Letter Inside of a Star Tutorial

lettering Oct 10, 2019


Ready to be a ROCK-STAR with your lettering? Why not show off your lettering skills by putting words inside the shape of a STAR? Fitting words and quotes into geometric shapes can be both fun for you and impressive to your audience. In today’s post, I (Alyssa from @Lyssas_Letters) will walk you step-by-step through the process of designing a piece of hand lettering artwork that leave people feeling star-struck!

Step 1: Thumbnail Sketches

I begin by sketching a small 5-pointed star with a fine-tip marker. You could also sketch in pencil; I just prefer to use ink because I don’t mind making “mistakes” during this phase of designing. The ink encourages me to take risks, knowing that I can’t erase!

The quote that I have chosen to write inside of the star is “Let your light shine.” Feel free to choose another short phrase or quote that resonates with you!

I find it helpful to write out the entire phrase and underline the “key words” that I will emphasize in the composition. The words “light” and “shine” feel most important to me, and when I design my thumbnail sketches, I make those two words stand out by writing the letters larger, using a thicker line weight, or using a font that differs from that of the other words.

In this first thumbnail, I have chosen to write the word “light” first. Don’t be afraid to write your words out of order when you’re designing thumbnails and rough drafts! I’ve oriented this word horizontally, and the letters are all capitalized and in print.

I then fill in the other words, varying the orientation of the baselines of the words and the letter sizes. Notice how I use a small flourish on the “r” in the word “your” to fill up space.

I use another flourish under the “n” in the word “shine” to balance out the spacing.

In this second thumbnail, I vary the fonts: now I have written “light” in script and “shine” in capitalized print letters. Feel free to play around with your thumbnails! They don’t have to be pretty or perfect. Try new things because you might discover something you love!

After experimenting with different letter positions and sizes, flourishes, and fonts in six different thumbnails, I select one that I want to use for my final piece.

However, in this case, there are two designs that I like. I decide to make a larger rough draft of both designs to determine which one I want to turn into a full piece of artwork.


Step 2: Rough Draft

I sketch a larger star - again, it doesn’t have to be a “perfect” star at this point because it is still a rough draft. 

Then, I copy one of the designs I’ve chosen in this larger star.

To see how it will look with brush lettering, I trace over the letters with a black tombow fudenosuke brush pen. 

Notice how I gave more than double the line weight to the letters in the word “light” to add contrast.

After creating a larger rough draft of another one of the designs, I decide to move forward with my first rough draft design.


Step 3: Create your Masterpiece!

Now is your chance to add color, embellishments (i.e. shadows and highlights), and whatever other illustrations you’d like! I choose to use mix media paper so I can blend with water. 

I take great care to make sure the outline of my star looks just how I want it. To achieve the “perfect” star shape, I trace the outline of a star shape that I find online. However, you can make your star however you want. You can draw it free-hand or use a protractor to make the angles just right! Next, I use a light gray Tombow dual brush pen (N95) to mark where I want my letters to be. If you want your letters to be all the same color, then you can skip this step and simply write your letters using the color pen of your choice.

Using colorful brush pens, glitter pens, and a water brush, I blend colors on top of the gray letters.

After outlining the star shape with a micron fine liner, I paint a gradient watercolor wash in the background to create the illusion of a night sky.

I add the finishing touches, such as a glitter outline around the star, and small stars in the night sky using a white paint pen. You might wish to draw other star shapes or a moon around your large star. Maybe you could even add a character on the bottom of the page, looking up at the star. Let your imagination lead you! And of course feel free to leave your star as the focal point of your piece of artwork; no other illustrations are needed!

Step 4: Admire Your Awesome Artwork

And you’re done! Woohoo! I celebrate your courage and creativity for completing this project. You’re a star!

Alyssa (known on Social Media as Lyssa’s Letters) began brush lettering in August 2018. Through her artwork and videos, she hopes to share a message of self-empowerment and to inspire others to create from their hearts! She currently teaches two classes on Skillshare.com and is in the process of designing more classes. You can check her out on Instagram @Lyssas_Letters or on her Youtube channel: Lyssa’s Letters.