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4 Sessions / 8-10 hours of work per session
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
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 (January 28, 2021)
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
3. Geometry: Basic Shapes
4. Geometry: Italics
5. Tools
6. Comparing Tools
7. Assignment: Letters and Shapes
Session 2: Developing Your Technique: Lines and Letters (February 4, 2021)
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
2. Setting Up Your Workspace
3. Flat Brush: Diagonal Forms
4. Flat Brush: Vertical Forms
5. Flat Brush: Faster Drawings
6. Sharpie Marker
7. Pointed Brush
8. Double Sharpie
9. Letters & Words
10. Assignment: Words of Love and Hate
Session 3: Developing Your Technique: Sketching and Creating Letters (February 11, 2021)
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
2. Double Sharpie
3. Chopsticks
4. Toothbrush
5. The Big Brush
6. Sketching: Building Your Skeleton
7. Sketching: Fleshing It Out
8. Comparing Sketches
9. Assignment: Sketch It
Session 4: From Analog Sketches to Digital Designs (February 18, 2021)
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
2. Introduction to Illustrator
3. Setting Up Your Artboards
4. Reviewing the Sketches
5. Basic Vectorizing
6. Refining Curves
7. Completing the Skeleton
8. Skeleton Variations
9. Skeletons vs. Outlines
10. Outlining
11. Tips for Outlining
12. Completing the Outline
13. Outline Variations
14. Stenciling 'More'
15. Completing the Stencil
16. Comparing Designs
17. Creating Variations
18. The Sketchbook
19. Conclusion
20. Assignment: Create a Personal Brand
Learning Outcomes

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

Instructors & 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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