Whether you’re adding lettering to a piece of art or writing a name on an envelope or gift tag, it’s always fun to play around with the lettering to give it some pizazz. Alexandra Snowdon has played with several kinds of lettering in her three Cloth Paper Scissors Lettering Lessons, and in the August lesson she shares Tattoo Lettering. Tattoo lettering is defined by its style. Many vintage tattoo styles have a maritime connection, but it’s fun and easy to create your own lettering designs in this style.
I decided to jump right in and give it a try. After tracing the scroll provided in the lesson onto watercolor paper, I penciled in lines about 1/8″ from the top and bottom of the scroll for my letters to sit between. That way, the letters would all be the same size. I know without guidelines, my letters can often vary in size.
The letters in the tattoo style Alexandra used have one wide side and a simple line on the other side. I added the outlines of the letters to the scroll.
After checking Alexandra’s letters to see where to add them, I added serifs to the letters. They looked more like tattoo letters now.
Decorations around the scroll add a nice touch. I chose to add a small bird and some musical notes, just for fun. Personalizing the scroll makes it a great gift.
Time for paint! Alexandra used watercolor, and I like the look it gives the letters. Her idea to make the wide part of the letters the width of your paintbrush was genius. That way, one stroke and done. She suggests practicing on another piece of paper first to get the strokes down, and I was glad I did. It took a couple of tries to get the amount of watercolor and the pressure on the brush just right, so one stroke filled the letter. I love the ombre effect that often results from using one stroke. As suggested, I used a detail brush for the serifs, and, I have to admit, I did a little touch-up work to the letters with that brush as well.
After painting the decorations and the scroll, using watercolor and a detail brush, I decided it looked complete.
I really enjoyed this lesson, and decided to play some more. Here are the results of that playtime.
It turned out yellow was not a good choice for “Smile,” because the pencil lines showed through the paint. I decided to go over the lines in black, and I like the results.
I love the green ombre effect on “Audrey.” This little one is a special girl, so I had to add a heart.
Blue seemed like a good choice for “Peace.” I added some white to the blue for the scroll to add some contrast. I also traced the pencil lines on the letters with dark blue; again the lines showed through in the lighter areas.
Choose your colors carefully. I should have remembered that pencil lines often show through watercolor. So, either don’t paint over the pencil lines and erase them later, or choose dark-ish colors. Alexandra has tips, ideas, and plenty of inspiration in her August Lettering Lesson. Check it out.