3D Lettering Using Alcohol Markers

lettering Sep 26, 2022
How to use alcohol markers for 3D lettering

 If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’ve tried a bunch of art supplies: brush pens, paint pens, watercolors, colored pencils, gel pens… you name it, I’ve tried it. However, I’ve recently discovered my true passion: alcohol markers. Once I tried them, there was no turning back for me! Love at first paint, you could say. 

Hi! I’m Yanina from @onboard.letras, and I’m super happy to work with you! 3D letters may seem complicated, but don’t worry! You’ll learn how to draw 3D letters step by step. If you’ve ever wondered about using alcohol markers to do some 3D lettering, this tutorial is for you!



  • Pencil, eraser, and ruler to sketch your design
  • Alcohol markers: any alcohol marker will do, but here I’ll be using Winsor & Newton Promarkers in a variety of colors.
  • Paper: go for marker paper (I’m using Canson XL Marker Paper Pad). Alternatively, you can use cardstock or paper that’s smooth textured and acid-free, but keep in mind that inks may bleed.
  • White gel pen/acrylic paint pen
  • Monoline pen
  • Colored pencils to add details to your work (optional)




Step 1: Sketch Your Letters

Use a pencil to lightly sketch out your word or phrase. If you’re new to 3D lettering, I’d suggest you go for a block style. Try to slightly overlap your letters and resist the impulse of having them rest on the baseline. This will add movement to your piece and let you play with shadows and depth when coloring your work. Just want to skip to the coloring step? No problem! You can find the sketch here or on my Instagram account.




Step 2: Let’s Add Some 3D

If you’re a complete beginner to 3D letters, don’t worry! Let me show you the basics. 

First, you need to determine the direction of the 3D. Where will it extend? The choice is yours. Try different directions and see what works for you. Take your ruler, place it on the corner of the letter and draw your first line. Every other corner should have a line extending in the same direction. Remember that if a 3D line goes “through” the letter you can skip it.



Now that you have your lines extended from each corner, it’s time to close the shape to get our 3D letter. The next step is to determine how deep your 3D goes. The first line you draw will determine the depth and it will be the same everywhere else. You can start closing your shape either from the bottom or from the side. What is key here is that the closing line of the 3D shape follows exactly the direction of the original shape. 



So now let’s move on to our letters! Remember, first, we decide on the direction of the 3D. You can make all the letters extend to the same side, or you can play around a bit. I’ve decided to extend the 3D to different sides, just to fill some of the white space in between the letters, or to make them overlap more.

Once you are done connecting all the lines and closing the shapes, you should have something like this:




Step 3: Sketch the Background

This step is optional. You can leave your lettering piece as it is. However, if you’re a color and details freak like me, you may want to add a background. I usually go for something easy, like abstract lines (or clouds in this case) and a frame around the letters.





Need to add some ink to your drawings? We gotchu.



Step 4: Color the Letters

Let the fun begin! It’s time to color our work. I start by using a red alcohol marker to color the letters. You can see that I’m leaving a white border around the inside of the letters; that’s because I’ll then use a white paint marker to go over that area. 



Pro tip: Red is one of the most difficult colors to cover with white paint markers or gel pens. The red will most definitely sip through the white. So, if you know you’ll be using white on top of red, try to leave that part uncolored. 

Next, grab a pale pink marker to color the 3D volume of the letters. Don’t worry about the shadows or depth at this step; we’re just painting the base color of our work.






Step 5: Add Shadows and Depth

By now, you should have a rather plain lettering piece. Let’s use alcohol markers to our advantage to add some depth to our work. First, we need to pick a direction from which the light source is coming so we know which areas should be shaded. In this case, our shaded parts will be on the bottom left side.

Now, go over the pink bottom areas with the same marker you used before. What’s great about these markers is they are translucent and can be layered; going over the same spot creates a darker tone of the same color. You don’t need lots of markers to have cool shading effects. Again, use the same marker to go over the areas where the letters overlap. To achieve a soft, graduated blend, use a heavy to light pressure flicking motion with your markers.



Next, we’ll use the red marker to add a thin shadow line on the inside of the letters (top left side). This will create the illusion that your letters have extra volume. 




Step 6: Add Details

We’re about to finish! 

First, if you’ve decided to add a background, use pale blue to color it, and some orange for the clouds. Once the ink’s dried, use your pale blue again to add the shadow casted by the 3D letters (bottom left side).



Next, use your white paint pen or gel pen to go over the borders of the letters. This outline will make your letters pop! To add some more details that can make your piece stans out, use the same pen or a white colored pencil to add some shine to your letters, on the opposite side of where the shadow is.



If you need to stress some of the shadows, use your markers to go over the spots that need some tweaking, and don’t be afraid to use colored pencils to emphasize them even more. Use your monoline pen to outline the letters and the 3D. You can even add some sparkles or marks to the background using gel pens. Have fun and add as many details as you want! 

And there you have it! Your own 3D lettering piece using alcohol markers!




Thanks for following along! You can find me at @onboard.letras over on Instagram. If you do this project, please tag me, or write so I can see and share your beautiful creations. And thanks to Peggy and all the team for letting me be part of this amazing and creative community!




 Hi! I’m Yanina and I’m from Argentina. I’m a translator and teacher of English during the week and a lettering artist in the making at the weekends. I love creating fun lettering pieces in both Spanish and English because I truly believe language shouldn’t be a barrier when it comes to creating and expressing oneself. You can follow me on my lettering journey at @onboard.letras