Workshop: Hand-lettering with Isabel Urbina Peña

The workshop is filled to capacity as Brooklyn-based book cover designer Isabel Urbina Peña teaches the Universal Hand-lettering Process.

Isabel Urbina Peña at TYPO Berlin 2016, Foto: Christine Wenning To set the mood, Isabel Urbina Peña shows hand-lettered book covers that she designed. © Sebastian Weiß / Monotype


The Universal Hand-lettering Process

There really seems to be just one drawing technique that all hand-lettering artists use and teach. The process Isabel Urbina Peña introduces in her workshops is the same as the one Martina Flor teaches, for example, and that’s probably because it is just so simple and effective: developing a design in severel steps using tracing paper.

In the Universal Hand-lettering Process, you start with a series of quick thumbnail sketches to try out different ideas and layouts, pick the one you like the most, and draw a first rough draft in the size you want to work in. Then you trace over the first draft on a sheet of transparent paper, further defining the design. On separate layers of transparent paper you redraw each previous version, improving it step by step. In the final step, you ink the last drawing – and that’s all there is to it.

At Isabel Urbina Peña’s workshop, a crowd of 50 people learned the Universal Hand-lettering Process and each of them came up with an idiosyncratic hand-lettered version of the word “Berlin”.

Isabel Urbina Peña at TYPO Berlin 2016, © Sebastian Weiß / Monotype

Since the crowd at TYPO Berlin is well versed in typography, she does not need to explain much. © Sebastian Weiß / Monotype

Isabel Urbina Peña at TYPO Berlin 2016

In a quick run through, Isabel Urbina Peña explains her hand-lettering process. © Sebastian Weiß / Monotype

Isabel Urbina Peña at TYPO Berlin 2016, © Sebastian Weiß / Monotype

A little bit of theory first and then the workshop participants draw 50 versions of “Berlin” © Sebastian Weiß / Monotype

Written by Chris Campe •

Isabel Urbina Peña

Isabel Urbina Pena

Letterer/ Graphic Designer / Type Designer (New York)

Isabel Urbina Peña is a letterer, graphic & type designer originally from Venezuela and based in Brooklyn, NY. She has worked at Penguin Random House, C&G Partners LLC, American Museum of Natural History, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas and for clients like The New York Times, Harper Collins, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Variety, Campari & Diner Journal. In 2015, she was named a New Visual Artist: 15 under 30 by PRINT Magazine. In her spare time, she teaches, designs typefaces & zines and runs Yes Equal, a database of creative women.