How did you get started with 3D type?
I was always drawing as a kid, but I took several years off because I was focusing on music. I got back to art and I became a graphic designer in 2010. I enjoyed parts of it, but something was missing. I listened to the Sean Wes podcast to get advice about my business, and I had an interesting feeling every time he mentioned hand-lettering. I was a little jealous of him. I decided to turn that jealousy into an experiment, and I tried hand-lettering for the first time. The Sean Wes Learn Lettering 2.0 Masterclass was my first exposure to hand-lettering, and I learned from Skillshare too. Anywhere I could find lettering, I ate it up. As Sean suggested, I iterated in public. I posted my progress on Instagram from day 1. I made a commitment to post every day for a year for accountability and motivation, and I am so glad I did. Posting every day made me improve quickly and get over my perfectionism immensely.
At this time, my main job was a 3D visualization artist, creating scenes for commercials. I had taught myself 3D first in Google Sketchup, then very briefly in Maya, and then moved to Cinema 4D. I began to wonder what letters would look like in 3D. I looked into 3D typography and found very few but amazing 3D lettering pieces. I just had to know how they did it. I experimented some more, and I have fallen absolutely in love with this combination. I learned lettering and 3D from everywhere I possibly could, from all corners of the internet. From Lynda.com to Mograph Plus, and tutorials here and there. I have so many generous teaching artists to thank for my progress.
I want to start 3D lettering. Where do I start?
Quite a few of you have the program I use everyday in your arsenal and you don't even realize it! It's Cinema 4D Lite, and it comes with After Effects in your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Get in there and start playing! I suggest you start by learning how to build basic shapes in the program. Get used to it. Familiarize yourself with the interface. Learn the basics and play around. Oh, and for heaven's sake do yourself a favor and get a 3-button mouse! I learned this the hard way. You'll thank me later. This is the one I have. Nothing fancy at all. Isn't it darling?
Do you have any tutorials?
I'm working on a list of lessons to teach. Stay tuned. You can sign up to my newsletter to get informed right away when they come out.
How have you developed your skills?
I developed my skills in 3D and lettering separately before putting them together. I started calligraphy by practicing the basic stroke drills. I moved on to letters, and then words. Because calligraphy is all about muscle memory, like piano playing, I have practiced brush calligraphy every day for at least thirty minutes since day 1. I have a different practice now then I did when I started, just by discovering what works best for me, and that is different for everyone. I've also learned, especially in the beginning, by emulating the skills of those whose lettering I admire by studying their works closely, and soaking up as much of their instruction as possible. Sometimes I will copy certain styles and elements that are a challenge for me, and I take those details into my own work, but I never publish the works that I copy. I will spend more time on the challenges, than on my strengths. This focused practice is what makes improvement go exponentially faster.
In 3D I started with the basics, learning from Lynda.com Essentials courses. The key to learning both skills is to be patient and to not move on to more advanced techniques until you have a good hold on the fundamentals. I made sure to take away the pressure of adding letters to each new skill I've learned. This helped me able to just follow along, but I also always put my own twist on the lesson so that I could really cement the new technique in my brain.
What is your tool workflow?
A quick explanation of my typical workflow is as follows:
1. Pencil and paper and/or iPad Pro and Apple Pencil for sketching
2. Adobe Illustrator and Astropad Studio for vectorizing
3. Cinema 4D for modeling
4. ZBrush (sometimes for sculpting further)
4. Arnold Render or Octane Render for lighting, texturing and rendering
5. Adobe Photoshop for editing
Do you have any tips for finding your style and standing out?
There is always room for improvement. Always be humble enough to be learning with continued education.
Allow yourself to bring two seemingly unrelated things together. Like 3D design and hand-lettering/calligraphy. Study two things that you love separately and then bring them together.
Challenge yourself to a 365 days project. Being prolific with creating actually makes you improve faster, cuts through the perfectionism, and makes for a large body of work for your portfolio.
Show your work right away. Don't wait to perfect your skills to post them. You'd be surprised how encouraging social media communities can be.
Keep an attitude of community over competition with others doing what you do. As artists, we need each other. Help other artists. Give away what you know when you can.
Have faith. I was lettering for months and months before I got a paid job. Make sure to have a financial buffer when you are starting out. Give yourself the freedom to grow and learn, and you also won’t feel forced to take on jobs you dislike.
What pens do you use?
While the tools are not as important as the daily practice and hard work that goes into great lettering, there are some trusty tools that have become my favorites. You can find an updated list of my pens on the Resources page. I have a section for beginner friendly and more advanced tools.