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Brush Lettering: Putting Together a Finished Piece

Lesson 5 of 7

Refine and Revise the Final Piece with Ink

Laura Worthington

Brush Lettering: Putting Together a Finished Piece

Laura Worthington

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Lesson Info

5. Refine and Revise the Final Piece with Ink


  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

Refine and Revise the Final Piece with Ink

So whenever you're ready, feel free to go ahead and start you know, lettering on your pencil skeleton that's exactly what I'm going to do right now. All right, so what? I'm working this large I generally want tio you know, I want to avoid any kind of smearing stuff because as you can see, I'm a very messy person on you know, and this is actually like part of the reason why I like never get manicures because I ended just messing him up again ink all over so I'd like to start from left to right left to right top to bottom so kind of in a diagonal method, so I will usually start out over here and like I said, whenever you're doing these curves it's nice to kind of start at a horizontal or vertical axes so I'm just gonna start over here doing nice pulling stroke come over here and complete that so you know what? I'm going over these letters, you know, this is another chance to make even more corrections and more decisions on your lettering you know, it's one of those things that it's a con...

tinual process of refinement and I just kind of broke my rule because I went over it way over here and I'm going to smear it it'll be a glorious smear it will be a smear that will go down in the history of all smears you might not have time to do the entire thing anyway so let's do this kind of nice little nesting of letters in here that's why I decided tio this o r combination it's always a tricky one you know it's on it's tough because usually the o connects from the very top and then you have our which needs to connect from the bottom to the middle so I always like to create ours are those kind of like that because they really create a nice space to be connected to a no I mean tonight all right as you're tracing these are there any sort of tracing best practices or things that you see people make mistakes on a lot as their do you just let it go versus trying to be too particular or yeah you know I think that people spend a little bit too much time on the process sometimes and you know you have to remember that you know tracing you know as you're working through this is to be patient and to know that it's going to take several different versions to really get to be what you wanted to be so you know I don't worry about it too much this first trace and turns out looking you know a little bit subpar that's ok because I know going into it that I'm probably do this if I really want this to turn out well I'm going to do this ten to fifteen times and I think that that mentality going into it like that sets it helps keep you from being frustrated because I think that if you go into it thinking that I've got to get it right the first time around you know that's when you start to lose your mind and we start to see people you know starting to battle with like oh lettering is so frustrating and so difficult you know I couldn't get it right the first time room of course not that's perfectly acceptable and of course psych aside you know depending on how you're working with the lettering you you know especially if it's you know if it's going to be something digital you know we are using the lettering as a basis and then you have the possibility to do it a lot of tighter refinements once you get into the computer or even it's an original this you know doing fifteen different renditions trains your hand that by the time that you get to the sixteenth it's going to be perfect or close to it and also look to its like you know you know the first second third rendition I'm still making changes I'm still considering different ways to approach this in different ways that I control stuff I think the new phrases once twice thirty times a charm happy that you're humble enough to share that you will do this name and your students thank you for one hundred I could have used another hour to make some nails yes yeah you know it really and I think it's good to set yourself up I think it's good to really approach it with that mentality you know I think that expectations equal disappointment and so by changing your expectation you change your disappointment level or whatever you want to call it all right you have you guys all doing on lettering your pencil skeletons let's take a look here so I have a question oh yeah so I lettered with my brush over bye pencil skeleton without like putting a piece of paper that's totally all right so now but now so if I don't like this version or I want to do something different should I have kept my original pencil skeleton I guess it's my dad is a really good question and you know it depends here's something kind of interesting that I do and I'm so glad you asked that because a lot of times if I have a really good pencil skeleton what I will do is scan it in or cut photocopy it so that I can keep that pencil skeleton is kind of like my original but a lot of times you know I would actually say most maybe two thirds of the time I don't do that two thirds of the time I just let her right over the dang thing and what what what's nice about that is that it missed me forward in the process a little bit faster because you know it's hard teo you know like when you're first lettering over the pencil skeleton you're having to use tracing paper generally or really light paper because the pencil is so light and let's have a good light box but so lettering over the pencil skeleton it makes it easier for that second rendition because now you khun dio regular cotton calm paper over the top of that a written do you see what I mean because you can see the line through a lot better and so sometimes I would say most of time I skipped that step so I do just like what you did yeah he's coming up tio let me see if I can get this wow I know this is cracked that with anyway so this is this is a torture device this this is what I used you know when I was teaching you get you know my students in line getting just check it out anyway so this is kind of like a french curve so I'm sure you guys have all seen the plastic french curves they're really cool this is a flexible one so if you're working with really big flourishes like when I was doing this there's a creator for all it would've been really nice had I had one of these at the time because I could have wrapped in her pounds and then been able to use this is a guideline for either my pencil or my brush that I could draw a nice curve because you can see you can get you know pretty nice curve this way you can you know get like a little tight ones and like this right here like a really nice you know loop shape like this lots of different things that you can do with us also it is even more handy because it has a ruler on it so this is kind of a nice little tool to keep in your toolbox especially because when you get into drawing some of these really large strokes they get a little bit difficult also kind of like these right here these stetler mars drafting dot it's basically artist tape just in the handi shape of a circle and it's already pre cut because if you're you know even slightly lazy like me just the idea of like and lazy and I also like things to be like really clean and perfect and so I don't want to like carefully taken exactly nice and cut off a nice little square of tape I just grabbed when these little drafting dots and it's already just perfect so all use this a lot of times the tape together tracing paper to the back of my car to the front of my like my pencil skeleton or you know vice versa because it just feels right off and it's not destructive to your paper and lets you leave it on there for about two years it's a couple little interesting tools there for you right so these are looking good so far so let's talk about the next step and moving right along is what we're going to be doing is taking what you have so far and I want you guys teo and you can spend a little bit more time on the lettering aspect but I want to at least describe exactly the refining revise and refined process so like I said I took you know my son my final of lettering this one right here and I put tracing paper over and I revised and refined it using pencil and I was able to really nicely get in their tightly and you know another thing that you could do is instead of just doing a revised and refine you could turn this into your original you know your final you're finished piece you know you could take you know nice paper on top of this put this on a light box and take like a pigment marker you know like a nice fine little marker and go over this and then you know kind of fill it in on dh so that you can kind of combine those two things and two steps into one it depends on how good your lettering was from before I mean if you managed to get a piece of lettering that's actually done pretty well you may be able to skip this process and go right to the final for myself I like to just a little bit more of course another opportunity you know option is to do this digitally I could take this at this point in time and scan this in and clean it up with the brush in a race or to a photo shop I could also you know take this input this into illustrator and use it as a template you know put it on a layer locked the layer put another layer on top and then draw vector outlines around it that might be another option I'm also before you get to this face there's another option for you before you even do this is you can take all the stuff that you did during the lettering process maybe have twentieth thes and again this is why we have scissors in tape scissors and glue is that you can start cutting out little bits and pieces that go well together and then paste them onto another sheet of paper and then do a revised we're fine so I know I threw a ton of stuff out there because there's a lot of different options and I find that everybody is kind of unique and how they want to approach it some people want to get to the computer as fast as possible other people really like staying and kind of this analog drawing mode so that's a different you know ways that you can approach this and you look like you might have a question that has just taken it all in yeah there's there's a lot of different methods to do it but what I would like to see for everybody in this workshop right now is to go ahead and start really making your your semi final I guess is what we'll call it your revise and refine you're fine here's another way that I can do this another option not long ago I designed this postcard for this hand letter postcard for especies ways vegas and it was this really small four by six postcard and it had a ton of copy on it I mean it just it said so many different things and the way that I laid it out in the way that I approached it was I trip my thumb now you know to size pencil skeleton thumbnail got that up you know drawn up to size and then what I did it was I actually lettered every single phrase and every single part of it separately and so I didn't actually put it into the layout itself I actually lettered it piece by piece and then I took the you know I took the entire page and I had all of the phrases and everything just dotted throughout the page then eye scans it in and then I arranged it in the computer that way because it was a four by six piece and it had it was so small and so hard to work with that even when I scaled it up it was you know just just monumentally large thing and so I found it easier to actually do lettering you know by itself and I've done sometimes with particular phrases like when I did but see way back way back when I did this one right here I actually you know I started out by trying to let her it you know kind of all it at a slant like this and you know put all the different pieces together and I found that you know there's some stuff that turned out pretty good some things that didn't so much and so I actually lettered out bits and pieces of this phrase separate from one another I didn't do it in all one fell swoop you know I pulled out I pulled out things like the night and alive and I actually letter does separate pieces and then combined it altogether so that's you know kind of another option and you know that's the interesting things with doing lettering composition is that you know there's never really just one direct straightforward method it's nice to know what all of your options are because you need more than one way to approach this project I mean like I said this is a very complex very complex project and so you know there's not going to be a one size fits all solution so it's good to know all of your options I just totally like and something like this is kind of nice to work on like you know alternate to side and tackle all of these other rights horizontal ls and turned them into verticals which are easier to work with you finished that were going on bring up some of the pieces on tag board we've got folks at home you're sharing with us some of their work we're losing that creative live design hash tag and maybe you can take a peek at some of the work see what folks are doing over there yeah definitely all about cute and see I like this because this is kind of the pencil skeleton idea you know she can see she's got her you know her sketches underneath there I do this all the time I mean in some in fact some of my beginning work it's really just you know it's kind of messy you know I'm I'm still working it out you know it's like what I've done with pencil doesn't necessarily translate so well with the brush it's a good starting point but it's completely acceptable to do this you know where you know she put tracing paper or translucent paper of some sort like felons you know over the top of this and work through and refine it even bigger you know one comment I would say is tio you know maybe consider making this word faith aa lot stronger you know adding a lot more thickness to it because I think that that right there is you know really just a very strong keyword and so really you know upping that a good way to do that is to actually like you know you have your tracing paper over this you dear lettering and you shift the paper just a little bit and then you can still see the outlines and then you can thicken it up that way so you're just like shifting the paper drawing a letter shifting it again drawing another letter will see it another one here you see the next one oh that's really cool I like this you know I mean this is this is really a really unique way that elissa you know brought this all together she used these to you know piece is is kind of almost like bookends and that's a really clever concept you know she was able teo you know to really on form structure inform composition out of nothing more than letters she didn't need design elements or any of the other stuff to go in it she was clever enough to make that work with just the letters that she had in her phrase that's really cool let's see the next find oh that's so cool and you know what I love that is not a typical looking heart it reads the hard but it's not you know what I mean a fire your classic typical one I think that she did a really interesting job this is a little bit of a tricky area right here this part with need and love because I see where she's going with that you know like wanting to connect it to in making them ligatures it's a little bit harder tio to read like that hurt her twitter handle stunning is in that awesome I love that just apple ing just rappelling that's great so you know she could you know like takes a like this need and maybe pushed up a little bit and turn this e kind of separate those two pieces that's great yeah anything keepem coming yeah definitely I love to see the stuff it's so cool to see how everything's coming together

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.