Lettering + Illustration, Process

I recently did a hand-lettering workshop for AIGA Boston with some amazing people including, Lara McCormick, Annica Lydenberg, Carlos Pagan, and Ryan O’Rourke. During my presentation / demo, I showed these images and discussed my process for turning a quote or phrase into an illustration. Each image has some little notes diagraming my thought process and illustration process as I go. I thought I’d share it here, since people often ask about this stuff.

believing is hard

This is the phrase I’ve decided to draw.

believing is hard

Next I quickly and simply, write it out to check for spacing / word length / etc.

believing is hard

Sometimes I’ll write it in cursive to see how the letterforms look together.

believing is hard

Next, I’ll look at individual letters and letter combinations and see if I can spice things up.

believing is hard

Maybe I’ll get a little crazy and try some non-traditional ligatures or play with scale, caps, lowercase, angles…

believing is hard

Once I am in a place that is starting to feel right I’ll start to tighten things up and finalize.

believing is hard

Here’s my finished pen and ink drawing.

believing is hard

Here it is as a finished illustration. I added color in Photoshop.

During the workshop, Annica, Carlos, and myself did some lettering together on the chalkboard: Check it out on Instagram.

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  • Brandi

    Once you scan your pen and ink drawing… Do you use the pen tool and trace every single letter or do you select each letter and add color?

    • chrispiascik

      I almost never retrace anything. I adjust the black and white levels to 100% and then often just use the paint bucket. If necessary, I’ll convert it to vector and color within illustrator—depending on what the illustration will be used for.

  • Pingback: Hand Lettering Process Tutorial

  • http://sarawolfowitz.wix.com/artist Sara Wolfie

    This is awesome, really cool to see the whole process. Did you use different shades of blue, or is that just my eyes playing tricks on me against the black background?

    • chrispiascik

      Thanks! It is different shades of blue.

  • dupernuper

    Great! How long did this take you?

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Who is this guy?

After starting his career as a graphic designer at award-winning studios in New England, Chris accidentally became an illustrator. He’s pretty happy about that. This strange transformation was a result of his daily drawing project that he started in late 2007, in fact he’s still posting a new drawing every day.  Chris holds degrees in Visual Communication Design and Art History from the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford, where he is currently pursuing his Masters Degree in Illustration. He has been the recipient of Gold Awards, Silver Awards, Excellence Awards, Judge’s Awards and the Spirit of Creativity Award from the Connecticut Art Director’s Club as well as BoNE awards from the AIGA and a Silver Award from Gaphis. In addition his work has been published in numerous books and publications including Print Magazine and Communication Arts. His client list includes; Converse, Nike, Chronicle Publishing, Boston Magazine, McDonalds, Scholastic, Harvard Business School Publishing, Warner Music Group, Republic Records.

Represented in France by: Valérie Oualid

Check the full bio here.

Supported on Patreon by: Jenni Freidman / RStevens / Josh LaFayette / and more! Support my daily drawing project on Patreon to see your name here!