6 Ways to Shade Your Lettering
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It’s Jessica from Pretty Prints & Paper, back again with 6 ideas for how you can add some pop to your lettering with different shading techniques. This can be brush calligraphy or lettering with your favorite pen, but these simple details can add a whole lot of punch to your designs.
Perhaps you are working on a large piece and want to emphasize certain words to add impact, or creating standalone signs for an event – and adding shading will make it pop just a little bit more. Ready to get started?
6 WAYS TO ADD SHADING TO YOUR LETTERING
1. A Simple Line
Using your favorite black pen or fineliner, etch just barely outside of the lettering. The key is to go slowly enough to keep the lines consistent in their distance. Choose which side you want to shade – the right side, the left side, the top or bottom – and keep it consistent. This looks as if there’s a light shining from the left and reveals the shade on the right.
This requires a little bit more pause, slowing down, to get the lines to sit right on the edge of your letters. (As you can see, I rushed and the line separated from the letters in some places!) This is a more subtle effect that adds some depth without a lot of bulk. Depending on the thickness of your pen, that will be more or less subtle.
Sometimes it’s fun to shake up what you use – so instead of the line, use dots. Or perhaps even dashes. Here, it’s helpful to have a thicker fine-liner rather than a gel pen to get the nice full dot in one go (rather than going over it again). Take care to stay as even as possible between dots, and from the letter form.
4. Accent Shading
This is one of the more popular forms of shading, where you can add an accent color with a corresponding brush marker. Similar to the lines, stay consistent with where you are shading. Stay to the left or right. Alternatively, you can shade all around the word for another look. You might want to decide how much you want to shade – all of the edges? Or just the downstroke? Experiment!
5. Shadow Shading
This is done with one of my favorite Tombow Markers – the lightest shade of gray, N89. Adding the shading on the downstroke is subtle but makes a HUGE difference to the depth of your letters. If there’s a portion of a message you really want to emphasize in your work, this is one easy and powerful way to make it. Definitely make sure your first color is dried completely (20 seconds is plenty of time) before going in with the gray – you can see that it can pick up on the color if you don’t!
One of the most fun effects is to create the bubble effect. I’ve loved seeing Chrystalizabeth use it and it’s 2 steps. First, you shade with that gray dual brush marker. Second, you add in the highlight like you’d see on a balloon – wherever the light is shining, there’s a glare. So again, keep your highlight consistent. In this example I’ve kept it to the upper left. (see the video for a live action version of this technique!)
So there you have it folks – 6 ways to add some pop to your lettering and calligraphy. Do you have other ideas? Trying them out? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Until next time,
Jessica @ Pretty Prints & Paper
Jessica Chung is a Minneapolis calligrapher/bullet journalist/blogger and face behind Pretty Prints & Paper. On her blog, she combines her passions for teaching and handlettering to inspire others to unleash their inner creative through tutorials, project ideas, and lessons about lettering and bullet journaling. You might find her in different states and countries, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, art classes of all kinds, a cappella concerts, or at the nearest Americano.