In celebration of St. George's Day, we were excited to be joined by a fellow Brit and one of the greatest hand letterers out there, Ian Barnard. Ian's passionate about inspiring, entertaining and helping people better their lettering skills, and is also the co-host of The Honest Designers Show along with our very own Design Cuts founder, Tom Ross.

For this special session, we had Ian show us how to design a celebration lettering piece for St George's Day.

Set the Canvas

Start with a plain chalkboard that comes with the brush set and has a light-blue tinge to it. Set up the Grid and Letter Builder templates and draw a rough sketch.

Place the Words

Start with 'Happy’ at the top, ‘St.George's’ in the center, and ‘Day’ at the bottom. Use a short pencil and rough out the letters. Draw them straight using the grids with a white outline and give them a 3D effect.

Roughly draw the letters and then see where you need to tweak them. Keep them consistent to form the outlines. The Letter Builder grids help to get up to the point where you can start adding personality to the letters faster, rather than spending most of the time shaping them.

Pro tip: Avoid being too neat straight off the bat and get hung up on one letter. Simply be consistent.

Make sure that the lines are even, heavier and not too bunched up. Turn off the letter grades and duplicate the word by swiping left on the layer and selecting duplicate. With the bottom one selected, reduce the opacity down to just where the word’s opacity ends. Turn on snapping and magnetics to keep central and reduce the height until it's uniform.

Fill the Word ‘Happy’

Press the arrow tool to confirm the transformation and create a new layer by pressing the plus icon on the layers panel. Connect one corner to the other and form the whole word. This creates a 3D effect. Join everything outside of the letter, making the edges meet.

Delete the layer below the final layer once the edges are joined. Then fill in the area with white and make it fade off into the background to give it a popping look.

Select the Dust Brush and Eraser Tool to fade the white from the black on a separate layer.

Pro tip: Use the builder, then put the basic outlines. Fill the outlines and make them bolder. Duplicate it and connect the diagonal lines to create a 3D effect. Fill it with a solid color and use the Dust Brush to erase the bottom in order to create depth.

Use a mask layer and click on the layer to select the mask. Then erase without permanently damaging the raise. Make sure to highlight the edges.

Pro tip: Masks are a good, non-destructive way of doing a raise.

Use the Stipple Shader Brush as a time-saver for not having to do the dots. Choose a red color for this and add it at the bottom of each letter fading up. Highlight at the top gently adding it to the top left-hand corner.

Fill the Word ‘George's’

Select a new layer and repeat the same process as before. Fill the letter rather than making an outline. Pick the brush and make it fairly big. Roughly sketch them to spend less time. Using the Eraser, neaten up the edges to make them look refined. Fill in around the edges to make it look fuller. Edit the shape by bringing it aside and making it symmetrical.

If you notice the G, you can see that the bottom of the G goes below the grid line. The same applies to that on the upper side of the grid line for any other circular alphabet. This is because it loses space around the area and has to go up a bit to break it and balance it with the square letters. This is called Balancing the Optics of the Letters.

Instead of drawing the outlines, you could also fill it all in and then erase it out. Raise the edges, making them a bit neater by refining them. Make the R pointed towards the bottom side.

Get a balance between all the sides being equal. Grab the G and A by using the selection tool and shoot down with three fingers. Press duplicate and it will duplicate a version of that G. This way it won’t be a problem when resizing something else, it’ll lose the symmetry squashed in certain areas. Squeeze the layers together to join them.

Use the letter builder’s help to draw the S.

On the bottom, click on the Warp Tool and then Advanced Mesh. Drag the letters up and down to squeeze them and adjust to fit.

Create a new layer from the last panel or the plus icon. Click on it and turn it into a Clipping Mask. A clipping mask means that anything you do on the new layer will be restricted to what serves on the layer beneath it. Choose the red color again. Draw a St.George's cross on a shield. Pick the texture from below and paint on the shield.

Raise the letters and run over some of the areas to darken them subtly. Switch to the Chalk Brush and give them a sharper edge.

Imagine the light coming from over on the top left and create a shadow on the right and bottom of the letter. Use a mask and move over the edge. Use a paintbrush to raise the letters and give them a sharper line, bevelling them.

Press harder near the center to give it a darker texture. Use the sharpness of the line to finish it off. Get the pencil brush back and erase some bits on the shield to make it look tarnished.

Add a new layer under the word George's. With the pencil brush and red color, create a quick drop shadow effect where everything to the right and the bottom of the letter is going to show. This adds a red color variant to the word.

Using the same technique and style, add ‘St’ right between Happy and George's.

Fill the Word ‘Day’

Bring up the Grid Builder and use Stefan's Tool Brush. With a free hand, write Day just below George’s.

Remove a bit of the texture by using the pencil brush but make sure to keep a thick script. Make the bottom thicker.

To make it less prominent, turn off the Grid Builder and select Eraser. Add a mask to it and make it look like it's being overlapped. Bring out the most of 'George's' by making it stand out slightly from the other words.

Add Elements

Add a new layer, select the pencil again and add a sharp spear. Raise the bottom side, making it look like it's coming from underneath. Flip horizontal and snap on it. Right align it with the other spear. Add some roses on the other side and bring down the brightness of the details.

Finally, add some leaves and fill the space. Add some chalk flakes as finishing touches.

Congratulations, you have successfully finished a celebration lettering composition.