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Inspiration: 45 Examples of Illustrative Lettering in Vector

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From the very first Phoenician alphabet, through Chinese calligraphy, to illuminated manuscripts, and to desktop publishing, the written word has been one of our primary means of communication. Not content with plain text on a blank background, artists through the centuries have created beautiful, awe-inspiring designs with type. Whether its purpose is to inspire or identify, illustrative lettering communicates to the heart as well as the head.

With the advancement of vector drawing software, lettering has exploded as an artform. Infinite variations can be made with the click of a mouse. And though vector artists are not toiling by candlelight, hunched over a stone tablet or quill pen, their art is no less amazing in its beauty and complexity.

This Post is Day 8 of our Illustrative Lettering Session. Creative Sessions

Flourishes

Scribes and engravers used to decorate their letterforms by hand. Intricate floral accents were drawn by skilled artisans using French Curves and other tools. Today's designers often start with an existing typeface and embellish it with vector flourishes, bringing together the art of type designer and the illustrator.

"Type Experiment" by Ed Franks

"Tolerance" Tom Lane, aka GingerMonkey

"Imagine" by Sonali Vora

"Inspire" by Firetongue

"Royal Academy of the Arts Summer Exhibition Poster" by Si Scott

"Life Type" by Nik Ainley

"Help Us Make Something Amazing" by Craig Ward

"Lush" by Marcio Hirosse


Antique

The use of antique, analog type effects have become a recent stylistic trend. The popularization of the steampunk aesthetic, and perhaps a nostalgia for a simpler time, have renewed interest in 19th century Egyptienne typefaces and ornamentation that are the hallmark of this style.

"The Best of Free and Bad Co." by ILOVEDUST

"Tacony Billiards" by Michael Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan

Designer: Eric Waetzig

"Bunkbed Mishaps" by David Croy

"Type Experience" by Marcelo Oliveira

"Here Comes the Sun" by Nick Keppol

"Truth Sucks" by D.O.C.S

"Stone Sour" by GoMedia. Take a look at the process behind this design here.


Graffiti/Airbrush

This fun style takes its inspiration from the 1970s street culture of graffiti taggers and lowrider airbrush artists. Vector artists can put a new spin on this retro look, without getting their hands dirty!

"I Got the Flow" by Samuel Sinaga

"2looselotek" by GZA

"Love Hurts" by Luis Cazares

"Gantibaju.com T-shirt" by Samuel Sinaga

"Que Me Quiten," by Marta Cerdà

"Funky Fresh" by Jeff Finley/GoMedia

"Flat Bush" by Roel van Eekelen

"Paint the Stars" by Chris Sandlin, aka Sockmonkee


Symbology

In the following examples, the letter forms are made to suggest an object that relates to the message. This kind of visual onomatopoeia often results in a clever and thought-provoking visual pun.

"Big Mouth" by Luke Lucas

"Sinestra" by Von Glitschka

"Lorem Ipsum" by Alex Trochut

"Beautiful Decay" by Alex Trochut

"Regaine" by Alison Carmichael

"Eco Type" by Robert Fori

"Teamwork" by Tom Lane, aka GingerMonkey

"Ice Cream" by Steeve Gouyer

"It's Great When Stuff Melts" by ILOVEDUST


Objects and Faces

In these examples, the text serves as a textural, sculptural element, becoming an object itself. This style's origins can be traced to Surrealism and Art Nouveau, and was popularized on the psychedelic concert posters of the 1960's. Sergio Moctezuma's iconic James Brown poster, created with Illustrator, revived interest in this style for the digital age. NOTE: TutsPlus members can download Russell Tate's tutorial detailing his method for recreating the Moctezuma style here.

"James Brown" by Sergio Moctezuma

"Burdened" by Dylan Roscover

"51st Annual Grammy Awards Poster" by TBWA\Chiat\Day

"En busca del primer europeo" by m00mi

"Saturday Night Fever: The Musical" by unknown

"Visit London" by Oscar Wilson

"Sky ad campaign" by Oscar Wilson


Putting It All Together

While certainly all of the examples above can be called works of art, these next few images incorporate the lettering with other vector elements, result in a fully-realized illustration.

"As the world my eyes see" by Stavros Til Georgakopoulos

"Be Happy" by Rod Steele

"2009 Pop Culture Handbook" by ILOVEDUST

"My Art" by Mohammad Rahimi

"Typographics" by Aske

All images are the copyright of their respective artist.


Further Inspiration


This Post is Day 8 of our Illustrative Lettering Session. Creative Sessions
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