Add Shadows To Your Lettering
(Part One: Drop Shadow)
Are you ready to brighten up your lettering and take it to the next level?
I’m talking about adding shadows to your letters! In the next few posts, I will show you 4 quick ways to give your pieces a 3D feel and add something to your lettering repertoire. Are you excited? Let’s dive straight in to shadow number 1!
Add Shadows To Your Lettering: Why Add Them?
Shadows are an amazing resource when it comes to lettering. They make the image come alive, adding depth and a sense of realism. Shadows are not required for great lettering, but they are a fantastic technique to practice and add to your abilities.
Unless it’s pitch black, generally everything around you would have a shadow because there’s always at least one source of light. Have a look around you and see the shadows coming off the objects nearby. Now, look at the light source… where is it in relation to the shadows? The main rule you will need to know when adding shadows is that the shadows are on the opposite side of the source of light. When adding shadows to your letters, you get to decide where the light source is. If you decide the light source is coming from the top left corner, the shadows would appear next to the bottom right part of the letters. If the shadows are on the direct right side, the shadows will be on the left. You get the idea.
Now let’s look at the most basic and simplified way to add a shadow.
Add Shadows To Your Lettering: The Regular Shadow
What You Need:
Here’s what you need to add the first style of shadow to your letters:
- The base colour pen you will write your word in
- A grey pen for the shadow
- A pencil (preferably 2H) and eraser if you wish to plan out your design first
Add Shadows To Your Lettering Step One: Pick Your Word
First, write your word or letter with your base coloured pen. If you haven’t tried shadows yet, it’s easiest to begin with just a word or a single letter, rather than a whole sentence.
Add Shadows To Your Lettering Step Two: Find Your Light Source
Once you have created your image you will need to decide where your light source is going to be. Habitually I place it on the top left corner but it’s always a personal preference. Once you know where the light source will be, you can then see where the shadows would fall. In this instance, the light source is on the top left, so the shadows will fall to the bottom right of the word.
Add Shadows To Your Lettering Step Three: Sketch It Out
Next, sketch or plan out the shadow placements. You can do this in your head if you want, but if you are new to this I recommend getting a pencil (preferably 2H as they are light and easy to erase) and sketching it out. Every single stroke should have a shadow, all going the same direction. If this part confuses you, sketch out an angled line (going in the direction you would want a shadow) from every corner you can see – this should help show you where the shadows should land.
Add Shadows To Your Lettering Step Four: Fill It In
Now it’s time to draw the shadows. Grab your grey pen and draw strokes next to the original strokes, where the shadows have been planned out. Thicker strokes of the base colour would get thicker shadows, and thinner strokes of the base colour would get thinner shadows.
Add Shadows To Your Lettering Step Five: Erase The Pencil
Now that your shadows are drawn, erase the pencil marks (once your ink has dried) and you are finished! Stand back and admire your work.
Show Me Your Shadows!
That’s it! You have created your first shadow. I would LOVE to see what you have created so make sure you tag me on social media if you post any of your work! Keep your eye out for posts on the other 3 types of shadows coming soon. I have also added a “practice your shadows” free worksheet available where I give you the lettering, and the sun direction/shadow angles so you can focus on sketching out and colouring in the shadow yourself. For everyone that’s already part of the cherry community, this worksheet is now available in the resource library!
Get the Free Worksheets
If you don’t have access yet or don’t know what I am talking about: I have created a new library filled with resources and practice worksheets for you to start learning and master brush calligraphy and lettering. The library is new but will be updated regularly with new resources for every one part of the community. All you need to do to get the password is pop your details in here and it will be mailed straight to your inbox. So if you would like to have access to this library full of free calligraphy and lettering resources, make sure you sign up now!