During this Design Cuts Live session, we're going to be taught by our favourite Procreate calligrapher, Molly Suber Thorpe. If you've been watching our hangouts and following our events, you'll be very familiar with Molly's work. She designs custom lettering for brands and individuals, Procreate brushes and guides for artists, and freelancing tools for creatives. On top of being a published author, she also teaches her craft to calligraphy lovers both in person and online.

Molly's live sessions are always jam-packed with golden nuggets of knowledge, and this week promises to be no different as she teaches us all about ombré watercolor calligraphy in Procreate.

Create a Canvas

Create a new square canvas at 2000 x 2000 pixels at 300 DPI. Pick the Watercolor Calligraphy Brush Pack and choose the Bonus Cotton Paper Background Brush. Select an off-white color and add a texture by painting on the canvas.

Choose Colors

Pick the Watercolor Script 1 from the ombre version and select two colors, purple and blue. With your brush, start making strokes on the canvas. You’ll notice that as you lift your brush, the ombre dual-tone forms. From a pinkish color to a purple and then a peachy color.

If you use Brush 2 in the Swatch Palette, you’ll see a different color change because of the opacity and pigmentation. Similarly, if you change to another brush, it’ll give you a watery texture. This is how these ombre brushes work. 

Set the Base for Calligraphy

Add the Calligraphy Grid in the background by using the Grid Brush from the pack. Reduce the opacity fairly low so that it doesn’t distract while making your composition. 

Draw and Paint the Words

Use the Graphite Pencil, by reducing the opacity and sketch the calligraphy. For this particular session, Molly drew a quote by Anaïs Nin. Please see the image below for reference. 

Pro tip: Use and add layers for every line formation. This helps move the layers or re-arrange any calligraphy.

Align all the words in the centre and then merge all the layers. Add more flourishes wherever needed and increase their size as per requirement. Then reduce the opacity overall.

Pick the ink blue palette and with the brush number 1, write over the words written in pencil. You can choose how thick or thin you’d like the strokes to be and then trace the words along. 

For this composition, reduce the brush’s thickness to 6% and use thin strokes while painting flourishes. These brushes are not only programmed to change color when you lift your pen and put it down again, but also as you write based on pressure and direction. 

So depending on which ombre brush you have, the intensities of those changes are slightly different. That is how two brushes differ from one another. So even without lifting, you’ll notice slight changes in color. Use the Smudge Brush for blending stroke overlaps and smudge the ending of the letters.

Pro tip: Without lifting, you'll never get the overlap and have fewer color changes. So lift as often as you can to get the color.

Smudge the Words

Use the Henry Brush 1 and select the duo color, pink and blue. Then, using the Smudge Brush for blending stroke overlaps, paint little circles to smudge wherever needed. 

Re-arrange the Composition

Centre the flourishes and the kerning so that it all looks like a puzzle. Then swipe right on the layers and group them together, to group your composition together. 

Then duplicate the group to darken the watercolor calligraphy composition. So because of the semi-translucent quality of strokes, when it doubles on top of itself, it gets darker and brighter.

Pro tip: Change the linear burn-up. This helps in making the composition more realistic, weaving the paper texture threads in the composition. 

Draw Flourished Edges

In the drawing guides, choose the symmetry quadrant and turn on rotational symmetry. Then choose the ombre brush and add a new layer. Draw waves matching the lettering, alongside the edges, making a border for the composition. 

Finally, add some realism to your composition by picking the Watercolor Wash from the pack. Select the Watercolor Wash 1 and reduce the opacity to color on the background, creating a watercolor wash.