This is the Design Challenge featured in Volume 3 of Lettering Adventures, teaching students how to create their very own shirt design in vintage circus lettering.


 

THUMBNAILS

Select which words you want to highlight in your phrase to make bigger and bolder than the rest. Then draw out 3-5 small, rough thumbnails of some ideas on how to best highlight those keywords. Play with different containers for your words to go inside of to help you visualize more interesting layouts.

Before including any illustrations, figure out the layout of your lettering. Then, once you select a composition, create a illustration in the negative spaces left over.


 

SKELETON ROUGH DRAFT

Select your best thumbnail to create your first rough draft. Start by drawing the main shapes of your composition. Then draw a margin and containers for your lettering to go inside of. For your first skeleton, lightly write out the phrase in all capital letters, in pencil, for placement. Lastly, draw over your skeleton to find interesting ways to customize your letters.

 

WEIGHT AND PROOFING

Once your skeleton is in place, add weight and serifs to your circus lettering. Then fill in your letters to make it easier to proof for kerning and weight. To help visualize your kerning, draw blobs of negative space between your letters to see if it’s consistent. Then, to check your weight, draw in small dashes in the thickest parts of your letter to see if they’re the same length.

 

 

FINAL DRAFT AND INK

After your lettering is complete, you can begin to add illustrations from the inside out so you can fill the negative space around your words. Then you can begin to add accents such as line bursts, stars, and doodles to bring your piece to life. Once your rough draft is ready you can feel confident when tracing over it to do your final inking.

 

 
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FOR YOUR HAND LETTERED SHIRT DESIGN