In this tutorial, I’ll go over a quick technique to make personalized letter art that makes a great gift. We’ll also talk about how to remove “oops” ink from paper — and I’ve got a special surprise for those who are interested in hand lettering!
My brother’s birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I wanted to make something meaningful for him. My solution? This personalized letter art! It’s just a little project — nothing too fancy; but I know he’ll love it! If you can see yourself making something like this, too, read on to learn about the process.
1. Make a Pencil Draft
Caring for a 3-month-old means that my time is limited, so I wanted this project to come together as quickly as possible. In order to do that, I made a large light gray letter in Photoshop. Then, I copied and pasted graphics inside (from Google Image Search) that represent my brother. I printed what I had so far, then I used a pencil to fill in the rest of the letter.
Next, I cut out an 8″ x 10″ (~20 cm x 25 cm) piece of drawing paper. I put that paper on top of my draft printout, then I placed both pieces of paper on top of a light box. Then, I traced over what I saw through the light box to make a pencil draft on my drawing paper.
2. Add Ink
Regardless of your process or creating a pencil draft, the next step is to trace over your letter with waterproof ink.
This step might result in inky mishaps. If ink ends up where it shouldn’t, watch this video!:
Once you’ve finished the inking step, wait for your ink to dry. Then, use a good quality eraser to get rid of any remaining pencil draft lines.
3. Add Watercolor
Once your ink has dried, choose a simple color scheme (3-6 colors) to fill in your graphics. I used Yellow Ochre, Indian Red, Payne’s Gray, and Burnt Umber from the Winsor & Newton Cotman palette.
If the letter looks a bit empty after you add the watercolor, try filling it in with gold and black (ink) dots. The dots will help to give the letter a more cohesive look.
While I started this project with a digital draft to save time, you can absolutely go a more traditional route and freehand draw everything! Feel free, too, to make the project on watercolor paper, which will give it a heftier feel. If you find yourself at a loss for what to include in the letter, think of symbols, addresses, nicknames, and initials that represent your recipient. Among other things, I included barbed wire (because my brother owns a fence building business), childhood nicknames, and my brother’s children’s initials.
A Word On Hand Lettering
Hand lettering is an important part of this project. I relied on Sans Serif and Roman style hand lettering from the Premium Hand Lettering Worksheet Set to create it. To practice making those two hand lettering styles (plus four others), check out the worksheet set! With 30 five star reviews, it’s one of the most popular worksheets on the site! Enjoy 15% off through Wednesday, June 1st.