From posters and billboards to well-executed scrapbook pages, text and letters make a big impact just about anywhere they appear. And while there are plenty of computer fonts and programs that produce cool fonts and letters, sometimes you need to draw your letters by hand. Learning how to draw cool letters gives you the skills to hand-letter posters and signs, or to add text to unique pieces of art.
Techniques for Learning How to Draw Cool Letters
While having some drawing ability or taking a course in drawing is helpful, you don’t need to have any innate talent to learn how to draw cool letters or craft unique word placements. Sometimes all you need are a few techniques and a little bit of practice.
Study Fonts and Typography
Typography refers to the use and manipulation of letters and words. Typography artists are the people who design new fonts, or who use letters and words to make unique designs and statements. Studying existing fonts and how they look and move, or taking a course in typography to learn more about letter impact is a good way to get stated in learning how to draw cool letters. Once you have a good grasp on how letters shape a word and how they look on a page, you’ll be able to start getting ideas on how you want your own letters to look.
If you’ve ever studied some newer and innovative fonts and letters, you may discover that some of them appear to be caricatures done up in letter form. Some letters may appear a bit cartoon-like, while others may have an exaggerated element to them that makes an impact on the page. Learning how to draw caricatures or how to draw cartoon-style caricatures can help give you the skills necessary to take an ordinary letter and give it features or designs that will make the impression you’re looking for.
Draw Letters in a Grid
Grid drawing techniques are used by many artists trying to develop a new design from something that already exists. Take a sheet of paper and divide it into a grid of boxes, with each box measuring 2 to 3-inches in size. In the upper left hand box, draw the letter A. In the box directly next to it, try drawing the A in a block or balloon style. In the next box, draw it in another style. In each box you want to change the letter slightly, so that what you get is a progression from the basic letter to something that is completely different in the lower right hand corner of the paper. You can try giving the letter features like a face, arms, or legs, or you may want to try drawing each letter as if it’s made out of something, like built out of wood or rock. Other ideas for changing a letter may include:
- Dressing the letters by giving them hats, mittens, or coats
- Exaggerating the outlines of each letter
- Exaggerating one side of a letter, so one half is very large and the other half very small
- Giving each letter a long tail
- Making each letter take on a different animal persona based on what that letter could stand for such as A for ape
- Draw the letters larger and smaller next to one another to see how they interact with one another
- Draw the letters as if they were members of a band or a sports team
- Pair two letters up together to see how they interact or connect with one another
If you do decide to use a grid drawing method to help develop your letters, be prepared to make multiple grids. An idea that works well for letter A might not work on letter B, for example. If you have a specific set of words you intend to write or print out, consider making a grid of each word or of the sentence as a whole to see how manipulating the letters changes your message or the impact that your words have.
Draw in 3D
While you may ultimately end up drawing your letters with pencil or pen and ink, one way to develop your ideas and learn how to draw cool letters is to work in 3D first. Try creating letters out of various materials to see the effect that it gives them. If you find something that interests you, draw what you see and take a look at how it translates from 3D to paper. Some designs may not make the switch, but you may find that some give you a great jumping off point to continue working with. A few ideas you can use to build your letters include:
- Using small ripped up pieces of paper or confetti to construct each letter
- Using torn pieces of grass
- Constructing each letter out of macaroni noodles
- Building very large letters out of fall leaves
- “Drawing” your letters with a loose material like salt, sugar, or sand
- Trace your letters in a tray of wet sand or loose rice
If you see something that intrigues you, consider taking a picture of it first, before you draw it. Sometimes photographing something, then removing the background from around it, will make it appear differently. This should help give you an idea of whether or not the letter will be able to make the leap from 3D to paper successfully.
Keep On Drawing
The biggest lesson you’ll face in learning how to draw cool letters is repetition. Practice makes perfect, and in order to truly perfect your letters and give them the professional look or big impact you’re after, you’ll have to draw them dozens – if not hundreds – of times. You may discover once you begin working with letters that you find appealing, that your technique becomes tighter and more polished over time, making your letters into something even better than before. Whether you intend to become a typography artist, or you just want to learn how to draw cool letters to embellish your scrapbooks, put some effort into learning this skill; you’ll be glad you did.