If you've watched any of our previous sessions with Peggy Dean (ie. The Pigeon Letters), you'll know that this is not one to miss. Peggy's a natural talent - she designs, teaches, creates beautiful design tools, but most of all, she's deeply passionate about her craft. If you want to learn from one of the best in the industry (or are in need of a deep belly laugh), this is the session for you! Join Peggy as she teaches us all about creating bounce lettering in Procreate.
Fundamentals of Cohesive Alphabet
If this is your first time doing lettering, start with analog. Always try to go from analog to digital instead of the other way around, because if you can drive a stick, you can drive anything.
Bounce lettering is modern calligraphy that is playful and accessible. You can see it on greeting cards, store windows, wedding invitations and other items. Although it might differ from formal lettering it still looks elegant. They change the vibe of what your words on paper will deliver to somebody.
Opening the pack
When you open the pack, you will get access to the workbook shown in the image above. This workbook goes over the basics of bounce lettering, but also provides different individuals with ways to practice.
Open a New Canvas
Select a black color from the color palette and then go to the Brush library. Click on TPL brush lettering and in this select The Pigeon Lettering Brush Pen. You can get it free on Peggy’s website. You can adjust the size of the pen.
Open a blank new canvas. Go to tools, click on Canvas and go to the Drawing Guide.
If you haven't used a drawing guide before you can edit the drawing guide. You can change the color of the grid. You can also change the grid size and thickness. For this tutorial, the grid size is set to large.
After changing the things you want to change, just press done. This drawing guide does not exist as a layer. It's just for you. And if you export and you forget to turn this off, it's not going to show up.
Foundations of lettering
When you're doing your letters as a foundation of cohesive letters, you must only connect to three dots and not four.
This “a” looks like it's going from one dot to another and then going straight back up to the third. In order to get more understanding of these letters, you can check Fundamentals of Brush Lettering in Procreate with Peggy Dean on Design Cuts as it covers all of this to make sure that your alphabet essentially has that framework.
Anytime there's a connection, that's where you want to keep space. Let's take “a”; if the connection has space, it looks better. If it was connecting the dots from all four sides, you can see how it gets muddied up. Space helps it to form well, otherwise it looks thick.
First of all, select the word that you want to write in bounce letters. Peggy discusses the thought process, rules, and tips of bounce lettering in detail.
The first word selected is Summer. There is no one single style of drawing an alphabet. You can choose any style you want to. In the practice guide that comes with the pack, you're going to see two different versions of letters. It's because you can do it in any way you like, as long as it's cohesive.
Let’s take “s” as an example. The brush size is small. If you aren't familiar with the pressure, this is just something that's going to take some time getting used to. But where you want your pressure or weight lines to go, just think about where the downstroke is because it will give a really nice hairline stroke.
To create a “u”, you first need to do a downstroke and then an upstroke and then a downstroke and upstroke.
The slower you draw, the more you can see how this shakes. For this, the trick is to change the percentage of StreamLine.
If you click on the brush, you're going to see something called StreamLine under the Stroke Path. In this tutorial, StreamLine is set at 31% according to Peggy's speed but you can adjust the StreamLine according to your speed of creating letters. The advantage of StreamLine is that it takes away the waviness. It’s like a magnet but you must not increase StreamLine to 100 %. In this case, increase StreamLine to 60 %.
The trick for wobbly lines is to use your wrist to exit up and over. Let’s take “u”. Do a downstroke and use your wrist to flick. You don’t have to drag up to do an upstroke, just take your hand and use your wrist to guide in a quick way.
To draw “summer”, draw s, u, m. The “m” goes down and then the next “m” is going to go back to the main space. You can draw x-height and baseline. Write the full word. Draw a small “e” and the “r” comes down.
Pro tip: The code to bounce lettering is to make your vowels smaller.
If you write “summer” the same way with regular size vowels, that would also be fine but you can see the difference with the lack of personality. It's just the vowel size. The trick in bounce lettering is to make your vowels smaller. Do not worry about x-height and baseline. Don't worry about bouncing them below or above.
Draw Snap Lines
Draw two snap lines. Drag and hold a line, it'll snap in place.
Mark upper snap line as “X” for x-height and lower snap line as “B” for baseline. The baseline is where all letters sit and then the X-height is basically where the top of lowercase letters meet at the top. This is what we're going to bounce away from.
First, draw “love” without bouncing and then draw “love” with bounce letters. This is the difference between bounce lettering versus traditional cohesive lettering.
Let’s draw the alphabet “a”. A little rule of thumb is to continue returning to your baseline no matter what. So if you're writing a word, just make sure you continue to come back to your baseline as far as where the main part of your letter sits. If you don’t do this, then your bounce lettering is not going to look right. You want the bounce to make sense.
Here, you can bounce your “a” by dropping it a little below the baseline or you can bring “a” a little bit higher than the baseline as this will return it to baseline. That's a good anchor point for bounce lettering, but don’t be afraid to break rules.
Now, let's draw “c”. “C” is one of those letters that you can either keep at the x-height and baseline, or you can drop it.
It looks really pretty when you drop it. However, it depends on whether it is going to work. Does it make sense? Don't drop things too far below unless you're going to really elaborate with things like flourishes or swashes. If you drop it too far below, it might confuse you.
Now let's go to “g”. This is actually a good example. The letter “g” usually looks something like as shown below.
Pro tip: When you do “g” and “h” or these types of letters, you can have a descending stem-loop and an ascending stem-loop.
You want to make sure that the width and height are approximately the same unless it's a flourish. This is just a trick for consistency in your alphabet.
Now take “g” and “y”. These both drop below the baseline. They both look cohesive.
Let’s take the example of two “g”s. Create an ascending stem-loop and hit the baseline and then finish it off with either another letter or exit stroke.
If you want to draw a bounce letter “h”, let it reach the x-height and then drop it below the baseline.
Let’s take another letter “m”. For “m”, you can create everything at x-height as well as baseline until the second overturn. You can bring it lower down and then do the exit stroke. Similarly, you can also do ‘w'.
Let's take another letter “t”. You can bounce “t” below or above the baseline. Whether you want to bounce letters above or below the baseline depends on the context. You can pick and choose what works for you and what doesn't.
If you want to write the word “thing” in bounce letters, you can move the letters above or below the baseline but with anchor points. You can bring up “i” and “g” because they have anchor points. Parts of "t", "h" and "n" are meeting the baseline. There is a reason why you shouldn’t drop “n, because if you dropped it, it would interfere with ‘g”.
Repeating letters are a perfect opportunity to bounce. You may or may not usually bounce an “a” but then because you have it repeating, you can break the rule as it is a vowel and draw it above the baseline to bounce it.
You can bounce a double “t” and “m” below the baseline because they already have so much personality that it looks really cool when it repeats. Similarly, you can also bounce double “o”.
There are many ways to do a double “s”. You can do bounce lettering of the alphabet “s” as shown below. These are not anchored but they are both dropping below, even though they're coming up higher. The only ones not dropping below are vowels and sometimes repeating letters.
Well Structured Examples
To write Kiwi, draw a “k” that touches the baseline and make “i” smaller. Then bounce “w” while keeping it on the baseline by dropping it a little below. Draw an exit stroke and then draw a smaller “i”. This is really well-structured. You have a baseline anchor. There is a bounce below the baseline and the vowels are smaller. These are the go-to rules.
This can be written in two different ways. First, draw a structural “g” and then shrink “u”, then draw an “r” and smaller “u”. Another option is to change the style of your letter “r”. The size of “r” remains the same as the baseline anchor. You can also create “g” at the start of the word, making it smaller by going higher than the baseline.
Pro tip: you can also go higher than the baseline if your letter is dropping below. Notice that the vowel is smaller and the letter “r” is anchored although it reaches above the x-height.
Bounce Lettering on a Curve
Draw a steep curve. The bounce lettering on a curve is a little tricky as it distorts a bit. The rules applied here are the same but it will be good if you use a guide. In Procreate, it's easy compared to analog because you can just make a new layer on and then create. But if you're doing analog, you would want to use a lightbox or a thinner piece of paper with a Sharpie underneath so that you have a guide. You can easily create bounce lettering on a curve as long as you're working with guides.
Draw an x-height and start writing "trinket". The letter “t” comes below the baseline. The cap height is basically where the top of capital letters are typically in lettering. The letters like “t” and “l” will reach just slightly higher than at cap height even if you're not bouncing. The “r” is anchored at the baseline and the vowel “i” is smaller. The letter “n” is meeting the baseline. Isolate each letter. Draw “k”, a smaller “e” and drop the “t”. You can turn off the layers that have curves.
If you are doing this in a circle, it would make more sense because it would come together that way. But if you don't have the baseline, you shouldn’t bounce a lot as it gets lost.
Bounce lettering inside a Heart
Draw the shape of a heart. You can use any name. Peggy has used Amy + Donna. Find a general baseline. Now you know where it can go up and where it can go down. Work between the space you have and treat each letter as its own, instead of worrying how the end result is going to look.
Word Ending With Vowel or Vowels
Start with drawing two snap lines and writing "Chloe". The vowel “o” can be smaller and the letter “e” can be a little larger because it's going to balance the entire word. If you make both the vowels small, then it doesn’t look balanced. The “e” at the end can trail off and balance the whole word.
To show an example of “e”, let’s take the word “cafe”. In this, you can see that the “e” balances the entire word.
Writing Common Words with Bounce Letters
Let’s look at a common word, “wedding”, which is used a lot in lettering.
You don’t have to make your “d”s repeat very differently from each other. Bounce the letter “d” by placing the stem drop below. The overall shape of the two “d”s is the same but the bouncing is different. The “i” is smaller and the letter “n” obeys the rules. The letter “g”, is just a little bit smaller, but it has a descending stem that anchors below. You can also add a swash with the letter “d”.
To write “happy”, write “h” and create a smaller "a". The “p” can be done either extravagantly or normally. If the previous letter is anchored, you can go higher. This word “happy” usually comes up a lot in practice.
To write love, which we all use, start with “l” and make sure you have an anchor point. With anchor points, the bounce letters look good. Draw “o” smaller, the “v” can go a little below the baseline, and then write “e” with a beautiful exit stroke.
Whenever there's a vowel first, you can either make it the normal size or, if you want to make it smaller, you can include an anchoring design at the start. You can draw three anchor points, one at “n” and two at “m”. You can add bounce at “n”, “c” and “m”. The vowels “i”, “o”, and “e” are smaller.
There is a bounce at “t” and x. The points are anchored and you can see the drops as well.
That’s it. You have successfully learned a few fundamentals of lettering and how to create bounce lettering!