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Designing Monograms

Lesson 1 of 5

Class Introduction

Khara Plicanic

Designing Monograms

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

- [Presenter] We are going to be talking about monograms today, and I thought it would be fun to start with a little bit of an explanation about what that is and a little history behind it because there's a lot of tradition that is wrapped up with monograms. So I thought you might be curious to know that the early Greeks and Romans used to monogram things like money so they could identify their rulers of the region that it came from. And later, it was used by artisans in the Middle Ages to sign their work, so like blacksmiths and the armor that they would make. So marketing's been around for a long time. For the Victorian aristocrats... I really wrote aristocats on there, didn't I? - [Man] Oh well. - Okay. So I have a son who's a toddler, and we watch Aristocats, and I wrote aristocats. Well, use your imagination. The aristocrats used to use it as a way to display their societal rank. That's really funny because as I was typing it, I was like, "Oh, no. Don't write aristocats," and I ...

did. In the earlier days, the monograms really only used two initials. So a lot of times, now, when we talk about monograms and in terms of weddings, especially, we think of three characters. And even for your own personal monogram, today, we would possibly use three characters, but that didn't become popular until much later. So interesting stuff, and I say all of this because there's a lot of "traditions" about how we do the monograms. So when we talk about monograms, of course, we're talking about our initials and that could be for our own... just us. You can have your own personal monogram with just your initials or, of course, if you're getting married or designing something for a wedding like the invitations and things that we looked at yesterday, you might be designing a monogram for a couple, and then you would be combining initials of two people. So there's all these kinds of plans about how that goes, but it's really quite flexible. So for example, up here on the top left, if you are a couple and you're getting married, traditionally, you would put one person's initial in front, then the middle initial is the married last name or whatever. However you guys are working that out. And then the other person's initial would be on the right. If you are getting married and you just want to use first initials, sometimes, that's great too, especially if you are doing something non-traditional with the last names, then you want to leave the last names out of it completely. You could just do first initials. If you're doing your own initials of just yourself, traditionally, you would have your first initial here on the left and then your last initial in the center which is traditionally larger and then your middle initial, if you have one, on the right. Or a more modern version of that would just be to have your first, middle, and last all in order and all the same size. So there's all these kinds of conventions for how you go about all of this, but, of course, it's whatever works for you. And traditionally, you would have a woman's name first and then the man's, but, obviously, anything goes, and you can do whatever you want. So feel free to mix it up. And I think a really good example of that... When I was doing some research for this, I read about that Prince William and Kate, when they were doing their monograms for their wedding, they went with a two-initial monogram, just W and C for Catherine. But, of course, in Britain, WC stands for the bathroom, basically. So they switched it and actually put her name first so that you wouldn't have the WC like the water closet in the bathroom. So they can switch it up. You can switch it up. Anybody's name can go first or last. It's up to you, but that's the tradition. I think that was interesting. I also thought it was interesting that she spells Kate with a K and then Catherine with a C. So I had to Google that because I thought, "I don't know if that's a traditional thing or not." So here's what we're going to be making today. Three different projects. We're going to be creating just a single initial character, so I call this Drop Cap Style. I don't know if it has some other name, but I made that up. I just call it Drop Cap Style because it looks like the fancy drop caps that you would find in a novel or something at the beginning of a paragraph. So we'll be doing something like that, and then we'll be doing a one-person initial with just a first and last. And this one... I went a little further with this and really turned it into more of like what we would also maybe call a logo. So sometimes, there is a lot of similarities between a monogram and a logo, especially when we talk about the artisans using it as a way to sign their work. It really is becoming a logo in that sense, and it really is just a logo that's made out of your initials. So in this case, we have the M and the W, and they're mirrored on top of each other, and then they make a whole new shape that I played with with some color and stuff. So we'll look at how that comes together, and then we'll make... A more traditional monogram with a nice wreath is a very popular emblem to add to a monogram, so we'll look at that. And if we have time, then I can show you something like making these carved letters, and this is actually really, super simple in this case. So we'll create this if we have some time to look at how we would get the letters into a circle. Then, before we go, I'll show you how to take whatever monogram you might be creating for yourself and apply it to an email signature. So it's really, super simple, but that can be just a nice way... You can use it for email signatures or your social media icons across the web. And, of course, we'll talk about print, too. And in the resource guide for this course, you'll get a little project, sort of a cheat sheet for all of the different projects that we do with links to all the fonts that I use and everything like that, as well as the little thing about the rules and some just other fonts and resources and things that I end up using all the time. So that'll be a nice little resource guide, and I think we can kick it back over to Photoshop here. And I just have this little graphic up because of course, when we talk about making monograms, we're going to be working with type. So for those people who've not gone out and gotten new fonts and installed new fonts before, it helps to know where they go. So you can download fonts from anywhere on the web. There's free fonts. There's fonts that you pay for. Wherever you get your fonts, you can install them. If you're on a PC, they go in your Fonts folder, which is in your Windows folder on your C drive. And on a Mac, it's in your User folder in your Library and your Fonts folder. But you should be able to just double-click the font files, and they'll probably install themselves. So you may not even need to do that, but that's where they are.

Class Description

It's hard to come up with a logo when looking at a blank slate. Using your initials as a starting point is a great solution! This is called a monogram. 

Whether it’s for personal or professional use, this class will teach you how to create a monogram that involves letters, shapes, and flourishes. She will then show you how to code it into your email signature (the modern-day letterhead), and give recommendations for other branding use cases. 

Using Photoshop, Khara will cover three styles of monograms in this beginner-friendly class. Previous Photoshop experience not required.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017.0.1

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Monograms Resource Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I love this teacher! She is funny, her classes are easy to follow and this one is no exception. In this class, the teacher present 4 different monograms and we are then invited to create our own using these techniques. The steps are easy to follow and give awesome results!

Mimi Cu

The teacher was very clear and funny. She made the class very enjoyable.


Very informative and there is always something new to learn from Khara. She's awesome and she explains things and deliver information in a simplistic way. I really recommend this class and any class that Khara teaches.