A fun personal project designers and illustrators often take part in is ’36 Days of Type’, or equivalent challenges like ‘Daily Drop Cap’ where artists express their style on a new letter or number every day. Initials have received decorative treatment throughout history, with examples dating as far back as early biblical texts. In today’s tutorial I’ll take you through the process of decorating a letter in Adobe Illustrator with a range of vector embellishments. We’ll make use of some really useful techniques that you’ll be able to make use of in all kinds of illustration projects in the future.
My chosen letter for this tutorial is an ‘S’, but it would be fun to play around with all the different letterforms to see how they each provide a different canvas to work with. Using some of the unique features of Illustrator and its powerful shape building tools, we’ll add a range of patterns that follow the shape of the letter, and create some embellishments to decorate the inner spaces.
Open up Adobe Illustrator and create a new document. Use the Type tool to enter the letter of your choice and pick a nice font, which will provide the foundation for your creative style. Here I’m using an elegant modern serif named Goku.