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Brush Lettering: Putting Together a Finished Piece

Lesson 4 of 7

Move to a Pencil Skeleton

Laura Worthington

Brush Lettering: Putting Together a Finished Piece

Laura Worthington

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Lesson Info

4. Move to a Pencil Skeleton


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:04:03
3 Create Thumbnails Duration:17:49
4 Move to a Pencil Skeleton Duration:13:38
7 Student Review and Critique Duration:07:45

Lesson Info

Move to a Pencil Skeleton

So now let's move on to doing the pencil skeleton I think you guys have had a goodly amount of time to work on your sketches, so I want you to pick your favorite pick the one that you want to go with or combinations of ones that you want to go in doesn't have to be one exactly and we're going to try this really large so when I sketch this out it was it was a full sheet of eight and a half by eleven paper I mean it filled this up and I use this is like like I said, like a little pencil skeleton to draw on top of you know it's it's hard to take a little thumbnail and then now we have to make it into this big you know, giant piece and so it's good to start out with guidelines you know you want to have, you know a good idea of placement and don't take a ton of time with this part right here this should actually be a very quick process because as soon as you add littering to it it's going to change it dramatically you know this this looks great like in theory in practice that the whole noth...

er story but you got to start somewhere and it's much easier to start with a nice big pencil skeleton to work off of then to just, you know throw it all out there so give that a shot we'll see what happens maybe as folks are doing that if you want to comment on our come check out some work and absolutely give us some feedback on how folks are doing great yeah so what are you so I love what you said about the punctuation I was tryingto make a ligature with the question mark yeah like either is a divider or encapsulating in it or you know just focusing on win and then yeah that last remark I really loved the idea of this question mark and having having it fit into a shape here's something that you could try is like with this question mark is he this really interesting curve it's ok that arguments real quick you could do something like so we have you know this big question mark here and that's a really cool look in question mark so you could work with in this shape and start out like not now you know and maybe something had him like that but I'm really digging this idea and then I also really like this idea that encapsulating the entire phrase so it's kind of up to you but I think that those two really strong and that's kind of the direction that I would go just whichever you know you feel because it almost looks like a speech bubble a swell right so that question mark becomes incredibly important for the design what do you think when hers which got the idea do you like better this idea of like having text kind of like wrapping around in the air like this one embryo is a balance and it's kind of a chandelier in between the sentence yeah it really placed it breaks it up I think that's a fabulous idea ok so yes were that you were the you were the tiebreaker all right see how you doing oh so cool cos I'm like that's like separating on both of them since like a separate I like that idea and that a man means broken spot off the eyes for that one oh that's really clever yeah almost reminds me musical notes just well you've got this part of it you know everything coming off of this side and then you know we've got this really kind of lined up I wonder if that like if you could almost put like maybe like is you know a little bit further and then push that out so that you kind of have like the slings haggard yeah this little chunk there you know that's fabulous a different little shape that it makes it yeah that's great and then are you going to do everything kind of slams as well second just going straight up with it but I think you should you know actually now I think it's going to be really junkies I think that more powerful having two different two different layouts with yeah otherwise debate might become too repetitive and I like that idea are you doing with well I um I chose this one to try to make bigger something something like that that's perfect you know the exclamation points that's funny yeah I mean that's really interesting because those exclamation points create kind of like a framework and I think that that's absolutely the right direction I think that yeah even going all the way and like really exaggerating the heck out of him so this is the is the the thumbnail and now I'm making the pencils yes exactly so that when you get to the brush it just because he's over the brush right over the top of it and it becomes easy to do and you know kind of how what size you want to work with so that looks pretty good I mean you might that looks like about the right size for this one skeleton yeah okay yeah great thank you no problem all right how you doing good what did you think of my heart idea where you're like gosh e I usedto absolutely fights like cute stuff and then I had my niece lived with me for a little while and she was a teenage love far but it kind of broke me anyway oh this is really an interesting thought connecting them yeah doing kind of a connection down there yeah because you could even is ok but feeling everyone's pencil like I'm wondering like that g could actually go down and become you know part of like that e or maybe even part of the tea you know like maybe the g is over far enough that it well I'm going to play with but that that might work but something like that could be kind of cool or it could be one side of the age yeah up tio way fund them all right let's take a look at what you've got oh that's so cool love this idea I love this has like an ark another arc just sits right in there imagine imagine you imagining me yeah that becomes kind of an interesting questions like where you put the you in me because I feel like these to kind of want them to be like this like was full you're imagining something and then that like the other letters are a little bit hesitant and shy in small that's why I kind of just put them in small print yeah you know I think so I love that idea and I think that like it's just tease just a little something else like if you were to put like a swash up here like this starts really high and then maybe a little bit larger yeah I mean just maybe not that big but I really made that huge maybe like you know not maybe not that long I'm gonna be due on the bigger paper because I think I need for the brush and I need some more space sorkin I like that idea and maybe keeping them you know like this is long and stretched out and was pulling careful and you're doing this is kind of like a sand saref style and so maybe you know you start to give it some space so it's sort of mimics this in its own way oh of having these it is having on the style of okay stretched out yeah but it's you know it's much smaller more compact and wide okay and then this almost like the afterthought like parentheses yeah because she kind of confession do something like that that's not really really good I really like that yeah we think singular to give you guys a couple more minutes on on some pencil skeletons and I'll see if I can come up with something else that's kind of interesting you know something you know to consider with women you're working on pencil skeletons that you can do in addition is to start experimenting with the brush and start playing around with how you want some of these letters look like sometimes pencil skeletons can actually be done just simply even with the brush just even playing around they don't necessarily have to be in pencil the kind of you know like I said this becomes a bit of an interactive process so trying to try both and see how that goes in the bonus materials that you created you actually take us through as you're going to sort of from the way had we saw the thumbnails to the spec pencil skeleton and then to the brush if we do have a minute would you show us again sort of taking on all to the big you back yeah so you know what this one night you know did it quite a bit bigger and in this and another really good comment is if you have if you happen to do a really great thumbnail sketch and you're really in love with it this is something that I do from time to time I put that sucker on my my little printer scanner copier you know my all in one and I blow it up and I blow it up to be about the size of a pencil skeleton regular and I kind of skipped that step a lot of times I like to redraw larger just simply because you know it allows me to think it through a little bit bigger and a larger you know in a larger context I start to see more detail and see how it will really play out so that is something that you can consider the lettering of the pencil skeleton so this and as you can see it's really kind of rough and you know scary looking this is my first rendition I did not touch it up just for the sake of you know I really like to be you know honest about how brush lettering looks like and I'm proud to say that you know even with some of the expressive lettering I'd shown in some of the other workshops and the exemplars I try to avoid doing that I think that it doesn't really help much when you get to feel these perfectly polished stuff it's good to see the real rough stuff and how it actually looks and so I don't worry about it too much you know this one right here I just said I'm just going to rough it up and see how it goes I letter this several times and you know just really you know trying to kind of get the feeling for it I made little changes says I went if you notice there's you notice there's if you look at like this original sketch you see like this are right here doesn't connect to that little loop right there I changed my mind on that and I even changed my mind on some of these washes so take a look at the difference between that that pencil sketch in the middle there to the skeleton you know I started getting a little bit larger I started adding in more things I gave myself more room you know to do this like in all of us I started to kind of tighten it up a little bit and there were more more revisions made even with this right here you know I started changing even more stuff I think I decided to leave kind of a gap in between this tea in this are right there otherwise it was kind of creating a hot spot and we talked about hot spots it's where you have too many things like lines and shapes kind of intersecting with each other it draws your eyes is the focal point I wanted to avoid that plus there really wasn't a lot of space to really have that line go all the way through the r and it looks cool I think ok so then there was the refining refining it refine it the refined process I just made up in a word revised refined so what I did here is I took the the best of the best little lettering one that I did and I just tracing paper over the top and sketched it and what I really love about being able to do this is that I was able to really get in and really tightly pull that that lettering together was able to make much more subtle decisions with it was abel teo you know like really tighten up how this curve looks right through here you know you take a look at how thick it is how kind of you know it was a little bit undecided about where he put six strokes and you know things were looking a little bit harry and so I decided I'm just going to send it out right here and so using a pencil or picking the marker however you want to do it this just gives me a chance to work with that lettering basis and really just push it to the next level and really make a lot more subtle and minute details and then with the final I basically took that pencil skeleton eye scans it in put it in photo shop and then I cleaned it up a little bit more you know what you know went around it with like the brush in the eraser tool and you know added some colors some water color and stuff in there and that was my final

Class Description

Be sure to check out our other Brush Lettering classes on Brush Lettering Basics and Flourishes & Ornamentation.  

Lay out and create different brush-lettered words, and combine them into a cohesive, attractive whole. You’ll explore different layout variations for your compositions, and begin to practice your letter with an eye to creating compositions. In this class, type designer Laura Worthington will cover:

  • How to plan the layout and create thumbnails
  • The pencil skeleton as a basis for lettering in a composition
  • Reworking and refinning your final piece
At the end of this class, you will learn how to put together a composition of words in a variety of shapes and styles. Create polished compositions that you can add to your portfolio or hang on a wall.  



I was fortunate to be in this class live and I am so glad I own it! I have gone on to buy more brush pens and continue to practice (relax :) ) on my own. She is thorough and engaging. I feel like I learn a new gem each time I watch it!.


Laura Worthington is one of the best calligraphers I follow. She is an excellent teacher and I enjoyed this class very much. It allowed me to know her "in person". She teacher her tallets and allow students to follow their own style.