A Beginner’s Guide to Brush Lettering
Hey there Vectornators!
Welcome to our 4.4 Learning Camp!
In this article, we’re going to be talking about how to use Vectornator’s new supercharged brushes to create beautiful, fluid brush lettering projects with vectors!
Buckle up, and let’s dive in.
What is Brush Lettering?
Typography, lettering, calligraphy.
These are all terms you’ve probably heard, but what do they mean?
In the next months, we’ll be diving deeper into all of these topics. But today we’re focusing on brush lettering, which is a specific type of calligraphy.
Traditionally, brush lettering is done in a physical medium—with an actual brush and ink. It’s a gorgeous art form that we all love. But these days, more and more artists are using digital tools to create their lettering projects.
With our new 4.4 update, Vectornator’s brushes now create vector paths instead of filled shapes. This makes it a lot easier and smoother to create beautiful brush lettering projects with the Brush Tool. Today, we want to teach you how to do that.
How to Do Brush Lettering in Vectornator
So how does this work?
Formulate a Concept
First, you’ll need a concept for your lettering project.
There are a lot of different types of lettering out there, so you’ll need to narrow it down first. Whether you want to try a flowing, cursive style or something closer to traditional calligraphy, the first step is to visualize what you want the final piece to look like in your mind.
Are you lettering just one word, or a phrase? Maybe a name, or just one large letter? Are you going to be adding other elements to the piece, or will the lettering stand on its own?
It’s important to think about the structure of your planned piece during this stage. Will your lettering be on just one line, or more? Will you write at a normal horizontal degree, or at an angle? Will your piece have any three-dimensional elements, or use perspective? Or will it be a standard 2D calligraphy lettering project?
Once you have a clear idea in your mind of what you want your piece to look like, or at least the style you’re going for, it’s time to start sketching.
Make a Preliminary Sketch
Now that you have your concept, it’s time to make an initial sketch.
This can be done physically on paper, or by using a sketching software such as Procreate.
When you start sketching, you should first think about the overall structure of your lettering piece. Your first few ideas should be as small and quick as possible—thumbnail sketches of what your piece could look like.
If it’s multiple words or a phrase, think about how the structure and shape of the words interact with one another. Whether you’re aiming for a balanced look, or emphasizing some aspect of a particular word, you’ll be able to block that out in this stage.
Once you’ve identified the thumbnail you like the best, do some sketches of the concept at a larger scale. You might see things you missed in the first stage. Now is the time to fix them!
It might be helpful to use Vectornator’s Grid option to give yourself some lines to work with. You can use a perpendicular grid or an isometric grid, whichever one works better for your project.
During this part of the process, you should focus on making your sketch a bit more professional-looking. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but keep in mind that this sketch will serve as a “skeleton” template for your final brush lettering. So take some time to ensure that the proportions are correct.
After you’ve made a final sketch that you’re happy with, you’re ready to move onto the next stage.
Bring Your Sketch into Vectornator
Now you need to bring your sketch into Vectornator.
There are two ways to do this. If you have a photo of your sketch, you can import it through the Vectornator gallery.
Now that you've got your sketch in Vectornator, let's make it ready to use for lettering.
First, go to the Layers Tab, then lock the layer that contains the photo of your sketch. Then, set the Layer Opacity of that layer to about 30-40%. Next, make a new layer on top of the old one.
Now your project is ready to begin! You can now do your brush lettering work over the top of your sketch; using it as a guide.
Create Your Brush Lettering Project
Now, you're ready to go!
Select the Brush Tool from the Toolbar. It's right in the middle of your Toolbar; sixth from the top.
Next, make sure that the Fill option in the inspector is switched off. You won't need it for this type of work. Make sure the Stroke is set to on, and that you have your desired color selected.
Next, select a brush preset. Play around with the options until you find one you like. If none of them are exactly what you need, try selecting the closest one and then adjusting it in the Brush Editor. Here, you can change the brush's roundness, angle, and contour. If you like your settings, you can save them, and you'll always have access to that custom brush preset under "Your Brushes".
The last thing we'll need to adjust is your brush's smoothness. Under the Appearance Tab in the Inspector, you'll see a slider labeled Smoothing. Adjust this to 50% or more, then do some tests with your brush. You should immediately notice the difference—it makes your brushstrokes much more fluid and, well, smooth. Setting this above 50% will help your lettering project have that fluid, organic look that is so distinctive to great brush lettering.
Pay attention to your downstrokes and upstrokes. You usually want each letter in your word or phrase to be created in one continuous movement, and sometimes an entire word. By paying attention to which strokes go down and which go up, you can make your letters look much more graceful.
If you're interested in this aspect of lettering, don't worry! We'll have a more complete guide to these nitty-gritty details coming out soon!
Make Final Adjustments
Now here comes the coolest part.
Because Vectornator brushstrokes are vector lines, that means they are infinitely adjustable. So once you've created your lettering, you can go back and adjust it.
This could be as simple as selecting a letter and using the nodes to make the top of a letter a little bit taller.
Once you've made any final adjustments, your project is done, and it's time to export it and share it with the world!
Be sure to tag us when you upload your new lettering project to social media! We can't wait to see what you're making with the new brushes!
So what are you waiting for? Download Vectornator today, and get started!
Until next time, Vectornators! Stay tuned for more 4.4 Learning Camp content this week!