With your newfound lettering skills, you’re interested in putting together your favorite quote as a piece of art. (You may also be wondering how I put together quotes like I do here)
I use a mix of physical and digital techniques. Letters and words are created on paper and then all the composition and color is added digitally. I’ll show you how I put it all together here.
Part 1: Letter on Paper
I’m lettering the phrase: “insert your favorite quote here” with black sumi ink that I’ve filled into a Pentel Aquash Waterbrush in Medium (affiliate link).
First thing to tell you. I do not compose the words on paper. I letter each word separately with the intent to cut it up and re-organize it in the computer.
Why? I know myself. I have a touch of perfectionism and I’d be totally unrelaxed and locked up if I knew it wasn’t just a draft. Also, if I mess up the spacing or spelling of one of the words, I can just letter that small portion again.
I also know that I letter big. It’s my way of getting smooth lines. So a standard letter-sized sheet of paper doesn’t have much room to play. Longer quotes or saying will often take up 2 to 4 sheets of paper to fit all my lettering.
This page gets to sit and dry for a few hours while I go eat a snack or a meal and watch TV.
When I come back to it, I scan at 600 dpi on grayscale using my Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner (affiliate link)
Part 2: Separate the Words from the Background
The next part is to separate the lettering from the white background. I like to use this process to keep the translucency of the letters – it keeps a brushy texture when layered over photos and other backgrounds.
I’m using Photoshop Elements 11 for this process.
Rotate the image.
Convert to RGB color.
Use levels to make sure the white is really white and the black is dark.
Convert the background layer to an editable layer.
Add a layer mask to the layer.
Select all and copy your lettering.
Paste your lettering into the layer mask.
Invert the layer mask.
And the white background is totally gone! You can now see the checkerboard pattern, which means it’s all empty pixels.
Use levels to make sure the black are dark again.
Part 3: Slice
When cutting the words apart, I put each word on its own layer. This will make it easy to move things around and rotate if necessary. Knowing that I was going to cut apart the words, I make sure to leave sufficient white space in my lettering stage.
Select the word using the rectangular marquee tool.
Layer by cut.
Repeat for each word.
Avoid the word that was an error.
Hide the original layer.
Now each word is on its own layer to be able to manipulate.
Part 4: Compose
I use the move tool to click and drag the words to the ideal position. You can also turn on the gridlines to better see if things are aligned and then rotate any words that are crooked. I also like turning on a guideline in the center of the page to make sure things are centered.
After moving things around to my liking, I’ll crop down and save as a PNG file.
Part 5: Create Your Final Print Size and Add Color
Open a new document with the final print size you want to create. In this case, we’re creating an 4×4 print.
Resize your PNG file to fit.
Drag in your PNG file.
If you wanted a simple black and white print, you’re done here.
To add a solid color, create a new layer and fill it with whichever color you choose.
Clip the color layer to your lettering layer.
To add a watercolor effect, create a new layer and fill it with a watercolor pattern.
Clip the pattern layer to your lettering layer.
I have a variety of watercolor effects in my collection from Nicky Laatz and MakeMediaCo. (The Mammoth! Watercolour Kit, Give Me Watercolour Textures Quick!, The Ultimate Watercolor Bundle – affiliate links)
And that’s it!