Sketch, Composition and Color: Lettering Process with Johanna Rodrigues

Unlocking your artistic potential can be so exciting for your lettering journey, filled with experimentation and self-discovery - but it can also be overwhelming where the opportunities to create are endless! Take a look at Women of Type's Artist in Residence, Johanna Rodrigues' process for refining and defining her lettering pieces.

Whether you're a seasoned artist or a beginner, these techniques can elevate your artwork to new and spooky heights.

lettering process, final art

Sketching: Embrace Imperfection in Small Spaces

The process of sketching is not about achieving perfection but about exploration and expression. An effective approach is to work within hand drawn squares or rectangles. This not only relieves the pressure to create flawless drawings in the ideation phase, but also encourages a diverse exploration of layouts due to size constraints.

  1. Small Spaces Foster Creativity: Sketching in limited spaces encourages you to think outside the box. By confining your ideas to smaller areas, you are prompted to explore various compositions and arrangements.

  2. Gradual Refinement: Begin with a quick, memory (or general shapes!) based sketch as your initial version. Then, refine it through a series of versions, adding and removing what works and feels right based on your goal and composition. Use references from platforms like Google, Pinterest, or Behance to add more details. This iterative process allows your creativity to evolve organically.

step 1 sketch and refine

Coloring: Breaking Conventions and Exploring Themes

The use of color is a powerful tool to convey mood and emotion in your artwork. If you're new to working with color, here are some tips to guide you through the process:

  1. Theme-Driven Color Selection: When conceptualizing your artwork's theme, think about the colors that first come to mind. Select two or three colors that you definitively want to incorporate into your palette.

  2. Mood Descriptors: To guide your color choices, consider words that describe the mood you aim to convey. Whether it's magic, mystery, coziness, or neon vibrancy, let these descriptors inspire your color palette.

  3. Challenge Color Conventions: Break free from conventional color associations with moods or themes. Pose questions to yourself: What if dark purple replaced black? How about a beige witch hat instead of the traditional black?

  4. Final Color Check: Evaluate your color options. Beyond personal preferences, assess which colors best highlight the intentional elements in your piece. Consider what should stand out, whether it's lettering, a star, or a cat.

color options for lettering sketches

Empower Your Artistic Voice!

The journey of sketching and coloring is a pathway to discovering and expressing your unique artistic voice. Embrace imperfections in your sketches, and don't shy away from challenging color norms. The magic lies in the exploration and evolution of your ideas. So, pick up your sketchbook, experiment with colors, and watch your creativity unfold on the canvas of your imagination. Happy creating!

Love this process? Follow Johanna on Instagram and check out her site to see more of her work!