making the letterforms, I was still listening to the album. So, there is a direct correlation between the letterforms I made and the images I were making. So, I feel like it's much more of a symbiotic relationship of making a final composition that is more true to the music, and also true to the image you took, and also the letterforms you made. 11. Conclusion: So, the one takeaway that I want you to take from this exercise and project is, we all have incredibly busy lives, and as creatives, it's really important to make time to nurture the creativity. Sometimes, you get in the grind of just producing the work that you need to in order to cover your life. But in order to keep those creative juices flowing, this is a project that will help utilize and influence you to make work that might be out of your comfort zone. If you don't like taking images or don't think you're a good photographer, I want you to throw that idea and that mentality out the window. If you're uncomfortable with making letterforms, this is a class where you can make expressive letterforms and marry them with image to make something incredible. Another thing to keep in mind is, since time is of the essence, this is an exercise in which you don't need to mull over for weeks. I want you to execute off of your gut. I want it to be reactionary to the music that you're listening to, being aware of your surroundings, looking for those small little moments in your walk that might be overlooked because you're concentrated on something else like your phone. As far as the lettering goes, this and using the exercise, is to really let loose, is to let go of what you think letterforms should look like and don't look at the influences that you see on Instagram or Pinterest. Really, let the music that you're listening to guide your hands, produce letterforms that are original to the music that you're listening to and that are unique to your hand. I love hearing new music. So, I selfishly want you to produce album, artwork, and also throw out some new bands that I might not know of and other students in Skillshare might not know of as well. If you're going to put those up on the project gallery, it would be great to again share some new music. But then, also share your unique approach to how you would make album artwork for this project. You guys are incredible. Thank you so much for taking this class and I cannot wait to see what you create. 12. Explore More Design Classes: way.