(Read Part 1, here)


One of the first things I noticed about this Skillshare class (The First Steps to Hand Lettering) is that it’s not comprised exclusively of beginners or by professional letterers/illustrators – although there are plenty in both groups. As we began posting our moodboards and sketches into the community forums – it was refreshing to see all skill levels trying their hand at something new. For every sloppy thumbnail sketch (see below) from me, there were thumbnails that were much more thought out and imaginative, which only helped me think outside the box for my own illustrations.

After deciding on a phrase, creating a moodboard and trying a few lettering options with keywords, the next step was to draw up some thumbnails of the layout. This was the part I was most looking forward to and also the part I thought would be the easiest. But, it wasn’t easy at all. The tendency to add elements from everything you’ve ever seen before, was hard to wear off. As you can see below, I started with flowers and arrows and shields and ribbons and none of it was really taking my idea where I wanted it to go. After all – it’s not just a phrase to me. It has meaning and that has to come across in the final or it amounts only to words on a page.

Click ‘Continue Reading’ to see my rough thumbnails and first larger scale interpretations.

Thumbnail layout exploration began here (ignore the scan quality). I’m definitely used to a more digital sphere; one where you don’t have to go through the process of drawing all of these elements, one in which you can see pretty quickly what elements are too trendy or don’t capture the spirit of what you’re producing. Sketching made that a slow process for me because I just wanted to see how everything would look. As you can see, there were lots of ugly ones in the bunch:


The other page of layout explorations was scanning so badly, you’ll just have to imagine it. Below, are the first iterations of layouts I liked and thought had the right elements. Alas, it was just the beginning.

Draft #1: In my first draft, I was mostly concerned with how sharp my pencil was and if the letters were going to fit.

Draft #2: I wanted the lettering to at least have an opportunity to be more decorative – and as the first draft was very sparse, I decided to hit on a thumbnail created in the second round.

Draft #3: Feedback from other students & the teacher helped me out with some ideas. Why was Ain’t capitalized in the last draft when it isn’t in any of my thumbails? I don’t know. I’m not sure where the impetus came from to draw giant flowers either, but as you can tell, I was really sold on them from the start. This is also the first sketch were I tried out using ink to see if the flowers would even work with my lack of experience with pen + ink. Ultimately, this draft helped me make some big decisions.

I liked the circular containing shape in Draft #3. Draft #4 is the image at the top of this post. No, it’s not great and there is still a lot to work on – but the feedback was pretty positive regarding the elements and lettering choices.

Check back in to see where this lands! And let me know what you think! I’m not done with this project yet, so feel free to chime in.


2 thoughts on “LEARNING TO LETTER (PART 2)

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