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18 Ways to Design the Minor Words of your Lettering


Every word is important in a lettering composition, not just the keywords of your quote

In my previous tutorial, 5 Easy Steps to Lettering Composition, you learned about Word Hierarchy and the significance of highlighting the important words of your quote.

In this tutorial, we will focus on the minor words in your lettering layout.

Adding a creative twist to your minor words can give your lettering layout more personality and uniqueness.

The possibilities are endless!

But before you overwhelm yourself with the number of design options out there, let’s make it easier for you.

Start with the base shape. 

It is important to pick the right base shape for your minor words because we want them to fit your layout perfectly.

So, what are the base shapes you can choose from?

  • Rectangle
  • Diamond
  • Arc
  • Angled
  • Circle
  • Wave

The Composition Rulers come with smaller templates for sketching the base shapes of your minor words. 

Sketch design ideas for your base shape.

You can create a lot of objects from these 6 base shapes, so don’t go straight to sketching the final lettering right away.

Sketch several options first on a separate sheet.

Try not to restrict yourself from following the exact shape and size of the guide.

Once you have options to choose from, pick the designs that work best with your layout.

Let’s apply it to this quote…

The quote for this tutorial is, “Be a light for all to see.” 

There are three groups of minor words that need designing: “Be a,” “for,” and “to.”

First sketch –

Let’s try our first set of base shapes to see which ones will fit the layout.

An arc for “be a,” a wave for “for”, and a circle for “to.”

Let’s look back at the sketches to see what objects we can draw with our selected base shapes.

We can make an arrow from the arc, a scroll from the wave, and keep the circle as is.

Next, let’s sketch our words inside the objects. Make sure the words are readable inside the shapes. 

When your letter style, size, and spacing look good, it’s time to ink the design of your minor words. You can add details to the designs for them to blend in with the rest of the layout.

It’s looking good already, right? But…

It’s always a good idea to try more designs.

Let’s try another set of base shapes and designs for our minor words.

Second sketch –

For this one, let’s use an arc base for both the “be a” and “for”, but sketch different objects – a speech bubble and folded banner. 

For the third minor word, let’s use a looped diamond.

Third sketch –

Let’s try making another shape combination. This time let’s use different base shapes to create a banner, a cloud, and a flag.

Fourth sketch –

Let’s try more design ideas! This time let’s make use of a 3D diamond, a top and bottom wave, and a sparkle to contain the minor words.

Fifth sketch –

Let’s draw a wreath from a circular base shape, a tag, and an ornament sign from a rectangle

Sixth sketch –

Sketching different design options is such a fun process!

It doesn’t hurt to try one more before we pick the best ones to use, don’t you agree?

So for the last sketch, let’s use a ribbon, a double border, and a ring.

To summarize –

We’ve tried 18 different designs for our minor words. But there are many more ways to do this.

You can use this tutorial as a reference when making your next lettering compositions more interesting by giving your minor words one of these designs!

Don’t forget to tag me @nicong.co when you share your next lettering composition so I can see how you did!

Which design would you most likely use in your next lettering composition? Let me know in the comments section! 😁👇


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