Let’s just be up front and say it, it has been so long since I have posted, and I do apologize! I have not been feeling extremely creative lately. To be honest, we have had a few things going on that include some injuries and bunny troubles. Tao, the main bunny behind the blog has not been doing well. We have had to undergo some treatments for him, and most recently he had to have one of his back toes removed because of a cancerous mass. So Mr. Tao is having a hard go right now, but he is powering through. In the meantime, we are continuing to syringe feed him, and give him lots of care and love.
While I haven’t been able to do a lot of bigger, more hands-on projects, I have been doing some hand lettering studies. I am just so fascinated by hand lettering, and I would love to develop that as a skill set that I own. I am by no means a professional, and I’m not here to tell you HOW to do hand lettering. I can however, tell you what I did to study it and show you some of my better sketches. And please know that my sketchbook is chock full of so many sketches of all shapes and sizes, mostly not great! But that’s what a sketchbook is for!
If you want to get started with hand lettering, and do not want to pay for the skillshare class offered online quite yet, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Study hand lettering styles you like. This means looking at the strokes and figuring out how they’re drawn. Pinterest is a great resource for hand lettering styles!
- Get an inexpensive set of pens. I recommend the little set I have which has a marker (slanted) pen tip and a brush tip. You can spend a lot of money in this area, so just go with foam tips for now as the looser bristles are for experts.
- Get a sketchbook and start mimicking the styles you have been studying.
- Watch videos of calligraphers.
- Practice. Practice. Practice.
- I recommend starting with one word and then work your way up to a phrase. Intermingling shapes and letters is very complicated (even for this graphic designer!) so go basic to start off!
I recently found a style through Pinterest that I really liked. This person had 3 words written out so I got a feel of the letters and shapes and how they’re all connected. I started to mimic that style, which in turn, developed my own style. It’s nearly impossible to completely duplicate someone’s style unless you print it out and trace over it, which I don’t recommend. Some people have worked really hard to develop their own style, so learning theirs to get started is great, but allow yourself to develop into your own style.
If you remember this little gem from my gallery wall and from the Valentine’s Day free printables, then you’ll now know that this guy took me hours!
I decided that this style is too hard for me. I love the look of different sized letters and a nice bend in text, but it’s not natural for me because my natural writing style is very structured. So I moved on and started practicing with some more styles, and eventually go to this:
This script hand lettering is much easier for me to accomplish. And then skinny letters is always easy as long as you have a steady hand! But let’s back up! How do you go from a sketch to the images you see above?
First, in your sketchbook, draw out your lettering. For my style, I use my marker tip pen to make all the thick lines.
Then I take either my .005 or .05 pen to connect all of the letters.
I added an extra line beside each thick lines to give it some depth. I typically do this when I feel like the letters just don’t look quite right, or something feels like it’s missing.
The next step is to scan your image. Or you can snap a picture with your phone and email it to yourself. You will want to make a couple tweaks in Photoshop first. Adjust the levels so your white is whiter and your black is blacker. Then select all and paste into Illustrator. Use your live trace and adjust your settings. Make sure you expand and ungroup and start refining your lettering. I’ll give a more in depth look at this process later on. Your end result will be something like this (at least for mine it was):
Now you can see that with your type in vector form, it’s really easy to change the scale of your words. I decided I wanted “mother’s” to stand out more so I scaled down “happy” and “day”. One great tool to use to refine the edges of your type after you have live traced it is the “smooth” tool found near the pen tool in Illustrator. This tool will basically remove extra nodes you don’t need. The fewer number of nodes, the smoother your line will be.
Once you have your font vectorized how you want it (again, tutorial for that coming later), go to Photoshop. Here is where I made the look of watercolor. I have a couple watercolor brushes I’ve installed. I picked my favorite brush set and started layering one click of a brush stroke on top of itself to build depth. You can always change the appearance to multiply or color burn to get a different effect with each layer.
Then I placed in my vector image of the hand lettering, and added a little bit of white watercolor brushing over top to distress the image a little more.
Normally at this point I would say, “it’s that simple!”, but doing any one of these steps requires more knowledge than your typical garland I might make! If you know the basics of Photoshop and Illustrator, then you can easily get by with something like this!
The hardest part about hand lettering is deciding how you want it to look and to drop the idea of it being perfect. Because when you’re starting, it will not be perfect.
Along with this Mother’s Day card I gave to my mom and mother-in-law, I drew each of them their own keepsake drawing. For my mother-in-law, I gave her this:
We’re always on the lake, and she’s right there with us, supporting and cheering us on as we try different tricks! And one day she and her husband hope to retire on a lake, and we will just go ahead and join them wherever they go! :) We absolutely love the lake too and I really love the idea of “lake life”.
For my mom, I wanted something that was more of a phrase and more defining and motivational at the same time. I told my husband, “I want to draw something about hustlin’!” And boom, this was born:
It’s not perfect, and there are things I would change if I drew it again. But this was a first try sketch, and it was a composition as well, not just one or two words. I was really proud of this, and was so excited to give it to my mom.
Both moms loved their hand lettering drawings and Mother’s Day card, and even though they may enjoy it only for a few minutes, the time and effort you put into something like that is always seen and understood. And if not, then go ahead and document yourself making it! No don’t do that! :)
If you guys enjoyed this post on hand lettering, let me know and I’ll put together some more tutorials, including how to refine your type in Illustrator! Comment below to give me your opinion!
Until next time, keep hustlin!