Case Study & Process: F**K Plastic, hand lettered illustration for print

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

Hello! and welcome to my first blog post about my full hand lettering process and a case study on one of my most recent projects - a custom faux calligraphy hand lettered design for print.

When I was approached by Julia from The Market Bags in Kelowna with the idea of hand lettering an illustration to be printed on a line of her re-usable bags, I couldn't refuse. The design brief was... brief. She let me take total creative control and conceptualize something of a statement piece.

The Market Bags target demographic are females ranging from 25-50 with a strong ethical, environmentalist attitude. With this in mind, I thought of a few concepts but settled on the idea of a brutally honest statement piece to tell the world how you really feel about single-use plastic.

Before I go into my process, I want to give a brief introduction of the goals. Some of the words to describe The Market Bags' needs were:

Handwritten, feminine, authentic and personal.

Throughout the lettering process, I kept these words in the back of my mind to drive the direction of the project.

ROUGH IDEAS After receiving the "all clear" to start on my hand lettering concept, I started with some rough thumbnail sketches to explore the relationships between the words and how to compose them. After reviewing the sketches I decided on a horizontal layout with a heavy faux calligraphy lettering style for an emphasis on weight and femininity. I also added a heavy flourish to the F & the P to emphasize and balance the design. The composition has a bold yet feminine appearance which aligns with the client's market.


After choosing the lettering concept, I sketched out a large version of the piece into my sketchbook to refine the style of letters and flourishes. I refined many composition and weight flaws at this point and added some cute little roses into the word F**k to replace the stars and to keep it PG-ish... Once I was happy with the rough lines and shapes, I took to some tracing paper.

TRACING At this stage I take notice of the letter spacing. I noticed that I had letter crowding issues as a result of the heavy down-strokes and fixed them by moving the tracing paper horizontally while tracing. I repeated this process once more focusing on any weight difference issues that I had found in some of the letters.


The next stage is the hardest - inking. I set up some fresh tunes, cleaned my glasses, grabbed a micron black ink pen and got to work. I traced all of my letters, filled them in with a heavier marker and then refined the edges and curves some more. Then, VOILA! The inking was done. I snapped a top-down pic here and moved on to the vectoring process. Please excuse my pencil biting habit.


I imported my newly created, hand lettering baby into Adobe Illustrator to get down to some serious refining business. I sat down with the pen tool and held shift to keep those "Bezier curves" nice and clean. Many moons, some Cadbury chocolate bars and a LOT of small tweaks later and I arrived at my final product! Woohoo, we made it!


I explored many different ideas and compositions for this project, but in the end I arrived at a bold and feminine statement piece that aligns itself with the market that it was designed for.

Head on over here to snap yourself up some of these limited-edition reusable bags before they're all gone. Remember to always support your local small businesses!!

Thanks for reading! See you on the next one