Live Encore: Designing Geometric Letterforms | Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand | Skillshare

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Live Encore: Designing Geometric Letterforms

teacher avatar Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand, Graphic Design & Photography

Watch this class and thousands more

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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.

      Designing Letterforms 101


    • 3.

      Studying a Letterform


    • 4.

      Finding Stylistic References


    • 5.

      Creating a Construction Grid


    • 6.

      Sketching Letterforms in Your Grid


    • 7.

      Building Letterforms in Illustrator


    • 8.

      Playing With Stylistic Variations


    • 9.

      Finishing Your Letterform


    • 10.



    • 11.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Learn the foundations of how designers create new letterforms!

Learning how to create custom lettering is valuable for any designer. Geometric letterforms, in particular, are great for developing your visual style and technical skills because they give you some framework to work within, while still offering plenty of possibilities. In this hour-long class—recorded using Zoom and featuring participation from the Skillshare community—designer Evgeniya Righini-Brand shares everything you need to know about working with this letterform style she loves.

To start, you’ll learn about the process of studying the structure of your letterform and finding stylistic inspiration to influence the final design. Then you’ll learn about the value of construction grids and how to use them to start playing around with different shapes and forms. Finally, you’ll watch as Evgeniya builds her letterform in Illustrator and quickly experiments with a lot of different variations. Along the way, students who participated in the live session were able to ask questions, giving you even more insight into Evgeniya’s design process.

Great for students with a basic understanding of design and Adobe Illustrator, this class well help you dive into the world of geometric techniques! By the end of class, you should have some ideas for your own custom letterforms and the tools you need to continue developing them. 


While we couldn't respond to every question during the session, we'd love to hear from you—please use the class Discussion board to share your questions and feedback.

Meet Your Teacher

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Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand

Graphic Design & Photography

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1. Introduction: I think that geometric letterforms are really great for developing your visual style and technical skills because they provide you with a starting point and a framework to work [inaudible] , so you can very quickly get on with visual experimentations and seeing how you can interpret familiar shapes in your own unique way. Hello, I am Evgeniya Righini-Brand. I am a graphic designer and partner at Attitude Creative Studio, which I run together with my husband Dominic. In this class, we'll dive into the creative process behind designing geometric letterforms. We will be developing a decorative letterform, more specifically an ampersand. I will walk you through all of the stages of the design process, from gathering and using the research, coming up with rough ideas, developing construction grids, building letterforms, and coming up with ideas for styling your lettering. Also, geometric lettering can appear a little bit complex and overwhelming to create. In this class, I want to demystify the process and break it down into stages so you can easily create your own custom letterforms. As I show you how I go from the stages of developing my letterforms, you are welcomed to sketch along and develop your visual ideas. I have provided a number of different resources which you can use during the session, which include some reads and some references. This class was recorded live and able to interact with the audience and answer questions whilst I was working. I cannot wait to share with you my favorite approach to developing geometric letterforms. Let's get on with it. 2. Designing Letterforms 101: Hi everyone. My name is Danny. I am here hosting on behalf of Skillshare and really excited for this live session today with Eugenia. With that, I will turn it over to Eugenia. We're so excited to have you today. Can you give us a bit of an overview of what we're going to be covering today? Today we'll be diving into the creative process behind designing geometric letterforms, and we will be developing a decorative letterform, more specifically an ampersand. A few things to get us started. Generally, letterforms can be created in a number of different ways. Geometric letterforms are usually based in the purest form on just two types of elements, which are straight lines and circles. But even though these are just these very basic elements into play, you can actually create anything you want based on them and geometric lettering can take a lot of different forms. I have created a collection of some very interesting and inspiring resources on my Pinterest board, which you can check out and just have a look if you want to have some inspiration, and just generally get some idea of where you can take your letterforms. Generally, the beauty of geometric lettering for me is that using the same approach you can develop something which is very simple and paradigm, which is great if you want to develop logotypes, monograms, typefaces, or some functional or readable lettering compositions. But you can also develop something more elaborate and some decorative letter and which can function as art in its own right, as well as being used as part of more playful and sophisticated visual identity systems. What is even more exciting is that when working with geometric lettering, it is really easy to try to create different stylistic integrations and some of them can be very minimalistic and some more playful and illustrative. During this session, I would suggest that we work toward creating a decorative letterform because there is just so much fun in the process and there's a lot of room for experimentation. Everyone can find their own way of working with it and showing their own individual approach to lettering. We'll also be working on an individual letterform, but after the session, you can use the same approach and create a set of letterforms or words, phrases, or even a whole typeface if you wish so. Think learning to create letterforms is important for any designer? Well, letterforms generally are one of the cornerstones of graphic design and knowing how to create your own custom lettering can be super useful when working on a lot of different projects. For example, designing identity, logotypes, monograms designing some expressive or decorative lettering compositions, and even designing fonts. Apart from all this practical aspects and different applications, I find that playing around with designing custom letterforms is super useful for developing the visual style and leveling technical skills, because a letterform provides you with a starting point so you can quickly just jump into the experimental process and start looking at how you can interpret familiar shapes in your own unique way. Got it. Really interesting that learning letterforms provides a framework for other sorts of design and style that you can learn. Generally, I find that sometimes it can be quite difficult to start working on something, especially if you're just in the experimental process and you don't have some specific project to work on. Just letterform is something as an outcome which is very interesting to work with. Got it, really interesting. Amazing. Then for all the Skillshare folks joining us today, what should they expect to come out of this class with? By the end of this class, I hope that they'll have an understanding of the creative process and decisions which involve designing customer letterforms and also have a framework which you can use afterwards to create your own work. If you choose to work alongside me during this session, you should also have some ideas and sketches. This is not going to be a technical session per se. You can turn your sketches into a final letterform after the session anyway you want. You can use Illustrator, like I do, or you can use any other software or a drawing app, or if you want, you can even draw or paint your/ letterform by hand on paper or on canvas. All of it will be just amazing and it would be very interesting to see what you create. Just a few more things before we start is that there are quite a few resources which Danny mentioned. There are some references for you to use during the session as well as some grids. If you want to work on paper, I would suggest you print those out. You have a few minutes to do so before we actually start doing something. If you want to work digital, just load some of these grids in some app of your choice. Also, whilst I will be showing you how to create or how I create my letterforms in Illustrator, because this is generally the process I follow, I would recommend that you stick to just sketching and developing ideas and not focus so much on creating a final letterform during the session. Better save it for later, and then you can actually spend as much time as you need to finalize your work and develop it in any way you want. 3. Studying a Letterform: To get started. I want to quickly talk about how you can analyze letterforms, before you start designing your own. The first stage of developing a veteran composition or any letterforms, is actually deciding what we're going to letter. For this class, I picked ampersand because it is one of the more interesting letterforms, because it is so diverse in away how it actually can be created. Everyone can find a way which they like, and they can try and try to create something very unique. Just generally, who doesn't like a good ampersand? When starting this project, the first thing to do would be to go and collect some stylistic, and structural references. It is a very good idea to go and have a look at different typefaces, and see how your specific letterform is structured. Because we are working on an ampersand, I have already collected a number of different examples, and you can see that the range of different ampersands is just huge, and there's just so many different ways that can be drawn. But if you're going to create your own letterform afterwards, I suggest that you go and browse some type libraries, for example, Adobe phones, my phones or font shop, and just have a look and compare different typefaces and see how they work. You're not going to be recreating the type faces. You're not going to be using them, so you don't need to be purchasing them. All you need to do, is just have a look at the graphics. Apart from just putting them altogether, you will need to analyze them. What we are looking at, in here, are a few things. What structures are used to base your specific letterform on? What proportions the letter forms are? If there are some angles, what angles are used there? I split my ampersands here into a few categories, and I straight away start sketching. You can use the provided reference as well to sketch upon or you can just sketch on paper. These sketches are not going to be sophisticated. They literally take a couple of seconds to create each. Here you look at a skeleton of your letterform. Don't think about how bold it is, or how thin it is, all you need to do is just think where the spine of this letter would be, and see what very basic shapes they are based upon. How can you reduce it to a line, and a circle. Most of the ampersands here are based on a couple of circles and a leg which goes on this angle. In some cases, there is this area here which is also perpendicular to the leg. This is something you might want to note down in the sketch form, very roughly, so you know that this is something you can explore. Looking at everything, just have a look at all different aspects which might be interesting for you visually. For example, here, apart from the structural things, I also look at some more decorative things. For example, this serif here, which is definitely not structural, but if used correctly, can be actually developed into a part of letter, T which would originally feature in an ampersand to begin with. Or there are some other things which I'm drawn to. For example, those gaps between the strokes, which I also would note for myself in a sketch form like this. Just that I want to try something really simple with a shape like that. These are visual research, and visual sketches in response to what you see, just to see what things you can create. There's a lot of different ampersands for you to look through, and sketch upon. Have a look what draws your attention, you don't need to respond to all of them usually in the form of a sketch. Most important for me here was, for example, this ampersand with this almost horizontal part, I just note it to myself, this sketch down like that. Just generally go through. For example, this is an original form based on free circles, which I would also like to explore, and so on. Another original way of building them with a horizontal line on top. Even more different shapes like for example here, we can look at proportions. For example these are more condensed letterforms, versus some of the other ones which were more normal, or some of them which might be extended. If you like something extended, you can also draw it this way. The last set here, features very alternative ways of creating ampersands which are almost unrecognizable. Here we can also see a different approach which you can try, which is a modular approach. Whilst, most of the letterforms here are based on lines or strokes, this one here is based on shapes. You can totally work in this direction if you want to, so just sketch on top, and see what you can do. Also if your examples, you'll see a few other interesting type of ampersands in different typefaces. For example, some black letters, and some handwritten forms, which can lead to creating something absolutely different. For example, black letter won't even include any circles here, so this is just straight lines. Here you just need to think what angles are used to build your letterform. In this case, it would be probably either an asymmetric, or a hexagonal grid like 60, or 30 degree angles, which we'll look at in a moment. You don't need to rush with sketching, you can just have a look, and pick something which you like, and then do it. Just sketch down roughly what things inspire you the most. For example here are my selected sketches of the directions of types of ampersands I would want to try. I never really spent a lot of time on sketches at this stage, because all I need to do is just establish that, okay, I need to have two circles here, I need a line here, and from that I can actually jump in and start building something straightaway. 4. Finding Stylistic References: Now that we've got a sense of structure, let's talk about how you can gather stylistic references to inform your design. If the structural research is more about the actual skeleton of your work, stylistic research is basically how you put the meat on the bones, so to speak. In terms of stylistic references, if you're working only personal project, I would suggest just generally browsing what you save on Pinterest or on Instagram and just things which you like stylistically and you would want to try to use in your work. But again, not necessarily someone else's work in lettering. If you're working on some client project, you would have some sort of Moodboard anyway to work with stylistically, so that's your stylistic references for your lettering. For this session, I put together a collection of different references which you can find in a PDF form to have a look at all different references. You just quickly in one place and you also have a folder with all these images separately. If you want to have a look at one or a few of them just whilst working, you can just open them up and use them this way. So I would suggest just picking things which just speak to you, you might think that they are not connected to lettering in any way, and that is actually the point. When creating and collecting stylistic references, I would highly recommend looking at other things rather than actually lettering. For example, architecture, illustration, art, decorative items, and things like this. Because here we are going to be looking more at different principles and elements, not necessarily at how something specific can be created. For example, here I've got some example of architecture which features repeating lines and line contrast, and this is something that I like to explore in my work visually. So after you have collected some references, and whilst I'm just looking through my references here, I suggest you just browse through and see what speaks to you so you can actually use it during the session. When you pick what you like to use, you need to analyze what elements are in these pieces of work which you actually would like to use. In my case, this collection basically represents that I really like repeating lines. I like colorful stripes which are adjacent to each other, I like line contrast, which you might not see from this image, but there is thin and thicker lines in here. I also like fragments of basic geometric shapes and bright colors. So I know that these are things I want to try to use in my lettering. Your stylistic references can be used in a few different ways. Some of them might be used only on a decorative stage, so you'll be going ahead and just build in a normal geometric, letter forum just normally as it is, and then you'll be just adding these decorations, on top, for example, including some patterns within the shapes. But some of stylistic references can actually influence drastically how you're going to go about building the letter forum. For example, looking at my references, I know straight away that because I would like to use repeating elements and concentric circles, I will need to work on it straight away from the actual stage of developing my custom grid. 5. Creating a Construction Grid: Now, I am going to talk about the value of construction grids and quickly show you how to create one. I've got this grid here, which I'm going to be using as a starting point. Generally, I always like to start with some sort of a standard grid as a basis for my construction grid because it just makes it so much easier to arrange all elements. Well, if you really want, you can always arrange all your lines and circles next to each other without any underlying basic grid, but believe me, it makes the process so much easier. The grids come in different forms. The most basic ones would be some graph paper or squared grids or dot grids. When I choose a standard grid to use in my design, I usually start looking at whether I have some dominant elements in my structure, which I can straight away incorporate in my standard grid. Looking at my sketches here on structural research and all that I've got, this leg here which in like 60 degree to a horizon. In this case, I decided that I would like to pick a hexagonal grid because it will make everything just so much easier and faster because I won't need to create lines and rotate them on angles. You've got the hexagonal grid for you to use during this session as well, so feel free to draw on it, or you can straight away grab the construction grid, which I will be developing in a moment in front of you and don't worry because even if you use the same construction grid, there is a huge chance that you'll create something absolutely different because that is the beauty in grids because you can interpret them in many different ways. But when creating a construction grid, again, I look back at my research. I know that I need to incorporate a number of circles in my grid. The fastest way to do this in Illustrator for me is to create a polar grid. I'm not going to go into the techniques here because it's just a separate question and you can learn about it in my other class. If you want to check it out, we'll share it afterwards. Here is my first circle. I want to build my ampersand based on a couple of circles, so I need to create a second one. Here, I deliberately go straight to it over the board with a number of circles there are because I like to keep my options open in terms of trying where I want to actually build my letterform. But if you draw it on paper, that's where it can get a little bit trickier because it's just not so easy to draw a circle here then move it there and move it there. That's why working digitally for me work so much better, at least on the stage of developing the grid. The position of one circle to another, in this particular case, this ampersand will determine the height of the letterform and its proportions. I'm drawn to creating normal proportions or condensed letterforms, but in this case, I will probably would like to try to create a more normal one. I will try to place my circles not too far from each other and see how I can use it. Also, in terms of placing them next to each other, I need to think straight away how we are going to use this construction grid. There are a couple of ways the letterform can be built based on it. One would be by using the lines in the construction grid and creating a line-based or straw-based letterform, and another one would be to work with the spaces between the lines or modules and building a shape-based letterform. Both of these approaches are great and both have pros and cons. I prefer usually working with shapes to begin with, because I like working in Illustrator and it's just so much faster to do it this way. Working with lines is much easier if you're sketching on paper. You can decide which way you go. We'll move on to sketching in a second. I need to start with finish placing my polar grids and I need to make sure that everything is precise, because I am working in Illustrator, it's best to keep things nice and clean. Then I need to go back again to my research and think how I can actually put my letterform into this grid. Because I know that I like my free arcs or concentric circles and offset things, I will need to have three elements here and because I decided that I want to work with modules not the lines, I will need to keep four circles and remove anything else. Let's just quickly delete this one. I usually just simplify my grid to make it easier to work with and see what I've got and I can always just go back and recreate it afterwards. I'll need these four circles and I can get rid of those. Then I can follow and see how the leg, actually we're going to go from the top of the ampersand and follow along and see where it ends. Because I do like the idea of having a bottom part of an ampersand a little bit wider than the top, so here I'm going to delete some other circles. I'm going to delete these two and the one on the outside. I've got this basic shape to begin with. This is going to be a simpler construction grid which I will be using, but at your disposal, you have a more complex grid with just quite a few more options for you to explore. After that, I will just quickly tidy this up again so I can use it. I've created this additional radial divider so I will have few more angles to explore because I like this idea of fragments and apart from my 60-degree angles, I will have also 30-degree angles. It just allows me just more things to play around with. This grid is almost done, but one final thing I would like to add at this point is a few vertical lines, because I might want to try to extend this part or this part upwards and not follow my hexagonal grid. This is going to be my grid so I can try to keep it precise and align it like this. This is how it is looking. Another benefit of using a construction grid and just generally the way I work is that I like to keep all my modules to be the same width. Whether it is a gap between these lines or these lines or the circles, it is all uniform, in this case, all 100 pixels so it's very easy to create uniform phase. But one thing to mention, you don't really have to do that and also, the fact that I'm using concentric circles, it is just my personal choice. For example, if you like the idea of stroke contrast, you can always offset one circle within another and have bigger gap on one side and small gap on the other. There's a lot of things which you can try depending on what style you try to follow. After the construction grid is done, you can start trying to use it. The thing here is that usually, the first construction grid is not perfect. This is a process of experimentation and going back and forth, trying to use the grid, working out what's wrong, going back to the construction grid, tweaking it, trying to use it again and again, going back to adjust it and so on, until you get the correct composition. Because I worked out that the grid which I have provided and the one I have created here works so we can smoothly move to the next stage, but if you're going to create your own construction grid, just bear this in mind and just go through this process as many times as you need and create the construction grid, which is really fit for purpose. This concludes our construction stage. Next, we can move on to building the actual letterform. If you want to develop it in Illustrator, we'll be sharing a construction grid as an Illustrator file, which you download and work with in Illustrator if you want to. 6. Sketching Letterforms in Your Grid: Now that we have our construction grid ready, we can start experimenting with using it to create our letterform structures. Again, these two stages really live together, and you will go from one to another and repeat the process a number of times to refine your letterform. You've got your grid with this construct, these thumbnails of construction grid, and I suggest that you start sketching on them all different letterforms. Again, looking back at your structural research and your stylistic research. As I mentioned, you can create letter forms based on shapes or gaps between the modules and on the actual line. Here are a few sketches I have created and some of them, or most of them, are actually line-based. Here are just a couple of examples of shape-based and here would be also shaped-based, but I was just a little bit too lazy to fill them in on paper. That's actually the precise point why when I'm working with shape-based designs, I actually prefer jumping to Illustrator because it just allows me to very quickly and easily try different alternatives, and just not get stuck on something and needing to print out more grids and try things this way. Whilst I will be showing you how I go about developing my letter form in Illustrator, I suggest that you carry on and just sketch your letter form and see how you can translate your sketches into the the letter forms using the lines or modules you see in the grid. 7. Building Letterforms in Illustrator: Now that we have some sketches, you can start developing them in Illustrator. I'm going to quickly show you my process for doing so for both shape-based and linear letterforms. I usually create a copy of my construction grids so I have something to go back to if I need to adjust it. Then I just copy all of the elements onto one layer, and move ahead and just divide this grid into modules, assign a color to it. Then use one of my favorite Illustrator tools for these things, which is a Live Paint Bucket tool, which essentially allows you to recolor modules in your grid. In this case, I just basically go around and start coloring like you would start filling in the modules on a paper. But in this case, because I work in an Illustrator, I can straight away try using different colors. Because I am usually working with multiple colors in my latrine, it just allows me to very quickly try different things and see how it would work in real-life. You might say that there are a lot of small modules and unnecessary things. Yes, this is true, but this is just a process that I use because I just find it much more relaxing to work this way, and it is a very forgiving process so I don't need to worry about whether I miss something or connected something wrong. Of course, it would take a little bit of time to fill everything in and try things, but generally, this is how I go about this process. If I just miss something or recolor something I just go back and just adjust it. After this is done, basically let me quickly jump to my next stage where I already finished this letterform. Here it is. Using this approach, because I've got all these little modules, I can very easily copy one of my letterforms and just recolor modules to try different compositions. In this case, I have created quite a few different versions. To be fair, if I was drawing on paper, I probably wouldn't go as far because it's just not as simple to draw and color and see everything perfectly. Another huge benefit for me is that I can straight away see how all different shapes work together and how they look. Because sometimes, when you sketch something on paper, it can look brilliant, but then when you make it digitally something is a little bit off. It's much easier to make everything perfect straight away in Illustrator than working out why it was not correct on paper. Here I tried quite a few different things and again, I didn't color each of them straight away from scratch. I copied one and just adjusted the shapes to recolor it. I've got a lot of things to choose from. For example, in my research, I mentioned that I would like to use some gaps between the strokes. Here I tried creating it, but I'm not sure that I really like this, and I would like to use some fragmentation and gaps in some other way. Here is the final design which I picked. After developing this form, I usually jump to the next stage and quickly just finalize my shapes a little bit and just tidy my document up. I would have less modules, but I still have quite a few modules, but these are more structural modules, which I know that I would need to use on my styling stage. But generally the great idea behind this process is that there is a lot of modules which you can do whatever you want with. You can come up with some interesting ideas just because you actually have these modules and this is generally how the style for me developed. I've got this version with all these small modules, and I've got another version with all the stripes merged separately so they can work as they are. If I was just using it as an illustration project, I would probably just leave it as it is and not worry about it in terms of finalizing anything. Because if you do work in Illustrator and look at it, you'll see that there's a ton of points, and they're all unnecessary and it is just really bad graphically professionally. You would want to recreate this to reduce the number of points. For this, I usually just recreate the same version based on the outlines of the shapes, which is, first of all, it allows me to create clean shapes. It allows me to have strokes in my designs instead of field paths so I can experiment with different strokes settings, which I'll show you in a second. Also this is something that I need for my styling to create additional whites. This is going to be the next thing I'm going to show you. This is just an alternative for us about developing a linear design. Usually, I would be developing it on paper and have some sketch ready to translate in Illustrator. But in this case, because I can treat this design as a sketch, I will be just using this shape and creating a linear based data form on top of it. I usually just start with my elements of the construction grid because that's what they are there for. Even if I was doing things on paper and sketching things, I would still be doing it on top of a construction grid, which I have created in Illustrator. This is my construction grid. Here I'm just going to get rid of any elements which I don't need. For example, if you need any vertical lines, here are a few circles which you don't need. Then I will start looking at what elements I need, what do I need to keep, and how I can actually simplify some shapes and cut them. There are different ways of cutting things and what I like using in my workflow is basically using some lines and cutting using the lines rather than using any other tools. Because especially if you're working with multiple lines which you need to cut. It just allow us to do it so much faster and more precisely. That's what I'm going to be doing here. Just keeping things which I need for cutting, and then recreating on top of this any other things which I might need. For this, I use the Line Segment tool because it is just so much easier to work with in this sense because you can see what angle it is or it doesn't connect any points and it creates separate segments. Here I tried to work precisely. To see what I'm doing is ready to use the outline mode. Again, I'm just recreating very simple elements. If you're not doing this in Illustrator, you can spend this time productively by sketching more different versions. Here I've got those things, I need to add a couple more things here. While so probably need mostly these lines, I'll still add some at the sides here just in case I need to use them, and they keep them separately because this is a structural thing. This might not be needed at all, so I don't need this here. This one, I need both as an end potentially and to cut my lines. I have this here. Then you add just one more thing at the bottom. I am pretty much all set. Here I need also copies of these two lines to cut my elements. Now I can proceed. What I do afterwards, I just select things which I need to cut and things which I'm going to be using for cutting, cut them, change their colors, make them bolder. On group, just select what I need to keep and delete anything else. That's basically very fast and is a process of removing anything you don't want and keeping everything precise. Whilst I'm developing this, I'm also noticing that I might want to try something else straightaway, so keep those ones, even though I might want to cut them to begin with, and we'll just put them in a separate group for now. Well, here is an alternative version of a linear letterform. In this case it's not finished, but I can just very quickly go to my stroke settings and change the cap settings to round, change the stroke weight. Here is something which can totally function as a separate letterform. There's a little bit of tidying up afterwards, but still that's something which can work. Also, for example, you could quickly get rid of these lines. That is an alternative which totally could work. Just by playing around with different stroke settings, you can create a lot of different versions straightaway. Also what I noticed while I was developing, and that's generally how I usually work. If I notice something which wasn't even my original plan, I would still go and check it out whether it actually works because I like trying different things. I might want to use these lines here. Just just these lines, not all of those ones. Just to build an alternative version of letterform like this. Here I might want to make it shorter, or even the section looks quite nice or I might even [inaudible]. Change the weight. Here's some alternative which I wasn't even set out to do, but it just happened naturally during the process. This is how I would go about developing linear letterforms. The best thing about them is basically because you can play around with stroke settings and then you can outline them afterwards, of course, to convert into shapes. But it allows a lot of frontal experiment with and to play around with different alternatives. Pretty much, that's it in terms of building letterforms. Next is the most fun part, which is styling. 8. Playing With Stylistic Variations: Now to the most fun part, let's talk about how you can use decorative elements and style your letter forms and experiment with creating something uniquely yours. Styling is, again, the most interesting process, and that's where you can totally embrace your own creativity, individuality, and create anything you want. So you can use an absolutely the same structure and not just talking about the grid, but the actual structure of the letter form. You can style it in so many different ways, which will be uniquely yours, and that's why I love this type of lettering and that's when you need to start looking back at your stylistic references even more because you need to find out what elements you want to add and how they can be added, and what approach you can take. For example, here are a few sketches I have created and I would suggest that whilst watching you [inaudible] and respondent visually to your research. But here are a few things like the lines, repeated lines which I see in my research and there is a couple of different things which are influenced by some other references, which you can also find in the provided PDF. For example, this design is somewhat influenced by some of the illustrations like there is a cut snake and few other cut elements. I tried to introduce those and here's the one which features patterns, which is influenced by the illustration of a snake. It is like totally unconnected thing. But the same structure can be used in a number of different ways and that's the fun thing. In this point, that's the whole idea why working on paper for some people might be better because you can actually try drawing a lot of different things and you're not really limited by how fast you can work in Illustrator and you don't need to worry about solving your technical problems whilst coming up with some creative ideas. So always best to let your creativity flow first, come up with ideas and then work out how to execute a digitally. Because Illustrator is just something that I think I would know back to front and it's so much easier for me to work straight away there because I know where I need to go to try things. That's where I developed my letter form. So I won't actually spend too much time on sketching myself, because all my sketching happens digitally and they just save all of the iterations. During the session, just basically I would suggest whilst you're sketching and looking at your references, I will just walk you through how my style developed and what things I use and generally how I go about creating iterations. First thing I know that I like to add to my letter forms are some fragments and this comes from my research and also just generally is led by the actual process. Because this is generally how I create any geometric designs in Illustrator, I always have all these fragments. When I was originally developing this type of lecturing which started a few years ago when I was participating in the [inaudible] six days of type challenge. I started with something really basic, which was just concentric circles and stuff like that. Then I thought, how can I actually spice it up? I noticed that I had all these modules in my work, so I thought I could actually recolor them in the same color as the background and create a gap like that. So I made a few things like this. Then for that fragmented letter forms, do look nice, but I also do love the contrast between thin and thick lines. I decided that I would go and add some lines to my work. I'm not going to show how I make it. It is all created using the blend tool and generally I just start by setting up a number of blends between the sides of each modules, or in this case, my Linear Design which I have recreated and try and play around with different number of the steps between the sides. Blend tool is another favorite tool of mine because it's just really easy to go and just have a look again, one line, two lines, three lines, and so on. That's how I go about that and then I obviously thought that I actually needed some specific color. I usually do two things because I like this idea of connecting wide lines with these thin lines, like almost wires. In this case, all of these are set in the same color as the stripes, they are connected. I also go ahead and usually expand my blends and delete their original outside lines just to have things in between. It is really like just thin line of red which connects two shapes. Then I also thought about it. Generally, it doesn't look like there is just enough contrast and enough interests. So I decided to add the same lines in a different color on top of the shapes. Again, because I have all of these fragments in my grid, it makes it very easy because I just put all these lines in the masks and put them over the shapes and just generally, that's how it all developed. Of course, after doing all of this building stuff, I need to tidy up my file so they are ready to be used. For this, I usually just expand everything, create outlines, and merge of the shapes. If I need to recolor things, they're all kept together and just very easy to deal with. But because we are not concentrating on technical things, let's move on to the more fun part, where I show you different iterations, which I usually do try when developing things like this. This is my finished letter form and you can say that, yes, it looks all right, but first thing I noticed I didn't really like this gap here. So with everything merged, I just very quickly went and move this bar sideways just to balance the shape up a little bit and just make it a little bit nicer. Another thing about geometric lettering, if you notice that something is a little bit off, you shouldn't be afraid to break the grid and move things a little bit just to make it all work nice and look balanced visually. Also, I usually create things in color because it's just generally how I work and if I need to reduce it back to black and white, I do that and I suggest that you try to create both versions regardless of what you're doing. If you're working in color create black and white. If you're working in black and white, try different colors and see how you can develop your work this way. This is an alternative version, then I tried to separate in the lines just to add a little bit more structure to the shapes. Then I also tried hiding one of them, because I still keep them as separate shapes. It is just very easy to try all the alternatives. This version, I probably out of the black and white ones, love the most because it's just most graphic and just very nice visually. This is like highly decorative letter forms, which works really nicely in the large size, but not so well in a small set. But for something smaller and more simple, I have got these versions which I created on the actual building stage. What I tried here is again tried hiding some of blends or recoloring them to create a slightly different composition and just generally make different things stand out. Just by hiding one of the stripes, you can see that the whole character and whole style of this thing changed straightaway. I also tried creating a Monotone version, which in this case can totally function like a logotype because it's just super simple and you can color it anyway you want. You can [inaudible] anyway you want and this just works very nicely as it is a solid shape. Again, because all of these separate stripes were separate, I also tried keeping just few of them and seeing how we can create a letter form in a different weight. By trying different combinations, I just explore a few different things. For example, this final one which is created on some shapes, is actually quite nice and I can also imagine it being used somewhere. Then of course, I have my linear versions. This is the one which we had created earlier. It looks the same and it's based on just strokes. Then again, the version where I removed some of the lines just to make it a little bit simpler and more open and more dynamic. Then just a little bit of experimentation with change in the weight of strokes and then I thought that maybe round cups is not really what I want. I want something sharp, but I can't achieve this with the stroke setting, so I need to expand all my strokes and trim them. These are the lines which I used for trimming. That's what I ended up with afterwards. Of course, there are blends. Of course, there's going to be more blends because I like repeating lines and it's very easy to experiment with. In this case, I only have their outer line and the inner line for all shapes not in any other two in-between. Here, because I still keep it as an editable blend, I can go into the blend options and check out what are the things I can create using it. Just by combining different blend options and with different strokes settings, you can create a lot of different things. Because blend tool doesn't just blend shapes. If you want you can, for example, change color of some strokes and you also create a gradient blend between the lines and colors, or you can make some strokes thicker and some thinner so you have a weight transition as well. There's a lot of room for experimentation and this is all based on the things which I have created and all of the things which I've seen in my research. These are different iterations of just this one letter form I have shown you. But here are just a couple more examples. Quickly, to show you what else I've tried and how I just went about it, and some byproducts of my creative process. This is actually a version which is styled by accident. I know that I do like my Monoline illustration and stuff like that. But generally, I was on target to create the blends between the different sides, but these parts were not in the same orientation, so I ended up with creating this pattern between them. Actually, I looked at it and I liked it and I thought, what if I actually just create these blends, but I trim all the lines differently using the original lines in my grid. I created this and just played around a little bit more in here to create a different dynamic version. Again, it is somewhat in response to my original research but also dictated by the process and how it just all happened by accident. Another letter form, which is probably one of my favorite out of this and which is totally different and based on a slightly different grid, it is still originally the same grid, just there is another polar grid here used to add this element. Again, I started creating it, following absolutely the same process of filling in the gaps, trying to work out the shapes and stuff like that. Then I converted it into strokes, so I could play around with the stroke weight and also play around with things like stroke gradients. Generally, because I like the idea of things like cubes and things going through things, so I styled it in this way. This is just a totally different thing, as I said, you are going to show on your sketches that is based on that sketch and also based on some of the references here. In a way it is based on this. That's what popped into my head when I saw these images. You really never know what things you're going to create when you just look at the references. It is about using the principles, the tricks, the features of your visual references, and taking them into your own direction and developing your work this way. 9. Finishing Your Letterform: Finally, here are some of ideas of how you can develop and to finish your letterforms. I would suggest that you carry on sketching until you like. What you see there, you may be needed to gather some more stylistic references to come up with some other visual ideas and then take it and develop it in any way you want in any application software, or by hand. As I said before, you can do that too. Also, think how you can actually add your personality. Think not just what things you've seen in the references and what you like there, but also what do you like yourself. Do you like to draw or you don't. You can always take a very simple geometric shape and just doodle, draw on top of it, and add a character to it this way. It still will be geometric letter form but it will be more illustrative fun and more fun. If you like patterns, gradients, textures, shapes, try it on this geometric shapes because this works really well with them. If you are into 3D or animation, try taking your letterforms into 3D or into animation because they make a perfect basis for these sort of outcomes. Also, when developing your letterforms, whether it is going to be continuation of development of the ampersand or any other letterform, think where you want to be on a scale between form and function. If you want to have something a little bit more functional, more readable, something which needs to be understandable in a small size, like for example, a logotype or be some functional typeface, you need to make your letterforms a little bit simpler. But if you want something totally decorative and fun and you really don't care about whether someone can read it and it can be printed huge somewhere, do that. Do whatever you want, experiment and see where the inspiration pushes you. As I mentioned for all the class, if you would want to develop your letterform in Illustrator, please check out my class mastering Illustrator tools and techniques for creating geometric grid based designs where I cover in detail all of the techniques which I have mentioned and used throughout this session. I actually also have a PDF attached to this class with some of my favorite shortcuts which I use in my workflow all of the time. 10. Q&A: Now we're going to open it up for some questions from the audience. There were a couple of technical questions in the chat. One was on your actual hardware that you used. Do you always use a mouse and keyboard or do you sometimes use a stylus and drawing pad for this kind of work? I never use stylus. I am a mouse person, mouse forever. Mouse forever? Yeah. Cool. Mouse forever. Another one was, what's your inspiration to find the right color palette for each projects. I mean, the colors for this [inaudible]? That's something that is a totally separate subject about how to use colors because if you color this thing in totally different colors, you'll get something super aggressive for example. If you draw colors from my original inspiration, it will look very, very different. I generally just have a few different color palettes which I like using in my work. You can see like this color group here, and this is just something that I'm drawn to and just something that I usually use. For example, in my work, I'm often using blue colors and some pink colors, white color, and this is just something personal. But for you, I would suggest that again, that's where your stylistic references come in handy because that's where you can find some colors which you can use in your [inaudible]. Eugenia, really interesting how you were mentioning that. When you're looking at stylistic references as opposed to the structural references, you specifically look away from lettering and look more towards shapes and colors and these things. Then with all of the things that you noted, you look for concentric arcs, colored stripes. How did you figure out that these were styles that you like? What was your process to find what styles for you? These are just generally things which I was drawn to throughout my whole career in the recent years and just things which I would like to try. So just came through experimentation and again, I was just browsing through things which I liked and just decided to see what if I put things together which I like and how I can use them. I never really had all these things as a mood board in front of me printed out or anything. I just kept it at the back of my head and when I was working, I think, I remember that I like thin lines, maybe I need to try to use some thin lines, maybe I need to change some line contrast. Also to mention about not looking at other people's lettering, like here, I already broke my own rule and included an example of a logotype. But that's in hindsight, because I actually wasn't looking at this specific thing, even though it is pretty iconic logo. But generally it's better to just stay away from looking at other people's work in the same field. That makes a lot of sense. Then we have one question here around putting your different influences together. How can you make sure your stylistic references make sense together if you're drawing from a lot of different styles? Well that's actually the fun bit in it because you need to see for example, you can take a shape from one thing, you can take a color from another thing, you can take a pattern and you'll see how you can actually put it together. I think when you start stylized new letter forms which we'll look into a little bit later, you need to just see what sort of thing is a primary and closest one to structure which you have so you can actually edit straight away to your structure. What things you can add and how you can blend them together. But in terms of like filtering the style, you just need to see and put the mood board together and see whether they work. Because some things just might feel very weird together but maybe that's the style. It was cool to see how an alternative letterform that you didn't expect to make came out of this. Is that something that you find happens a lot in your process? How often does that actually influence the outcome of what you're designing? I would say with most of my projects, there is a lot of things which actually happen by accident. That's one of the things I really like about experimenting in Illustrator because sometimes maybe you make a mistake somewhere and you end up with something totally different from what you're planning to do and yeah, that's something that influences the style and creates original things you only think about. One quick question that we got was, if you're moving into working with clients with this sort of work, how many different versions are you typically making to present to them? I would suggest for clients really keep it to a minimum and just share maybe two-three things. But again, it depends what your client is expecting you to see. For example, if they expected to see something more decorative than maybe even limited, just show something and just see what their feedback is and move from there. Also if it is something really laborious maybe it's worth showing some sketches first to define the direction. But if it is something more simple, things like, for example, if you're developing a logo type, then you can actually show a couple more ideas. I usually show three ideas in general. Got you. So three is a general rule of thumb. 11. Final Thoughts: That's it for this class. Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you have enjoyed this class and learned something new. Generally, the whole thing about geometric lettering is all in electron actually, is that it is all about the process and really going through the same thing over and over again and seeing how you can develop both the letterform, how you work, and what you create of them. Don't expect your very first letterform, if it is going to be your very first letterform, to be a perfect from their first attempt. Don't hesitate to go back, try different things and see where it takes you afterwards. If you want to develop your Illustrator skills and learn all of the techniques which I use in my geometric veteran, be sure to check out my class, mastering Illustrator tools and techniques for creating geometric grid-based designs. I cannot wait to see your letterforms, so be sure to share your sketches and your work in progress, your reference, images, and your final letterform in the project gallery for this class. Thank you so much for watching this class. I hope to see you in our other classes.