This isn’t going to be the typical 500-words you’re used to. Instead, I want to give you an overview of what my lettering workflow looks like from sketch to vector.
I also want to point out that I go through several iterations before arriving to a final sketch. I use copy paper from my inkjet printer and lots of tracing paper for revisions. If you want the full list of tools I use, go here or check out my resource page.
Here’s the outline of my script lettering workflow:
1. Trace Brush Pen Sketch
- Adjust with tracing paper
- Fill sketch with pencil (inking takes long and I find it unnecessary)
2. Scan Into Computer
- 300 dpi
3. Make Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop
- Desaturate color
- Adjust Input Levels for contrast
- Add guides
- Copy Background layer
- Use Layer Masks or Polygonal Lasso Tool to select and adjust letter-spacing
- Save as JPG or take screenshot
4. Print Out Revised Sketch
- Use a black or gray color
- Print at 50%
1. Trace Printout
- Check letter-spacing, consistency, slant, curves, weight, dark spots, etc.
- Make adjustments
2. Scan Printout
- 300 dpi
- 600 dpi if Live Tracing
1. Vector in Adobe Illustrator
- Name Layers (Sketch layer, Vector layer and Guideline layer)
- Set Sketch layer to Template
- Copy original Vector layer if making changes/revisions
- Break up letters into individual shapes, entry/exit strokes, etc. (helpful when adjusting letter-spacing)
- Use Pathfinder to Unite paths when done editing
2. Print Out Vector
- Check at different sizes for scalability
- Write notes on printout
1. Trace Printout (Optional)
- Make any last-minute adjustments
2. Add Color
- Specific styling effects, etc.
- Last-minute tweaks/adjustments
As you can see, it’s a meticulous process. I frequently take breaks in between. If I’m working for more than a 2-3 hours straight, I step away and do something else (watch a show, eat a snack or go outside). This is important to my creativity and helps prevent burnout. It also allows me to see clearly with a fresh set of eyes and spot things I may have missed.
If the above isn’t working, then I’ll come back the next day after a full night’s rest.
What’s your Workflow?
I hope you got something out of this overview of my script lettering process. I know this doesn’t explain every step in detail, but I’m going to elaborate in a series of posts on this particular topic.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your lettering workflow.