3 Easy Ways to Add Shadows to Your Brush Lettering

3 Easy Ways to Add Shadows to Your Brush Lettering

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You’ve just created a beautiful calligraphy piece with your brush pens but you want your work to pop off the page even more. One of the best ways to make your brush lettering stand out is by using shadows. Shadows can be used on every word, which looks best in a short piece, or on the important words that you want to highlight or add emphasis to.

Here are a couple of examples

Brush Lettering Shadows
Brush Lettering Shadows

It’s not as hard as you might think

Adding dimension to you lettering might seem intimidating at first, but it’s really not as hard as it might look and because it can really take your lettering to the next level, it’s definitely worth learning. Follow the tips below to learn three easy shadow styles that you can try today!


Quick Tips to Get Started

Tip 1: Determine where your light source is

It’s important to decide where your light source is before adding any shadows. Then be consistent in adding shadows to the same sides of all of your letters. The most natural light source to imagine is the sun. If you imagine the sun as your light source, you will cast shadows to the left or right and below the letters. Try imagining the light source in a few different places and see how it changes the look of your letters.

Tip 2: Leave enough space for your shadows

When you write out your word, keep in mind the extra space you will need between letters to add in the shadows. Don’t write your letters too close together or everything will look really squished when you add the shadows and it will be hard to read. Always keep in mind that calligraphy and hand lettering should be say to read.

3 Easy Styles of Shadows

Style 1: Full Shadow

The first style is a full shadow. This shadow touches the original lettering and looks most like a shadow you would see outside cast from the sun. Take advantage of the flexibility of your brush pen for this one! Use full pressure for straight lines and add pressure gradually and ease up gradually for curves. To darken the shadow, simply go over it again with your brush pen. In the example below I used Tombow Dual Brush Pens and my light source is coming directly from the light leaving the shadows to the right.

Style 2: Outline Shadow

For the outline shadow, you will leave a space between the edge of the letter and the shadow. After you’ve identified your light source and which sides you will be drawing your shadows on, use a hard tip pen, like the hard tip side of your Tombow Dual Brush pen, to draw lines to indicate the shadows. Be as consistent as you can with the amount of space between the letter edge and the shadow line. Below I used the purple Pentel Sign Touch Brush Pen for the lettering and the hard tip of a black Tombow Dual Brush Pen for the shadow.

Stlye 3: Hatching Shadow

To create a shadow in this style, use the traditional art technique of hatching. This is simply drawing parallel lines to create a shadow. All lines should go the same direction and be evenly spaced. Hatch marks that come around a curve will start to shorten as the shadow disappears. Leave a little space between your letter edges and the hatch marks just as you did with the outline shadow. I used the Tombow Fudenosuke pen for the hatching pictured below.

There you have it!

You just learned 3 easy shadow styles to take your brush calligraphy to the next level. Leave a comment and let me know which style was your favorite. If you found this post helpful please share it with your friends!

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