How to Create Ribbon Lettering

Ribbon lettering with shadows

By: Jo Ovenell of @theletteringcompanion

Hi everyone! This is Jo of @theletteringcompanion. I am excited to walk you through the steps to create ribbon lettering. This beautiful lettering style looks difficult, but it is quite easy to replicate and it only takes a few supplies.

Step 1: Gather your supplies

Calligraphy written in monoline with pens surrounding it

Step 2: Hand letter your word(s) using monoline letters

With the lighter colored marker, begin by writing a word using monoline letters. Monoline letters have a single line weight, unlike calligraphy, which has thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes. The Mildliner Double Ended Highlighter is perfect for this lettering style because it is easy to create thicker lines with the chisel tip and the bullet tip is great for coloring the shadows. We will go over shadowing later in this tutorial. I chose blue as my base color and dark blue for my shadows.

 

Ribbon lettering with outlined downstrokes

Step 3: Outline the Downstrokes

Next, outline your downstrokes. I used the Zensations Technical Drawing Pen in size 0.4 but you can use whatever size you have. The Zensations Technical Drawing Pen is helpful at achieving thin, precise lines. If you are not sure where your downstrokes are, rewrite your word try to take notice of when your hand moves your pen in an upward and downward motion.

Ribbon hand lettering mimicing real ribbon

Sometimes, it might be difficult to know where to curve and finish your downstroke outlines. Remember, this is ribbon lettering, so if you get stuck, take out a piece of ribbon or a shoelace and use it as a visual aid. Use the ribbon to form a letter like I show in the photo.

In this example, I took a piece of ribbon and held it next to where I wrote the letter “r,” and then shaped it to look like the letter. With this little trick, you can see where the ribbon folds. I usually have my upstrokes as the back of the ribbon and the downstrokes as the front of the ribbon. It is very important to keep this consistent, otherwise your ribbon letters will look tangled.

 

Ribbon lettering with outlined up and downstrokes

Step 4: Outline the Upstrokes

After you have outlined all your downstrokes, go back and outline your upstrokes with the same tool you used previously. I am using the Zensations Technical Drawing Pen again here. It is not necessary to outline your up and downstrokes separately, but it does help allow you to remember which part of each letter is the back and front of the ribbon more easily.

 

Ribbon lettering with shadows

Step 5: Add Shadows

Now that your letters are outlined, it is time to add shadows. Remember, the upstrokes are to act like the back of the ribbon; this is where we create our shadows with the darker colored marker. Add a little section of darker color where the back (upstroke) of the ribbon meets the front (downstroke) of the ribbon. Notice in the photo where I add a little darker color to the letter “l.” With the lighter color marker, blend out the darker color throughout the stroke. For this process, I used a darker shade of Mildliner Double Ended Highlighter. Repeat this step for each letter.

 

Ribbon Lettering with no outlines

Step 6: Experiment with Ribbon Lettering Variations

You can also create another variation of ribbon lettering without the outline we drew with the Zensations Technical Drawing Pen. Be very careful when adding your shadows. Visualize where the back and front of the ribbon would meet, and then add your darker color for the shadows.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that it helped you realized how easy it is to create ribbon letters. This is such a fun style to add to your repertoire. Continue to practice and impress your friends with your new skill. For more calligraphy tutorials, check out my other guest post, How to Create Faux Calligraphy in 4 Simple Steps.