If you were hoping this lettering session would cover calligraphy and monograms, you're in luck! Molly Suber Thorpe, a true master of her craft, gave us a glimpse into her world of custom calligraphy. Having taught hundreds of students over the years, she was the perfect person to lead us through a session on drawing mixed media lettering & calligraphy monograms with her latest product, The Ultimate Lettering and Calligraphy Procreate Kit.
Set the Canvas
Set a square canvas at 6 x 6 inches and 300 DPI. Start by changing the background color to an off-white color. Draw a grid for the drop cap type letter. Switch down to the Letter Guides brush and select the square grid. Brush over the screen to enlarge and obtain a graph paper design.
Draw the Letter
Reduce the opacity of the layer. Start sketching the composition. Switch to the pencil set and select the Letter Sketching Pencil. This is a pressure-sensitive pencil, allowing thin lines to be formed.
Draw the letter M, making it look fancy. Add ornaments. Draw geometric letters and adjust the sharp corners. Make sure the letter has the right proportions and has an ornate ending. Focus on adding details on the upstrokes and downstrokes of the M. The upstroke is traditionally thinner and the downstroke is thicker.
Reduce the opacity and make a new layer above it. Move the straight lines at the top of the letter and bring them in. To add the ornaments, draw little wings coming off the top of the letter and replace the corners. Use the same method at the bottom.
Pro tip: Draw a dot in the middle of the stem and then sketch the wings of the letter. Divide the letter roughly in half to create the ornamented drop cap. Make sure that it gives the sensation of a laminated top, bottom, and middle. Similarly, you can envision the same method on letters such as E, H, B, D, and L with straight stems.
Redraw the top of the stem thinner and erase the stems below the cowboy-looking wing boots. Draw over the outline using the Monoline Pen to create the first outline of the drawing. Make sure to add smooth strokes. Merge down the sketch layers. Reduce the opacity on the upper layer and use black color for contrast.
Select the Monoline brush from the new pack. Use the Rough outline or Monoline brush. Add texture on the edges of the stroke and texture effect on the outline of the M. Make sure to do this on a new blank layer.
Pro tip: Adding a flourished calligraphy will make the monogram look flowy and organic.
Once you have the rough outline, turn off the sketch. Make sure that the monogram is center-aligned to the page. Turn off the guides to color the interior of the monogram. Change the outline to white color by clicking invert. Tap on alpha lock, select the pure white by double-tapping in the pure white region, and tap fill layer.
Turn off the alpha lock. Duplicate the layer to have an outline layer that sits on both the top and bottom. Add texture layers in between those two. Switch to the bottom layer and select an orange color from the palette. Drag and drop it to fill in the selected areas of the M.
Add contrast by selecting a lighter version of the same color and apply it to the upper layer.
Create a new blank layer in between the two layers. Add texture above the fill layer to create an illusional dimension within the letter itself. Use the drop shadow to each of these sections sitting on top of another rather than creating dimension or making the entire letter three-dimensional. Create a drop shadow by setting it to multiply.
Pick a dry texture from the Texture Set to drop the inner shadow. Use the Grainy Shadow Brush to create a sensation of overlapping strokes. Fill the space with big splotches, where the overlapping is going to occur. Use an eraser brush to erase the darker regions. It is crucial to put this layer above the blank outline layer.
Pro tip: Be careful while using the Grainy Shadow Brush as it is extremely pressure sensitive. Pressing lighter controls the size, density, and color. Pressing harder gives larger brush strokes and greater density.
Adjust the opacity to create a level and depth of texture. Duplicate the multiplied layer and increase the texture. Put the flourished calligraphy M at the top.
Select the background color again and pick the Monoline pen. Select the small dot model line to add ornamentation or accent to the monogram.
Pro tip: If you draw with this brush and let it snap to a shape, it can condense and expand the number of dots that you had created before the line snapped. It's a great way to adjust the spacing between those dots.
Drawing some dots down the center, add a new layer to keep all the different types of ornamentations separated onto their layers. Switch to the rough outline or pen. Draw some in-lines or center lines. Drop it below the texture so that the texture and shadow look overcast on top of the ornamentation.
Create a draft of the calligraphy letter on top of it. This enables us to see which parts need more ornamentation and which parts have enough contrast. Start by grouping all the parts to control them as one group. Tap one, swipe right on all of them dramatically. This will condense all of it together into one folder and can be easily turned on and off at will.
Choose a bright contrast color to create a new lettering guide. Pick a bright pink and purple for the guides and select the calligraphy guide. Create a big spot over the previous M and reduce the opacity. Return to the letter sketching and choose a pencil brush.
Pro tip: This helps to visualize where the two layers are going to overlap.
Remember that the upstrokes in calligraphy and lettering are thin and the downstrokes are the fixed strokes. Draw the M on top of the monogram layer.
Increase the pencil size to draw a high contrast of the calligraphy. Make a flourished letter that is as high contrast or bold as possible, so that it sits in contrast against the letter that's behind it. Visualize the up and down strokes and make sure that you’re getting the fixed strokes in the right place.
Hit the selection and select either distort or warp to tweak the sketch slightly to make the ornament show better. Reduce the opacity dramatically on that letter and turn off the guide. Choose the Pointed Pen Set and select the Super Flex Pointed Pen with fine hairline points that make bold strokes. Select a high contrast color like dark blue and test the size of the pen.
Change the calligraphed M and L to a different blending mode, such as a linear burn to add a drop cap M below it. The goal is to make it look like the flourished calligraphy M is wrapping itself around the drop cap instead of just sitting on top. So, tap it once and hit the mask.
Move into a layer mask and notice the color palette change immediately to either white or black. Hide parts of the M to draw with black color on the mask. Open the layers palette to see the drawing on the layer mask. Turn off the visibility of this mask for the calligraphy to appear. Copy the group of the drop cap below, duplicate and flatten it.
Mask out the M and add the effect of the fine flourish strokes to appear behind the drop cap. Turn off the selection and hit the selection tool to de-select. Draw in the layer mask and edit the details.
Use a pointed pen to create in-lines in the flourish tab. On a new blank layer, choose the same background color and pick the Superflex Pointed Pen. Create strokes by passing over the fifth down strokes of the M and add a calligraphic weight to that. Start out with low pressure, increase pressure to be thicker, and then decrease pressure at the end to finish off.
Add highlight lines on the flourished calligraphy. Select the same dark color that was used for the bottom half of the M and draw similar types of strokes around the curves. Create M with the Flex Pointed pen nib. Add highlights and inlines with the Stiff Pointed pen nib and mask out the regions after setting it to linear burn.
Create a new blank layer at the top. Add texture overall. On a new blank layer above everything, switch over to a lighter color than the background. Pick the Grunge Overlay Brush that has a subtle texture, and paint it over the full canvas.
Reduce the opacity dramatically to add texture. Layer a bunch of textures to make it look as organic as possible. You can even set this to soft light to add a dramatic effect. On a new blank layer, create a vignetting texture. Zoom out and set the Noise Overlay Brush to large. Draw a circle around the canvas.
Build up the texture with the brush. Change its blending mode from normal to multiply. Reduce the overall capacity and move to the drop cap to add ornamentation.
Turn off the flattened layer. Create a new layer between the top outline and the bottom fill layer. Add texture by picking a dark orange brush. Set the layer to multiply and draw on top. Choose the Body Textured Brush. Add spots to complement the area. Erase the edges. Reduce the opacity to make it look textured, giving it visual interest and depth. Add a new layer and repeat the same process for the top part.
Reduce the spots slightly and set them to multiply. Make sure that the Vignette Texture is on the edge, Grunge Texture over the whole canvas, Spotty Texture in the background, dotted monoline accents in the three shapes, simple mono-line inline accents on the rest of the shapes, and flourished calligraphy.
Create a new blank layer over top of the M. Tap it once and hit the clipping mask. Fill the layer with color and apply it to the M without permanently changing it.
Voila! You have successfully learned how to draw a mixed media lettering and calligraphy monogram.