Hand Lettering Styles and Techniques for Embellishment | Phaedra Charles | Skillshare

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Hand Lettering Styles and Techniques for Embellishment

teacher avatar Phaedra Charles, Type Designer & Lettering Artist

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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.

      Welcome to Class!


    • 3.

      Research & Reference


    • 4.

      Best Practices


    • 5.

      The Pen Tool


    • 6.

      The Script Alphabet (Lowercase)


    • 7.

      The Script Alphabet (Uppercase)


    • 8.

      Script Styles


    • 9.

      The Capital Alphabet


    • 10.

      Capital Styles


    • 11.

      Dimensional Effects


    • 12.



    • 13.



    • 14.

      Time Lapse of Title Card


    • 15.

      More Creative Classes on Skillshare


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About This Class

How do letterforms work? How do you add embellishments like script styles and drop shadows? Learn techniques to take your lettering to the next level in Adobe Illustrator!

Join Spencer Charles, formerly Senior Designer at acclaimed design firm Louise Fili Ltd, to learn a techniques, tips, tricks, and best practices to create your best lettering work. Lessons cover:

  • Letterform Research: study historical examples to see how common letterforms are made
  • Illustrator Best Practices: learn the best ways to use grids, layers, and the infamous pen tool
  • Alphabet Script Styles: construct lowercase and uppercase letters in different styles
  • Effects for Embellishment: practice inlines, outlines, drop shadows, and more
  • Monograms: learn how to weave and interlock letterforms

Illustrator is as diverse as your creative vision. Expand your skills while creating fantastic work!


Images Courtesy Spencer Charles, Designer and Lettering Artist

Meet Your Teacher

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Phaedra Charles

Type Designer & Lettering Artist


Spencer Charles is a typographic designer and letterer residing in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up, he always wanted to be either an artist or architect. Inspired by such artists as Chris Ware, he ultimately chose art.

After graduating in 2010 from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, he moved to New York City to work at Louise Fili Ltd as Senior Designer. Louise Fili Ltd, founded in 1989, specializes in logo, package, and book design. He is currently working independently, expanding into typeface design and illustration.

Spencer is inspired by growing in his work and inspiring others to do the same.

See full profile

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1. Overview: Hi, I'm Spencer Charles, currently Senior Designer at Louise Fili Ltd. I'm teaching a Skillshare class called Techniques for Lettering with Illustrator. Students will use Adobe Illustrator to letter a single word in a variety of styles, ranging from traditional scripts, what type, to more contemporary approaches. By exploring the tools available through Illustrator, students will leave with a better understanding of how to translate their drawings, sketches, or ideas into a vector environment. No drawing by hand will be required in this class, all lessons and projects will be taught through Illustrator demonstrating how to use critical thinking and the computer as a tool of lettering. The lessons will cover gathering reference, creating compositions, and best practices for using the pen tool. Students will also learn styles of Script and Roman letters that can be more easily replicated in Illustrator as well as effects and embellishments such as engraving, shading, and ornaments, and the basics of monogram construction. These techniques have helped me consolidate my living process into Illustrator from start to finish. Although it certainly doesn't replace the pen or the brush as an essential tool for lettering, it demonstrates that the computer requires just as much discipline and can achieve results just as dazzling and expressive as their traditional counterparts. 2. Welcome to Class!: Welcome to Techniques for Lettering with Illustrator. In this class, we'll examine some more advanced techniques for creating letters in a vector environment. Divided into six units, we will look at researching, preparing your workspace, the script in upper case alphabets, common styles, lettering effects, and monogram construction. Through the course of the class, you will take a single word, which you will then learn to letter in a broad variety of ways. By the end of the class, you'll have a handful of uniquely rendered words that you can call your own. The biggest asset of this class will be learning to improvise in what is normally thought of as a highly restricting environment. As a bonus, I have uploaded a time-lapse video of the title card I created for this class so you can see these techniques in action. If you have any questions about the methods I cover in these videos, please ask away using the Q and A section in the community page, and I'll do my best to answer them. Let's get started. 3. Research & Reference: In this video, I'm going to show you a few books I found to be very helpful in lettering. I think it's important to have concrete reference to draw from when you're working on the computer. Otherwise, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to start. Our goal with this research is to gather reference for a couple of different styles that we will be recreating in later units. This first book is called The Script Letter by Tommy Thompson. First published in 1939, Thompson derives majority of the book explaining how the script letter is formed. This spread illustrates the principle strokes that make up the lowercase forms. He also illustrates the formation of the capitals in a similar way. The book also covers flourishes as a variety of alphabets to refer to and also covers more casual styles. The Universal Penman by George Bickham is a masterpiece on the art of penmanship. Most noteworthy about this book is the manner in which he interlocks, flourishes, and letterforms. When introducing ornament in a composition, it's difficult to arrive at something that complements the word instead of competing with it. Bickham does a masterful job of balancing these elements. American Wood Type by Rob Roy Kelly is one of the best books written on this era of display type. Kelly gives a great account of the history and evolution of wood type. Up until this period of printing, most type have been cast in the lead which was very costly to produce at a large scale or to produce quickly. A series of inventions allowed wood type to be created on a much bigger scale, both in physical scalar quantity, paving the way for all sorts of expressive and inventive variations of letterforms. Besides these great examples of ornamental type, the last half of the book is devoted entirely to wood type's specimens, a great resource for anyone creating the work of lettering. The Speedball Textbook of lettering has gone through countless revisions and editions. This textbook is great for learning how to letter with a pen or brush. In addition to illustrating some fantastic alphabet, it also demonstrates creating compositions. Letters and Lettering by Paul Carlyle and Guy Oring is another great textbook that demonstrates a broad variety of styles. This book is a bit more formal than The Speedball Textbook. In addition to capital alphabet, it showcases a great selection of scripts, as well as more animated lettering styles. The last book I'm showing here is Monograms and Alphabetic Devices. Although this book tends to be stylistically over the top, it's a great resource for seeing a variety of monogrammed configurations. Also a great inspiration for different ways of modifying and shading the letterform. All the size I've shown here will be available to download as a PDF. I've also provided links to some of these books that are available online. In the next scene, I'll walk you through some of my best practices, setting up your work-space, and brainstorming compositions. 4. Best Practices: In this lesson, we're going to look at some best practices for working in Illustrator. Most of these tips are things that I've found to help me while working. They are necessarily the only way or even the best to accomplish these things, they're just my own preferences. I've created a board here that's the size of the SkillShare video dimensions. I created these letters for the title card for the class. The first thing I'm going to talk about is setting up guides. Most people know how to set up your regular horizontal and vertical guides, beyond that you can take any line or shape that you've created and convert that into a guide. Let's say we want to do a composition that rises, let's click here and it's going to duplicate it by holding an option, and I hold, I'll still hold down Shift to keep the alignment. So these two objects are the same horizontal alignment and I'll just make these guides. So now, we have this rising shape to work with. If I wanted to create like an arcane line, a tool I really like to use is, if you go to affect, warp, and then you hit "Arc," this will allow you to create an arc that you have a little more fine control over. Once I'm done with that, expand the appearance and make it do a guide. So now we have in our client to work with. I want to talk a little bit about layers versus grouping, and a lot of people I know kind of I use a lot of layers. I don't tend to use these a lot. I'll use these when I'm setting a file up for print and need to clearly label things. Otherwise when I'm working with objects, I find it more useful just to group things according to appearance. Each of these shapes are grouped into individual, this is made up of two lines, this is made up of like three lines, so these paths aren't actually joined yet, but if I highlight all these, I'm going to group them. I can actually instead of un-grouping it in order to edit these individually, I just double-click on it, it expands this the group view. So it deselects or it hides everything else that isn't in this group, and allows you to click on it and that it's you're not grabbing anything else on the art board. Another tool I really like is the alignment tool, is really useful for let's say you've letered a bunch of different things, and you just dragging him, he's having them all over the place. Say we want to align our H and our E and our A have same cap-height as this L, so if I have all these other ones, I click on the L. I've made this a key object. So I can align it, let's say I want to align these so they all had the same baseline, this is our vertical line bottom. So they're all aligned at the bottom now, and I can click and drag them wherever I need them. This S obviously doesn't share the same baseline as the L, so click the other S and alignment. Then the other great thing about this grouping is we have all these objects grouped in one single group, but now let's say we need to further edit this R. We don't want to see anything else, we can double-click this R, and pull it apart as well. I like to set up my colors pretty early on, so right here I've set up two different global colors, and the global colors, what this does is if you have an object that has this global color selected, so we have that purple. If we instead of having to click this to change the color, we can just double click on our swatch, and we can just change it from here. Another good tool for editing the colors is this recolor our work tool, right here at the top. This will break apart all your different colors. Another thing I like to set up pretty on and on on is the keyboard increments. Illustrator defaults to one pixel whenever you hit your arrow key. I like to make this a little more fine, so let's do this at half pixel. So instead of moving in a whole pixel, just moves it a little bit less, and this is really good for when you have to make really fine adjustments. I also like to set up the snapping, we suddenly somebody that you need to turn this off but you're smart guides so this means it just kind of automatically interprets information on the art board and aligns it to that. So here you can see this cream. These green guides that are showing up, those are your smart guides and they're just aligning to various themes on the art board. The last thing you can't really see in this video because screen-capture software amusing doesn't accurately portray it. I like to invert the screen regularly while I'm working, if you hit "Control" "Option," "Command" and then "Eight," you can try that right now, it'll invert your screen and if you just hit that again, it'll turn it back to normal. I like to use this a lot while I'm working because it allows you to see your negative shapes a little more clearly, and that'll help you love with really refining your curves, which I'll show later on. In the next video, I'll show you the ins and outs of using the pen tool. 5. The Pen Tool: In this lesson, we're going to delve a little more into using the pen tool. So I'm going to start off by drawing a lowercase E here. I'm showing you how to properly apply your points. It's good to draw on a north, south, east, and west axis. Meaning, plotting your points whether you're getting the bottom, the top, or left to the right, the furthest points on your form. The benefit of doing this is when you need to be able to make adjustments to this form, you can adjust the points by moving them up or down with the arrow key or left and right. Also, these handles, when you're not on an axis, you don't have anything to align these too because I plotted these on a grid, if you hold down and shift, it'll keep your curves on a consistent axis. After I've plotted my north, south points, I'll usually go in and I'll add the furthest left and the right points later. You can see here, it's good to generally try to get these handles to match in length. So, this is a longer extend this a little bit. So, one way of editing these curves is by dragging the handles and others directly selecting the curve using the arrow key to make those changes. If this were on an angle, if our points here are at an angle like this, it will be a lot more difficult to make these adjustments using the arrow key. You can see that I'm pressing down and up and it's editing both of these handles. With this setup, it only edits in one direction. The next thing we're going to do is create width in these characters. W introduced the width tool indices five which I find useful for drawing certain things but as far as letters, it's not exactly the best tool to use. I drew a couple of examples down here. This one is drawn with the width tool, and this is drawn with a method where I just copy and paste whatever form I've drawn and edit it out. So, I'll show you what I mean with this color right here. So, you can see with the width tool, it looks pretty good once we've added in these points here. You double-click on the line to add a point and you can click on here to change the width, field an option, you can edit one side. If I want to make further adjustments to this where I've actually adjusting the outside line here, if I expand it, it creates all these points on the object. This is not good because we'd have to reduce this all to one point anyway. So, I find it very useful just to start with a form like this. If I have this form selected, I'm going to copy it and then I paste it using shift command V. As you can see I have two other forms. If I join the ends, and then I'll just move one of these points in over here, then I fill it, I've created the width that I need. I'll just highlight both of these. So, that's a pretty good way of creating the width and the whole form overall is much simpler, and if you need to edit these points like let's say this is slope up, thin out faster up here, you can just click on this curve and move it up. So, this allows you have much more fine control over the form than the width tool does. Next, I'm going to show you how to draw a basic flourish. I'm just going to draw a point right here in this bottom guide, drag it out, I'm going to go up here and drag it out up here. So you have a basic rising line. I'm going to drag it out here and then just drag down here, create a circular curve. Then on this end, I'm just going to click on the point again and have it tail up at the end. So you have a pretty basic outline for flourish. To add our weight, again we're just going to copy it, shift command, paste it, and then click directly up on this curve, and then just move it over in small increments till we get a weight that we like. Same thing over here. Let's join these ends and then we have a basic flourish. If you wanted to make this a lot thicker, go out more, so there's high contrast, or if we want to add more weight to our thins, all we have to do is select the whole thing. Because we're using one single stroke, we can edit our stroke weight appear. Much simpler than trying to use the width tool. In the next unit, I'm going to show you how to create the lowercase and uppercase script letter forms, as well as some different styles. 6. The Script Alphabet (Lowercase): In this unit, I want to show you how the script alphabet is constructed both in lowercase and uppercase. This is a alphabet that I pulled from the speedball handbook, it's just a basic roundhand script. We're not going to draw all the letters here. We're just going to start by making at the primary strokes, and I'll show you how some of those primary strokes can be combined to create the letters. I'm just duplicating all these guides so that we have a space to work with. The first stroke we're going to draw is, this is called the direct L. This is basically the L form. It's important that the bottom of your letter feels like a circle. Yeah. So, we copied and pasted in place. We want this connector to stay in the same position. This inside bowl area is basically just going to be a slightly scaled down version of this. So, this is our basic L form. Now, we're going to draw the inverted L. If we just rotate this 180 degrees, this is what is going to be the form of our N and our H. The connector is kind of, we kind of just drew this, we didn't really base this off anything. So, this is probably the point where we are going to finesse it a little, alter this a little bit so that it feels more like it's coming off the stem of this. This H form is going to need to connect to whatever comes after it. So, I'm just going to duplicate that for the background, and we can pretty much just knock these off and then connect these two pieces. So, there we go. We have a pretty nice curved L form. There's a pretty short A sender. We can probably move this up eventually, and also the way this is, this is something you consider as how you style these end portions. It can be something as simple as just bowing it a little bit. So, you can do that, altering the form or I also like to just draw a circle or a shape. That's my background color, and place it over it just to quickly get an idea of how that's going to work. Effects like this, these are little embellishments are what's going to make it really feel believable rather than just really computering. We have this which we can extrapolate a lot of fun from, and we have this which could be N,could be M. Now we just need the oval which will be like a E, or the A, or the O. I'm going to draw an oval here, and you find generally this is a pretty good shortcut for getting the curves that you need. Theoretically, this would just be our O, so we're going to modify this oval to fit our criteria. I'm just going to copy this and paste in place. With our O, usually you'll want just the left side of it to have the flare, and then the right side have a little bit of weight to it. I am just going to copy this real quick because we're going to need this unscathed, and with this, I'm just going to fill it. Then using the Pathfinder, I'm going to divide it, get rid of that negative space, and then we're going to go back to this shape that we have. So, now we have an O that has this double outline. You can very quickly create other letters with this. So, if we wanted to do our A, all we need is the direct L form and this is just going to be shortened to below the x-height. You can't just leave this as it is obviously. I think for the A, this means the slope in the middle a little faster, and it also needs that come up a little higher. Now, it's pretty good. Let me draw one more letter for you. I am just going to draw an S so you can see it real quick. Again, that's going to probably start a little bit above the x-height. We want our handles here to follow the angle. We're going to get this to meet up here. That's a pretty good outline. We'll copy and paste in place, and move that in to create the thickness we need. We're required to move this down a little bit, kind of like we did with the bowl of the L.That's our S. You could also further modify this by adding a little flourish here at end of the landing point. So, up here, we can also do a kind of a similar thing. We can have this kind of shoot off, shrink that. So, those are the basics tricks to help you construct the lowercase. 7. The Script Alphabet (Uppercase): Okay. So, now we're going to talk about the uppercase alphabet. The strokes that make up the uppercase are pretty similar. With a lowercase, you mostly just have vertical and circular forms. With the capitals, you have what are called body strokes, swelled strokes, pointed L's. So, let me just draw these curves for you real quick. This is a body stroke. So, kind of like in the first lesson that I showed. Starts up here, slows down here. So, this is really the heart of a lot of different capital letters in the script alphabet, the T, the F, the L, the H. Let's say if we want to make this a T, then the curve is out even more. It's useful to think of these handles is they have to come out from the same amount, because if you have these meet up perfectly, vertically like that, you're going to get a perfectly circular form for the most part, and if you remember that this has to feel like it's on an angle. So, we're just going to line up the handles in the same way that we have our guides drawn here. Then, up here, is another general swelled stroke. We draw this coming down. That comes up a little bit right there. So, it's basically just a flipped version of this. So then we'll finish out our bowl or circular form here. So, we're going to duplicate his form, join the ends, move this over the arrow key. So, we have this stroke, we have this stroke and we'll fill it in. We'll copy and paste that, join the ends. So there's the T and then the F, we just duplicate this. The F would basically just be crossbar which you can do really simply like that. You could do something like that. We're just going to do one more, we're going to do the H. We're going to take these, scale this down a little bit. Bring this out a little more because since we scale it down a little bit in. So, this is our left side of our H, and then the only other stroke we need is the pointed L. It looks like this is sloping a little, it has more of an angle than this does. So one quick thing to do, you could just shear it. Copy it, paste it, move it out, cut the width, join the ends and more things coming off here. Depending on how you finish this, you could just connect instead of having this curl around, you could have it connect and just go up here like that. So, once you've done a couple letters, you can really reuse a lot of these elements, especially if you're doing other capitals. In the next video, I'll show you how to create different script styles based on weight, width and angle. 8. Script Styles: In this video, I'm going to walk you through some different styles that I created starting with this. What we made in our last video, some different modifications you can make. First one, I'm going to show you this is really simple modification. These are a sender's. I mean, a little taller. I brought these down a little bit so it comes at an angle and then the body flares out as it goes up to the top. So, each of these strokes, it gets a little larger near the top and then down here, at the bottom of the curve, or somewhere in the curve, I made these pointed. All you have to do if you hold down Alt, you can click and drag these handles independently on each other. So, if you want to make something on a point end, you just have to create an angle like that. I also created this monoline version. I took off the weight of the form. I made this connect. You'll notice that this is one of the instances where I use the width tool. With monoline script, even though it's monolinear, it's good to go in and thin these connectors out a little. Visually, they shouldn't be as heavy as the rest of the strokes, and it's so subtle that you won't even be able to tell when you're looking at it. So, I'll just go in and add a point that's about a quarter of a point thinner than what I'm working with, and I'll just drag it to the end. This is the same monoline script, it's just extended. So, this creates a feeling of something a little more quickly hand-drawn. The only thing that's changed here is the width, and then I had to change these bowls a little bit. This is a back-end script right here. Again the angle is just instead of being upright or moving forward, it's leaning back. I use these loops to aid with this backend form. This is an upright monoline script. You can see that I've finished these ends different from the way I've finished these ends. So, if you have your stroke selected under stroke and cap options, you can change this to different types of caps. This is just a hard edge. Using that, I was able to create a different variation. If you have your word grouped under appearance, you can add additional strokes to the object. So, this white stroke is on top of this black stroke. Let's say, I wanted to add another stroke below this, coming out of the black, I just go down here to add new stroke. Let's change this to red. Make that bigger, and you can see that it just goes on the outline of the font. This script using the monolinear font we drew before, I just added a calligraphic brush detail to it. If I wanted to work with this, I would probably want to expand it and finesse these points later. But for now, I thought this is an interesting effect so I kept it as it is. Last but not least, this is my quick attempt at showing you how to create a brush script effect. Again, using the calligraphic brush tool here. So, this oval simulates the variation of the thick and thins of the brush. As you can see though the way it joins and the way it end is too uniform and too computery, to really feel like a brush grip. So, with this, I outlined it, and in here with these connectors, I thinned the amount quite a bit more. I also made these connector connects to the next stroke. I made it much sharper. So, it fills a little more like it's drawn by hand, and then also, you can see that I flared the stroke out just a little bit at the top. This is flaring out then coming back and down here. In the next video, I'll show you how to construct the capital alphabet. 9. The Capital Alphabet: In this video, I'm going to show you how the capital alphabet is formed. This is the basic geometric sense of Art Deco style of lettering. You can see the primary strokes are just made of these lines and the circle. The R here is made up of straight stroke, diagonal stroke, circular stroke. The G is just half of the circle, varied Art Deco style. This S, this is kind of a long S also, a very Art Deco style. Here, which is probably the most difficult shape to draw is the S. So, the S curve is made up of one, two, three, four, five points. Usually, you learn this in basic type design or lettering. But it's basically just two circles that are joined and this point right here is rotated to create something that's a little more natural, kind of a natural transition. In most lettering, optically, you'll usually want the bottom of the S to be a little bigger than the top of the S. So, it's good to start by offsetting this, the middle of your shapes so it's a little higher. Then to help create the weight, it's kind of a similar approach that we took with creating the weight in the script letter. If we just copying pieces in place, we can then build out our letter form. Once you have this letter, I just copied and duplicated it to build out these heavy strokes. So, this is a high-contrast approach. You can also just take this and add a stroke to it and you can start to see how this becomes a basis for other letters. The next I want to show you is; this is a block letter approach right here. So, this is based off of a square grid where horizontal, vertical, and any curves that have been had just these kind of semicircular forms. So, I've drawn guides for my top horizontal stroke, my crossbar, and my bottom horizontal stroke. Then, you can see it's really easy with this style of lettering to quickly alter either how condensed or how extended it is because all you have to do is select these points and you can drag them out and then depending on how you finish these also adds some character. Being Gothic is kind of based off this approach. It's a very calming early to mid 1900s style of lettering and type. But you also see that the basis of this, the block kind of approach has also been applied to other forms. This example that I showed in the research section is, you'll notice that it's actually, this is kind of a block letter approach, the C for example. This is not a circular form. It has a flat top, flat bottom, flat side and then everything else like add an arm. The serif and these funky curls coming off the J the C are what really give the lettering its character. This is a kind of a Bodoni, Didot, modern, there's a lot of Roman style of letters. There's a lot of different names for it. It's a high-contrast face, high-contrast style. So, you can see there are down vertical strokes are very heavy, horizontal strokes are very light. The way I approach drawing this is similar to the way I did the script letter. It's just a filled form with an outer stroke as well. So, the outer stroke is the same weight as the horizontal stroke. I've lettered here a few letters that you can extrapolate a lot of other forms from. This R can also become a B very easily because of this bowl up here. You can duplicate that and that becomes a B, very easily. It could also become a K, this with this swelled stroke. The E could become an F very easily. The A have this angled stroke which also is applied to the N and from here you can do the M and the W. The G, which is this circular form and based off the O, you can very easily create the C from this. On these letters, you'll see that none of these pieces are joined. They're all made up of these individual strokes and pieces which you can easily copy and paste if you need to have a consistent serif style or a consistent line height or cap height. The S, this is the most difficult form to draw, so you'll see that I'll just copy and paste this here. So, this S should be the thinnest down here and be the widest in the middle and then thin back up again up here. Again, I created this just by copying and pasting in place and moving these points out. Ideally, you can hear this, the circle, should kind of fill the space nicely. Same with the outer stroke. The outer should fill like, should fill more or less like a circle as well. So with these styles, this is good practice and once you've learned how to do these, you can really start to create a lot of other styles. In the next video, I'll show you how to create different capital styles. 10. Capital Styles: In this lesson, I'm going to show you some capital alphabet styles based off the strokes and letters that I drew in the last lesson. Just to let you know, I'm only going to be showing one letter instead of a whole word, just so we can quickly see a lot of different styles, but the basic idea is that you take one letter, you experiment with altering the serifs or the strokes in specific ways, and then you can expand those styles into a full word depending on what you like. So, this is the modern kind of Bodoni style that we drew. I was going to show some different variations that I riff on based off this. So, this is the same style just a lot heavier. So, as you can see because all these pieces are separated, I enlarge these serifs quite a bit and brought this out as well. So, it's very similar, but very simple modification. This style here you can see that the armed here angle out instead of being completely horizontal, and the top of this serif just comes right above the cap height and down here at the bottom of the letter below the baseline. Also the crossbar or the arm in the middle is at an angle as well instead of being completely vertical. So this is an old style approach. With this form kind of a hershey's kisses serif and are really not as high but whereas before both these handles were completely horizontal and vertical, I just drag this handle out so I thought I created an interesting effect. This is the same form that we started with at the beginning minus the vertical and horizontal contrast, so the only fixed point in this one on the left is where the serifs are. Then here instead of having a heavy vertical stroke these have heavy horizontal strokes, and the crossbar here it's probably unnecessary to add that there, as well. This is an ornamental curled serif approach, if you're not comfortable free handing these curls, a really useful tool that I like to use is the spiral tool, so if you just click and drag this out it will create some spirals for you, and then all you have to do is delete these points until you get the size that you want, and then you can just rotate this or reflect it based on where you need to put it. Here we have a heavier uniform weight to the letter form, this is a Latin style where the serifs just come out at an angle from the main strokes, but, you'll notice that this is kind of a combination of Latin and then here where these serifs end here on the foot and also on the crossbar it curves. So it's this interesting hybrid of two different serifs styles. Here we have the same form that I started with the beginning, just a stencil form so the fins are knocked out, I also added just a slight variations to the stem to add a little more interests. This is a slab serif which can easily become this condensed claimed in form where it's really heavy horizontal strokes, really light vertical strokes. This is just an angle variation of the slabs serifs, this is also just a slab serif form with some minor variations. This is a concave stroke so all I added to create this was a stroke in the middle using the keyboard just push these in. If you ever create a point here with no handles an easy way of getting those handles back is by clicking on the handle and then converting the anchor points to a smooth curve right there. Again, this is just a Latin form, the serifs come out at a complete angle, there is no smooth transition between serif and stem. The next variation I started off with were these block lettered approaches. So you can see here this is just a chamfered letter form, the corners instead of being perfectly rounded are just cutoff, here this is very similar to the first form but there's just a horizontal heaviness in the horizontal strokes. This is the generic sans serif style of letter form, and I've expanded this to show different ways you can modify it, I added fine little serifs towards the edges and also this crossbar is going up a little bit. Then here on this form these are just kind of a pinched serif if I can really described him as anything. Also they mimic the effect that these serifs have I added points into the middle of the strokes just to add a little bit of curved on the form. Then last here I started with a basic mano way drawn form and showed some different variations that you can quickly create. This is a dimensional form, it's implying overlapping planes, this is a slab serifs style, this is similar to that last slab serifs style but with duplicated widths. This is a style where the heaviness of the horizontal strokes and then the horizontal strokes just continue out in the back of the form this is a very similar variation to this first one right here. Here the only modification I made was this crossbar, meets the stem just pulls it out, I thought that was interesting effect. Here, we have this vertical stroke and it goes down and then comes back up to create the serif and then the serif goes down a little bit. This form right here is more or less a block-letter form, you can see by the angle of stroke all these strokes are just angled in a very similar manner. This is a thick and thin form with these kind of triangular form introduced into the serifs and into the middle of the body, this is kind of a Bart Simpson serrated edge, and this is also a dimensional form. So all these last forms I just drew these on the grid, and this is a quick way to just to improvise and to try out some different styles. That concludes this unit. In the next unit, I'm going to show you how to create further embellishments and effects to your letter forms. 11. Dimensional Effects: In this lesson, I'm going to show you some dimensional effects to give your lettering a little bit of pop. For this whole unit, we're going to mostly use a couple heavy alphabets. It's really good to start with something that's heavy. Anything that's too thin, it might be a little difficult to achieve some of these effects. So, with this first one, this is just to show you our starting point for creating our drop line. I just duplicated the object and moved it a few clicks below to the left and to the right of the object. So, just set a 45-degree angle to the bottom left. After that, I went in and using this form that we already have, I just deleted a lot of these anchor points just until we only have these right strokes and these bottom strokes. This drop line right here is just with rounded caps. It's pretty simple. I haven't really touched this at all. This is a point where I actually like to use the width tool. It's a quick way of tapering these points so they feel a little more refined. You'll see, especially when you're zoomed out, it adds a little bit of a dimensional effect where it's heavier in here and lighter on the edges. Another way of handling the drop line would be, and this is a little bit heavier because with this one especially once you start getting a little heavier, it's really hard to control how this behaves. This is good for really thin lines, but beyond that, I'll increase the weight on it and then do a hard edge, outline it or expand it, and then here I'll just modify these corners so they look like they're actually coming off of the form. You can see here that it fully realized. So more or less, all these angles right here line up with the form. I'll zoom in here a little so you can see some of these details like here, this would come down. But because technically this is a surface bigger at the bottom, I just added this a little extra touch to give it some dimension. So now, we're going to go over outlines. So, with our Bodoni form, we had a fill and then we had a stroke, and then I showed you in one of the previous lessons how to add more strokes using the appearance panel, but you'll see that it's a little difficult to control these ends. So, what I did was, using this font, I just outlined it and then using the pathfinder tool, I expanded it and made a compound shape so it's one outline form. Then from here, it's much easier to add additional strokes, as you can see. So the way I have it outlined here is I have a fill, it's kind of this gray, I have specified this black stroke on the inside, and then on the outside I have two strokes below the fill. One is this white and then the other is this light gray. It's good with most of these dimensional forms to think of as far as your coloring goes. I've kept this very simple with black and white, but you'll want your letterform to be dark and the shading to go lighter until it meets the value of whatever your background is. Again, this is a similar approach, the only thing different here is I've added an additional inline, so that also creates another layer to this letterform. This is a dimensional form that I've created. All I did, you can see here, when I select this object, is I duplicated the object out. A good way to do this when you first have your object and you hold down alt, you click down and left with your first object, I'll create one more here, you want to group these two objects, and then I'm going to expand the group, and then from here it's a lot easier. Ultimately with this form, you can see that it's creating this jagged edge here. When I'm going in further refining this form for the final product, I would actually just probably just make this a compound shape and expand it, and then go on and get rid of all these points so this would just be a solid line here. In here, I've created this simple shading. This is a combination of two things. I drew this shape that follows the form. First, I started off with the gradient and then I added a grain filter. So, I'm going to show you how to create that effect. You go under effect, and then you go to texture, and grain, and under grain this allows you a little more fine control of spray paint effect, and I just select this stippled one here. You can see that it's kind of dark here, so I'm just going to turn down the intensity so it pretty much just goes to white. We're left with that, and then afterwards I turned down the opacity and multiplied it. When you first do this, you might notice that this effect is really pixelated-looking, that's probably because your document raster effect settings are set to a really low resolution. So if you go to effect, document raster effects settings, you can change not only a color model here, but your resolution so that this effect will render much finer. So down here, again, similar concept. I created the drop form in the opposite direction. Once I got to the bottom here, I pivoted in the opposite direction to the left. With this drop form, the rate it's dropping is down one click and then right one click. For this other shatter that comes off the form, I clicked down once and then clicked to the left twice. The rate of this angle is different than the rate of this angle. Then, another fun thing that you can do, because you have all these different forms here, is you can actually just click using the direct selection tool, you can click on any of these forms and modify, add an additional stroke. So you can see here, it just kind of accentuates the bottom of the form. Last here for this form, instead of filling it with a solid color, I actually just filled it with a lighter color, and it creates this interesting effect where you have this alternating pattern between dark, light, dark, light, and it adds an additional engraving effect. For this one, I did an opacity of five percent and then I multiplied it, it creates this interesting smoky effect. In the next video, I'll show you how to create ornaments using squashes, tendrils, thorns, ligatures, as well as some different engraving effects. 12. Ornamentation: In this video, I'll show you some ornamental effects to add more visual interest to your lettering. This is that modern Bodoni-like form from our last videos. I've added some additional effects to enhance the interest of this word. So, back behind this letter, using the drop shadow effect that we learned in our last video, I expanded this group and made a compound shape so that I could then make a clipping mask of these lines that are going on behind it. If you don't know how to make a clipping mask, whatever you want to mask, take that mask and put it above the object you want to clip, and with those two objects selected, you'll go to Object, Clipping Mask, and then Make. In order for this to work, whatever shape's on top has to be a compound shape that's expanded. Then this line work behind it. All of this is a line that I've created that has a dash put into it. This is a quarter point with a one point gap and the weight is turned out. So, once you've created this, I had letter 45 degree angle but if you wanted to you could go in here and alter the angle at which this comes off the letter form. Good thing about this 45 degree angle is that it lines up with the rate at which this line dropped. Additionally, I created the swatches with this modern form that has a high contrast between thicks and thins. It works really well. You can see that the way this goes by the G implies that it's connected and then I added these additional little swatches. A good tip is to never overlap two thick strokes. Here, you can see this thick stroke is only overlapping this thin stroke. When you have two heavy strokes overlapping each other, it creates unnecessary visual clutter. Here I've created this basic engraving effect. You have these three objects selected so, two of the objects are what's being blended and in this line here is the path that it's blending on. If you were to the object, blend, then make and then you go to your options here, your blend options, you can specify how the distance between the lines, and then also if you have it on a curve, you can align to the pace of this vertical or align to the path. So, after I created this blend, I went back in because this white is basically being knocked out of our black form. I went back in and added these black lines over it to help create this crosshatching effect. These lines, just like the lines in this blend, are created with just a simple variable width. You can create your own using the width tool or you can use these presets. Here I've shown simple ways to modify the stroke with ornament. Here I have a circle kind of curving out the body stroke of this E but you could very well take a diamond for example and put it in here, and that'll create a simple bifurcated look. Then however you modify the ends here, you can also play with using an ornament in the rest of the letter. For example, in the middle here or coming off the letter from here. Whatever you are doing right here, you'll eventually want to somehow bring elements of that into the surface. Then here just using a double rule and then these simple curls, it kind of helps create a focal point in the middle of this letter form. I've added font here on the side to echo this torn shape in the rest of the letter, I modified these Serra's just so they flare out a little bit. In this example here using this form we built up in the last video, I've added two simple effects. This first one all I did was I created a simple scallop half shape and with my brushes expand here, I clicked and dragged it in here. When you do that, it will give you these options like to hit pattern brush. It shows you how it will repeat the objects on a stroke or on a line, and you can control how it scales or how it fits to the path. Then once you have this line in place, you can use the stroke weight to control how big or small these scallops are. On this one, this is again kind of a simple engraving effect also using the blend tool. In order to get the correct path, I just clicked on these points here, copy them, and pasted them to get the path that we needed. So, it's exactly follows exactly the path that we want. Then last here, I just want to talk a little bit about ligatures. These are the letters I created for the title card of the class. You can see that these letter-forms kind of interlock, the bottom of the L comes up, the foot of this L comes out, this R extends below the base line just like the K does, we have an Ll ligature here. Then I've also added these little bullets in the counter of the O and the C and in this character space, just add a little more visual interest. Ligatures are a great way of adding a more custom field to your project. The only thing with ligatures is you'll probably need to curl the letters fairly tightly in order for the ligatures to work. In the next unit, we 're going to talk a little bit about monochrome construction and how to add beautiful details to those. 13. Monograms: For this last unit, I'm going to show you how to construct a monogram and some different effects you can employ. This first one I'm going to show here, this is based off of the block letter form that we played with earlier in the capitals alphabet. The great thing about this approach when you have pretty much no round shapes, only strict horizontal and vertical shapes, is it makes it a lot easier to fit multiple overlapping letter forms in a single shape. You can see here with this G and this B, one's round and one's almost square. You can see that here, they both share pretty much an equal horizontal crossbar. So, one option would be to imply that this crossbar is sitting on top of this B. I also tried another variation down here, where the crossbars falls below crossbar right here on the B. I thicken this up a little so you can see that that adds a little more eligibility. Also, these boxes that I use to knock out the black form, they help imply an overlapping effect. So, you can see that this G is falling behind the B except for when it comes in front of the stem here. So, it literally just weaves right here and then when it comes back here on the other side of the B, it's being implied on the other side. It's really important to pay attention to how big these gaps are and especially depending on how big the monogram is, because ideally this should be pretty fine. You could move this to the other side and that will helpfully iterate the weaving. For this form, this is based off that art deco geometric approach. So, the letters aren't actually interlocking but it's a good coincidence that the G has a round shape on the left, the B has a round shape on the right. Then down here, I started to do kind of a stifling effect. Usually, I'll just take a circle and holding on the option button, multiply it to fill it in. Here, it's really important to pay attention when you're employing this effect, these negative spaces here. Ideally, you want as much of your background to be filled with these dots as possible. If this shape is not, here it looks a little bit like it might be a little bit small. So, if I open that up a little bit, it would be good to make way for at least a couple of dots in here. We might have to open up this space in here as well, which would mean just bring this B over and this G over here a little bit. Here, this is just employing a very simple drop shadow effect. Here, I played with doing a script monogram. I started off with the ornate pen style that we developed in the second unit. With these script forms, I had to simplify it as much as possible. The way I was drawing it the in first unit, this would probably, a curl that came up and around like this and that. It would start to create all these different intersections. Again, the key with a good monogram, you need to pay attention to not only at the configuration and the shapes on the outside, but these negative spaces on the inside. If they're too small, we really don't want to get any smaller than this and this is pretty much a little wider than what our stroke width is here. So, it's really important to pay attention to these negative spaces, to make sure it's not creating any really tiny or bizarre shapes. Here, we might want to open this space up a little bit. When you're overlapping strokes, it's good not to intersect more than two strokes and especially if you have something nearby it. You can see this is going to have these complex shapes and even if we had a stroke just going through it that way, it just creates even more density in these areas. Then here, I tried playing with, just putting in this simple diamond shape. Also, I use these white shapes to knock out the black form to help imply some overlapping. If it needs to be strictly black and white, you could do one that's filled, one with outline. Here, whenever you have a circular shape, sometimes you can just nest things inside of it. So, here, I've just nested the B inside the G. Here, I've added some simple strokes to create a more acting effect. Then, here, I went in and refined these curves so they slope in a little bit and these feel a little more elegant. The arm of this G implies that the connector crossbar of this B, and then you also have these little thorns on the outside. So, that's a basic guide of how to construct a monogram. Like I said, the letter combinations are really what's going to make or break your final monogram. If you have a tricky configuration that you're not really sure what to do with, I'd really suggest getting one of those monogram books. They'll usually have a few examples of different ways of handling it. That concludes our monogram lesson as well as the class. Thank you so much for signing up and I hope that you've learned quite a bit. I've also posted a bonus time-lapse so you can watch more detailed application of all the principles I've outlined here, and hopefully that'll maybe answer some more questions about how to letter a more difficult composition. Thank you. 14. Time Lapse of Title Card: - way, - way, - way, - way, - - way - , - way, - way. 15. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: [MUSIC].