Design Down Time: February & Big Life Update

Remember how I said I couldn’t do my one monthly tutorial due to being crazy busy? Well, just kidding! Thanks to Leap Day, I barely made it! Here’s why I thought I wouldn’t be able to:

Jason has accepted a job offer in Bend, OR and I’m moving there with him. It’s all very exciting and a little bit scary. The second to last paragraph for the conclusion chapter of the Leaving Home Series was actually written when this was all in the works.

“I’ve lived in Texas all my life. I would like to move somewhere else (still within the U.S.) eventually but I’ve always been afraid to. Not only that, but I was enjoying Austin too much to want to go anywhere else.”

“Eventually” was actually not as far away as I made it out to be and notice I said I “was” enjoying Austin. Past tense. Not “am enjoying.” To be quite frank, I’ve grown tired and a bit sick of Austin recently, especially in the past couple weeks. I hate to be one of those stereotypical Austinites that says, “Austin’s changed too much. Too many people are moving here. Blah blah blah.” But it’s true. I know there are a lot more people out there who have lived here a lot longer than me, but I’ve lived here since 2007. The city has changed. Saying it hasn’t is ignorant. The city has changed and either I adapt to it, don’t adapt to it and suck up any complaints I may have, or I move on. Time I moved on.

In true designer fashion, I decided to cope with my feelings by doing some lettering to both serve as an announcement and a sort of cathartic moment of meditation.

Photo Feb 27, 10 40 33 AM



Final design (picture taken with my iPhone)

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 10.50.15 AM

Outlining letters in Illustrator, with some adjustments


How To Create a Realistic Chalk Lettering Effect

Rather than go my traditional non-textured route, I thought I’d take the opportunity to turn this into a Design Down Time piece since I would need to do two tutorials in March to make up for February. I found this tutorial on the trusty Spoon Graphics blog. I printed off my design like in the tutorial and filled it in with pencil. It was also at this point that I made a slight adjustment to the design and added the word “to” to it for more clarity.

Taking some inspiration from Dana Tanamachi (chalk letterer extraordinaire), I decided I wanted to use some bright chalk colors.

I wanted to use yellow for “Austin” and green for “Bend” so I filled it in with the blue and red colored pencils – the inverse colors – knowing that the Spoon Graphics tutorial would have me invert the colors once I brought them (and this chalkboard image from Pixabay) into Photoshop.


Colored pencil and “to” addition. I don’t have a scanner (and neither does the business office at my apartment) so I just took this with my iPhone’s camera.

After duplicating the chalkboard background and putting it on a layer above the lettering, I set the blend mode to Soft Light. I just liked the way it made the bottom of the graphic a bit darker and gave it some more depth.

Following the tutorial, I fixed the levels/curves on the image and inverted the colors. I made a mask for the whole thing so that the really dark black parts of the paper wouldn’t show through.

At this point, I thought it needed a bit more detail to it. So I added more arrows to the design. Rather than designing it in Illustrator, I went straight to the colored pencils part. I had printed off two copies of the design, so I had a second paper I could work with in case I messed up.

Following the same steps as before, I added it to the composite.

I actually ended up not liking that; it felt imbalanced on the bottom right and looked overzealous. Sometimes you try something only to find out it doesn’t work. All part of the process. I made the lettering a little bit bigger to fill the space and voila! It’s complete!


I’m looking forward to this new chapter of my life. It’s a pretty big commitment but I’m ready to finally leave Texas. Onward! To Bend!

Chalkboard imagery courtesy of Pixabay.
O Magazine and O YOU! Conference chalk lettering images found on Dana Tanamachi's website.

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