#1 BE MINDFUL OF YOUR WHITE SPACE
I want to start this one off by saying, “White space is your friend. You want white space.” Repeat that one a few times before you keep going, because it really is that important. Now, the key to a good layout is having just the right amount of white space. Like Goldilocks level. Not too much, but not too little. The “too much” is usually where beginners fall on the spectrum, and it can doom your design without you even realizing it.
#2 PLAY WITH HIERARCHY
When you’re not used to getting creative with layouts, the natural reaction is to place words on on top of the other. This works, but only for certain combinations. For example, check out the two images below. The one on the left has words that are all about the same size. They take up the same amount of space both vertically and horizontally. The image on the right, however, has a mix of shorter and longer words and lots of extra space. It’s not necessarily a bad design, but it doesn’t look as nice as it could.
#3 MIX IT UP
Another way to take up more space is to change the size of the words themselves. Using the same quote from the example above, look at how I’m able to fill in that extra space by playing with the size of each word.
#4 STAY CENTERED
Chances are you want your design to be front and center. There’s the “wing it on a hundred drafts until you get it right” version, which works, BUT I promise there are more efficient ways. One way that I use is to guesstimate the center of my word and work out from there. (I’ve also seen letterers start with the first and last letter on the edges and fill it in – it just depends on whether or not your design is going all the way to the edges or working from the center). The trick here is to find the center of the actual word, not just the middle letter. Not all letters are created equally, so an O won’t account for the same amount as an I.
#5 WHEN IN DOUBT, DRAW IT OUT
Sectioning off where each word will go with boxes or other shapes is a great way to see your layout before you even start lettering. This is especially useful if you’re working on a surface like wood or a chalkboard where multiple drafts isn’t an option.
#6 ALWAYS START WITH THUMBNAILS
You find a quote you love and immediately get to work. You draft, draw, and ink, but then take a step back and can’t quite shake why it feels a little off. Thumbnails, while sometimes cumbersome, are a great way to skip the uncertainty and make the most of your time. Even when you have a set design in mind, I always encourage sketching out at least a few thumbnails first. You’d be surprised at how many times I go into a project imagining one design and after a few thumbnails find something I like so much more. Plus, they’re a great way to get those creative juices flowing now that you know the first 5 tips for improving your layout!
And there you have it – 6 easy ways to improve your lettering layout! Do you have any layout + spacing tips you’d love to share?! Add them to the comments below!