Skip to main content

art & design

Designing Monograms

Lesson 4 of 5

Personal Brand Monogram Design

Khara Plicanic

Designing Monograms

Khara Plicanic

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

4. Personal Brand Monogram Design

Lesson Info

Personal Brand Monogram Design

Okay. So what's really cool about this is those circle characters that are carved into a circle are just a font. So, traditionally, if you're an Illustrator, like we know Leia here in class has a background as an Illustrator, so if we were Leia, we'd probably go into Illustrator and illustrate these letters. But none of us are Leia, and a lot of people are not very comfortable with the pen tool, although I encourage you to at least learn some basics because it's a pretty powerful tool. Even in Photoshop, you can do some stuff with the pen tool, as we'll see in the next class. But we're lucky that we don't have to do that. We can just use this font, and it's free, and it's free 100% even for commercial use. So ding, ding, ding, that is a winner, and I link to it in the resource guide and I don't remember off the top of my head where I got it exactly. So, thank goodness for my own resource guide when I forget where I get things. I have to look it up myself. And I forget what it's called.

Well, I guess we'll find out here in a minute. I hope I can find it. What we're going to do is just I'm going to use the type tool and actually just click to insert the character. Because the way this font was built, we're going to have to use the Glyphs panel and then combine three different characters into one. So I'll show you. So from our Glyphs panel, I think it's called... You can't type in here like you would think. I think it's called, I hope It's called, I hope I find it now. I think it's called wood something, or not. Did I write it in my... - Could it be in my ASD one? - A what? - Glittery? - Yeah, the glittery one but... - Monogramos is the font, is that right? - Oh, that's right. Thank you. - Because I'm using the resource guide. - Thank you. Because I was like, "Wait a minute." That's right, and I was like, "How do we pronounce this?" So, I was pronouncing it "ma-nog-rah-mose" because I just thought that sounded fun, but it could be... - I like that better. We'll go with that. - Monogramos? - Yeah. - Yeah, I don't know what it's called, but thank you because I was completely drawing a blank. Okay, so here it is. Monogramos. There we are. Drew, to the rescue. So here are our choices. We have ones that are reversed type. So that means that the type is white or clear on a dark background. We call that reverse type. So we have reverse type that's ensconced in a circle. That's a fun word, "ensconced." Or what I am going to do for this example is this type down here. So, I thought this was clever, how the designer did this. Because otherwise you'd have to create every possible combination of letters in each of the three positions. I'm not a mathematician, but that would be a lot of characters you'd have to build here. So, what they did is they just have each of the letters, for example, G, and they have it in all three spots. And then they have H in all three spots, or whatever. So, we're going to just do three and then we'll blend them together. Some of them don't work as well on the outer edge of the circle as others, and this is where, if you are Leia and you're an Illustrator, then you could make this probably work better if you just illustrated it yourself. just illustrated it yourself. But that said, I think still, some characters are going to be more challenging to craft into that curved edge on the outer side of the circle. So, this may be something that doesn't work for every initial combination. And that's okay, too. Some letters are going to lend themselves to certain things and others are not. So, that's the fun that we talked about the other day, with some limitations helping to guide your direction a little bit. We can embrace some of those limitations and work with them instead of against them. So, let's see. I'm making this up, let's go with A. We'll do an A one. And then our cursor is still here, okay. I'm going to actually make these on separate layers just to be easier to adjust. So, our middle character, let's see what is a good one. What makes a good middle character? The E looks nice. Oh, I kind of like the S. Let's do the S for the middle, and I'll click to set one more type layer. And for the right side, maybe a D. So this is, again, the font's called Monogamos or Mono-gramos or whatever you want to call it. Monogramos? And we've got these three characters now, and I'm just going to put them... I'm going to mask them is what I'll do, and then we'll combine them, they'll will be easier that way. So if we want A to be first, I am going to select the A type layer, and then I'm going to add a mask to it down here at the bottom by clicking this button. So, I call it the camera button because I had a student one time tell me it looks like a camera. Otherwise, it looks like a rectangle with a circle, but it adds a mask. And then when we have the mask, we can use our paintbrush. And here's where you have to remember to go back and get a normal brush. Otherwise, you're painting with like water color. It's silliness. So, I'll go back and get a hard brush, in this case, and I want black here. So I'm going to paint with black paint, and I'm just going to mask everything that's not that first A. Then we'll go down to the S and I'll add another mask, and I'll mask the outer edges. And there's a million different ways you can do this, but I had a brush, so I'm doing it with a brush. And our D here, and now we'll mask this side. So, by masking this, we are not erasing. We're just hiding that part of it. Because if we wanted to erase it, we'd have to convert it from a type layer into pixels. And then we lose the vector bonus and then we're erasing it, which then we don't have flexibility later. So, all around layer masks are the way to go here. So, then I'll just grab the S here and just bring it in place, and the D, and that was simple. And that's pretty much all there is to it. Then we'll just select these three layers, and I'll scale this up. And I don't know why I have green. Well, I know why, but I probably don't want to keep it that way. Then we could change these colors, we could paint over this, maybe we want to make this graffiti style and go get some fun watercolor-y brushes. We could try that. If we wanted to group these together, that makes it easy to clip things to. So, if I select all these layers in the layers panel and I press CMD or CTRL+G, I'll get this group here. And maybe I want to add a blank layer and clip it to this group. And then I can paint. And now, I don't know, let's just explore. Now, you can see free styling. I'm going to grab these faux finish brushes just to show you what they look like, because they're kind of neat. So, we will append them, and you'll see that we can paint with a texture comb. What? That's pretty, as my son would say, "That's pretty awesome." But you can paint stripes with it. Isn't that rad? And if we wanted to, we could have this brush be dynamic. Not digging my colors, but we'll deal with that later. I could come in here and have the angle of the brush change randomly. So, 100%. So, that means every time I pick up the brush... Oh, it's per tip right now. Let's see what happens. Let's go back. It's going to be per tip. And we could stamp with it or if we're painting it's going to give us this crazy effect instead of the rake that we saw earlier. But anyway, there's a lot you can do with that. And as we saw yesterday, we were all glitter-happy with our fun stuff. So I can show you, we can do this with glitter if we want. In this case, I would need to... I'd probably want to duplicate this just to keep it. Because when you apply these styles, it ends up sort of eating up your type. So, I'm going to duplicate this just to have it for safekeeping. And then I can apply, my favorite is the gold paint. So I can apply a gold paint layer style to these letters. Who do I need? The A. Here it is. Or I mean the glitter paint. Glitter paint. Here we are. This one, that's the one I like. I'm not much of a glitter girl but I am in Photoshop. In real world, I don't have anything with glitter on it. But in Photoshop, I'm like, "More glitter!" So, there we have it. We've added some glitter to this and if we wanted to add their realism, I could grab my paintbrush. Now, this is again from Creative Market, it's one of the things that I bought that's like a glitter pack. So what's really happening here, just so people at home are aware and you could make your own one of these, is I'm applying basically a pattern overlay that is a glitter image that's getting applied to each individual layer. And it's nice because you can adjust the scale and the opacity. I can even click here and move it around if I want so I can adjust the pattern. If somehow the pattern just lands in a weird place, and I'm like, "I don't like that," I can move it around. So, that is pretty cool. What's nice about it is it's grouped into these styles. So it's easy to apply in a snap, and you can make your own. I mean, I want to say it's easy to do but there's a lot to consider. So it's the kind of thing where it's totally worth just paying. As we'll see in the mock-up class, I make a lot of things from scratch, and I'll show you, and then there's some things that it's like, "Oh, I will happily just buy that." But it just depends. Depends what you're doing and depends on your budget and all kinds of things. We'll add some realism to this by just finishing it off with a little bit... They have a brush that's part of that collection called the Confetti Chain brush. And I'll apply a style to this layer, too. So this one I'm going to add just gold glitter. There's so many styles that I'm scrolling along. All right. We'll add this one. And now, with this brush, which you see is just a round brush, but if you want to dig into like what makes this brush look like glitter? The secrets are all here in their Brush panel and we see that there are some scattering applied here. And scattering, and the option here for spacing being increased, is what makes, instead of a stroke, you get dots. And by adjusting the scattering, you can have the dots move away from the stroke that you're drawing. So that's why they sort of, like, if you imagine the stroke being like this? The dots are above and below the stroke. That's called scattering. And now when I come over in here and paint... Let me make my brush a little bit smaller maybe. When I come in and paint, I'm just getting glitter tha's in this sort of random pattern, like this. And I could tweak this, too, if I wanted to come in and maybe I want more scattering. Then I would come down to scattering. and I can say, "I want it to scatter more." And now when I paint, it's a wider scatter. Or if I want less scatter now, now it's really in a line. So you can play with all that stuff. But it makes a lot of fun you can have with all of this. What questions do we have on the glitter, or the text, or how we made this, or layer masking? Or any of that? Anything? - Those glitter cells don't come with Photoshop, right? Those are... - Unfortunately, no. - Pay out of pocket. - I linked to them in the resource guide. - Cool. - I think they're only like $20 or something. - Cool. - So, I will get my money's worth from it because I love glitter and I just want every excuse now to play with it in Photoshop. And that's the other thing, because in real life I'm not a fan because it's messy. But in Photoshop, you don't even have to vacuum afterwards. So that's pretty awesome. Any other questions about the masking or how we did that? I think that the way the designer built this font is really clever. And at first, when I was first looking into it, I'm like, "What? How am I going to do this? That's going to be kind of a nightmare." But it's actually really super simple. And thankfully, because the Glyphs panel is now in Photoshop, it's easy. Otherwise you'd have to type out every key on your keyboard to try to find the one that is going to give you what you need. In this case, of course, it was easy because it was just the lowercase letters. But once you are getting into the reverse type that they had, they start having other characters assigned, and it gets tricky. So that's what I used to do before I discovered the Glyphs panel. We just typed. That's what you do with Dingbats. I'd be like, well, abcdefg, lowercase. ABCDEFG, blah blah blah, uppercase. Period. Comma. All of that. Now, Glyphs panel. Any other questions on any of that? - We got a question about what Wacom tablet you're using? - Yeah. This is the, and I link to this, too, because I always get that question. But this is in the resource guide as well. This model I think is actually discontinued, so the link in the resource guide is for the current version of this model. - Cool. - I don't know. I don't know what this says on here. Oh, this one's the Intuos. I thought it was the Bamboo. I don't know. This is my third one that I think I've bought. But I want to say as far as a price point on this, I looked the other day when I was updating that, I think it's around maybe $80. And I love it. I don't know. I mean, of course, you can use your track pad or a mouse, obviously. But I really am, I think, faster with this. And I turn off the pressure sensitivity. I don't take advantage of that because, I don't know, It just doesn't work for me for what I do. But that's why a lot of people like it. - Cool. - I like it for just the ease of just use. I think it's a lot. It's really great. - And it's small, you can put it in your bag. - Exactly. - Which is really cool. - It is. - Some of them are huge. - And you know, these things last forever. And Wacom has been a really good company to work with, like they.. I've had one of their one of their tablets it's almost been 20 years now since I bought my first one, and still works. And it's bigger. But I don't use it anymore because I got rid of my desktop and I just have my laptop now, and so I just have this. But it still works and when, at one point, the pens, all the brains for it I guess are in the pen, so don't throw them. I didn't throw it but I dropped it one time. Just like that. And I called them, and I'm like, "My pen is not working." They just sent me a new one for a dollar. A whole new pen. And they sent me a ton of, these are called "nibs," the tips, because you can wear down your nibs. And so you just pull out the nib. So I have like a bunch of nibs to replace it. They were really good to me and it's a good product. I don't know. I love it.

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

Related Classes



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.