Hope is the Thing with Feathers | Skillshare Projects

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Update: 12/12

Well, it's been a while since I've checked in, but I've been drawing like a madwoman. I got a little distracted by drawing up my own Christmas card. It was a nice break from this exercise and it actually helped me in finishing this project. I still feel pretty new to the lettering, so the more practice I get, the better. Just for fun, here's the Christmas card that was taking up so much of my time: 

Update: 11/26

Took my time with the thumbnail step. As I was sketching I found a few more lettering styles that worked for me. Here's an example: 

I think I need a bit more contrast between the thick and thin strokes, but this is definitely a style I would like to incorporate into my final sketch. 

I began roughing out some thumbnails in a square format. I was inspired by Mary-Kate's book idea. Trying to fit these swash-y words into a box wasn't really working as well as I had hoped. Here's a few (pardon the crappy scan job): 

As you can see, I'm also trying to incorporate a nature element. Too many of these feel too obvious, though. I might just "put a bird on it." (Thanks, Portlandia!)

Using a more circular shape felt more natural and I prefer these results. I think I will most likely choose something like this: 

Super rough, but hopefully you get the idea. I'd like to incorporate more ornamentation and perhaps more natural elements. I thought the branches surrounding the lettering worked as both a border and a way to incorporate a nature element. What do you guys think? 

Update: 11/12

Thanks to a busy few weeks of work, I had to put the lettering fun on hold for a bit. I had wanted to go back and do more warm-up practices; I wasn't satisfied with my first few attempts and, after looking at all the amazing projects from fellow classmates, it was clear I needed more practice. Y'all have been putting some awe-inspiring work out there! 

I tried to focus on a few of the styles I found challenging, particularly the serif styles. Also, thanks to Kate's comment, I attempted to convey a more Victorian feel that came to mind in my initial brainstorm. So, here we are; letter warm up part deux! 

Any tips/suggestions on refining these further? 

Update: 10/26

This was surprisingly challenging for me. Mary makes it look so easy! I definitely have a lot of practicing to do. As many others have said, I found it more difficult to veer away from a few set styles. The script styles felt the most natural, while others such as Blackletter or Ornamental did not come as naturally. However, the video tips on drawing letters was helpful. I found that once I saw them less as letters are more as shapes, it was easier to draw some of the different styles. I think I still need so work on the planning of it by focusing more on the spacing of my letters. 

I started with the word "hope." A nice and short one! Here are my sketches so far: 

I think the script turned out the best here. The others need some work. Any suggestions? 


I’m new to hand lettering and excited to get started! A graphic designer by trade, it’s a nice change to do something less rooted in a computer.

I’ve chosen “hope is the thing with feathers” as my quote to illustrate. It is the first line from an Emily Dickinson poem.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
     Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)/via poetryfoundation.org

The poem as a whole is beautiful and I will be keeping the imagery here in mind as I brainstorm and research for the project. Words that immediately came to mind were: Victorian, vintage and graceful.  Those initial impressions shaped by brainstorming below.

Obviously, feathers and the bird metaphor have a strong visual pull here. I want to incorporate it somehow without being cliche. I’d also like to include a Victorian/vintage feel. I really enjoyed this exercise and had to stop myself from collecting too much! The sampling below is a bit of what I found. More can be found on this Pinterest board.



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