Back to Basics: From Pencil Sketch to Digital Art

This week, I tackled a beast I had long been avoiding: hand-drawn letters. As you have seen from my Instagram and blog posts here, I am partial to brush pens because they are so very easy, fun, and quick. Once you get the hang of them, you can achieve a beautiful end result with a few sweeps of your pen. 

However, I've always been 'drawn' (puns always intended) to create more traditional hand-lettering styles, both to broaden my skill set and stretch myself creatively.  The reason I have avoided this style for so long is simple: the detail, precision, and measuring that goes into hand-drawing each letter is daunting! However, thanks to Tombow, I was inspired to tackle this personal challenge with confidence. 

As a Tombow Brand Ambassador, I am given the opportunity to test and review products sent to me each month. For the month of February, I received the Mono Drawing Set, 3 Pack. Immediately, the professional quality of these pencils inspired me to sit down and go back to the most basic form of lettering--the kind we've all been doing since childhood: writing with a pencil.

The three pencils in this pack are: Mono B, HB, and 2B. The different labels are an indicator of how soft or hard the graphite is; HB being the softest of the three, 2B being the hardest. Also, these are SMEAR PROOF! What? I didn't know that was possible. I see a lot of questions from left-handers about how to avoid ink smearing, and I feel confident you will see less shiny black smudging on your hands when using these pencils! They also erase extremely well with just a regular pink eraser, leaving my graph paper cleaner than I had ever seen it after so many errors and so much erasing. Color me impressed! 

*Planning* to get this blog post done in time to post on Monday, I went with a simple phrase that came to mind. It was inspired by my new goal to welcome Mondays as opportunities for a fresh start, instead of a day I dread every single week.

First, I sketched it out on graph paper, as seen above, using the lines as a loose guide for getting things fairly even.

Next, I traced the quote out on copy paper, and took a photo. 

Then, I brought the photo into Illustrator, lowered the opacity, and began using the pen tool to trace over the words in a new layer.

When I finally completed my first rough draft of the quote, I hid the pencil sketch from view, and I went back in to clean up squiggly lines and make final adjustments. As you can see below, I decided to eliminate the embellishments on the ends of each letter. 

Here is the finished product. I am very pleased with how this turned out for one of my first attempts at digitizing my own traditional style piece. This was a challenging sort of fun, and only a little stressful ;-) I have already begun on a second traditional piece...I hope to see it in my own online store, opening in a few short months! 

I was totally inspired by a pencil this week! Such a simple, basic tool that made a huge difference in my work! What are you favorite tools to go back to when you need a refresher?