How-To-Letter: Dreamy Serif Letters

Hello, everyone! Today, I brought you how to letter dreamy serif letters — one of my favorite styles to letter! We’re going to create a dynamic composition using my 5-Line approach to draw letters.

But before we get started, let’s check in for a sec. What have you been doing this week to keep yourselves busy and focused yet peaceful? Last week, I spent most of my free time being productive, like reading, learning and creating. So this week, I decided to rest a little bit. As a creative freelancer, resting is as equally important as working hard because:

  1. our physical body need to rest at some point and our career is like a marathon so we’ve got to pace ourselves 
  2. resting in itself rejuvenates our creativity by destressing our body and decluttering our mind from anxiety and distractions.

One thing I’ve done this week in order to relax and rest is planting. Every spring, my dad plants lettuce seeds in our backyard. (My family loves ourselves some fresh lettuce because it goes perfectly with Korean BBQ — yum!) This past week, the lettuce leaves have sprouted enough and I helped my dad to repot them to bigger planters and change the soil mix. Gardening was a great way to destress as it made me actively move my body, get that sunshine and smell nature. Once lockdown is over, I’m definitely going to explore nature more. But until then, let’s stay home and explore lettering — shall we?

pink background, lettering and styling by julisha kim, salty collective, serif letters, how to serif letter, learning lettering, gold paper clips, pink sticky notes with cute lettering

[Click this photo to view full video!]

 Materials you need for making dreamy serif letters tutorial are:

  • Paper: Any kind of paper in any size is fine. In this tutorial, I grabbed a scrap piece of white watercolor paper in roughly 6×3 inches. Watercolor paper is a good option for ink drawing because the ink doesn’t bleed on paper.
  • Pencil & Eraser: Can be either a regular pencil or mechanical pencil — your choice! I always prefer mechanical pencils (because I don’t like sharpening pencils). 
  • Ruler: Not super necessary but use it if you want to draw clean guidelines. Freehanding guidelines is 100% cool!
  • Black Ink Pen: In this tutorial, I used two different brands in different tip sizes / thicknesses: Pigma Micron in tip size 05 and Stabilo PointMax in tip size 08. Thinner pen is used to draw the outline (for better precision) and thicker pen is used to fill on the outline (for faster coverage). Pigma Micron & Stabilo black pens are my favorite because they have the blackest black ink, in my opinion, but you can use any pen of your choice!

This week’s tutorial discusses type anatomy in more detail so if you’re less familiar with type terms, check out Type Deconstructed website to expand your vocabulary! You can also download their digital type anatomy for free.


Here are simple five steps to draw dreamy serif letters:

  1. Draw Guidelines
    For this tutorial, we’re going to “explore” how to draw dreamy serif letters in a dynamic composition using my 5-Line approach. First, you’re going to need to draw five horizontal lines in equal spacing. From top to bottom, these five lines are: ascender line, cap line, x-height, baseline and descender line. Using these lines as guides, we’ll be drawing letters slightly up and down and extending ascenders and descenders further in order to create a more dynamic composition.
  2. Draw “Skeletons”
    Once guidelines are drawn, you’re going to roughly space out the letters. Draw the first and last letters first in order to make sure the word is nicely centered on paper. As you write each letter, look for opportunities to connect letters. For example, the arm on the first “E” and the diagonal stroke of the “X” can be connected. Also, observe to see if there are any excess negative spaces in which you can squeeze adjacent letters into. For example, “P” can be moved closer to “X” and “O” can be moved closer to “L”. If you don’t get it right the first time, that’s ok! Erase, redraw and repeat as much as you need to. 
  3. Put Some Weight
    On the “skeletons” of each letter, roughly sketch out some weight. Keep in mind of the spacing between the letters. Positive space of the letters and negative space around the letters should be equal and balanced. Again, it’s ok to not get it right the first time! Keep erasing and redrawing as much you need to!
  4. Stylize Serif Letters
    After letterforms are drawn, stylize the letters by adding serifs and swashes. Add serifs to the stems of letters E, P, L, R and E; and to the diagonal stroke of letter X. Add swashes to letters X, L and R. One tip for making letters look dynamic yet cohesive is to draw serifs similar across all letters but slightly different for certain letters. For example, on all letters, serifs have one common characteristic: it curves away from the stem to a sharp point. But letters P and R are different from the rest of the letters because the top of the stem curves diagonally up instead of straight across horizontally.
  5. Ink It
    Outline the letters using a black pen with thinner tip size. Let the ink dry and erase pencil sketches. Then, fill in the outlines using another black pen with thicker tip size. Using thinner pen for outlining gives you more precision and thicker pen for filling in speeds up your process. Lastly, draw stars around the letters for a more dreamy look!

We want to hear from you! Now it’s your turn to make dreamy serif letters! What will you letter? Was this helpful to you?

Julisha Kim



About Sister Tip: #SisterTip is a weekly educational series on branding, creative content creation, business, and marketing from our boutique creative studio – Studio Salty! We hope you enjoy all the tips and tricks of what we learned while operating a small boutique studio! We are a woman owned and operated studio that focuses on helping small businesses amplify their message. We’re always taking requests for our #sistertip blog post, so feel free to comment below what you want to learn next

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