Crash Course: How to Make a Print

In the midst of the busyness and stress that comes with Finals Week, it’s important to take breaks and rest from studying every once in awhile. And what better way to do that than make a fun lettered print? I personally believe lettering is therapeutic and is a constructive way to spend your down time. And if you’re struggling to find good Christmas presents for someone, these are great gifts because they’re customizable and, more importantly, hand-made by you:))

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This post describes the broad process I generally follow in drawing out this print. I am by no means an expert, so you should take my instructions with a grain of salt!

How I Letter

Choose a quote: Do you have a favorite Bible verse or saying? Then letter it! Try to keep the quote at around ten words in length. That way, your print will look cleaner and planning the layout of the print will also be much easier. But if you are feeling ambitious and want to letter something longer, go for it! For this print, I chose a quote I stumbled upon on Pinterest that reads “Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.”

Plan the layout: Now that you have chosen your quote, it’s time to plan out the format of the print. I typically start by thinking of any words I want to emphasize. I want to emphasize the words or phrases that mean the most to me; for my print, I wanted to draw attention to blessed, curious, and adventures.

On to the layout! This is the part I have the most fun with because there is an endless combination of ways you can arrange your words. Grab some scratch paper and start sketching. Play around with fonts and word size. I like to make more “important” words cursive and larger while making minor words smaller and in print. If you’re feeling fancy, incorporate a banner to draw the eye to a word or phrase. Of course, the most important thing to keep in mind is that flexibility is key and that there are no such things as mistakes. There is no wrong way to do things in the planning stage.

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the final sketch, drawn on some old guitar tabs

In these pictures, hopefully you can see the evolution of my ideas. I knew I wanted to put “curious” in a banner, so that was set from the start. After tweaking the shape of the banner, adding in the arrow, and changing up the arrangement of a few words, I was finally happy with my sketch.

So once you have an idea you are satisfied with, transfer it to your “real” paper. From this point on, I make sure I have all the materials I need: some good paper (I use Canson’s 100lb/260g Bristol smooth paper and cut it down to 8″x10″), a non-mechanical pencil (I find they’re easier to erase later on), a ruler for measuring and drawing guide lines, and a really good eraser. The eraser is definitely an important component because if you’re anything like me, you will be doing a lot of erasing.

Sketch it out: I normally start this process by drawing out some guidelines. If anything, I draw lines to divide the paper into half vertically and horizontally. For this print, I drew a lot more lines since so many different things were going on.

After drawing the guidelines, start adding in elements. I usually start in the middle and work upward/downward to ensure the print is centered vertically.

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The above is a rough sketch of what I wanted the print to look like. The general placement of everything was on the page, and every time I reach this point on any print, I breathe a sigh of relief because from this point on, it’s generally smooth sailing! I might do some light erasing to fix some fine details, and I definitely trace over things once or twice so I can solidify the shape of everything.

So once I did my fine editing, my paper looked something like this:

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Trace over with pen or marker: Trace over the pencil with a pen or marker. I used the Tombow Fudenosuke hard-tip calligraphy pen which I like because rather than having to retrace over strokes to make them thicker, I can make thin or thick strokes just by adding or taking away pressure. Use a calligraphy pen if you want, or you can definitely use a Crayola marker and get the same results! The important thing to be mindful of here is keeping your strokes as even as possible.

Erase all the pencil marks once you’re done tracing to finish up the print!

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My final product:

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I hope this was a helpful read, and I would love to see what your print looks like if you decide to make one yourself!

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