Category: Lettering

Brush Lettering on Leather

Brush Lettering on Leather

Today I’m going to show you how to brush letter on leather!

I’ve had a stack of leather for ages now, ever since I skinned that couch, and I’ve always had a project in mind for the scraps. I was going to make leather bottle tags for my bar area. I got a metal alphabet punch kit and everything. I read all the how-to’s I could find, and started hammering away. I realized the leather I had wasn’t really thick enough to stamp on, and it was way too textured. 

I had to rethink everything. 

To begin I gathered my supplies: leather scraps, a #1 round brush, and some gold acrylic paint. Note: the leather I was using has a heavy texture. It’s not the best for lettering on, you’ll see why later. But its not the end of the world, so use what ever you have. 

I started experimenting with the thickness of the paint. Here it is right out of the bottle. Really thick paint, inconsistent coverage, and my brush ran out very quickly leaving streaky marks. 

 Too thick
Too thick
 Too thin
Too thin

Then, I added a bit too much water. Very light coverage, would pool in the low spots, and took forever to dry.

Ok, so I added more paint until I got a consistency that was workable, without it pooling between the ridges. I suggest adding just a few drops of of water at a time until you get what you want. It takes a lot of paint to compensate for a bit too much water. 

 Bingo Bango!
Bingo Bango!

Working with metallics is a lot of fun. I love that the paint adds a whole new dimension to the piece, on top of the fact that it’s leather.

Eli Tips:

  • You want you brush to be loaded but not dripping. Re-dipping is not a big deal, but too much paint leads to sloppy letters.
  • I cut my tags before lettering. You could do it after, but just make sure its completely dry. I messed up a few moving them without being careful.
  • Experiment! When mixing mediums like this, there is bound to be some trial and error. Plan for that. Luckily, acrylic paint can be mostly wiped off if you make a mistake.
  • Practice first. Get warmed up and your hands moving before you make the jump to leather and paint. If you are working on a quote, get the layout figured out on trash paper first. On a name tag? Make sure to check your spacing so you can get it all to fit.

This was my first time working with these two media together, so I’ll update this post if I have any issues with pealing, cracking, or the likes. I can’t promise you this will last forever, but it should work wonderfully for something temporary like gift tags or place markers.  

I whipped up some gift tags and a new quote for my office pretty quickly. I’m pretty sure you can’t have too much gold or leather in your life. 

How I Design a Lettering Piece

How I Design a Lettering Piece

Hello there! Today I thought it would be cool if I walked you through the steps I take when I’m working on a new lettering piece! I’ll touch on the materials I use, laying out the quote, and then getting it digital. Head to the bottom for a free wallpaper download, I made using these same techniques! 

Materials

INK: I have a few inks so far in my collection. I started off using Pro Art India Ink. I’ve had it for years just sitting in a box of art supplies, so now, of course, its discontinued. But its a thick, deep, waterproof black ink, with just a bit of a sheen to it. It’s a little bottle of magic, and when I run out I’m not looking forward to finding a replacement. The ink I use in the pieces for The Little Motivator Bundle and in the Love Notes, is another great waterproof black ink, just a bit thinner, so all the pieces have this wonderful gradient to the letters. It gives them so much depth.

PAPER: For practice, I use either regular 20lb printer paper, or loose leaf. Some inks behave the same on cheap vs nice paper, but some bleed pretty badly, so its mostly for layout practice and to warm up. All my finished pieces are all on a thick, toothy, 140lb watercolor paper, that I cut to size. It just feels so good in your hand! 

BRUSH: At first I got a super inexpensive multi pack of water color brushes until I discovered what I liked best. I ended up loving the Round 1 brush. So I went and grabbed a few higher quality brushes in similar sizes. The nicer brushes are so much more enjoyable to use, but nothing is better for experimenting than a cheap multi pack you don’t mind ruining.

LAYOUT

First I spend some time warming up on 20lb bond, or loose leaf. Honestly, which ever is closer or easier to reach. I focus on getting my hand to make fluid, continuous curves. Then I make sure I write the quote on a scrap piece of paper so I don’t mess up the spelling. I’ll practice the layout in pencil on scrap paper, and letter over it. Tweaking it until its juuuust right.

Then I start on the watercolor paper. By this point I’m pretty warmed up, so these go pretty smoothly. It’s almost like muscle memory. If I’m being really careful, I’ll mask the edges of the page in tape to make a border for myself, but mostly I freehand it.

If I’m making them for The Little Motivator Bundle, I’ll letter a few extras so I can afford some mistakes. If I’m going to make it digital, I’ll stop after I’m satisfied that the letters are perfect. Harder than it sounds if you’ve read about me redesigning the logo

DIGITIZING

You can read more about how I go from ink to vector in this post. But basically I’ll scan the piece I’m happiest with, open it in Photoshop to remove stray marks and adjust the contract. Then I’ll use Illustrator to live trace it and fiddle with the settings until I’m happy. I always explode the trace too. Exploding lets you move around individual words/connected letters, if the layout wasn’t perfect on the scanned copy. 

After that its totally up to you. The options are endless!

Click the image, or here, to download your free desktop wallpaper. 

Redesigning Eli’s Logo

Redesigning Eli’s Logo

Hello there! 

As you may or may not have noticed, last weekend I made some changes to the Little Eli logo. 

Updating branding and/or logo’s should never been done on a whim, but if you’ve changed, you should update your imagery to match. Eli has done quite a bit of changing this year, and with more on the way I wanted a new logo to represent the future of Little Eli and my vision for it. 

But first a look back! The logo has been through a few iterations since its inception in 2013.

 Spring 2013: The first logo. We were very much into triangles, and eggs apparently.
Spring 2013: The first logo. We were very much into triangles, and eggs apparently.

 Winter 2014: A modified version for our first business cards. 
Winter 2014: A modified version for our first business cards. 

 Summer 2014: Simplified the oval to a circle. Made the signature color even more prominent.
Summer 2014: Simplified the oval to a circle. Made the signature color even more prominent.

Spring 2015: Dropped the “little” for a cleaner, bolder look. 

Fun fact: The original “eli” was born when I was doodling my name on a magazine at my old job. You’ll notice that the upstrokes, not the downstrokes are bold. That was a hold-over from rendering landscape plans, where tree shadows look better down and to the right. So the bolder strokes are all on the right side of the letters. #themoreyouknow

Designing the new logo

I had finally had enough of the old “eli”. It had become too swirly and soft for the clean, edgier Little Eli that I’m building.  Plus it was difficult to read. The L looked like another E and the longer I looked at it the more fed up I became. 

I believe your branding has to excite you! To make you want to do better and achieve greater things. The old swirl lettering just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. 

Step 1: Physical

 

Get out your favorite ink and brush, and paint until you forget what letters are supposed to look like! 

I started with brush and ink because while I wanted it to be minimal and strong, I also wanted it to be organic and approachable. Also I just focused on the word “Eli” for the logo.

Step 2: Digital

Let’s get digital! Then I scanned my favorite versions and cleaned up the images in photoshop. Concentrating on contrast and making all the stray pencil marks go away. 

Then I opened it in illustrator, did a live trace, fiddled with the settings until I liked the result. And BAM. New logo.

 

 Summer 2015: The New Little Eli Logo! Legible, strong, approachable.
Summer 2015: The New Little Eli Logo! Legible, strong, approachable.

 

So there you have it. How and why I gave the logo an update. I hope you liked seeing a bit of behind-the-scenes action today! I love the new “Eli” and all the feelings I have tied up in it.