Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sketch-Along With Me: Getting Started

We are almost halfway through June! For those of you who have been thinking about joining me for the June Sketch-Along but weren't quite sure how to get started, this one's for you!

Before we get started, a few disclaimers:
  1. I am not an expert. 
  2. What I have learned, I have learned from others.
  3. My way isn't the only way.
  4. Calligraphy is a more exact technique. Hand-lettering isn't an exact art - it is okay to have some incongruities. 
  5. Have fun - don't stress about the process if this makes it seem complicated!
Now...let's get started!

Step One: Pick your phrase

Ideally, for hand-lettered art, I have found that the fewer words, the better. I try to limit my word count to around 10 words. That way I have room to play between a mix of calligraphy and hand-lettering.

For this month's project, I chose a quote from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta:

"Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls." {Word Count: 12}

Step Two: Create an Inspiration Board
{This is entirely an optional step - I find that it helps me to take random inspirations and turn them into a cohesive idea once I'm actually sketching.}

Once you have a quote or phrase, let your imagination run wild. What are images that come to your mind when you pour over the words? What styles or periods catch your eye?

For this quote, what immediately sprang to my mind was a fishing net. I hopped on Google Images and began my search. I'm a huge fan of vintage posters, so I searched for vintage fishing posters as well as fishing nets. Here is the board that I used for inspiration:

Step Three: Gather Your Supplies

If you don't have a studio space that stays set up all the time, it helps to gather everything you may need before you get started. My standard tools are
  • a pencil (No.1 & No.2 if I have them), 
  • a pencil sharpener (because nothing is worse than a dull pencil!), 
  • an eraser (because there's plenty of starting over), 
  • a ruler, 
  • a drawing tablet for my pencil sketches, 
  • Ink (felt) pens in fine and medium point for final lettering, 
  • multimedia paper for my intermediate and final products, 
  • watercolors for decoration and embellishments, 
  • and a calligraphy pen* in case I'm drawn in that direction (no pun intended!). 
*For this project, I am not using a calligraphy pen. 

Step Four: Concept Sketch

Before you spend a lot of energy into forming your key words, sketch out some preliminary concepts so you can solidify the direction you will be heading. These are not complicated or perfected drawings. They are very basic and allow you to get a concrete image of the sugarplums dancing in your head.

A few rough...very rough...concept sketches from an old project.

Step Five: Key Words

The main difference I find between hand-lettering and calligraphy (modern or classic) is the artistic development of words. In hand-lettering artwork, I like to take a word (or two or three) and add some flesh and flourish to make them stand out among the rest of the piece. Here is a step by step view of how I do that.
  1. Draw your guide lines. When I am intentionally fleshing out a word, I am in dire need of guide lines to keep the proportions equal and keep from slanting.
  2. Draw your letter "backbones." Make sure to leave space between the letters for you to add weight and flourishes if you choose
  3. Add flesh to your letters. Don't worry about styling and flourishes at this point. Just add the weight around the backbone to provide the foundations from which you will add the embellishments. This is supposed to look messy - it is okay. That's what the eraser is for later.
  4. Draw in your flourishes at the ends of your letters. Experiment with different styles, and refer to your style-board if you get stuck.
  5. Erase all of your guidelines and clean up the letters. This will give you a blank canvas for adding any embellishments you want to add inside the letters. 
  6. Add in any decorations once you have the outline of your letter finished. You could add dots, flowers, lines, shading, or a slew of other embellishments. Again, refer to your style-board for inspiration!
  7. Step back and take a look...but not too close. Remember, this isn't about perfection, but about inspiration. 

Step Six: Shading Letters
Whether you use calligraphy, basic cursive, or block letters, there is a bit of a method to adding weight to standard letters. The secret? Add weight on the down-stroke. Try to keep the strength and weight similar across the letters, but again, don't sweat it!

There you have my secrets to getting started with hand-lettering design! I hope you will join along with this month's theme of "Joy" - remember to have fun and let your creative spirit flow!

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1 comment:

  1. Rahki, this looks SO fun! I'm always impressed by hand lettering. I'm going to try and play along. Also, EDEL!!!!!