In this session, we were joined by the creative flourish that is Molly Suber Thorpe, a designer, educator, author and a genuinely talented human being. Molly has designed custom lettering and assets for brands and individuals around the world for over 10 years. She has worked with clients including Google Arts & Culture, Michael Kors, Martha Stewart, Lonely Planet, and Fendi. She's also been featured in publications such as The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Weddings, Los Angeles Times, and Buzzfeed.

During this session, Molly transported us through her creative process in a mini case study of how to go about commercial lettering projects, demonstrating how to draft a calligraphic logotype based on a client brief.

In this tutorial, the amazing Molly Suber Thorpe walks us through a step by step process to create a calligraphic logotype with an organic human touch using an imaginary company called Manaki. They specialize in making olive oil and want script calligraphy for their logo. They have a tagline that says - ‘extra virgin olive oil’ and want their logo to come across as modern, young and expensive in the minds of the consumers.

But first, let’s look at the difference between art and design. Artwork is something that you create for yourself, for self-fulfilment, but design is a solution to a problem

So, for the purpose of this demonstration, the new company Manaki needs a logotype that must:

  • Reflect their brand
  • Project the value of their product, stand out from shelves
  • Apply to all their branding applications at present and in the future
  • Be legible. A lot of the art form comes from how you push and pull the shapes of letters because they are hand-drawn.
  • Avoid using overlapping strokes or multi colors to indicate anything crucial to the legibility of the logo. You can only control how the logo looks when you give it to your client, you cannot control what they do with it later. So you want to make the most versatile logo for them.
  • Have adequate spacing . Make sure the letters and strokes are spaced far apart. If there is any tag line below the logo, it needs to fit well in the defined space just below the logo.

(To learn more about what makes a good logo, make sure to check our our article on logo design)

Let's Get Started 

Start with a blank file in Procreate. Use Calligraphy Composition Maker. Use a Pattern Brush with a 65 degree slant. Put the pen down and just cover the page with a grid.

Use a purple color so it contrasts with the color of the inking and the sketching. Tap on the Selection Tool and drag it down a little bit below the logo. Reduce the opacity on this a little bit so that it doesn't distract you with the sketches and now switch back to black now.

Start sketching by using a pencil. Think about how you can achieve a modern and young look. We'll start by writing ‘manaki’ in lowercase.

To make it look more expensive, add a little fanciness to the design by flourishing it. 

But, remember, we need to use this logo on the bottle cap, which is just about an inch. So it needs to be readable. Use uppercase, lowercase and a bit of flourish, while spacing the letters out. 

You may need to keep trying this a couple of times until you meet the client’s brief. “Is that an L with a flourish or is it a C and then an L?” you may ask yourself that or someone sitting next to you for feedback. It might be very clear to you, the person who wrote it, but this is an example of contradiction and legibility. When you're designing for a brand, try to put different sets of eyes on your design and ask whether they could conceivably be confused by the shapes that you have drawn.

Reduce the opacity. Use the Calligraphy Nibs Brush Pack and choose the Fine Calligraphy Pen to get thick and thin strokes. 

Turn off the pencil and rearrange the letters. 

Assign numbers to all of the designs, from one to four. Go on the Selection Tool and select the design chosen by the client. Let’s say it’s number three. Swipe down with three fingers and hit cut and paste. This number three is on its own layer and you can turn off the previous layer.

Keep the original layer and duplicate by copying it and playing with it. This is because it's the original and you always want to have a point of comparison. When a client has edits they can often forget how it looked before, so you want to make sure that you show them the number of changes it has gone through in the process.

Reduce the opacity and copy it. This is what you need to use as the template to create the changes, so you don't want to write on this layer. Choose a new blank layer over it and so with that blank layer shorten the ‘A’ using the eraser tool, which gives it a very sharp look.

Mirror this entry stroke of the ‘M’ with the exit stroke of the ‘I’ with a miniature version. Make sure the height lines fit perfectly. Overshoot the baselines slightly. Take a small eraser and cut off the caps of the strokes at the lines making sure that the stroke endings are sharp and crisp. 

Try to emulate freehand wherever needed to add in the human and organic touch. 

Make sure there’s enough room for the tagline. Use Sedona font to write the tagline. Put it below the baseline, keeping in mind the legibility. Add contrast and ratio as required. 

Turn off the grid. Now you have both the presentations ready, the original as well as the revision. Always look back and forth for any minor tweaks and adjustments. Use the eraser to cut through for sharpness. Now you can vectorize it and export it with color palettes and mock ups. 

That's all! Your calligraphic logo is ready. 

We hope you had fun creating this beautiful and absolutely authentic, hand-written calligraphy logo.