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“Magic” Layered Lettering Tutorial

In this lesson we’re going to explore how to layer hand-drawn lettering behind elements in a photograph to create an awesome layered look.

If you haven’t done anything with brush lettering before head on over to the Lettering Studio free email course, it will take you through the basics of brush lettering from the very beginning.

If you’re already feeling pretty shweet about working with a brush pen let’s get to it!

The first thing to do is begin sketching. We’re working with the word ‘magic’, so we want to explore ways in which we can have each letter interact and be portrayed.

Magic Lettering Studio

You can see some of the options I worked with here, experimenting with an uppercase ‘M’ vs a lowercase, whether or not to have a simple ‘g’ or go more decorative, and also the direction and slant of the word.

Ultimately I quite liked the upwards slant no a curved baseline, a lowercase ‘m’ but with some slight decoration, and a simple ‘g’.

Magic Lettering Studio

Magic Lettering Studio

Also, be sure to keep the angle of your letters uniform – i.e. the downstroke in the m, g, i, and a. This will keep your word looking cohesive and intentional, rather than messy.

Okay, let’s bring in the brush pen!

Keeping within the general rule of thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes, create your word based on your sketch.

Don’t stress if this takes multiple attempts until you have a piece you’re happy with – usually I fill quite a few pages before I move on to the next step. Take your time and draw as many attempts as needed, tweaking each one as you go.

Magic Lettering Studio

Great! I’ve decided to go with the middle option here. Snap a pic with your phone, transfer it to your computer, and let’s get Photoshopping.

Open up your photo in Photoshop and select the Polygonal Lasso tool. We’re going to cut your lettering out from the background of the photo.

Note: if you need a detailed tutorial on how the following process works, sign up for the free Lettering Studio email course or check out the tutorial package at the bottom of this lesson- I’ll take you through it all there 😊

Once you’ve selected the shape around your lettering, Cut it out and Paste it to create a new layer for it. Adjust the Levels so that the paper surrounding your lettering is pure white, and then blend all white areas to remove the background.

Once that’s done you’re good to add a colour overlay! I went for a strong red/pink look as it will complement the colour palette in the background photo nicely.

Magic Lettering Studio

Open your background photo in Photoshop (I went for this one from Unsplash) drag your newly-coloured lettering layer on to this new Photoshop document.

Magic Lettering Studio

Now, play around with the size and position, imagining where the shoes are going to be overlapping the letters and taking into account legibility and comparative size.

Once you’re happy with the position, apply a layer mask, reduce the opacity of the lettering so that you can see the shoes through it, and start masking out where the shoes would overlap the lettering!

Make sure to adjust both the hardness and size of your brush as you mask to make sure you can reach all shapes and corners that need to be cut out.

Awesome! Look at that, the shoes are now in front.

Magic Lettering Studio

The last thing to do is add a slight shadow to the letters behind the shoes. Create a new layer above your lettering layer, clip it to the lettering layer using a clipping mask, and start painting black with a soft brush where you’d imagine the shadows to naturally fall.

Adjust the opacity so that the shadows are a bit more subtle, and there you go!

Optional final step – adjust the colours of your background photo using the Curves tool to make them pop a bit more 😉

Magic Lettering Studio

I’d love to see what you create with this tutorial, so leave your work in the comments below for feedback 😁

See you in the next lesson!


Magic Lettering Studio

‘Magic’ Layered Lettering – Tutorial Package

Everything you need to learn how to create this lettering piece

Inside you’ll find:

  • Full 23min video lesson, teaching you from start to finish, in 1080p HD
  • Full layered Photoshop PSD document
  • Photograph of the original lettering so you can follow along with the video lesson

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Want this video lesson and support files, as well as every video lesson I've created, with a new one every 2 weeks? Join below for instant access to everything you need to create this lettering piece 😊