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4 Sessions / 8-10 hours of work per session
Premium membership $20/month
Included w/ premium membership ($20/month)
Skill Level
Video Transcripts
English, Afrikaans
Typography, Handlettering, Graphic Design, Digitizing handlettering
Open for Enrollment

Custom Handlettering

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Go at your own pace
4 Sessions / 8-10 hours of work per session
Premium membership $20/month
Included w/ premium membership ($20/month)
Skill Level
Video Transcripts
English, Afrikaans
Typography, Handlettering, Graphic Design, Digitizing handlettering
Course Description

Custom Handlettering, the second installment in The Complete Typographer program, covers unique and beautiful handlettering used across a wide spectrum of design disciplines. The practice involves drawing letterforms already composed into words, rather than creating characters for an entire alphabet and combining them. Generated for specific uses rather than assembled from a kit of parts, handlettering provides infinite variety for type designers. Students will explore ways to build out digital variations on their handlettered characters.

Tools, methods, and techniques for creating expressive lettering using traditional tools and media such as ink, pen, paint, and brush will be demonstrated. Digitizing hand drawn type into vector designs, and combining handwork with digital design within projects will be explored.

What Students Are Saying:

"This is a very interesting course for beginners (true beginner level here). I loved taking it. It was a good way to jump back in lettering after more than 20 years of not touching it. This is really great course if you need an update on [digital] techniques or to gain regularity."

This course is in adaptive mode and is open for enrollment. Learn more about adaptive courses here.

Session 1: Basic Shapes and Materials in Handlettering (February 2, 2023)
In our first session, we'll begin by looking at some inspiring examples of hand lettering, both historical and more contemporary. Next, we'll look at the roles of contrast and basic geometric forms as foundations for making letters. Finally, we'll preview the various tools that we'll be working with in this course.
7 lessons
1. Introduction
2. Contrast (Premium Exclusive)
3. Geometry: Basic Shapes (Premium Exclusive)
4. Geometry: Italics (Premium Exclusive)
5. Tools (Premium Exclusive)
6. Comparing Tools (Premium Exclusive)
7. Assignment: Letters and Shapes (Premium Exclusive)
Session 2: Developing Your Technique: Lines and Letters (February 9, 2023)
In this session, we'll go over some basic exercises that will help you begin to develop your technique and general comfort with lettering by hand. After working on lines and curves, we'll begin creating some letters, and incorporating those letters into text.
10 lessons
1. Introduction (Premium Exclusive)
2. Setting Up Your Workspace (Premium Exclusive)
3. Flat Brush: Diagonal Forms (Premium Exclusive)
4. Flat Brush: Vertical Forms (Premium Exclusive)
5. Flat Brush: Faster Drawings (Premium Exclusive)
6. Sharpie Marker (Premium Exclusive)
7. Pointed Brush (Premium Exclusive)
8. Double Sharpie (Premium Exclusive)
9. Letters & Words (Premium Exclusive)
10. Assignment: Words of Love and Hate (Premium Exclusive)
Session 3: Developing Your Technique: Sketching and Creating Letters (February 16, 2023)
In this session, we'll continue with the exercises from the previous lessons by creating letters and words and experimenting with the wide variety of lettering tools that we have on hand. We'll also explore some sketching techniques as an alternative approach to creating letters by hand.
9 lessons
1. Introduction (Premium Exclusive)
2. Double Sharpie (Premium Exclusive)
3. Chopsticks (Premium Exclusive)
4. Toothbrush (Premium Exclusive)
5. The Big Brush (Premium Exclusive)
6. Sketching: Building Your Skeleton (Premium Exclusive)
7. Sketching: Fleshing It Out (Premium Exclusive)
8. Comparing Sketches (Premium Exclusive)
9. Assignment: Sketch It (Premium Exclusive)
Session 4: From Analog Sketches to Digital Designs (February 23, 2023)
In our final session, we'll import some of our sketches into Adobe Illustrator and turn them into bold digital letterforms. From there we'll use a variety of simple techniques to create diverse variations on our original designs.
20 lessons
1. Introduction (Premium Exclusive)
2. Introduction to Illustrator (Premium Exclusive)
3. Setting Up Your Artboards (Premium Exclusive)
4. Reviewing the Sketches (Premium Exclusive)
5. Basic Vectorizing (Premium Exclusive)
6. Refining Curves (Premium Exclusive)
7. Completing the Skeleton (Premium Exclusive)
8. Skeleton Variations (Premium Exclusive)
9. Skeletons vs. Outlines (Premium Exclusive)
10. Outlining (Premium Exclusive)
11. Tips for Outlining (Premium Exclusive)
12. Completing the Outline (Premium Exclusive)
13. Outline Variations (Premium Exclusive)
14. Stenciling 'More' (Premium Exclusive)
15. Completing the Stencil (Premium Exclusive)
16. Comparing Designs (Premium Exclusive)
17. Creating Variations (Premium Exclusive)
18. The Sketchbook (Premium Exclusive)
19. Conclusion (Premium Exclusive)
20. Assignment: Create a Personal Brand (Premium Exclusive)
Learning Outcomes

Below you will find an overview of the Learning Outcomes you will achieve as you complete this course.

Instructors And Guests
What You Need to Take This Course
  • Supplies
    • Flat brush
    • Pointed brush
    • Sharpie marker(s)
    • Pens/Pencils
    • other objects TBD
    • Black India Ink
    • Tracing paper
  • Software
    • Adobe Creative Suite
Additional Information

Please note: Taking part in a Kadenze course as a Premium Member does not affirm that the learner has been enrolled or accepted for enrollment by School of Visual Arts.

If a student signs up for the Complete Typographer program, it is recommended that these courses are taken sequentially.

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