Dimensional Script Lettering | Creating Depth & Drama | Charlotte Hill Vandenburg | Skillshare

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Dimensional Script Lettering | Creating Depth & Drama

teacher avatar Charlotte Hill Vandenburg, Letterer & Illustrator

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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.



    • 3.

      Inking & Refining


    • 4.

      Creating the Digital Letters


    • 5.

      Refining the Letterforms


    • 6.

      Setting Up Shadows


    • 7.

      Filling Out Shadows


    • 8.

      Final Refinements


    • 9.

      Wrap Up


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About This Class

Get ready to take your lettering to a new, dimensional place! Join Charlotte Hill for 30 minutes of lettering and photoshop instruction, and discover that layers and clipping masks are definitely your friends.

This class is perfect for an intermediate letterer who already has basic Photoshop experience, but is looking to refine their process, and find a new jumping-off point for experimentation in dimension and texture.

With step-by-step instructions and some helpful tidbits, Charlotte will lead you through a breakdown of how she uses Photoshop, and take you through the creation of your own lettering piece. 

At completion, you'll have gained an enhanced Photoshop skill-set, as well as principles for a workflow which you can modify and adjust to make your own. 

Supplies needed:
Paper & Pencil / Pen / Marker
Camera or Scanner (phone camera is great) 
Photoshop Brushes (recommended: https://www.kylebrush.com/)
Tablet & Stylus (not required, but strongly recommended)

many thanks to bensound.com for the music

Meet Your Teacher

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Charlotte Hill Vandenburg

Letterer & Illustrator


Born & raised in the puddles of the Pacific Northwest, Charlotte works there now as an illustrator, letterer, and designer. She's had the privilege of working with clients like Nike, Zoom+, and Uniqlo, but the greatest honor she's had so far was when an 8-year old sent her a drawing inspired by her work. When not working or stressing about work, Charlotte can be found doing stuff that most 70 year olds do, like drinking stupid amounts of tea, playing cribbage with her husband, or cooking comfort food.

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Hey, my name is Charlotte Hill. I'm a Lederer illustrator and designer in Portland, Ore. Again, I think I've found as a creative that's really important to not only develop your own personal style, but to keep looking for new techniques to apply to your personal style, to keep growing and changing and keeping things fresh for our project. We're going to choose one or two words toe letter for a greeting card. So something like Happy Birthday. Thank you. So I don't know your life. I don't know what you need on a greeting card that is totally up to you. Whatever you want to dio. So by the end of this class, you're not only going to have a new tool for your skill set, you're also going to have a great new card to send out to your friends, family, strangers, your enemies. I don't know your like you, do you? Let's get lettering 2. Sketching: Okay, let's get going. First off, we just need to go over a couple supplies. First thing you are going to need is just whatever you normally use to sketch or letter. So paper, pencil markers, whatever you use for that I love to use the Crayola Super Tips. They're super cheap. They're really awesome for lettering. Highly recommend there are really cheap by. If you want to just try something else knew They give a lot of good variation in the fix and thins. Is he letter? Second thing you're gonna need is just a way to get this sketch onto the computer. I am really lazy. And so I like to just use the camera on my iPhone. Take a picture, text it to myself. You can use a scanner or a camera. Whatever you have on hand, you're also going to need to have a computer and photo shop. I think that one's pretty obvious, but, you know, any version of Photoshopped, as far as I know, will work fine. I don't know about the really old versions, but you don't have to have the latest creative cloud. You're also gonna need tohave brushes to use in Photoshopped. This is not gonna work out. Well, if you're just using the's standard brushes that come with photo shop, you're not going to get the thick, thin variation. If you have brushes you like. That's great If you're looking for some, I have a link in the description to Kyle Webster's Photoshopped brushes there really fantastic, and I highly recommend them. They're super affordable, and you can get just a ton of variety. There's a lot to play with. Um, I'm not sponsored by him or anything. I really wish I was. I just like the brushes a lot. Lastly, you're going to need a tablet. This is not an absolute necessity. I think if you're really comfortable with a mouse or a track pad, you can do fine with that. I just strongly recommend the tablet. I think it really helps with the finessing of these letter forms and with the texture again . If you're really comfortable working without one, I think you'll be fine. If you're not, you really should be working with a tablet. Okay, so first thing we need to do for this project is choose our word or words. I'm going to be doing many thanks, which is nicer than just thank you. Write a little more fun. Once you have a word in mind, I recommend that you just write it out a bunch of times, right it over and over and just play with the shapes of the letters. I chose many thanks, because there's a lot of opportunity for loops and for interesting shapes, especially in the H, the K and the y. All those loops. So it's a good one for me to do for this project because it shows off a lot of depth and shading. So just keep writing the word over and over again, seeing how you can change it, make it more loopy, more fun, interesting, visually dynamic. All of that. These don't need to be nice sketches, So don't stress over that they're not supposed to be perfect Sketches. Don't worry about, um, perfection. Worry about how you're gonna make the shapes different and interesting. Thats point. You might be thinking you've chosen a word that's not going to work on. That could be true, but it's not necessarily a problem. You don't have to give totally upon it. If you're doing, say something like happy birthday, for example, If I write it like this Happy birthday the no, I don't have a lot of loop going on here, but if I start looking for places to make it more loopy like this, um, I can get a lot more places to play. And happy birthday actually ends up being a really good phrase toe letter. So just keep fluttering until you feel like you found the right variation for you. Next, we're gonna work on thinking this so that it is ready to photograph or scan and get onto the computer. 3. Inking & Refining: e feel like you found a way off lettering. The words that you like. It's a good time to go ahead and ink them. It's not a must, but I find it helps to polish it up a bit more and refined the shapes. If you use a marker again, this is more about the digital stages. So I'm not gonna tell you just what you need to use for lettering. But I like to use the Creole A Super Tips. They're not very expensive, it all, and they're really easy to let her with. And they're really good at creating thick, thin contrast. Remember again, none of this is about creating perfection. We're going to actually make this peaches digitally. So this is just to give us a really strong guideline to work off of. It's not to give us a absolutely perfect piece that we're gonna have finished here. We're gonna take it Digital's to keep that in mind. Once I feel like I have gotten on a good road with it. I'm liking the shape. Sometimes I will go ahead and chop it up a little bit. Put a little into it. That's really a personal style thing, But I do find that particularly we're working with Dimension. It can be really nice to have a little more weight to the letter forms. So once you feel like your letters are in a place that you like, once you've taken them up or not picking them up and you feel like you have a good flow to them, you can go ahead and get ready to put them into a digital file. And when I say ready to go and liking the flow, I don't mean that they're perfect. This is not your finished art piece. I look at this and I see this, um, in this A. And I know that I will want to move them apart later, digitally and photo shop. But there's really no reason for me to spend the time doing that analog. I have a good guidelines of work off of already, and I'm ready to get going digitally to get it onto your computer. You can scan it or I am really lazy, and I just like to take a picture and text it to myself like so. So scan and take a picture. Do whatever you need to do to get a digital, post it to your projects, your classmates, conceit E and we will be ready to start taking this digital. 4. Creating the Digital Letters: Okay, so we are ready to start working digitally. So obviously opening Photoshopped I work in a two sized cards primarily. So that's for in 1/4 by 5.5. So I'm just gonna go ahead and work in those exact dimensions. If I was working on a print, it probably work a bit bigger, just in case. But since the card and I know what I want to dio, I'm just gonna work in the exact size 300 peopIe. I seem like a because we're gonna put those and we are ready to go. So I went ahead and texted this image to myself. You can email light, you can airdrop it. Whatever you want to do. It's not really a big deal, so I'm just going to drag it and and place it in photo shop and because I don't like having all this other stuff going on, I am just going to rest, arise it here and cut out everything that's not relevant. And then I like to go ahead and adjust the levels so it's not as kind of messy and annoying toe look at just really, um, ramp up that contrast there pull those little sliders so that we have darker lettering so I could go ahead and take the saturation down. So it's not as distracting. And then I'm just going to group all these layers together and flatten them. If you're curious. The'keeper's command is command plus E, which is nice and easy. So now that that's all just one layer, we've got that all set and it's great. I am going to go ahead and turn the opacity down so it's less distracting. You can see there's just an entire string of things that I do to make this less distracting for myself. So, you know, that's lots of fun. But before I get going too much, I'm going to make sure I have this arranged on the page the way I want it, and I'm going Teoh look a little bit on the on there. I am going to change some of the things we talked about before we put it onto the computer like I'm not a huge fan of what's happening here. It feels a little crazy, so I'm going to move this out here. I am not going to worry too much about how it looks. I'll fix the connections. When I actually letter these, I just want to change the spacing. Okay, that's already feeling a lot better. And I think we are good to go. Okay? Really, really important. Step here. We're going to create a color film layer. So come down here and just choose solid color. It's the very first option, Bill. Wow, that's a very bright green. That is not what we're going to use. I like to work in gray, actually, just to start that way, I can choose my colors later. You don't have to worry about what color is exactly. I want now. And it's just a nice neutral color to work on the shapes of the letters. Once I have my color film layer. Obviously you can't see anything other than gray. This is not a lot of fun right now, but what you're gonna do is go ahead and you're going to click on the mask of this layer. So the mask is right here so you can click here. You can see the little gray boxes selecting the color of your colorful layer, or you can click right here and you're selecting the mask of layer. So you're gonna go when you're gonna grab your paint bucket tool right here and you're gonna make sure that the color you have selected is black. When you're working on a mask, you're only going toe work in just black and white. Also funky control hit X to change the colors to swap them back and forth between foreground and background. So boom, boom, boom X So we want black, we get our paint bucket and we're just going to click on the layer and fill it. Boom, it's all disappeared. Where did it go? It's gone. It's not actually gone. It's just hidden. Now that you've got that well placed and ready to go, go ahead and save your file. Save early. Say often you all know this, but it bears repeating. Now What we're gonna do here is we're going to start painting back in the color that we hit on that mask. I'm gonna work over this layer right here. We have this guide set up and I'm just going to start painting over it. But before we do that, let's talk about choosing our brush tools. If you're working with Kyle Webster brushes there's a couple options I can recommend. If you like to do smoother lettering, something with really soft edges. I recommend something like brush, pen or brush. Pen number two. So let's test it out. Remember, we're working on our masks, so we need to paint back in using what color we just did black. So we need to use white to switch it. And here's an example of what? Using brush pen Looks like really soft edge is not a lot of texture to it. Very smooth, very soft. I personally like a little more roughness. So what I recommend for that would be rough. Inking number two roughing King Number two has a little more of a jagged edge to it feels a little more pastel, charcoal, something like that. But just look around through the brushes and fighting something that feels good to you for what you want to dio. Now I'm going to start working on actually tracing over my lettering, and this is the point where we kind of fix the things we didn't like. Whatever went wrong. We get to make those decisions and change those things. And now this is why we weren't super concerned about making it perfect in the sketch. It didn't need to look perfect. Done Now is when we get to refine it way got the whole thing priest and filled in. And the next step we're gonna do is move onto refining all these letter forms. 5. Refining the Letterforms: Okay, now that we've got a word all lettered out in rough, hide the background layer and you're going to notice it probably looks a little grody. That is okay. It's not supposed to be perfect yet. E no, I know I keep saying that, but there will come a time when it's supposed to look really finished. I promise you. But the other thing about this style of lettering is we're not doing vector lettering for a reason. We're doing pixel based work in photo shop. It's supposed to look less sharp, edged in Perfect. We're not going for absolute Bessie Acre perfection here. We're going for something a little warmer and a little more handgun feeling. And as we're working, don't be afraid to redraw something. If you don't like it, just erase that puppy out. So what I'm doing is I'm just using black and white and swapping between the two. So you say OK, I want to thicken this up here. I'm on whites. Here we go. Thicken it up. Oh, I think ended up too much, switched to black and shave it down way. So another thing we can do if things aren't quite working out is we can kind of take our loss of tool up here and select and copy and drag this little bit. So click on her little cursor up here, hit the old key that's going to copy it. So we drag it down a little bit. And boom, we now have a longer tail in. Or why, with some things to clean up. Obviously, it's not foolproof, but it gives us a really easy way to just shift things around. And now we don't have the uncomfortable proximity that was going on with the M and the tail of the why. Okay, we've got all our letter forms pretty much refined. It's time to add color and shading. 6. Setting Up Shadows: So now that we've got the shape of our letters down, it's time to go ahead and choose colors if you haven't already. Now again, these shapes might not be perfectly final, but we'll keep refining them as we see them differently with color and texture and everything else. So double click on the color, fill layer and try out some different views. It feels pretty nice, but it might change later on, so don't stress it too much. Just go ahead and roll with the colors you have now, and you can change him later. Has he changed the color? Sometimes it helps you see your lettering in a new light, and you'll want to make some more edits like, now that I see this tea and this color, I'm not really loving the angle. And I want to redraw the little bit. Now that I've got my main color Subtle. I'm going to choose my color for the shadow. So I'm gonna copy my hex code for the green just highlighted here, and I'm going to make a new color fill layer so solid color boom paste the hex code in and then go from there. I'm just gonna go a few shades darker and more vibrant. And I might even go a little greener than I am now. Just shimmy up a little bit. There we go again. Click on the white mask, switched your paint tool. Make sure you have black Fill it in, boom, change back, toe white What we're going to do now that we have our colors down as we're going to start marking where we want our shadows to be, So I'm gonna make my brush a bit smaller. Just use rough thinking the same brush I used to draw the letters. But if I do this Oh, that's no good. I'm gonna spend forever trying to fill in this perfect area. So what I'm going to do with my color fill layer is I'm going to select it. I'm gonna hit control and I'm going to select the option create clipping mask. That's what I want to dio. So now that it's a clipping mask, anything I do is only gonna apply to this layer so I can scribble all over, and it's only going to show up where my original base layer is. So now I can go in and I'm just gonna mark out where I want my shadows to be on this. It's going to be at any joining, really? And it any bending or overlapping point. Now, as we do this, think about your source of light so I don't get super technical about this I don't get all uptight about Oh, this is the exact way this is whimsical and all around a little bit in perfect. It doesn't need to be scientifically technical, but I generally think about my light source coming from above the letters not below. So that means I'm going to have shadows down here is it? Falls and it might have a little here, but if I any shadow up here, it's going to be really light. It's not a big deal. I don't have a heavy shadow. The light isn't coming from below can have a shadow here. If our lights coming from above, we're gonna have a little shadow here because we're going to say that we have global lightness that will be our presupposition, the latest stronger from the top. But there's light all around. There's a little bits of shadows everywhere. It's not perfectly flat. If we don't have light from above, So just go around the whole thing and mark out your shadows. Now you're gonna have to make some decisions in this process. Here, I have to decide if the lights coming from above you have two ways to do this. I can do these sides of the loop and knocks Machado, or I can go this way. So in situations like this, you have to decide which one feels better for you. Mine is gonna go behind this time. Basically, the whole thing is going to be in shadow here. I'm just going to do a little boo Pierre and a little boob there. So just keep going throughout and mark in all your shadows. Making most judgment calls is you have to. Sometimes things are gonna get a little tricky like this K in here. I've got an interesting situation with overlapping things. I'm just gonna put this whole bit in shadow. But it's an area I'm going to kind of keep my eye on as I progress and make sure that I want to keep it that way. But, you know, that's kind of the fun thing about lettering is you never know what the twists and turns will be. Nobody intended, but I was a really good one. Okay, look at that. You've already got the beginning of shadows and already looks so dimensional. Now, this next bit is a little boring, but we need to go in and check out all the edges of the shadows and just clean up. This is going to save us a lot of grief later. You see how some of these have little boo boos where I've gone over the edge? I'm not perfect, you know? I know. Shocker. A shocker. But some of these just have some over excited shadows that got a little crazy, and that's gonna look really gross. Especially when we print this. So I'm just gonna take some time to get that clean and nice. Now way got this all set up. You can go ahead and fill out the shadows. 7. Filling Out Shadows: Okay, Now that we've got our shadows all in place, we're going to fill them out. Before we start, we're going to need to choose what brush again. So if you want something smoother, I really recommend one of the graphite brushes. Shady graphite is really good. I'm going to show you just on this layer. That's the kind of look you get with shady graphite. It's really smooth. It builds really nice slaves really soft. Then if you want something a little more textured, most of the pastels are really good. Something like pastel. Appaloosa is a really nice one. You can go lighter with opacity, go darker and have a nice pastel chalky texture. So that's the one I'm gonna go with. I'm gonna click on my layer master start, and I'm going to keep working on my clipping mask. But to make sure I don't go all crazy and have shadows overlapping everywhere, I'm going to use the lasso tool from over here and select the area. I want to put a shadow on making sure that I'm excluding any areas with shadows already so we don't get overlap in Messi interactions going on. So I'm just gonna get my past Opelousas brush, take down the opacity and flow a little bit. There is no exact perfect number. Just back it off a little ways. And I'm going to start putting in a shadow, bringing my brush size down a bit and just go back and forth using white to texture in and black to texture it back out until I get a fade. I kind of like there we go. Now we go onto the next one. - Okay , Now that I've done this, I can go back over and look and see where I might want to put in more shadows that I hadn't marked out originally, this is pretty fluid and up to how you feel. You may see something new now, Like here. I wish that I had actually made this shot to go all the way through. So boom, I'm just making decisions and changing things way have left us a little more refining on our shadows. A second layer of color in the little detail ing 8. Final Refinements: Okay, So our last thing is just some final shading and any other last minute refinements and embellishments. I'm actually going to make my shadows a little bit darker right now. But then I'm also going to add a second shadow layer, something a little darker even than the original shadow to make the darkest parts of my shadows really dark. Do not you ugly green? Maybe something a little bluer and deeper again. Hit control, create clipping mask, then switched to black Fill. Tool up. It's gone. Okay, we're safe. It's gone. Go in. Whoa! Work Speed switch back to rough thinking too, and trace out those shadows. And again. The really nice thing about working with colorful layers is they're super easily edible. If you decide your shadow colors aren't really working, you can just double click that layer and change to whatever Hugh you want. Teoh, Once again, we've got all our little shadow point set and we're going to go back in and start lassoing again. Switch your brush to pastel blues a and go crazy. Well, don't go crazy. You need to stay. Seem to do this mostly sane. Okay, now we can see. Look how much depth is added with the second color is not fun. Okay, One last thing we can do is select and copy this hex code again, create a new solid color layer and create a really light layer. We There we go. And then with that, we can create a little bit of highlighting, which really just helps it pop. Just really loosely go over where these letters might be, catching the light kind of down the middle of thes strokes and go ahead and make sure in the organization or the stacking of your layers to put this light layer at the bottom of your stack of clipping masks so that if you get a little too enthusiastic on your highlighting, it'll be hidden by the other shadow layers. And there we are. We are done with our lettering. Let's peel back all the layers and look at that. We started with this, turned it into that, gave it a background. We added this the other thought. Then we added that Now I'm not totally satisfied with the background, so I'm gonna go ahead and play with some other colors. So I went ahead and I put it on a darker background, which I think really helps it pop. And I'm going to just for fun, add some embellishments around. It's not lettering per se, but I just really want to do it with that. Save it and you're done. You've ton this whole thing. You've added all your levels of shading, and I'm sure you have an amazing looking piece of lettering right now. So post the final digital files or print out your card and take a photo to show everyone and super excited to see what you guys have made. Thanks so much for all the hard work you put in. 9. Wrap Up: you guys. You did this whole class. I am so so glad that you took some time. Teoh, hang out with me and learn a little bit of what I learned. As a lecturer, I am so excited to see everything you've created. I hope your creative juices are flowing and that you're ready to go out and buy. This told sorts of awesome new things. In the meantime, stay smart, stay kind and keep fluttering.