Using Shadows to Make Ribbon Lettering (Adding Shadows To Calligraphy Part 4)

18 Dec, 2020

How to Draw Ribbon Hand Lettering

With Free Practice Worksheet


In this tutorial I am going to show you how to make ribbon hand lettering step by step so that you can start experimenting and making your own beautiful ribbon lettered pieces. Better yet, I even have a free worksheet for you to grab in the resource library.

If you don’t have access to the library yet, you can grab it here:

The resource library is a new hub of worksheets and alphabets for budding brush calligraphers and letterers. It’s updated regularly to keep your creative juices going and to help you unleash your creative spark onto the world. Sign up to get the password sent straight to your inbox and you will also get the occasional worksheets, tips and extra freebies.

Side Note:

Ribbon lettering is not for brush calligraphy newbies so if you are brand new, welcome! I fully recommend you going through the brush calligraphy beginners series first to get familiar with the techniques and tools of brush calligraphy then head back here to become amazing at ribbon hand lettering.

What You Will Need for Ribbon Lettering

To create ribbon lettering font you will need a few tools:

2 to 3 Brush Pens

The brush pens should be in a similar colour but with different intensity or brightness, for example: a regular blue and a dark blue. If you want to use three pens grab the colour you want your lettering to be, and two pens that are darker (one slightly darker and one extra dark) because we won’t be using any pens for highlights to make ribbon font, we will only be adding layers for shadows.

Pentel Brush Pens - Cherry Pearl Creative

Extra Smooth Paper

You will be adding LOTS of layers of ink while making ribbon hand lettering so make sure you get smooth paper (paper that is specifically for markers works a treat) that’s nice and thick. We want to use paper that won’t ruin the brush pens and be able to withstand lots of ink.

Black Monoline Pen

This is optional, but highly recommended if this is your first time making ribbon lettering! Outlining the letters helps a lot when learning so a black fine liner pen is really handy to have.

How To Create Ribbon Lettering


Ribbon Lettering Step One: Write Your Word

Grab your regular coloured brush pen and write your word. In this tutorial I am going to focus just on one letter though, just to make it a little bit less intimidating. So if you would like, join in and write one single letter with a brush pen.

This is a tip you may not hear a lot around here: make your upstrokes nearly as thick (or as thick) as your downstrokes. 

Ribbons are generally the same width the whole way along. So you can put the emphasis on the calligraphy side and still have the upstrokes slightly thinner, or you can try and put the emphasis on the realism and make the up and down strokes as thick as each other.

(Feel free to sketch out the word instead if you are so inclined!)

Step One To Ribbon Lettering Font

Ribbon Lettering Step Two: Outlining the Strokes

This can either be done with your black monoline pen or internally in your head. Either way, it’s great to be aware of where the strokes start and finish, as well as where they curve into each other. If you are a beginner I suggest outlining them with your pen, and then when you have become familiar with this concept then you can try again without the pen.

The goal is to make the downstrokes on top of the upstrokes, so the downstrokes get outlined in their entirety first, generally curving to a point.

Step Two To Ribbon Lettering Font

Next, the upstrokes get outlined from the edge of the downstrokes onward.

The outlines should show you how the edges of the ribbon folds under itself and it turns around so that the back side of the ribbon is facing forward in the upstrokes (generally) and the front side faces forward in for the downstrokes.


Outlining the letter for Ribbon Hand Lettering Font

Ribbon Lettering Step Three: Creating The Shadows

Next, we want to give the ribbon font some dimension and add shadows.

First, we need to figure out where they go. So have a look at your word and find the intersections between the downstrokes and upstrokes, which would be where the ribbon folds over. This is where we want to colour: on the upstroke corners of these intersections.

Shading the letter for Ribbon Hand Lettering Font


The upstrokes will be sitting behind the downstrokes so they are the ones that need to be darker. Start in the corners with the darkest pen you that you chose.


Step Three To Ribbon Lettering Font
After this, blend it into the original colour with the other pen (the medium shade and/or the original shade). So now the “back” of the ribbon should look darker than the front, particularly in the edges.


Step Three To Ribbon Lettering Font

Experiment with Ribbon Lettering!

Once you get the hang of ribbon font, try out some of these options:

Ribbon Edges

Shape the visible start and end of the strokes into the angled shape of a ribbon.

Different Coloured Sides

Give the front of your ribbon a completely different colour to the back of the ribbon (sketching out your word and colouring it in after can really help with this).


Give It A Shadow

Real ribbon sits up from the page and so it has a shadow! Use a light grey pen and follow the shape of your letters right next to it to create a shadow.


Grab The Ribbon Lettering Alphabet Worksheet

To help you practice making epic ribbon lettering, make sure you grab the worksheet in the resource library. It’s got the full lowercase alphabet on it with all the folds already outlined in so that you can focus just on shading and colours.

If you don’t have access to the resource library make sure you pop your details in below and grab the password. It’s a new library that’s specifically built for brush calligraphers full of worksheets and downloadable to help you get creative. Sign up here and have the password sent to your inbox straight away:


Gain Access to the Resource Library


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How to Make Lettering In Ribbon Font

Calligraphy and Lettering Supplies: Brush Pens and More

Hey! I’m Pearl Prisk

I’m a passionate mother, worshipper and creative that would love to help you unleash your creativity to the world.

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