We were over the moon that Molly Suber Thorpe, one of our favorite people in the lettering world and an incredible creative talent, joined us for this session.
Tackling the lesson of adding depth to your calligraphy, there was no better tutor for this subject. Molly has designed custom lettering and assets for brands and individuals around the world for over 10 years and always packs her sessions with golden nuggets that we promise will make your designs richer.
Set the Canvas
Pick a High-Resolution Square Canvas. When the beautiful compositions are ready, you can use them as Instagram images. With a blank canvas, add a guide to it. Tap on the Calligraphy Composition Maker and choose the 72 Degree Slant Calligraphy Guide. To add to the screen, stamp once and hit transform.
Turn it at an angle to help in making the slant calligraphy. It adds an additional sense of dimension, movement, perspective, and flow. Turn on Uniform at the bottom and enlarge it. Duplicate the layer and repeat it to create the perfect calligraphic slanted grid.
Draw the Calligraphy
Reduce the opacity on this slightly and make a new blank layer. Switch over to black and pick the Calligraphy Nibs Pack. Sticking with contrast for this composition, boost the width of the downwards of the calligraphy. Select the Thick Nib Calligraphy Pen and choose the smooth setting, for the stroke texture.
Write the word ‘Awesome’ using the same pen.
Bring the left leg of the M down below the baseline for dimensional calligraphy.
Reduce the size of the pen. Notice the areas that are a bit too thin, thicken them. This is in a way going to blend in with the dimension that will be done later. Make sure that there's more uniformity in the strokes than you might care about under normal circumstances if you're just doing calligraphy.
Turn the Grid Off
The contrast between thick and thin adds a lot to this particular effect. Once all the thin lines are thickened, select the word. Turn on snapping and put it in the center. Turn off the grid and rename the layer ‘Primary Layer’.
Add Dimensional Layer and Re-color
Duplicate the layer and take the one that's underneath the primary layer. Rename that layer to ‘Dimension’. Color to create a high contrast difference in the colors between the two layers to create the dimension. Pick a light pink color for the primary lettering. Tap once and hit select. Then, hit Alpha Lock and tap again to fill the layer.
Turn that off for a second, tap and hit select, pick a darker color to fill the layer. This will form two layers stacked on top of each other. Pick the dimension layer, choose the Selection Tool and move the bottom layer around. Turn off snapping to check the nuance of how you can move the layer around to adjust.
Place the dimensional layer downwards to create dimension. Tap on the Selection Tool to de-select. Duplicate and turn off the bottom layer. Choose the Monoline Pen from the Calligraphy Nibs Pack.
Connect the Points
Tap on Alpha Lock and fill the top layer again. Then, turn off Alpha Lock. Making sure you have selected the darker color, pick the Monoline Pen. Connect the endpoints all around the word. Connect two corresponding points when it comes to curves by connecting the two tangent points.
See the reference image below where two circles have been drawn. That’s where the corresponding points need to be connected.
Connect the point of the primary layer to the point of the dimension layer. However, remember to draw on the dimension layer and not on the primary layer. Go around and do this to every letter.
Scoop over to the ‘A’ and increase the pen size. Fill in all of the space between the primary and the dimension layer. You could also drag the swatch to fill the spaces or any other method to fill the gaps.
Pro tip: Choose a faster method to do this by turning off the dimension layer. Then, duplicate the primary layer again and keep the top one as the primary layer underneath it. This will create a new type of dimension. Rename this layer to ‘Quick Dimension’ because this is a shortcut way of doing this process.
Darken the layer and the contrast will be visible by turning off the primary layer to view the dimension layer. Then, tap on Alpha Lock once and fill, tap again to turn off the lock. Switch to the adjustments menu to view the three options for blurring and motion. Blur allows you to create a blur that essentially extends the edges of a design in a particular angle or direction.
Choose Motion Blur for the whole layer and drag the pencil around the screen. Notice the pop in dimension into different angles. Move it down to the left to get the effect down into the right. Tap again to release that selection for the semi-translucent illegible dimensional layer. Duplicate this a number of times.
Group all the duplicates together, tap the group once and hit flatten. Then duplicate that a couple more times. Since this is a solid black, you will automatically obtain a crisp design. Swiping right on all of the duplicates, group them and hit flatten again. Select the quick dimension layer and move it.
Make sure that the primary design is pressed against the background and the dimension is completely falling off to the right and bottom. Recolor this to avoid using black as a dimension color. Select a darker color, tap once and fill it.
Zoom in and check on the inner dimensions. Duplicate it two more times and merge down to have a really crisp inner dimension.
Create a Drop Shadow
The whole dimension is one object where the drop shadow falls from. So duplicate the primary and dimensional layers. Merge those two together and move that merged layer to the bottom. Turn it black as the shadow should be. Tap Alpha Lock to select all of the art pixels on any single layer. Switch over to black, tap again and fill. Tap again and turn off Alpha Lock.
Turn the primary and quick dimension layer on and move the drop shadow in whatever direction you want. Reduce the opacity and decide which direction you would want the light sources to be coming from.
Copy the shadow layer and turn off the underneath shadows. Pick the Model pen and enlarge it. Fill this in and make sure to zoom around the screen and fix any slight imperfections by filling in all of the blank inner spaces.
For the drop shadow, get a contrast color. If you think about light coming in from the side, that means that the flourish is casting a shadow down below it and to the left. The drop shadow areas to be filled in are going to be the areas that are below and to the left, between the drop shadow on the bottom and the dimensional letters on the top.
Connect the outermost points that correspond with each other, between the dimensional layers.
Switch to the dimension layer. Using the motion blur, reinforce the same concept as before and draw shadow over the flourish. Connect the lines or drag and fill. Similarly, repeat the process all around.
Add a Background
Pick a dark mauve color and add it to the background. Add personalization or texture by giving it a Photoshop text effect. Play with the colors. For example, you could also make the primary color darker and the dimension lighter, to get a completely different impact. Duplicate the shadow layer, save it at the bottom and turn it off. Add blur by choosing the Gaussian Blur.
Add Effects and Texture
Add grain effect to the shadow. Tap to make a new layer above the shadow, tap again and tap the clipping mask. So now whatever you draw on this clipping mask layer is going to only affect the shadow. Pick the Charcoal Brush and turn the screen to multiply.
Pick a light gray for shadow and tap on Alpha Lock to fill the layer. Set this to multiply and reduce the opacity slightly. An alternate way of doing grain on any layer is through the adjustments layer.
Tweak adjustments with the Eraser Tool. Add texture upon texture, following the light source and using the shadow layer as a guide for where your texture will go. Continue to layer that and keep creating the shading on your dimension layer.
Pro tip: The shading adds to the realism of a drop shadow.
Bravo, you have successfully added depth to calligraphy using simple and amazing tips and tricks.