By: Mariann of @madebymariann Do you want to add shadows to your lettering and enhance your style but feel a bit overwhelmed? Look no further! My name is Mariann from @madebymariann and I’m here to share a few tips on how you can easily add shadows to your lettering. Let’s get started!

What is the shadow technique and why use it when hand lettering?

Shadow is defined as the shading formed when the object blocks the source of light. When hand lettering, shadows are placed on the opposite side of the light source. This technique gives off a 3D effect and enhances the overall masterpiece.


Step 1: Adding Shadows Using Tracing Paper

On a smooth surface paper (preferably something with guidelines to help with letter consistency), use the Zensations Brush Pen to write out a word that you’ll be adding a shadow to. Using a smooth surface paper is important because it prolongs your brush pen from fraying quicker. This is a great tool for the project because it creates bold and juicy lines, making it easily legible for our next step.   

Step 2: Use Tracing Paper to Copy the Lettering

Place a piece of tracing paper over the smooth paper and use the washi tape to ensure it is secured in place. Using the Metallic Brush Pen, trace the word you previously wrote in the first step. The Metallic Brush Pen is fun to use when you want to add color to your work and not to mention, it has a beautiful shiny finish.

Step 3: Shift the Tracing Paper to Reveal the Shadow Placement

Next, temporarily remove the washi tape and slightly shift the tracing paper until the desired shadow can be seen. Then, ensure both papers are secured again with the washi tape. In this example, the tracing paper is shifted towards the right. This gives the word a shadow as if there was a light source shining from the right side of the word. Remember, shadows are placed on the opposite side of the light source. In this example, the shadows will be placed on the left side of each letter. 

Step 4: Trace the Shadows

Using the Zensations Technical Pen, carefully trace the shadows of the word on the tracing paper. Then, remove the smooth surface paper from underneath to clearly view the shadows that were added. The Zensations Technical Pen is perfect for this process because it creates precise thin lines which are useful for filling in any gaps that have been missed.

Step 5: Adding Shadows to Your Calligraphy

Next, I once again secured the tracing paper on top of the smooth surface paper with the washi tape. The main purpose of this practice is to provide a guideline for consistency. However, if you are achieving more of freehand lettering/calligraphy, you may omit this step.

Step 6: Continue to Practice with Another Word

Next, I used the Metallic Brush Pen this time to write another word in calligraphy. Then, taking the fine tip of the Zensations Double Ended Brush Pen, I created shadows by following the downstrokes of each letter. Imagining the light source is shining from the left side of the word, I am placing the shadows on the right side of each downstroke. Remember, calligraphy is comprised of a combination of the basic strokes. There is more pressure added on the downstroke to create a thicker line and less pressure added on the upstroke to create thinner line. The Zensations Double Ended Brush Pen is a great one to travel with because of its two-in-one purpose. Compact and useful! 

Step 7: The Final Result

I hope these tips were helpful and give you the confidence to add shadows to your lettering. Please tag me on Instagram with @madebymariann when you try this. I’d love to see your work! For more calligraphy tutorials like this, check out How to Create Ribbon Lettering by ambassador Jo Ovenell.