Short blog post tonight... because it's 11:48pm and goodness knows I could use a shower and some sleep! WHERE DID THE TIME GO?? 

But I wanted to give y'all a couple quick tips on sketching new designs! If you have been to one of my lettering workshops, you know that the two main things I hope to drill into people are: 

  • SLOW DOWN (seriously, I mean it)
  • Light upstrokes, heavy downstrokes

Those two things will get you pretty far in lettering. Well, those two things and a lot of (slow) practice! The next important thing is 

your pencil is your best friend

We live in a world that seeks instant gratification and we want things to be magically easy and perfect. I don't know about y'all, but I have NOT stumbled into that dream world yet. I'm certainly not perfect on the first try, and rarely the second or even third try. But learning to use my pencil and some scrap paper first has saved me a lot of time, ink and frustration. 

Reasons to Use Your Pencil First

Anything you write down while you're holding that pencil is a great warmup for your muscles and mind for when you do actually ink something in later on. Also, a lot of work I do is for custom requests I receive. Just like I rarely get a design perfect the first time, rarely does someone I'm working with know EVERY detail exactly how they want it. Sure, they have an idea and the colors they want, but past that, I'm typically given a lot of creative freedom. Which is AMAZINGLY GREAT, but can also be pretty nerve-wracking. Hitting send on that email with the first sketches to a client... whew, I swear, I read those emails like 17 times and open the attachments about 39. And maybe question everything I've done for like 30 minutes and then I start to relax. Anyone else?? 

But back to the pencils talk. If what I'm working on includes text of any kind, the first thing I do is write down the word or phrase. Nothing fancy, I literally just write it down on a piece of paper. From there, I count the letters and spaces in case I need centering information in my sketches. Typically I will take a piece of scrap or computer paper and divide it into four rectangles. This allows me to get four iterations on a single paper and compare them side-by-side. I also love doing this because if I love an element in one box, I can easily copy it into the next box and then change remaining parts. Sxample of sketches I did tonight for a shower invitation! 

From Sketch to Final Piece

So you've sketched and re-sketched and made notes and pieced together all the things you liked from each section. Time to make your final sketch, clean it up and then ink it in! This can go a couple of different ways depending on what material your final work will need to be on. For tonight's example with the taco invitations, I will eventually be printing them for physical mailing, which means I'll eventually need to have the work digitized. At this point I went from pencil sketch to iPad sketch using the design I had created. But if I wasn't using the iPad, I would have drawn the final sketch to scale on a single piece of paper, made any last adjustments and then started the inking process! 

In short I think it all comes back to that very first pointer.... SLOW DOWN! By sketching with pencil and not trying to jump into inking, I'm able to really explore the design and make adjustments to the next version! For funsies, here's a section of the process video for my iPad sketching and the final versions that I sent over for approval! 


Option 1

Option 1

Option 2

Option 2

I'd love to hear your sketch-to-final piece techniques and tricks so leave me a comment below!