Have you heard of Skillshare.com? I hadn’t before November but now I’m so happy I have. Skillshare is a website devoted to “reuniting learning with education and making it accessible to anyone.” Simply stated – Skillshare is an online portal where anyone with a skill can teach it to anyone interested in learning it. Learning by doing is the culture of Skillshare, where the classes you enroll in can be taken at your own pace, in a series of videos accessible anytime/anywhere, taught by really talented individuals all over the country. An awesome model in a modern day format.
The class I signed up for was called The First Steps of Hand-Lettering: Concept to Sketch taught by Mary Kate McDevitt. I have been following Mary Kate on Instagram for some time. She is a hand letterer and illustrator from Brooklyn. I have been a big fan of her work for a while so when she posted about her class on Skillshare, I signed up (despite having never heard of Skillshare before!).
I don’t want to share too much about the content here because I think the class is absolutely worth spending $20 on (Did I mention this class was only $20? A total steal), but I do want to talk about the method because I found it to be as good, if not better, than any in-person crafty class I’ve taken. And I want to show you the finished product, of course.
Mary Kate’s class was a series of 11 videos (some 3 minutes long, some 15, some 30) and the content was broken up into four topic areas: exploring inspiration, the basics of lettering, sketching, and finalizing your drawing. Each topic has videos associated with it that can be paused, started over, and/or repeated at your own speed. Basically I will have access to this class content forever now, which is awesome.
The class started with a review of all the tools needed. Basically just good paper, tracing paper, a few pencils/erasers, and an inking pen/marker. Really basic stuff, most of which I had already.
The class started with the fundamentals of researching your design and creating mood boards. I am not the most creative person (I have a hard time coming up with original ideas out of thin air) but this helped guide and focus my inspiration (I have a tendency to be all over the place and overreach when starting a new crafty project so this was perfect for me). The exercises were fun and creative, no pressure at all.
The process is to pick a quote/phrase (mine was a lyric from this Metric song), then rough sketch a few thumbnails from all of the content you’ve researched, settle on a few you really like, draw them bigger, refine them a bit, and then settle on one final design. Of course, I am paraphrasing here. The course obviously went into great depths regarding these topics but, as I said, it’s worth checking out for yourself.
After I spent about four hours on the inspiration and basics modules, it was time to make the first sketch of the final idea I had come up with.
It took me two hours to draw the final sketch. It may seem like a lot but Mary Kate really encourages the refining process; using a critical eye on your work to tweak it and make it the best possible. I was really proud when I finished!
A week or so later I finished up the class with the ‘finalizing your drawing’ module. I created a second copy of my drawing on sturdier paper for final edits and inking.
I drafted in pencil, erased any really dark lines, and set to inking on top.
You can see how bold and strong inking looks compared to pencil.
I used a paper towel under my hand so I wouldn’t smudge anything!
I used color to ink a few aspects of the drawing but mostly wanted to keep the design black and white.
When I was finished I used my rotary cutter and mat to trim the edges.
Here is the finished product!
Overall, I loved Mary Kate’s Skillshare class. Each step along the way built on the previous step which, for me, made me feel like I actually learned something. Also the materials were all things I basically already had. I hate spending a ton of money on a craft class just to then spend an additional fortune on materials. I also love that the class is self paced and at the end, you have produced a finished product. Over the past few years I have taken crafty/skillbuilding classes locally but find the time management is not great. I never end up finishing my project in class but rather, take home something half finished without the teacher to consult with. Since Skillshare class materials are accessible 24/7 forever, it really ensures that students actually finish their project and have the resources to consult in case they get stuck. I hate to say it but I’m reluctant to spend any more money on local, in-person classes now that I’ve found Skillshare. It’s that good! I can’t wait to take Part 2 of Mary Kate’s class, and many more Skillshare classes in general!
(Just wanted to note that this post was in no way sponsored, I really just love Skillshare this much!)