How I Design a Lettering Piece

Hello there! Today I thought it would be cool if I walked you through the steps I take when I'm working on a new lettering piece! I'll touch on the materials I use, laying out the quote, and then getting it digital. Head to the bottom for a free wallpaper download, I made using these same techniques! 

How I Design a Lettering Piece - Little Eli

Materials

INK: I have a few inks so far in my collection. I started off using Pro Art India Ink. I've had it for years just sitting in a box of art supplies, so now, of course, its discontinued. But its a thick, deep, waterproof black ink, with just a bit of a sheen to it. It's a little bottle of magic, and when I run out I'm not looking forward to finding a replacement. The ink I use in the pieces for The Little Motivator Bundle and in the Love Notes, is another great waterproof black ink, just a bit thinner, so all the pieces have this wonderful gradient to the letters. It gives them so much depth.

PAPER: For practice, I use either regular 20lb printer paper, or loose leaf. Some inks behave the same on cheap vs nice paper, but some bleed pretty badly, so its mostly for layout practice and to warm up. All my finished pieces are all on a thick, toothy, 140lb watercolor paper, that I cut to size. It just feels so good in your hand! 

BRUSH: At first I got a super inexpensive multi pack of water color brushes until I discovered what I liked best. I ended up loving the Round 1 brush. So I went and grabbed a few higher quality brushes in similar sizes. The nicer brushes are so much more enjoyable to use, but nothing is better for experimenting than a cheap multi pack you don't mind ruining.

LAYOUT

First I spend some time warming up on 20lb bond, or loose leaf. Honestly, which ever is closer or easier to reach. I focus on getting my hand to make fluid, continuous curves. Then I make sure I write the quote on a scrap piece of paper so I don't mess up the spelling. I'll practice the layout in pencil on scrap paper, and letter over it. Tweaking it until its juuuust right.

Then I start on the watercolor paper. By this point I'm pretty warmed up, so these go pretty smoothly. It's almost like muscle memory. If I'm being really careful, I'll mask the edges of the page in tape to make a border for myself, but mostly I freehand it.

If I'm making them for The Little Motivator Bundle, I'll letter a few extras so I can afford some mistakes. If I'm going to make it digital, I'll stop after I'm satisfied that the letters are perfect. Harder than it sounds if you've read about me redesigning the logo

DIGITIZING

You can read more about how I go from ink to vector in this post. But basically I'll scan the piece I'm happiest with, open it in Photoshop to remove stray marks and adjust the contract. Then I'll use Illustrator to live trace it and fiddle with the settings until I'm happy. I always explode the trace too. Exploding lets you move around individual words/connected letters, if the layout wasn't perfect on the scanned copy. 

After that its totally up to you. The options are endless!

Click the image, or here, to download your free desktop wallpaper.