Ribbon Lettering with Marie Browning

If you like hand lettering as much as I do, you are always looking for new ways to add some style and interest to the letters you create. In the January 2018 Lettering Lesson, Marie Browning adds Ribbon Lettering to the lettering smorgasbord, and offers several options for taking these artful letters even further. You’ll be amazed at what a little shading can do to make the letters look like real ribbon.

I decided to work on two words. Using a brush-tip marker, I wrote Love and Believe in my everyday cursive, making the upstrokes and downstrokes as wide as the tip of the marker.

ribbon lettering

For other hand lettering styles, light and heavy pressure on the brush pen creates thin and thick lines. For ribbon lettering, you want all of the lines thick.

Before adding the actual shading, shading marks are added to the letters in any area that the stroke changes direction, where lines of the letters cross, and at the beginning and end of the strokes. This really makes you think! I decided to go with a V-cut on the ends of the ribbon letters, so added those marks, too.

Starting at the shade marks and using a colored pencil in a slightly darker color than the brush pen, I added shading. The shading should be dark closest to the area where a stroke crossed or ended and get lighter and lighter moving away from that area. I was amazed how this totally changed the look of the letters.

I like the way these words came out, but decided to give “Believe” a picot edge. Again, shading comes into play. A rather dull pencil is fine for adding shading, but for creating the picot edge a sharp pencil is essential. In the dark, shaded sections of the letters, I applied more pressure to the pencil when drawing the loops, and then used less pressure in the lighter areas. It looks quite impressive.

Enhance your hand lettering with this picot edge, or add stripes, faux stitching, a grosgrain effect, and more.

True to form, I couldn’t stop with just two, so I made an extra piece with Reach for the Stars. I really like the look of these letters, and I think I’ll be using this style quite a bit.

Give it a try. There are all kinds of options.

ribbon lettering


P.S. Click here for more hand lettering ideas inspired by our Art Lessons!


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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