Calgary | Skillshare Projects

Tabitha Kerbabian

Letterer & Graphic Designer




I currently live in and was born in Calgary, which is the city name I chose to letter for this class.

I moved to Toronto when I was very young, so I didn't grow up in Calgary. I moved back two years ago, and what I've learned in the past two years is that Calgary is so much more than the Stampede, the oil industry, and hockey.

Calgary is an incredibly multi-cultural city with so many different festivals, farmers markets, and an unexpected arts community. It's got a bunch of eclectic little neighbourhoods, and everyone is so friendly and supportive of one another. I've decided to use this lettering project as a way to show the Calgary that I've grown to know and love.

You can see in my notes below that I started with a list of places I've lived (cities, provinces, country, neighbourhood). I chose Calgary, and made a list of things that came to mind. Then, I split those things into my opinion of the positives and negatives to refine my focus. The negatives are simply things that Calgary is famously known for that I think have created a limiting vision of the city.





Here are screenshots of the moodboard I made on Pinterest, displaying some of Calgary's eclectic little neighbourhoods and colourful farmers markets. I also included some images of old sign painting on buildings. These particular images are not from Calgary, but Calgary does have several older brick buildings with old sign painting on them.

Below are a few pictures I took myself of sign painting and lettering found around Calgary.





I'd like for my lettering piece to be friendly, warm, and welcoming, focusing on Calgary's history and culture from the perspective of the beautiful architecture, nature, and existing lettering in the city.




The initial concept I imagined in my mind was a thick serif style with an inline (sketched out above). I imagine it accompanied by a floral illustration filling out the white space between the letters.

The concept underneath is a rough sketch of what a sign-painted style with a dropshadow could look like.
I also experimented with lettering on a curve.

What I'm leaning towards is perhaps combining the first two styles - I like the idea of using texture and colour in my final piece to achieve a sign-painted-on-brick look, but feel that incorportating some supporting illustrative component (like florals) is necessary to achieve the message I want to portray.



I used a ruler to draw my capheight, xheight, and basline and then roughly sketched out the bounding boxes for each character.


I chose an even weight sans serif style with a dropshadow. I really like the inline style too (practiced above in the top right corner), but I decided I'd like to use that for another project instead.


The letters are looking pretty plain right now, but I will be digitizing them and adding colour and texture to make them look like they are painted on a brick wall.


This is the inked version of the sketch. I realized that a lot of the letters are slanting to the right, and that they didn't really follow the baseline I drew. Since I will be taking this to a digital stage, I will be adjusting the errors in Illustrator instead of re-drawing.



Here is the vector version of my final sketch. I adjusted the spacing between the letters, straightened the letters that were severely slanting, and aligned all of the characters to the same baseline.



I selected colours from one of the pictures I Pinned of some brick buildings in Downtown Calgary using the ColorSnapper app.


The texture used on the letters is from a bundle of vector textures called Vector Screen Textures. I wish I could link to it but I have no idea where I got it from! The folder it's in has no readme file or credits.



The brick wall image is from Maulana Creative on Creative Market. I layered on a bunch of texture in Photoshop with Kyle T. Webster's brushes. 

The letters aren't perfect, but I'm super happy with how it turned out! My biggest struggle was with the 'G', trying to differentiate it from the 'C' while keeping its detail in line with the x-height. Feedback is always appreciated!

Thank you for this fun class, Isabel! It was great to see your process and hear your advice.


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