Drop Cap Study: An Inspiring Procreate Lettering Project

A few weeks ago, an provocative Procreate lettering project called our attention on Instagram. Led by our very own Beth Rufener, Drop Cap Study celebrates the uniqueness of different letters by adding flourishes, color, and texture. The alphabet will be illustrated entirely with Procreate, and Beth has developed a fascinating technique that might inspire you to expand your own lettering skillset. Read on to learn about her process, inspiration sources, and favorite tools.

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How did you acquire started with Procreate lettering? Which tablet & stylus enact you expend?

I got an iPad and Apple Pencil as a Christmas gift in 2017, and Procreate was the first thing I installed. I didn’t expend any custom brushes at first, but just took a dive into the app with the brushes that advance with Procreate. The iPad Pro quickly became one of my favorite creative tools and is my travel-to whenever I want to sketch, draw, or letter something.

Where enact you acquire inspiration for these unique letters and flourishes?

Hand-lettering inspiration comes from vintage type (from Medieval illuminated manuscripts to Victorian type), William Morris florals, and even some of my own past work from previous drop cap exercises or unused client work. I often expend this Pinterest board for inspiration, or posts saved in my Instagram collections.

Drop Cap Study, in particular, is meant to be an exploration in color as well as flourishes and letterforms. Currently, the color scheme and flourishes reflect the progress of Summer into Autumn. honest now, where I live, the leaves are just starting to change and descend. Autumn has always been an incredible source of rich inspiration for me, so it’s been really challenging and fun to ogle outside as the season changes and incorporate autumn’s beauty into these Drop Caps. I’m really looking forward to keeping this up as descend turns into Winter.

Download our descend color palettes

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Which steps enact you normally follow when creating a composition?

It usually begins with a picture in my head, in which I retort some of these questions: what style of letter will I create? Will it be illuminated on the inside and/or outside? What style of flourishes will it own? What color scheme will I expend? For most of the compositions, I’m using this brush pack:

The free sketch:

I create a novel document in Procreate, choose a brush, choose a light color, maybe turn on symmetry options, and cloak the background so I can sketch with the built-in grid. Then I start the free sketch of the letterform itself. In this stage, anything goes. It might start with the picture in my head, yet evolve into something completely different. Everything is okay: mess-ups, odd colors, or concepts that may or may not work.

Refining the design:

After I’m satisfied with the composition of the letter, I’ll start refining the sketch. Sometimes I start a novel layer and trace over the sketch, depending on the concept. Other times, I find the sketch has a lot of grace or integrity of its own, so I’ll simply choose to clean it up.


After refining the letter, I open on inner or outer flourishes. The flourishes might acquire sketched out and pieced together from many layers. When I’m satisfied with the way the flourishes enhance the letter, I refine them or start a novel layer to trace over them.


It might seem odd that this step comes last, but I find it easier to focus on form and shapes first without worrying about the final color scheme. When the composition is all set, I apply the color scheme and get adjustments from there.

Any advice for those just getting started with lettering?

I recently lettered my top tips for beginners in this piece. I firmly believe that it all comes down to lots of practice and a willingness to try novel concepts and ideas.

Study other art to learn, stay inspired, and internalize classical letterforms- then expend that inspiration as you create your own unique art. And, at risk of sounding like a music teacher, sustain practicing!

Free lettering worksheets

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Download now!

Getting started with hand lettering?

Download these worksheets and start practicing with simple instructions and tracing exercises.

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