Connecting Lettering with Patterns

I love playing with letters. They are so easy to transform with the addition of lines, shapes, and color. Even imperfectly formed letters become artful with a few extra strokes of a pen or brush.

Every month I am inspired to add to my lettering repertoire with ideas and techniques for drawing and altering letters to make them uniquely mine. You will be, too! In the May Lettering Lesson, mixed-media and lettering artist Kari McKnight Holbrook shows how to create connections in hand-drawn words to use in titles, emphasize a key word, give a short phrase more punch, or even to “rescue” imperfectly formed lettering.

Learn some creative ways to connect the letters in words for artful results.
Learn some creative ways to connect the letters in words for artful results.

Though it may look time consuming, adding one simple line or shape at a time makes the finished word quite impressive. When I saw this Lesson, one of the first things I thought of was a label. A single word like tea becomes the star of the pantry on a customized label. Using a variety of lines and dots and a few simple shapes, these three little letters really stand out. I wrote the word tea in swirly letters, thickened the letters in several areas, and enhanced the swirls. Kari showed different ways to connect the letters with lines, and I chose to use lines in only one direction. I enjoy the simplicity of them. I then added long lines along the curves of the letters and some dots. I liked the look of the dots, so I added more at the top and bottom of the letters. I thickened and colored in the lines and dots inside the letters for a different effect. Kari talked about the importance of doing the same thing to all of the letters so they look cohesive, so I made sure each letter got the same lines and dots. In no time at all, I had a fancy label!

tea written on paper
Simple lines and dots connect these letters, literally and artistically.

One of my all-time favorite things is adding decorative lettering on the envelope of a celebratory card for family and friends. The letters can be simple or fancy, and it’s up to you how far you take them. I chose to connect the letters I created with pattern, using uneven lines in two directions. Notice that the lines are not perfectly spaced, nor are they all straight. As Kari noted, that adds to the charm. I added a few dots randomly around the name, and then decided to add some stars because Allison is a star! This envelope took me about five minutes to complete.

Allison on green paper
Make a celebratory card even more special with decorative lettering.

Lettering is one of my favorite activities. Learning new ways to enhance the letters makes it even more fun. Once you start adding some extras to your letters, you’ll be hooked. I know I was!





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