Hand Lettering Essentials for Beginners | Mary Kate McDevitt | Skillshare

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Hand Lettering Essentials for Beginners

teacher avatar Mary Kate McDevitt, Lettering and Illustration

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

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.

      Get Started


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Lettering Warm Up: Part I


    • 5.

      Lettering Warm Up: Part II


    • 6.

      Understanding Hand-Drawn Letters


    • 7.

      More Tips


    • 8.



    • 9.

      Sketching Part I


    • 10.

      Sketching Part II


    • 11.

      Refining Your Sketch


    • 12.

      Final Inking


    • 13.

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About This Class

Learn the basics of hand lettering with the popular online workshop that's inspired more than 50,000 Skillshare students! Lettering artist Mary Kate McDevitt covers everything beginners need to draw, ink, and transform handwriting into artful drawings.

In this 2-hour class, Mary Kate reveals the first steps of hand lettering and shares how to concept, design, and letter phrases for any use—a poster, magazine, t-shirt, or anything else you might imagine. Over the course of 16 bite-sized video lessons, you'll learn:

  • Researching and Brainstorming
  • Sketching for Lettering
  • Styles for Lettering
  • Inking and Finalizing

The introductory class is filled with links, resources, and project guides to support you along the way. Plus, the class student project gallery is filled with tons of guidance, examples, and tips for guiding your own lettering project.

Sharpen your pencils — it's time to create some lettering!


What You'll Learn

  • Introduction. In this lesson, illustrator Mary Kate McDevitt will take you through her hand lettering process, from concepting to sketching, and finally, refining her work. By the end of the class, you’ll have a framework for projects of your own, whether they be invitation lettering or poster design.
  • Get started. Mary Kate will help you come up with a phrase to illustrate, laying out some guidelines for choosing a phrase that’s short and personal to you. You’ll get tips for gathering reference materials and creating a mood board.
  • Tools. You’ll see the basic tools Mary Kate uses when she comes up with a lettering format, and you’ll learn the different line effects hard vs. soft pencils can create.
  • Lettering warm up: part 1. You’ll practice your typographic design by experimenting with different font lettering. Mary Kate will show you several writing styles you can choose from: script, in a curve, in a shape, fancy serif, black letter, sans serif, dimensional, representational, and serif.
  • Lettering warm up: part 2. Mary Kate will demonstrate how to use a ruler and compass to make your designs more precise and draw drop shadows.
  • Understanding hand-drawn letters. You’ll learn the four steps for creating intricate type design, and get a lesson in typical beginner hand lettering mistakes.
  • More tips. You’ll get a quick rundown of hand lettering tips as Mary Kate draws the alphabet, from trying new styles to keeping curves smooth and incorporating ornamentation.
  • Thumbnails. Now that you’ve decided on your typography, it’s time to come up with a basic layout for your lettering concept. This is where thumbnails come in. You’ll learn how to draw within small boxes to position your letters and design the overall composition for your sketch.
  • Sketching: part 1. You’ll pick a few of your favorite thumbnails and turn one of them into a sketch. Mary Kate will show you some of her past projects and her sample sketches for this exercise.
  • Sketching: part 2. You’ll learn how Mary Kate designs a book cover, starting with pencil guidelines that help her space out the different words in her chosen phrase. Next, you’ll explore how to incorporate other images into your design, appropriately weighting words and images in your final sketch. You’ll see how to fill a blank page by balancing your text and the lights and darks in your design. During this step, you will continue to rely on your mood board for design flourishes and background imagery.
  • Refining your sketch. You’ll learn how to use a light table to create a less rough version of your sketch. This is the time to make final touches, like throwing in extra details and tightening up the images from your first draft.
  • Final inking. You’ll watch as Mary Kate uses the light box once again, this time to ink her drawing. She’ll teach you how to address mistakes that crop up at this point in the process by making final adjustments when you upload your inked drawing to the computer.

Be sure to explore all of Mary Kate McDevitt's lettering classes on Skillshare!


Sample Lettering Images

Meet Your Teacher

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Mary Kate McDevitt

Lettering and Illustration



My new book Illustration Workshop is available for purchase on Amazon and a book store near you!

You can purchase it online here!

I'm excited to announce my new journal Every Day is Epic is officially out today! This journal takes the pressure off documenting a regular day by framing it with illustrations, funny quips and plenty of places to doodle.

To celebrate with all of you, I'm offering a giveaway to 5 Skillshare students to win a copy and one grand prize winner will also have a 30 minute portfolio review/consultation. Use the hashtag #EPICSKILLSHARE to enter through instagram with a link to your project.

Contest Details:

To be eligible, you have to have already submitted a project or submit a new project in one of Mary Kate's 6... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: My name's Mary Kate McDevitt, I'm an illustrator and letterer working in Brooklyn, New York. My Skillshare class is called The First of Steps of Hand Lettering. We're going to be creating a hand-lettered quote, phrase, or title. The focus of the class is going to be on concepting, sketching, and refining your drawing. These steps are often overlooked by beginners, but are crucial in creating a successful hand-lettered drawing. Over the past few years, I've refined my workflow, and I've broken it down to a set of steps. We'll take an in depth look at my process, which will provide you with a framework that lets you tackle any hand-lettering project 2. Get Started: Hi. Thanks for signing up for my Skillshare class. I'm excited to get started on our project and I'm sure you all are too so let's dive right in. Regardless of your experience, the first steps of hand-lettering are crucial. Even the most seasoned letter can understand the value and revisiting these specs. Most people tend to jump into the computer to soon and they focus on color and texture, the result is poorly drawn letters and half-ass concepts. In this class, we're going to take an in-depth look into the steps to create better concepts and better drawings. First thing we're going do to get started is choose your phrase. There's a couple of things I want you to keep in mind in doing so. The first thing I want you to consider is choosing a short phrase. If you choose something that's too long, it's going to be difficult to letter and you're going to be missing out on some the details we're going to be going over in class. Like if you want to do more ornate lettering is difficult to do when the letters are really small. So, pick something that's under 10 words I would say. The second thing I want you to consider is picking a phrase or a quote that's personal to you. You can either write it or pick something that you've seen in one of your favorite movies. This is a poster that I made when I graduated art school. This was my mantra at the time and it really inspired me to be motivated and getting to do work in lettering and passion projects. It's led me to make projects like this with Chronicle Books where I write just these really simple and fun and lettered notepad prompts that are talking about coming up with ideas and just like fun little hand-letter things like that. The phrase that I chose for this project is from my favorite TV show and it's called, my phrase is, knitting like an electric Nan. It's from Peep Show and it's just something that I thought was really funny and what I'm going to do is make it like it's a book cover about knitting and I think it would be really funny. Which brings me to the next thing I want you to consider when you're choosing a phrase. Pick an application, it can be a print or a poster, but maybe it is a book cover or maybe it's for packaging, for shampoo or it's an ad campaign, or greeting cards, or it can be whatever you want. But if you take something that has a application rather than just like a drawing on a piece of paper, it opens up different ideas and makes you think about what your audience is going to be looking at it for. Finally, if you're having trouble picking a phrase or a quote, choose a topic that interests you and do a little research. My go to topics are cats, bikes, beer, coffee, whiskey and work. I can just come up with something, write it or do a little research and find a quote that I like. Now that you have your phrase picked out, it's time to do some research and brainstorm. How I like to do this is just write lists of words that relate to the phrase. This is a list of words I made, it's kind of short but it's pretty much the point and I feel like I got a good tone of what I want the project to be. So, my phrase, knitting like an electric Nan, I came up with words that relate to it. I was trying to be as specific as possible I have words like soft, and feminine, and toy robots and tin toys. So, I came up with words that I could refer to later that I can include my illustration or things that I'm going to do when I'm researching and looking for inspiration. So, you can be as specific and it gives you one, abstract as you want, the longer the list, the more interesting your concept is bound to be. Now it's time to gather reference materials. You're going to go back to your list and pick out keywords that you want to look at. The first place I like to go to when looking for inspiration is historical reference. I really like the look of vintage design, they have a lot of great letter forms and it's a really just beautiful. So, from my research, I just went on Google Images, I did a lot of searches on Pinterest and Flickr and I got specific in my searches. So, one of the things I wrote down was toy robots. So, I was thinking of these vintage tin robots and the packaging that came in and I type that into Pinterest and it came up with a lot of really great 1915 style packaging design. So, one of the things I really liked was actually this tin spaceship. I really like the colors and just like the flat printed details of the bolts and I feel like I can include that in my lettering somehow. Other things that I was looking up was yarn and how I can incorporate yarn into my illustration. Then I was, what I wanted to get some feel for some more lady-like grand motherly type. So, I have a good feel of what I want the colors to look like and what I want the lettering to look like. I have some details that I feel could I could incorporate into my illustration and right now I feel like I have a good grasp of what I'm going to do when I'm finally putting pencil to paper. Mood boards are also really good to do when you're working with a client. In this case you're just working for yourself so, you're pretty much on the same terms. But it's a good idea to send your client a mood board so you can communicate what the design is going to look like before you actually have any design done. So, in terms of color, and style, and the tone of the project, that all comes from the list we made, so it's good to keep that close to you when you're doing your research. In addition to my mood board, I like to keep a lot of books nearby that have a lot of good vintage reference material. One of the books that I've had for quite awhile as this book called The Encyclopedia of Advertising Tins. It's basically filled with a bunch of really great tins and it' a Guide for more option auctioneer's and collectors that I like to use it because it has a lot of fun typography. I like using it for different borders and different details I can include into my illustrations and layouts that are fit into these very specific contained shapes so they get really interesting letters. This other book that is definitely fit into the concept I'm going to be working on for this project is tinplate toy cars. They have really great in 1950's style tin cars and the packaging and the box they are in are really fun too. So, I kind of like going through these and picking out colors and details and different lettering styles that are very derivative of the 50's. This is a book that I just love, it's a book for stitches and I guess embroidery and it has these really great tutorials on how to do embroidery and someday I might actually do a project like that but it's also a great reference for lettering the illustration in general. So, because of the textures that are created just from the embroidery, it has these really great effects that you can replicate in your sketching and it also has a bunch of different kinds of lettering styles that you can refer to. If you have a really diverse collection of references you can go to when you're doing your illustration, you're going to have a very unique illustration and it's not going to be derived from one specific piece that you're looking to referring to. So, it's important to have a variety of materials to look at. 3. Tools: Before we get to start on our drawings, let's talk about the tools we're going to be using. So, these are the basic tools that you can use when you're lettering. I don't really experiment too much with different kinds, I keep it pretty basic with my number 2 pencil, my soft Blackwing pencil and my Uni Ball pen. Every once in a while, I branch out and try out different kind of brush pens and calligraphy pens, I'll go over that very soon. When I started sketching out, I like to use a HB soft number 2 pencil, a hard number 2 pencil because it gives a nice light line quality that I can go back, erase very easily, and draw on top of when I'm refining my sketch. You can also use a mechanical pencil that has a better lead quality but still has the light lead color that you want, and it's also still easy to erase and make changes. When I'm going into make a varized final drawing that I would show to the client, I'd like to use this Blackwing pencil. You can also use a 2B or a 3B, just something that has a softer lead because it's much darker line quality. These are good when you're handing in sketches to the client because the drawing is nice and dark, it scans or photographs easily, and the drawing looks a lot cleaner. When I'm ready to ink my drawing, I like to use the Uni Ball pen, has a nice fine tip, it draws nice and dark, and I like the quality of drawing it gets. When I'm doing my the final drawing, I probably won't be using this paper. I like to do most of my sketches on just this cheap printer paper, and that way I can just experiment, go through as many sheets as I want because it's paper I don't necessarily care about. If I'm doing my sketches on water color paper, I find that I'm maybe not going through as many sketches as I should be. But just to show you some different kind of pens, we're just going to use the printer paper. So, this is the Uni Ball pen. You can also use microns or fine tip marker pens. As long as it has a fine tip, it should be just as good to use as the Uni Ball pen. I prefer the Uni Ball pens because I don't really like drawing with marker. I just don't think it gets as detailed line quality, but it's really just a preference thing. I would suggest not using a Sharpie marker or something that has a thicker line quality because you're going to miss out on including some of the details. So, this is just another fine tip marker pen that I sometimes use if I'm just drawing maybe thicker letters or letters that don't have as much detail. The one I'm drawing on, the water color paper, the line quality is not as dark as the Uni Ball pen. So, you can also use calligraphy pens. I like to use the Kaweco's sport pen because it is pretty easy to use. It has the nib like a pen and nib, but the cartridge is inside the pen so you're not constantly dipping the pen ink. It's not as messy and you can control the ink flow much easier. It doesn't have the kind of calligraphy effect that you would get with some different kind of pen and nibs and you can experiment with that. But if you're just using it for drawing purposes, it's a pretty good pen and they're really cute too so that's why I like it. This is a different kind of calligraphy pen, this is a parallel pen, and it has a very distinct line quality that you have to get used to drawing. So, you have to have a very specific idea if you're going to be using this pen. So, as you can see, if you draw in different lines, it is either thick or thin. So, you can see when I draw, you can see where the line gets thinner and thicker and it's bleeding on this paper because it's putting down a lot of ink right now. Also, I like to use brush pens when I'm doing lettering. Again, it's like the calligraphy pens where the cartridges inside the brush pen, so that way you can control your ink flow without having to dip it in ink and it's a lot cleaner. You can get some really fun brushy lettering, but you really have to work on the control because unlike lettering, the entire letter is made with one smooth stroke. So, this is a time when you have to repeat drawing the word until you have it just right. There's different kinds of brush pens you can use, some of the brushes are smaller and get smaller, more detailed brushiness. It looks like it's little dried out, which could be a fun effect in that's where you're going for. You can experiment with really wide tip broad markers like this. You can get some really fun kind of textures and effects. Because it's so big, you definitely need more paper to work within this. But you can forth just the tip of the pen or with the whole tip point like that. Other tools you're definitely going to need by is a ruler. I like to use a six-inch ruler because I typically don't work much larger than this, and it's nice and handy when I'm just trying to draw straight line or just measure where I am on my layout. You're also going to need a compass. Anytime you're drawing a curve or a circle, you're going to need this handy. This is good for drawing banners and it definitely would have come in handy when I was drawing my lettering warm up, my lettering on a curve was all wonky, and that's because I didn't use the compass. So, you can go like that and finish off your banner knowing that it's even. Pencil sharpeners is always helpful to have especially if you're using number 2 pencil and doing a lot of drawing, and an eraser because I'm going to want to make revisions while you're working on your drawing. You can use the basic lettering tools, experiment with different kinds. If you want to go to jetpens.com, they have a lot of different kind of pens you can look for. Right on the homepage, there's probably just the most popular ones you can play with, and they're pretty affordable and will definitely get you excited about trying some new lettering styles. 4. Lettering Warm Up: Part I: Now that you have a good understanding of the tools we're going to be using, let's start drawing. But before we're going to get right into our project, we're just going to try lettering one word. Choose one word from your phrase and try it out in at least five different lettering styles. The lettering styles you can choose from is ornate, serif, fancy serif, sans serif, script, representational, dimensional, curved, black letter or any shape. This is the lettering warm up that I went with. I chose the word electric. As you can see, I went with a lightning bolt theme. So, I just went with whatever came to the top of my head in terms of styles. So, in this script, I went with something that looks like it's derivative of old general electric appliance or something, but I had fun experimenting with the way the stroke of the E contains the shape in this lightning bolt effect. In my fancy serif, I was referring back to my mood board and was looking at the letter forms in this poster. But I incorporated this fun little detail that is still referential to the electric and lightning bolt theme, but it's very subtle but very interesting stuff. In the shape, I just went with a lightning bolt, pretty simple. In my ornate lettering, I just wanted it to be electrified. This went with this fun little old lightning bolt electrical current swirl. On the curve, this is awful. I clearly didn't use a compass, but it was just something I wanted to try out. But if I had to go back and fix it, this E looks like an F, but it was definitely just something I drew off the top my head. I had a lot of fun with my black letter lettering. I feel like the black letter is really good just to go with this lightning bolt idea. While I'm not going to use it for my project in this circumstance, I may refer to this later for another project at some point. My sans serif is pretty simple. I just wanted to refer back to some of the 1950's graphics I was looking at, and playing with the baseline of the letters and adding little lightning bolt effects all around. Representational, again, pretty simple. Just like letters made out of lightning bolts. But I wanted it to still be readable. So, the leg of the R, I went with a curve rather than just like a straight lighting bolt, and the curves of the C's are still readable because they're not all just straight lightning bolts. So, I think I have some good ideas of what I'm going to use for my project, and I feel warmed up, and really ready to dive right in. 5. Lettering Warm Up: Part II: So, we're going to continue the lettering warm up. This is an example I just showed you. I'm going to show you how I went through that process. Because I didn't do such a great job on the drawing on a curve, I'm going to redo that drawing but this time I'm going to use my compass. So, I'm going to rough out where this drawing is going to live on the page. I'm going to bring out my ruler. I have a sketchbook here and just with my hand, I'm just going to draw lines to guide it. That way I don't have to do too much measuring and I can just eyeball it. So, I know I'm going to need to know where the center is so I can place my compass down and draw the curve. So, now I need to figure out how wide I need to make this curve. I'm going to turn it until it's at the right width. I'll get a little- down a little bigger and a nice wide curve. Start there. I'm going to draw the top of the curve so I know where the top of my letters will go. But this time I'm going to keep all my letters upright. It can be tricky to draw all your letters that go along with the curve. So what I'm going to do is draw guidelines of where the basic width of what the letters will be, so they can all be upright. I'm not going to really measure this out and I'll be able to erase these lines later. But this way I know if I can start here, it's going to be straight. I'm going to start with the E, rough out the frame, and I need to make sure that I'm drawing my letters wide enough so they'll be able to fit the entire curve. So I'm really just roughing the letters in and I can go back and fix them so that they fit the curve. I think I'm just about making them fit right. That looks pretty good. I'm just going to lightly erase some of these guides so I can focus on the letter forms. I can still kind of see the outline of the letters but I'm not going to have these extra lines, that will just end up confusing my drawing. So, I have the framework of the letters and you start adding some more width, having the crossbars where that base line, where that X height is going to be. I'm drawing them and I'm making sure that they look like the right width, not the letters are all even and cohesive. And I'm just making decisions about style as I go along. And to go back and add some more expressive serifs and add some interest to this drawing. You can see I have the outline and the basic look of my word. Just fixing some of the strokes, widths then I'm going to go back, erase the curve guideline, just to give it a more clean look. So, that when I scan it the focus is on the word and not all the sketchy outlines. So, you can still see the basic shapes and the serifs. But I'm going to go back in with cleaner lines, going off of the lines that I just drew, re-draw them. I don't like the way that C is curving so I kind of need to re-draw that. You'll be able to see when you're making these kind of errors when you're finalizing your drawing. Losing the sketchy line quality. Moving on to a more refined line quality. Now, I think that is sloping down too much. I think I'm going to add a drop shadow. I'm going to have it make it look in perspective. We remove the C over. So, I have this, the center right here that I can use as a guideline. I'm going to take each point of the letters and I'm just going to draw on a perspective point here. I'm going to draw the ends of each letter and have them meet at this point. It's going to make this fun kind of in perspective, like it's exploding or something. I think this effect could be fun to maybe even use in the final. When you're drawing drop shadows, it's definitely good to have guidelines or a perspective to refer to because if the drop shadow is shifting, it's not going to be believable and it's going to look more awkward than probably, the effect you are going for. So, one way we can finish off this drop shadow so it doesn't come to this point which could be very distracting in your final drawing, is to use the compass again. You can add a bottom to the drop shadow. You're going to have to go back in and fix where it stops, and how the curve of the C will have to go right here. This would give a good room to maybe put words, or a banner, or something that could fit in with your drawing, and then I just finish up where the letters go. So, I'm going to kind of fake in the curve of the C. This is where this T would end right there, so I would erase this line. Again this, I need to replicate the curve of the R. The curve of the C. So, now we have this fun perspective. We can go in and add shadows to really make this illustration stand out. You can do like a gradient shading effect, or lines that imply gradient. Oh, going off perspective there, that's why I need the guides. So, to go back in and really finalize this drawing, I'm going to use my Blackwing pencil. I'm going to outline my lettering, so it stands out. I can add details like a fun in line dotted detail and I have a nice little drawing. I feel ready to get into my sketches. 6. Understanding Hand-Drawn Letters: If you break down drawing letters in the decorative way into these four steps, it will make it a lot easier. The first thing you're going to want to do is draw the frame of the letter. You're going to make sure it's spaced evenly and it's in the proportions you want. The next step you're going to do is add weight to the letter. If you think about it in terms of drawing shapes, it kind of makes it more easy to know. So, it's basically three rectangles and an angle, two and an angle, one crossbar. The third thing you're going to do is add the style details. You will kind of go to your reference material to see what kind of serifs you want to add. I added these fun little serifs here, and I've added some detail to the crossbar. The fourth thing you're going to do is add the finishing details. I added a fun little dotted inline and these two diamond shapes that replicate the shapes that I have here and a drop shadow, and when you're doing this in terms of your entire illustration, just make sure you're leaving enough room for your serifs and enough frame to add a drop shadow that doesn't interfere with other letters around it. Okay. Right now we're going to talk about some common mistakes I see and beginner letterers. One of the things I find people starting out having difficulty with is script lettering. I think the number one issue people have with script lettering is knowing when to do the thick downstrokes versus the thin upstrokes. We are going to go through that right now. So, that's just a basic stroke. But when I want to add the fixed strokes, I'm going to be adding more pressure when my pencil is being drawn down, which is the downstroke. When I'm changing the direction of the stroke, it's going to lighten. When I go down again, I will be adding more pressure to my pencil and the stroke will be a little heavier. So, a good way that you can remember doing that is to physically press harder when you're drawing the stroke pencil down and lighten the pencil when you're drawing up. Then when you can go back and add that. When you're revising your drawing, you can go back and make sure all the thick and and thins are even. So, what you don't want to do is have the fix doing the opposite thing. So, you can see how on this one, the downstrokes, the curves of the stroke of the letter is thicker, whereas here. It looks like the heavier strokes are when the letter is curving. You can play around with this. There's definitely different kind of styles to do script lettering. But as a beginner, it's important to know this and practice it when you're starting out. That way when you're trying out different style scripts, you can be more adventurous in where you play your thicks and thins. Another thing I see is swirls. I love adding swirls and fancy ornamentation as much as the next person, but if you're adding too many swirls, it can overwhelm the word and just look sloppy. So, this is an example of too many swirls. Too many of these, adding swirls in the letters. Now, you can do this same kind of idea with adding swirls all around the letters but if work in more broad, more elegant curves, you'll have a more sophisticated feel. So you can see, I still have swirls that kind of contain the word, but I'm not adding tiny swirls on the end of each letter. These tiny swirls end up looking kind of sloppy if they're not done just right and it's better to keep them nice and open and keep the word the focus. When you're adding thick and thins, it's the same as if you're working with a serif font or a script lettering style. I see a lot of people have make this mistake when they're drawing a W that has thick and thins. They want to add the thick strokes on the side of each W which is incorrect. You would want to draw the W more like this so that the parallel strokes are the ones that get the thick lines. You can draw H's that have parallel thick lines, but not with W or N's. You're going to do the same thing with these strokes. You would have the fix. When you add the word, it makes it maybe harder to read or just look sloppy. Another thing we're going to talk about is just the overall, the baseline or the X line. When you have the X line, this is where the lowercase letter words would go. But when you're drawing a word that has, let's say, I want the bowl of the R to be down and just a little bit more exaggerated. Now, if I draw the A, I'm going to have that crossbar meet up with where the bowl ends. When I draw B, I'm going to have that line up with that same X line. If I draw the next B up higher, it's not going to meet up and it's going to look awkward in the layout. Another thing I want you to be considerate of when you're working on your lettering is the spacing. If you're spacing your letters too closely to where when you add serifs, they're running into each other, that becomes problematic. So, I'm drawing the framework of the letters. When I go back in and start out in serifs, they're going to run into each other and that's going to make it hard to read and look sloppy. So, I basically just redrew the word and I gave it a lot more space. This way, I have room to add the fix I want on the letters and the serifs I want with plenty of room. Some other things I see with beginner letterers is drawing the N incorrectly. The same thing with the W and the N is putting the thin stroke as the diagonal stroke and the fix on the upper on the upright strokes. This becomes difficult when you are trying to create a word that's readable. The N has the really powerful diagonal which makes it stand out as an N and really easy to read. So, if you have the diagonal as your thick, it would be helpful to read as an N. When you're drawing E's, it's important that this cross stroke is a little bit shorter than this top and bottom strokes. If they line up when there's when there's another letter right next to it, it's missing that little bit of breathing room that makes it easier to read. When this stroke is a little shorter, and I have a letter right next to it, it has that extra breathing room that makes it easier to read. You're gonna want to keep these different tips in mind when you get to your project and when you start lettering. 7. More Tips: 8. Thumbnails: At this point, you probably have a pretty good understanding of your phrase and how you want the style to look. Hopefully, now, you have even better understanding of how to draw letters in a decorative way. So, we're going to start drawing thumbnails. Thumbnails are the basic layout you want to work with for your concept. They're going to be really small. They're really quick. You don't have to get too involved in the details but you just want to get some ideas of how you're going to want the layout to work and put them on paper. So, this is some of the thumbnails that I came up with for my project. As you can see, I did just some really loose thumbnails here but then I got some ideas about what I wanted to include in my project. If you're impatient like me, your sketch is going to look a lot like this and a lot of little weird details and little illustrations that you want to include. This is a good thing to kind of do explore, be as creative as you want, they don't have to be perfect. They just want to get ideas onto paper. I have some of the thumbnails I feel like are really working. I really like this one, it's almost like all the lettering is made out of yarn. But it's not the concept I want to go with because it's not going to get the effect and the kind of retro feeling I'm kind of going for. I really like the way I've incorporated the yarn, making it look like electric currents. So, I have some yarn kind of going in this like lightning bolt, electrical current, kind of way. So, I experimented with that and just different lettering styles and I'm really ready to get started on my sketches. Now that we know a little bit more about lettering and have explored the potential in your project, we're going to do some thumbnails and this is to get some basic ideas of the layout and composition. You don't have to get caught up on too many details, so I'm just going to rough out some basic kind of proportions I'm going to be working with and I'm just going to roughen some ideas. So, they can be basically whatever, you can do as many of these as you want, try out different kinds of options. We just want to play with different compositions, make sure you've really explored all the possibilities for your project before deciding on the sketches you're going to go through. So, playing with size, don't worry about if everything's not fitting in there nicely. You can kind of play with some ideas of style if you want. Kind of like the diagonal kind of layer we're going with here, I'm going to try a different version that uses the script that I did in the warm up. Maybe it's this little robot illustration here, maybe it loops around, kind of feels a little bit more like the 10 car packaging, that book I have some ideas there. But it doesn't really have a very feminine look to it. So, I don't know if it will actually get used in the final but it's good to explore your options. In my mood board, there's this book cover that has this little like doily kind of illustration, that I think would be an interesting containing shape and would definitely go with the kind of knitting and the grandma kind of theme. Maybe it's very simple. Just want to curve maybe that is script. Although, I don't think nan works in a script because it's a short word and short words just really don't do much when you're working with script. You really want it to, like if it was nanny, that would be a lot better because it has a nice evenness to it. If you're working with script, and it's just three letters, it's kind of, doesn't really do much. So, I feel like I have some good places to go and I think I have a good idea of what I want my sketch to be like. I like this kind of symmetrical layout. Something like that. Really play up the book idea, robot there. Yeah. They can be pretty rough, they don't have to be very detailed. You really just want to get some layout ideas so that when you start sketching you can lay it out similar to how these thumbnails are, and that's pretty much it. 9. Sketching Part I: Now they have your thumbnails, you're ready to get into the final sketches. What I want you to do, is pick a few of your favorite thumbnails, and take them to more finalized sketches. The sketches can be rough, but you still want to get your idea across as clear and as detail as possible. I want to go through and show you some sketches that I did for a client work. This is a sketch that I did for Baltimore Magazine. The idea was a story about crabs and I went with this sign painted, feast for crab lovers, Illustration. I wanted it to be as close to the final as I can get. So, I included the draft shadow and I have the idea of how I want this containing shape to look and the raw detail. While it's still pretty rough, the client knew exactly what the final would look like, and I think I got pretty close and not much has really changed when I went to final. This is an illustration I did for reading Francey. I was given the quote not tonight I'm reading, so I kind of went with this very dream, with books floating around and I'm picturing on a night sky. So, I got the lettering as tight as possible in the sketch, so that when I took to final, it was really easy for me to start inking it up because all the decisions were already made. This is an ink drawing of a sketch that I did. The food is pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones. This is the sketch that I worked off of and I'd basically traced right on top of the sketch so I was thinking it was really easy for me to just replicate what I had done in the sketch, and when I took it to final, it just came down to choosing color and texture. So the sketches that I have ready right now for my project, are these two ideas for knitting like an electric nan. This one I kind of went with a more like the containing shapes from more robotic, and I have a Doily effect here and I revisited that script I did on my warm up. I liked the overall look but I think it's a little too busy. I'm really liking this sketch and I have the little robot, the electric nan here. This icon I have the fun details with the electric current running into the yarn. I'm really kind of going off of this old style book. I'm going to have corners here and a fun spine with details, and fun little details throughout the entire illustration. 10. Sketching Part II: So, I have my thumbnails and I'm ready to take one of them to sketch. I really like this thumbnail right here. I feel like it has a lot of potential. It's really rough at this stage right now, but I'm going to see how I can sketch it out and make it extra special. So, I'm going to rough out where I wanted to live on the page and what kind of size I'm going to have my book cover be. I'm just using my sketchbook to use as a guide for my hand to just do the draw, so I can draw the straight lines pretty quickly. Now, I want this book cover to have an old tiny spine detail and I'm just going to rough that in as well. Now, I'm just going to figure out where I want everything to be on the page. I'm just going to rough in some guides where knitting will be. I'm going to use my ruler and make sure everything is even and centered. So when I get to sketching, I can focus on the lettering and know if everything is not centered. So, that's just about right. Like N, it's going to go right here, it's going to be small, and then electric is going to be on a curve. So it's going to be right around here. I'm going to draw on those guidelines and I'm going to figure out the center so that when I'm ready to draw it on the page, I can use my compass and draw a nice even curve. So that's about the center. I'm just going to draw a line right there and I can always erase that later. Then nan, it's going to go right here, and now I know that the A is going to live right here so I can just quick rough. So here, there's going to be some little corner details. Okay. So, I'm going to rough in the lettering and I'm not going to pay too much close attention to the details. I just want to get the framework done so I can figure out if everything spaced correctly. So, just lightly pencil sketch where I want them, what I want them to look like. Knitting, I want to do a nice simple kind of script, something ladylike, feminine, just pretty. Like N, it's going to be really simple right here like how I had in the thumbnail. Then electric, I'm just going to grab my compass and we're going to figure out how wide this curve should be. So, I want to just make it a little wider. It's about right on how tall I want the letters to be. I'm keeping the compass in the same place because if I move that up, the curve would be off. It would be wider than this curve. So you want to keep it on the same level. Spine that whole again. In this way, the lines are equidistant, I guess. I'm just going to erase those guidelines and then it's going to go right here. So right here, I have enough room for this detail. In my thumbnail, I have this kind of yarn electric current thing going on, but I think I want to do something different. But I am going to draw a little circle and I think I'm going to draw a little icon of an electric nan, and I don't know exactly what she's going to look like just yet but it's probably going to look like Rosie from The Jetsons. That's what I imagine her to be. So, that's my circle. Then nan, I did these experiments with my thumbnails and I got carried away, but I really like the way this is working. It has this fun little lightning bolt detail in the swash of the A and it has these fun Victorian type details and the letters. So, I'm just going to use this as reference and replicate it here in my sketch. So, I'm going to lightly sketch out the framework of the letters, see if I can get them spaced evenly. That looks just about right. Then electric, similar to how I was working in the warm-up, I'm just going to draw some guides so all my letters are upright and straight and none of them are curving or swaying side to side. I'll be able to erase these guidelines later. For this, I'm going to do a simple sans serif, so I'm just going to rough that in. I'm giving myself enough room, so I want to add some details in these letters. So I want them to be bold enough to fill the space nicely. That's looking pretty close. I'll be able to tighten that up. Now, I have some fun ideas for ornamentation that I'm going to be including in the lettering. So, I have this idea of doing the yarn balls and they're unraveling in this electric current lightning bolt kind of ornate way, and they're going to be zapping from N. So, it fills that space nicely. It goes with the concept and I think the ornamentation works really well in the layout. It's hard to get them perfectly symmetrical, but that's something I can either trace. Or when it's all in-depth, I can take this side, reverse it, and use it on that side, but I think that looks somewhat close. So, we're going to do the same thing here. Going back to my thumbnail, I just did these zap lines going around the yarn ball, but I'm going to use these zap lines and just do the same thing with the yarn balls. So, it has a symmetrical feel but I'm doing something a little different. I like the way that contains nan, and this is going to have a swash that goes like a little lightning bolt, looking even like outlines like that, lines around here, and here we're just going to do some fun swirls like that. Maybe this will just get swirl detail like a coil, and beyond that's just going down the spine. Such the basic rough sketch of how everything's going to be. I think everything looks pretty even or I can go in and check. It looks like this spine have to be moved over a little bit, but I think we're in a pretty good spot. So, I'm going to start refining knitting a little bit, adding the thicks and thins, and just make sure my curves are even and smooth and just making sure that cups that area nicely. Making sure I have enough space. The t's are parallel. They're just general tightening up of the sketch. Now I have an idea of how I want to dot the i's and cross the t's in fun way, which will kind of create a fun ligature which is combining two characters into one. So, we're going to dot this i, do a swirl. He's going to go right there, just like a little wobbly but I can go and fix it. Now, I feel like that space is balanced, and I have, this kind of swash here kind of replicates this one, doing all kinds of good things, and I think that is looking pretty good. I can just kind of go in and erase these guidelines. I can still see that line of the letters and I can go back in with my blackwing pencil later and darken everything and make the sketch nice and dark, so I can scan it in nicely. So, this, I'm just going to keep "LIKE AN" pretty simple. I'm just dealing with hierarchy. You don't want to make "LIKE AN" any bigger than they really need to be. Still all readable but, want to showcase the good words, the important words. That's pretty good, just like a simple little sans serif black-letter thing. So, with electric, I have it really roughed in there. So, I really want to go back in and just make sure everything is looking even and straight. Because when you're drawing on a curve, things can go wonky pretty quickly. So far, it looks like I space the letters pretty evenly. So, I've got a pretty good spot. As I'm drawing the letters, I'm thinking about what kind of ornamentation I can add. I'm thinking of that spaceship I have in my mood board, and it has those really great little fun buttons and bolts, and I think that's something I'm going to use in these letters. So, while I fix these, I'm going to rough those details in as well. I think I might be adding these dots and bolts throughout the layout. I could put them along these curves, anything that makes it think, "Okay, you're combining these swirls", and the ideas that go along with knitting. But then, you want to make them think that they're also electric or just kind of vibrant and this kind of retro look that I'm going for as well. I think I might also similar to the warm up I did, I might add a bit of a drop shadow. So again, with my ruler, I'm just going to put in some lines, and I think these will fade into the background. So, I just want to draw little lines like that, and maybe it looks like it's moving in space or exploding, coming from likes some kind of background, and I think it will have a really cool effect. That might be something of a gradient I would work with when I get to color, and I'm thinking could have some fun textures attached to it. But right now, I just want to make sure everything is straight and it really looks like it's coming from one perspective. That looks pretty good. So now, I'm going to draw this electric man, and I think she's going to be knitting. Right here, will be her knitting sticks, what is it called? Needles. She'll have robot hands. They'll kind of look like this, and she's knitting this network very graphic, which is curly hair, which is just going to be peering over it like this. Smile, only the smile, and her, definitely thing of rows from the Jetsons. But, [inaudible] make sure she's smiling there. Then I'm going to add these bolts around it, might be a little too big. I can always make that smaller when I refine the sketch. Now, just like my thumbnails slash lettering warm up, I'm just going to go with the same kind of details that I added to those. I like the way it's crossfire is here, might make this a little taller. I like the way it's symmetrical. Anyway, you can figure out how to make letters symmetrical even though the word is symmetrical, is really fun to do, because it looks really good and especially if you can figure it out when it's two different letters. It's pretty exciting. So, yeah. Just, like these kind of Victorian minds you've kind of woodblock advertising posters. They have this fun ornamentation like that. Then I can do either the bolts here or these zap lines, and I think I might do the zap points. Maybe this will go right on top of it just like that. It could be a ball ban or could curb and kind of relate more to the letters. If I were to make this book actually happen, it would be really fun to do some foil stamping and fun retro colors, do lots of fun stuff for this book. I don't know it would be about knitting fast. At this point, I have everything basically how I want it to look. I just need to do some more tightening up, erasing some of these guidelines, and I'm going to go over the whole drawing with my blackwing pencil, so it's ready to scan and looks nice and clean. After that, we'll get ready to do a nice for fine drawing. 11. Refining Your Sketch: So, I have my sketch and I'm ready to make a more refined sketch. So, I'm using my light table and I have my sketch here and i have a paper on top of it. There's just a few things I want to tighten up before we go to the final linking stage. So I'm just going to roughen again, my guides. But this time I want to leave a little bit more room so I can add more details to the spine. So I have the Script pretty much the way I want it, but I think I might want to have the leg of the K kind of loop around with the slash of the G. I'm basically going over my sketch, and anywhere I see something that needs to be tightened or a curve needs to be smoother am going to make that change. One of the things I want to add to this refined sketch is adding more of the corner details and this fine details. So I'm going to use my compass and draw these curves so they match up with the corner of the page. And I'm just going to add some- these swirly details like I have here. I'm going to add some more details to make them a little more special. 12. Final Inking: Now I have my final refined sketch. Before I get into inking, I'm going to take another look and make sure everything looks even, all the spacing looks even, my curves look smooth, everything feels balanced because, once I start inking it's not the time to make those decisions. You really want those made before you start inking. So, I feel like my drawing is in a good place and I feel pretty ready to start inking. I'm going to be using my unit ball-pen. One thing you could do is ink right on top of your sketch. I don't always like to do that because I like to have this sketch by my side or just like for reference or if I need to start over completely. If I mess up inking. So, I like to put my drawing paper on top of my sketch and trace on my light table. Because I don't want my sketch to move around, I'm just going to tape it down. This way I can just get to inking not have to worry about it moving and having to adjust while I'm doing that. Just a couple of pieces of tape on either side and that should be good. I'm not going to sketch the bounding shape because that's not going to be drawn. I'm going to have that in my file when it's ready to be digitized. So, I can, just go based on the guidelines I have marked here and that should be good. So, I'm just going to get started with knitting and we'll go from there. So, when I'm inking, I'm really just going to carefully follow, the drawing I have already and just make sure that it's staying true to my refined sketch because at this point it's approved by me or the client I would have been working with. I don't want to make any changes at this point, so, I'm going to go through pretty carefully and if I do end up messing up one part of my drawing, where the rest of the drawing is looking pretty good. You can always take out another sheet of drawing paper and redraw that one section and you can scan it in separately. So, you're not having to start completely from scratch, but you are able to correct those issues. One thing you might be having trouble with, is that the pen is of different thickness than the pencil. So, in this case, I have a very thin drop line that I put into my drawing with a pencil. So, I did not leave very much clearance. So, one thing I might do is actually draw that in on a separate piece of paper so I don't run into it, getting in my drawing and I can keep my ink drawing nice and clean and just have a couple different drawings to scan in that I can compile on the computer. So, make sure you're making very smooth marks. The better the drawing is, the less work you're going to have to do when you're in the computer. Which I like because, I'd rather be drawing than drawing on the computer that's for sure. So, I think that's looking pretty smooth. Now one of the things I could do if I'm in a rush or I'm just kind of need to draw this quickly. I can leave this outline and I can delete that inner shape in the computer rather than having to go in and fill it. That will come in handy when you get down to these letters that have details in the letters because, then you don't have to draw the details on a separate piece of paper. So, I'm going to draw these with the drop shadow because I left just enough room to do that. I have a feeling I want this to be one color. If you wanted the drop shadow to be a different color than the outline of the letters, you could draw the drop shadows separately, or you could draw the drop shadow on the computer. That gets filled then and that's okay. Now I want to keep these ornamentation very smooth. This line looks a little wobbly so, I'm going to draw a line just next to it and when I'm in the computer I can probably delete this section and just replace it with that line right there. I can never draw all these ornamentation perfectly symmetrical, so this loop got a little wobbly while this loop looks very good. So, I might, in the end, just kind of embrace the wobbliness or I could take this, flip it over, and just have them be perfectly symmetrical. That's something I can design on the computer, or I might just put down another piece of drawing paper, draw it, see if I can get it just right. Just add in these other details. That loop looked a little wobbly so I'll probably redraw him. At this point, it's really about getting the drawing just right so you don't have to do as much editing on the computer. So, in these letters, I'm just going to draw the outline because I'm going to want to draw these details right inside the letters so I don't have to put down another piece of paper and redraw them. So, I don't want them to touch. I can fix those kind of details in the computer when I'm adding color. I want some of them to be filled in, some of them to be outlined, so it looks like there are lights, maybe some of them are blinking. I'm thinking of them like that. I'm going to be drawing the drop shadow lines on a different piece of paper because I want them to be a different color, and I think it would be really hard for me to draw them. I have to move them all around and arrange them so that they're touching the letters. So, if I draw them on a separate piece of paper, I can just overlay it right on top of this ink drawing in the computer, and that should be pretty simple to do. Sometimes, when you see your drawing in a nice dark ink, you start to notice, maybe there's some weird things going on that you want to fix. You can always break out another piece of paper, trace it, and try and redraw it so that everything is looking perfect. It's also probably a good idea that everything is spelled correctly at this point. I have definitely scanned things and end up in, like, "That is not how that word is spelled." Right now, I'm noticing that my Electric Nan is kind of not in a perfect circle. So, at this point, I'm going to redraw that just so that it is right when I draw it. Looks like the only thing that gets cut off is this bottom part. It looks a little oblong. I just want to make sure it's the right size circle. Not too big that's going to run and just slightly sketching just so I'm not making any weird decisions in ink about how the drawing is going to look. I'm just inking right on top of the pencil, so we won't have any problems with it showing up when it scans or I can easily erase that pencil sketch. That should definitely be redrawn, you can see how the curve is not smooth and it points right here. So, I'm going to redraw that on another piece of paper, but I'm going to start inking up the Nan lettering, and I'm just going to do the outline. So, now I can include these details right in the illustration. I'm going to redraw that little diamond detail right down here. Now, they will swap that later, but that got a little messy. So, I'm going add the drop line details, and now I have plenty of room to do that. A swirl action. Curve. Add my little lightning bolt detail here. Add some sparks. We'll give it some stars. We might dilute both line here, who knows. Now, I'm going to do this corner details. Now, I have two shapes on top of each other here, two lines, and I'm going to draw just the one. Then, on a different piece of paper, I'm going to draw the second one because I want them to be different colors. Now, this border detail, I have this square squiggly line and I'm not going to draw the whole thing. I'm just going to draw a segment that I'll be able to repeat, long enough so it doesn't look like there's any repetition. But I feel like it's going pretty even nicer. I might just continue. Now, I'll be able to fix any wobbly segments in the computer, but everything else is looking pretty straight so far. Keep it that way until I get to the end. I may have a dotted line here and one straight line. Now, the same with these corner details, I have two different lines going here. So I'm going to draw the one, and on a separate piece of paper, I'm going to draw the other lines that overlap, but they're going to be in a different color and I'm going to start with the ball of yarn. I'm trying to keep the curves even as possible. That's so pretty symmetrical. So, the finishing touches are going to be on a different piece of paper because I have some lines that overlap. I can draw these little bold dotted line details, little swirl there, one here, and anything else that I need to tighten up once I take a final look at it. I think the C, I'm just going to draw it on top of that, so it means that it needs to be redrawn. It looks like the bottom of the C went down a little too far, it's a little too thick at this part, and this C too looks like it needs to be fixed just a little bit. So, I'll be able to redraw that and I could redraw just different parts of it and scan altogether. But what you really want is not to be afraid to have to redraw and draw it again because the more you draw, the better you will get about picking out different parts, different details, and learn how to critique your work, and the longer you are drawing it, the better the drawing is going to be. So, if I redraw this one more time, I think we're going to have a really tightening ink drawing, but it's in a really good place. Right now, I'm going to go for one more tracing and it'll be good. Now that we have our final ink drawings, it's time to double check. Make sure you have all your finishing details, all the curves look even, all the spacing looks correct, and anything that needs to be redrawn, redraw it now. I have two illustrations that I did. One is the book of my illustration, the lettering, most of the details. The second one where I did any other line work with details that I knew I wanted in a different color but would overlap my ink drawing. So those needed to be on a separate piece of paper. So, anything that needed to be redrawn, I redrew it, and now I have a illustration that is nice, dark, and ready to be scanned and digitized. Thank you everyone for participating in my Skillshare class. I hope you picked up a few new tips or tricks, and if you continue to do hand lettering, you keep referring to the steps we went over. I look forward to looking at all your projects, be sure to post your entire process on your project page. Everything from the mind maps, mood boards, thumbnail, sketches, and your revised drawings, and finally drawings. The more I can see on your project page, the better I can get an understanding of your full project and give you a full critique. I'm also going to look forward to picking my favorite three projects that will be screen printed in an edition of 15, and I hope everyone had a good time. 13. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: