That’s a Wrap People!! Learning Project Summary

 

Wow! I can’t believe that it is now the last week of the semester! It has passed in a bit of a blur but I am so excited about the new skills I have acquired through my learning project! When I was initially choosing what I wanted to work on for my learning project I knew that I wanted to do something creative. I am a fairly creative person but during the school year artistic activities, along with many other things I love doing, tend to take a back seat. When I started out I was so excited that I would have to have built-in time every week to sit down and embrace my inner hipster artist.

Did that actually happen, you ask? Did I get to break into artistic bliss every week? Did beautiful art just flow out of me when I put pen to paper? Well not exactly…

Looking back on my hand-lettering journey:

Today is Someday: Learning Project Week One

  • Introduction to my learning project- ultimate goal
  • Inspiration Board on Pinterest
  • Trip to Michael’s to buy fancy pens and a notebook to keep my masterpieces in

Brush Lettering Training Wheels: Learning Project Week Two

  • Testing the markers and my calligraphy pen/practice strokes
  • Brush lettering is one of many forms of hand-lettering
  • I used practice sheets to work my way through the alphabet

Graduating from Practice Sheets: Learning Project Week Three

  • Awesome YouTube calligraphy tutorials
  • Attempts at two different styles of calligraphy
  • Basic words
  • Experimenting and playing with mixing words and images

 Whimsical Words: Learning Project Week Four

  • Valentine’s Day inspired lettering
  • Adding accents- dandelions and feathers
  • Shifting to a different style of lettering with more geometric styles- 6 varieties

Going Gothic: Learning Project Week Five

  • I tried doing the traditional gothic style lettering and it was a slow and detailed process.
  • I also looked into the possibility of learning hand-lettering using a free app but there is only one and it is not useful for developing your actual skills at all and it doesn’t measure your progress in any way

Bringing It All Together: Learning Project Week Six

  • I collected three more complex sayings from Pinterest and then I attempted to duplicate them

Teach Me Your Ways! Moving Beyond YouTube: Learning Project Week Seven

  • This week I found a new way to learn hand-lettering online using a website called Lettering Studio. It is a free online class that takes you from the basics of lettering all the way to digitizing your lettering using photoshop. You get a different email each day with the next step and it’s a great way to learn what can be a difficult process.
  • Also created a few more lettering  images

Finding Inspiration to Fight the Slog: Learning Project Week Eight

  • I explored the various lettering communities that exist beyond Pinterest
  • My Top Five Lettering Artists on Instagram
  • Hand Lettering Tutorial Website has tons of awesome resources to learn to letter and best of all they have podcasts! Which is awesome because it finally allows you to get up from your computer in order to learn.

Going Digital with Photoshop: Learning Project Week Nine

  • This week I used Screencastify to demonstrate how you could take your hand-lettering and digitize it in Photoshop and how to place it on top of an image.
  • This was maybe my favourite part of my Learning Project

Bob Ross, I am Not: Learning Project Week Ten

  • For the last week of my learning project, I decided to try a different medium for creating my hand-lettering so I decided to paint
  • Two things I learned from painting my hand-lettering: #1 painting is hard! #2 there is a reason people use watercolours to do hand-lettering!

Throughout my learning project, I learned a number of things both about creating hand-lettered sayings and words and about learning a skill online with a limited budget.

On Lettering

When I started out on my learning project to basically re-teach myself how to write. The letters in the different fonts have specific ways that they need to be written in order to look as beautiful as they do online. I learned about downstrokes and upstrokes. And overall I not only learned a new creative skill but I it also changed my view of student writing. I never struggled with learning to write in school but when I tried hand-lettering my letters were shaky and misshapen most of the time. It has taught me a whole new level of empathy for students who have LDs in written expression. I also learned about the tools of the trade and the importance of having good tools. In some cases, it isn’t worth it to pay extra for a fancier thing because the less expensive thing works just as well but when it comes to calligraphy pens and markers it is totally worth it to shell out the extra cash to get the proper tools.

Another thing I learned about lettering is that the creativity it takes to come up with new things and ways to letter takes dedicated time and it takes being willing to try and have it turn out looking nothing like what you envisioned. Very rarely was I able to come up with brand new ideas for lettering out of my own mind, usually I drew inspiration from other artist’s works and images that came up on my Pinterest or on my favourite YouTube letterer’s feeds. Creativity takes time and commitment. You also need to make sure that when things don’t turn out looking the way you want to it is important not to give up. Lettering is a skill and just like any skill it needs to be honed and practised. No first draft is a work of art.

On Learning Online…

Generally, I fund that learning to hand-letter online was fairly easy. There are many different ways to connect with communities of lettering artists online through platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. Pinterest was an especially valuable resource for finding inspiration for my creations. Another platform I found invaluable to my learning project was YouTube. It was so helpful as a novice letterer to be able to see someone else form the letters and then mimic it. It was also great to find YouTubers who had a variety of resources available from very basic alphabet examples to more extravagant words and images. Websites like Hand-Lettering Studio and Lettering Tutorial were also great because they offered challenges that went beyond simply writing out the lettering on paper. One of the parts of my journey that I was most proud of was the lettering that I created in PhotoShop. It felt really good to be guided through the process in detail and to produce such a beautiful final product.

One of the major drawbacks of learning to hand-letter online was that if you are on a budget some of the resources available online will be inaccessible to you. When I went in search of apps that could develop my skills further there was only one free application and it didn’t really do anything to develop my actual lettering skills or track my progress. The rest of the apps available cost a minimum of five dollars. This was also true for the online courses on websites like Hand Lettering Studio. There was one free course available to teach you the basics but if you wanted to go any more in depth you have to pay for the courses.

Overall Thoughts…

Hand-lettering was a fun skill to learn and develop over the last 13 weeks. I really appreciate all the support and encouragement I have received from my peers over throughout this process:

I highly recommend taking the time to learn to hand-letter. It was one of those skills that I have always wanted to develop but had never made time to practice. I found that by building time into my schedule each week to decompress and do something creative was really beneficial. It provided a much-needed break from the academic stresses of the semester. Through this project, I not only learned how to create beautiful hand-lettered words and sayings but I learned so much more too.

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Bob Ross, I am Not: Learning Project Week 10

When I decided that I was going to take up hand-lettering as my learning project I was full of optimism. I was going to carve out a little bit of time every week to perfect some area of my new craft. It was going to give me an excuse to go to Michaels and buy fancy pens and ink. I pictured myself as a hipster artist with my hands covered in ink, creating priceless masterpieces.

My naive optimism.

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But then I put pen to paper and was shocked by how difficult it was to hand letter. I kind of expected I would pick up the pen and it would just flow out of me. So my initial goal, I set in my first learning post of creating a sign for my upcoming wedding became less and less appealing. It also didn’t help that I hit an amazing sale at Hobby Lobby over February break and bought a beautiful sign instead of having to make one.

I still felt like I needed to create something this week that challenged me in a new way and hopefully would become something I could frame to commemorate my progress and the fact that my university journey is nearly done. So I decided that I would paint my hand-lettering this week. Most of the time when you see hand lettering that has been created using paint you will see beautiful watercolour pieces like this. Watercolour is a nice medium for hand-lettering because of the fluid nature of the watercolours. It is also possible to buy brush pens that you fill with water which provide you with enough control to create beautiful lettering instead of simply using a brush. But the thing to know about using watercolours is that, like hand-lettering, it is a completely other skill that you have to teach yourself in order to do it effectively. And you also need to buy fancy paper and paints to make it work properly. So I chose to embrace my inner Bob Ross and broke out the acrylics and brushes and sat down to paint.

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Well, actually I don’t trust myself that much yet so what I actually did first was a pencil sketch in my notebook of what I wanted to letter and then I erased it so that just the faint lines were left behind as a guide for me.

Then I had to practice using the paint and paintbrushes to create the lettering. I experimented with about 6 different brushes of different sizes before deciding on these two.

This is what my practice sheet looked like:

It was tricky to figure out how much paint to use on the brushes. And the brushes I was using weren’t of the highest quality and so the edges of the letters were always a little it feathery. In order to get really crisp lines, I had to barely touch the paper with my brush and load the tip up with paint. It took a while to get the hang of it but it was also really fun.

After doing some practice I painted my hand-lettering and this is what the final product looks like:

It isn’t perfect by any stretch but I absolutely love it! I like that it is so imperfect. There are some sections that were especially difficult to do with the paintbrush, especially the swirly section under “journey”. I could have taken the time to clean it up by outlining it with one of my calligraphy markers but I made the conscious decision to leave it in its raw state because beauty can also be found in imperfection. It reinforces the idea of the quote that life really is an ongoing process and there will be things that happen in ways you can’t control or things that may not work out the way you expected. And that’s ok. There is beauty in the smudges. Beauty in going your own way. And beauty in learning.

 

 

Going Digital with Photoshop: Learning Project Week 9

A few weeks back I explored other avenues for learning to hand letter online and I found a tutorial by Hand Lettering Studio which walked you through how to take your hand lettering from paper to a digital format using Photoshop and I blogged about it here. At that point, I had only read about how to do it and so this week I decided to sit down and try to take one of my pieces and make it digital. This is the lettering I created for my first attempt:

I am going to be honest with you, I thought that I had saved all of the emails that had the instructions in them in my inbox but when I went to look for them today they weren’t there. So what I did was return to trusty old Youtube and searched “How to Digitize Hand Lettering in Photoshop”. This video was my lifeline to get me through the process because Photoshop is quite complex and intimidating if you have never used it before.

In order to track my progress, I decided to take a series of videos. These are the major steps that are laid out in the video and it is the most basic way to digitize your hand lettering. There is so much more you can do with Photoshop but these are just the basics.

Step 1: The eraser tool saved my life. I had been trying to use the Lasoo tool to trim it before and it was so time-consuming and finicky.

Step 2:

Step 3: The image that I am using as the background is a picture I took two summers ago. Daisies are my favourite flowers, I love their simple beauty!

Step 4:

Step 5: If you look closely at my final product there are white splotches from when I was erasing on the paper. They appear as darker splotches when you are in the erasing stage and I just didn’t bother to erase them. I think it gives it a cool effect but it is possible to clean it up if you wanted to.

The final product turned out looking like this and I am really proud of it!

Next week I am going to attempt to combine painting and hand lettering!

Cheers!

Finding Inspiration to Fight the Slog: Learning Project Week 8

Does the last month of the semester feel like trying to run through molasses to anyone else? I am beginning to feel the end of semester crunch and as a result, I am starting to fall off the hand lettering bandwagon. Every time I get a second where I think “I should work on my hand lettering” I remember that I have three papers and two presentations due in the next two weeks…


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Not only that but I’m going to admit that due to the impending doom of my brain and my hands from the endless typing I will have to do over the next two weeks my creativity has completely dried up. I just couldn’t drag myself to actually put my pen to paper this week. So instead I went in search of external inspiration. And what I found was absolutely amazing and beautiful so I thought I would share it with you.

The first place I went for inspiration was Instagram. Lots of hand-lettering artists, people who actually make a living at this, will advertise themselves through Instagram. These are a few that I found particularly talented:

There are many more artists out there but that is just a few of the ones that I have started following since starting this project. I found all sorts of artists with their own unique style but I also came across another amazing resource, called handletteringtutorial.

When I first stumbled across their Instagram page I was completely underwhelmed. There were all of three posts on their profile. But there was a website link in the bio section and when I clicked on it I hit the jackpot.

Turns out that Handlettering Tutorial is a  website that facilitates a large hand- lettering community. They have all sorts of things to aid aspiring letterists at all levels of ability. There is a blog, tutorials, a section for beginners, a weekly newsletter, a tools section, and wait for it… (drum roll please)…… THEY HAVE PODCASTS!!!! Now I know that may seem like something small and insignificance but it is actually a big deal because it finally offers me a way to learn from experts without having to be trapped inside, melting my brain with my computer screen. I could cue up the podcast on my phone and go for a walk! This was enough to get me fired up about this project again! Hope it helps you too!

 

Teach Me Your Ways! Moving Beyond YouTube: Learning Project Week Seven

This week for my learning project I decided it was time to try and find a new sensei for my hand lettering project.

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Youtube and Pinterest have provided me with a wealth of guidance and inspiration on how to create different styles of lettering. As I mentioned in my post from week five there is literally one free app that teaches hand lettering and it is limited in scope. So this week I decided to try and find other free online resources to learn hand lettering.

What I found was a really cool free course offered by Lettering Studio which can be found here. When you sign up you get a new lesson every day for five days and then a new lesson each week to help you hone your lettering skills. You simply enter your name and email and then over the course of five days it sends you the daily lesson. The best part is that each email starts with a giph that inevitably makes you smile. It is a beginner’s course that walks you through:

  1. Background on the instructor/illustrator, James Daly and Lesson one which walks you through the basics of forming your strokes.
  2. Writing your first word. The first word he has you practice is the word “minimum” as it has a lot of downstrokes and curvy letters. You then practice making curves and circles.
  3. Materials, styles, and tools of the trade.
  4. Transferring your lettering to Photoshop Part 1.
  5. Photoshop Part 2.

It is an amazing free course! The emails he sends are encouraging and informative. Each lesson contains links and videos to help you follow along and there are also opportunities to get practice pages you can download if you share the page with a friend. And if you are really interested in getting serious about lettering you can purchase full-blown video tutorial courses.

Here’s what I’ve been creating this week:

A good reminder!

If my heart was a compass you’d be north.

Bringing It All Together: Learning Project Week Six

This week I decided to try moving on to more complicated words and quotes. A major part of hand lettering is combining the words with images and playing with the shapes of the words in the quotes.

Here is what I worked on this week:

Pinterest inspiration.

My version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinterest Inspiration

My attempt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Found on Pinterest

My attempt at it. Changed the lettering a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those were my attempts this week. I am still working from Pinterest mostly and picking out things I like. Do you guys have any suggestions for what I should do next week?

Going Gothic: Learning Project Week Five

 

Taken from http://6teen.wikia.com/wiki/The_Goths?file=Gothjude.jpg

From 6teen Wiki Fandom

No, I didn’t do an extreme makeover goth edition for my learning project this week (although that could be a sweet learning project).  I did, however, learn a new style of calligraphy and when I wrote my title this week I couldn’t help but think of Jude from 6teen (did anybody else love this show?)

This week for my learning project I made my first attempt at one of the oldest forms of hand lettering around. The style of lettering I tried is known as Gothic Calligraphy and it was a style of calligraphy that was common in medieval manuscripts. I am a little bit of a history nerd and found a great website that explains the history of the style of script that has been around for over 500 years and was championed by Charlemagne. The website also shows examples of beautiful examples of this style of calligraphy in the Gutenberg Bible.

While my attempt at Gothic or Blackletter calligraphy wasn’t as elaborate or beautiful as the examples you can see on the website I don’t think it turned out too bad.

Some points about this type of calligraphy:

  • It is a much slower process than some of the other forms of hand lettering and calligraphy I have tried so far. Where the brush lettering was a flowing and free form this type is far more finessed and takes much more focus.
  • In this type of calligraphy, you have to pay special attention to the way that you are holding your marker.
  • I would hate to be the poor monk in a monastery somewhere having to copy pages and pages of text in this intricate calligraphy form.

In order to learn this style of calligraphy, I had to find a different YouTube account to follow because the Julie Turrie Calligraphy account I used over the last week or two did not have a tutorial of the Gothic Style. I was nervous to try finding a new video because I liked the fact that in the ones I have used so far that there was no voice over, it was just relaxing acoustic guitar. The video I found does have a voice over but I actually enjoyed listening to it and hearing someone else affirm my feeling that calligraphy is actually quite hard. The other thing that I really liked about the video was that there was a level of honesty in the video that I haven’t encountered previously. Instead of cutting and splicing the video to hide the mistakes the guy made he left them in to show that it isn’t possible to create the perfect letter every time.

On a side note, I also looked into the possibility of using apps on my phone to supplement my learning project and I was hugely disappointed. I thought it would be really cool to find an app that had a variety of practice pages or even lists or examples of different lettering styles all in one place. If you are willing to pay for such things there is a fair amount of selection for apps you can choose. But as far as free apps there is barely anything. So if you are the type of person who is techy enough to design and launch an app my million dollar idea is that there should be a free app where calligraphy and lettering artists can share their work and then people can select from a variety of styles and use their phone or tablet to practice forming letters.

Next week I think I will try to experiment a bit more with incorporating images and writing in different shapes. I still struggle with spacing the letters and forming words so I think that will be a good next step to challenge the basic skills I have built so far.

Whimsical Words: Learning Project Week Four

With Valentine’s Day coming up this week I decided I wanted to use my Learning Project to practice making a hand lettered Valentine’s card for my fiance. He doesn’t live in town and so I am always looking for fun things I can send him in the mail and I thought a hand made Valentines card would be perfect. I decided I would continue to use YouTube Videos this week to inspire my lettering. Another major part of hand lettering is not just the words but the accents you include around the words. So I started to experiment with the accent details this week. The first element I practiced was a simple dandelion.  My practice sheet for the card ended up looking like this:

I wanted a little more practice forming dramatic and sweeping words and I found a video that allowed me to do just that. This video is another one that was created by Julie Turrie. I really enjoy how she actually writes the letters out in the video because it makes it way easier to follow along.

My version actually looked pretty similar. The trickiest part about this word was that I attempted to write it out without the guidelines that appear in the video. Without the guidelines it made it difficult to judge how large to make each of the letters. It is also really difficult to create a fluid swirly detail under the “f”. The other accent detail that I wanted to work on this week was drawing feathers. Drawing a life-like feather takes a lot of patience and practice because there is so much detail in a feather. I chose a video where the form of the feather was more loose and less detailed simply because it is so difficult to draw a feather well. My finished product looked like this:

The feather looks way better on the picture than in my book.

So far in my project I have stuck to the fluid cursive hand lettering and brush lettering style but there are so many other fonts out there to play with. The other style of lettering I find really beautiful are the fonts that are geometric. I needed a break from the flowing cursive lettering and so I went on my Pinterest board and found some geometric fonts to try.

This is a list of the videos I used this week that you can check out if you want to give it a try:

Next week I think I am going to try the old Gothic style of calligraphy! Happy lettering!

Graduating from Practice Sheets: Learning Project Week Three

Last week I started on my hand-lettering journey using the grade one style alphabet practice sheets. After doing the alphabet in both upper and lower case I got bored and decided that I was ready to graduate to free-hand practice. I felt fairly confident about my lettering ability and when I set my pen to paper I imagined creating something like this….

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I know that this will come as a shock to all of you but my letters did not look anything like that. It turns out that free handing the letters is much more difficult than I had anticipated. My letters were shaky and somewhat misshapen. You almost have to retrain your brain how to form the letters. When you use the calligraphy markers and pens you have to be conscious of two things: how you are holding the pen and where you are creating your down-strokes. I don’t think about either of these things when I write normally so it was a bit of an adjustment.

One of the distinct aspects of calligraphy is the use of the wider down-stroke and thinner up -stroke. In order to create the thicker down-strokes the writing tool has to be held a certain way. I found that it was easier to create the calligraphy effect using the pen which had free flowing ink. The shape of the tip on the markers made it a bit more challenging.

My first attempt at letting free hand.

I fond that because I had to think about how I form my letters differently it was much easier to watch a video on YouTube and mimic their motions. I browsed a few videos before I found this one by Julie Turrie. I like this video because the style is simple yet elegant. Also the pen that is used in the video is similar to the one that I use and so it made it much easier to mimic the letters. I also enjoyed that I could go back and watch the process over and over if I couldn’t get it just right.

I also used another video this week called Learn to write ABC Calligraphy for Kids. Now I realize it says “for kids” but that is the skill level I am at right now and I actually really like how the letters turned out.

The last thing I did this week was I attempted my first word. After all the lettering searches I had done a video about creating basic calligraphy words popped up and I decided to do it. Again I watched the video and then duplicated it as best I could.

Then I experimented with the lettering styles from the practice sheets and created this:

Videos are definitely the way to go in terms of learning how to form the letters. I had so much fun this week, especially with mixing words and art. Next week I will continue to experiment with individual words.

Cheers!

 

Brush Lettering Training Wheels: Learning Project Week Two

This week for my learning project my goal was to attempt every letter of the alphabet in brush script. When I set out to find practice sheets I discovered that there are millions of variations on hand lettering and once an artist gets good they often will develop their own variation of a popular style and then their words become a type of calling card for them. Going into this project I had no idea that there was so much variation.

So in order to narrow it down for myself I went to Pinterest and found some free hand lettering practice sheets that looked like what I had pictured as hand lettering. Turns out what I imagined is called brush lettering and it can be done with brush markers and if you get really good at it you can use paintbrushes and watercolors to create beautiful pieces of art.  The website that I took my free (woohoo!) printable practice sheets from is a blog called One Artsy Mama Creations and there were tons of awesome resources on there. I highly recommend this website and will likely come back to it for further resources.

So like I mentioned last week I bought calligraphy markers and a calligraphy pen. This is how they look on the paper:

After a bit of practice I have decided that the flow of the calligraphy pen makes it much easier to write the letters smoothly and makes it look more elegant. Now just a bit of a disclaimer here, I do not have nice handwriting and so this is going to be a bit of an adventure. I am starting with the upper-case alphabet just to try it out.

Practicing the letters was eye opening to the fact that this is a much more technical skill than I imagined. Next week I will do lower case letters and then attempt a new style. Stay tuned!