Lettering Tips - Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions | Martina Flor | Skillshare

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Lettering Tips - Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions

teacher avatar Martina Flor, Lettering Artist, Author & Educator

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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.

      How Can I Get Started?


    • 3.

      How Can I Fix my Composition?


    • 4.

      How Can I Fix my Spacing?


    • 5.

      How Can I Place the Weight on my Letters?


    • 6.

      How To Draw a Proper S?


    • 7.

      How to Draw a Proper P?


    • 8.

      5 Ways to Draw a Lowercase E


    • 9.

      How to Make my Letters Look Friendlier?


    • 10.

      How to Make my Letters 3D?


    • 11.

      How Do I Make my Lettering Look Unique?


    • 12.

      Take The Ultimate Lettering Quiz


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About This Class

Find out how much you really know about letters.


Meet Your Teacher

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Martina Flor

Lettering Artist, Author & Educator


Martina Flor combines her talents as both a designer and an illustrator in the drawing of letters. Based in Berlin, she runs one of the world's leading studios in lettering and custom typography, working for clients all over the globe such as The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, HarperCollins, Monotype, Etsy, Adobe, Mercedes Benz, Lufthansa, and Cosmopolitan, among many others.

Martina Flor earned her Master's in Type Design from the esteemed Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, The Netherlands. Since then she has dedicated a large part of her time to teaching lettering and type design. She has published two books in several languages, The Golden Secrets of Lettering and The Big Leap, and launch... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Martina Flora and am a lettering designer based in Berlin. I've been teaching lettering and type design for many years now. You might know me for classes here in Skillshare like The Golden Secrets of Lettering, The Golden Secrets of Script Lettering, and many others. Throughout all these years, I have collected in this notebook questions from students. In this class, I want to address some of the most frequently asked questions. So each one of the lessons in this class, we'll answer to one question at a time. I will go from the general to the more specific. I hope this will help you with your lettering work and to solve some of the problems you find along the way. So let's dig right into it. In the next lesson, I'm going to answer a frequent question, that is, how do I get started with my lettering piece? 2. How Can I Get Started?: You know what? You know more about letter shapes than you think you know. Letters are something we deal with since we were kids and we're in touch with them on a daily basis. Here's a simple technique to start a lettering piece with literally what you have at hand, your handwriting. Remember what that was? I know most of us don't use our handwriting that often anymore, but writing by hand is like riding a bike. Once you learn, you'll never forget it. If you're wondering how to get started with your lettering piece, this lettering tip is for you. Go ahead and write a word. Extra tip, keep it short but not too short. Try to make your best connecting all the letters and keeping them on the same baseline. There you go. If you're in the mood of adding some swashes, then your ending letters, ascenders. For example, the B and the D, and descenders like the G and the Y are a great place to do that. One more advice, use a capital letter in the beginning. Capital letters are always cooler than the rest of the letters because they are more complex and they have different crazy shapes. Now, go ahead and add some weight to the letters that means, make some of the strokes thicker than the others. How? Well for now do that intuitively. Keep in mind that you know more about letters than you think you do. How did your first attempt turn out? Probably you're already spotting some things that you would do differently, and that's good. If you can see it, you can always improve it. 3. How Can I Fix my Composition?: Did you ever had the feeling that something in your composition was off, but you didn't know what that was. Here's is an easy way to spot the issues in your composition. We're working on a lettering composition. I find useful to think of my piece as something that has a north, a south, a west and an east. If there's something going on in the North, for instance the flourish, I try to draw something in the South, to balance that out. If there is something going on in the West, for instance, a flamboyant capital letter. I ask myself, what can I do in the east to compensate that? These very Valerian piece is in and out in all its sides and looks more harmonious. Use this straight forward technique to find the problems in your composition. Remember, use the north, the south, the west and the east of your composition and try to balance these bits out. 4. How Can I Fix my Spacing?: Drawing letters is not only about the letters shapes themselves but also the space around them. The distance between your letters is called spacing, and is as important as the letters themselves because it allows you to identify where a letter starts and another one begins. It also changes the perception of the letter or entire word itself. A word that is too loosely or too tightly spaced results in a change in its value and becomes less legible. If you're wondering how to figure out the ideal space for a pair of letters, this lettering tip is for you. As a general rule, the space within the letter should be similar to the space between the letters. Space is not something rigid, but rather fluid, and it goes in every little corner. It resembles to water. If you could fit one liter of water inside the letter, you should be able to fit the same amount of water between that letter and the following one. That means that the more space within the letter will require more space between the letters, and the other way around, less space within the letters, less space between. Try that out. I hope that helps keeping your letters properly spaced. 5. How Can I Place the Weight on my Letters?: I have a trivia question for you. What is wrong with this W? Think. Your got it? Very good. This is not a W but a flipped M. Now, what's the key to realize this? The key is in the contrast, also known as the difference between the thinnest part and the thickest part of your letter. These are normally sitting on the down-strokes. This is due to calligraphic laws, and you might be wondering what calligraphy has to do with that. Well, calligraphy has a lot to do with the way our letters look. Before we could reproduce texts by millions like we do nowadays, books and manuscripts where copied by hand, by scribes. The tool of choice for text reproduction at that time was calligraphy, and its influence is still apparent in the structure and shape of our letters today. Again, here's the original letter M. We're looking W and a properly drawn W. Don't you think it looks much better this way? There you go. Next time you draw any letter and you want to properly place your weight, think of where the down-strokes and upstrokes are. Most probably this will solve your issue. 6. How To Draw a Proper S?: Raise your hand if you have ever drawn an S like two half circles connected at one end. Well I have. The truth is that while the most logical thing would be to think that an S-shape derives from rounded forms. The essence of an S is a diagonal. I will show you how. The stress of an S is in the diagonal and it's normally the one that carries the weight. We could practically say that an S is essentially a diagonal with two rounded stroke endings. Therefore, an S is closer friend of a V than of an O. So there it is. Next time you draw an S, you know what to focus on. Go for that diagonal first and add the rounded shapes at the very end. 7. How to Draw a Proper P?: How to draw a nicer letter P. There are certain basic forms that can be discovered in letters. Identifying these forms allows us to group letters that are related and design them based on share features. For example, by looking at the O, you can find a lot of information to draw a C or a Q just because they're all rounded. Following that line of thought, you will normally say that capital B is the basis for capital R. You replace a bowl by a diagonal, and that capital P is like the R without that diagonal. There are shapes that are created on the basis of others, but their relationship is never one-to-one. In the specific case of capital P, it will require optical adjustment. Why? The wide space below the bowl tends to look bigger than insisted letters. Just because there's nothing going on there, you will want to make the bowl sit lower so that it takes up some of the white space below. There you go, another lettering tip to drawing a nicer letter P. 8. 5 Ways to Draw a Lowercase E: You know that cursive lettering, also known as creep lettering, derives from handwriting and it embraces the variability of the imprint of a hand on paper. Therefore, if you happen to draw a word where one letter appears twice or more like for instance elevate, you will certainly want to create variations between those so that it looks more realistic. A lowercase e could have one or two stories and they can even sit under the baseline. Every one of these letter variations can have swashes and flourishes which opens up a world of possibilities. If you ever encountered two or more e's on your drawing, these are five solutions to fake your handwriting better. 9. How to Make my Letters Look Friendlier?: Their shapes tell stories, and depending on its letter forms, a word can read more friendly or more serious. Proportion is one essential concept we use for designing letters shapes. To explain this concept, I like to use human body, so there's letters that have optimal proportions, there's letters that have shorter upper body and longer legs, there's letters that have longer upper body and shorter legs, and so on and on and on. Interestingly, those shapes with more and even proportions are those that tend to look friendlier. This principle is also applied to character design, for instance, where the features of a character are exaggerated; you will find characters with big eyes and a big nose, or huge feet, the same applies to letters. There you go. Next time you want to make your lettering look friendlier or funnier, change its proportions, and that will help you make the trick. 10. How to Make my Letters 3D?: 3D lettering is a great way to make the word pop into the reader's eye. But how to do that in a simple way. I will share with you two ways to add volume to your letters. One of them is called axonometric projection. The axonometric projection is about rebuilding the exact shape and joining the points. That's it. You have a volume. On the other hand, is the perspective method. The perspective is about using a vanishing point and extend all the lines to it. So that's it. There you go. You have more like a Superman look to your letter shape. With the first technique, you will create a more bulky letter shape. The second technique will add dynamism to your shapes and it implies the idea of movement. So there you go. Next time you need to make your letters pop. You know what to do. 11. How Do I Make my Lettering Look Unique?: I need to tell you a secret. Well, after this it will no longer be a secret. First, I need to speak about contrast, which is the difference between the thinnest and thickest part of your letter. It turns out that contrast is very powerful when it comes to customizing a letter and make it unique. The amount of contrast is often proportional to how interesting the lettering looks. If that difference is low, we say that the letter has low contrast, if it's high we say that this is a letter with high contrast. Long story short, the higher the contrast the more interesting and unique your piece tends to look. Yes, legibility, that is how readable your lettering is. That maybe a little bit compromise but drawing letters is always a give-and-take. Don't you agree? 12. Take The Ultimate Lettering Quiz: The ultimate letter in Greece. Find out just how much you really know about letters by taking the quiz for free on Martina flor.com slash quiz. Enjoy.