Deke’s Techniques 346: Creating Uniform Hand Drawn Letters in Illustrator

346 Hand-drawing custom-made letters in Illustrator

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques movie, Deke shows you how to create some custom hand-drawn letters in Illustrator, and keep them looking like they are part of one related typeface. 

The trick is to repeat certain shapes, namely the letter I, wherever they are appropriate. So, the straight vertical shape of the I also becomes the spine of the F, R, E, and P. The single vertical shape of the I is repeated in four other letters.

Along the way, you’ll get to ignite these Illustrator skills:

  • Placing a scanned sketch and making it a template
  • Making the letters uniform with some base lines that are reused for each character
  • Exploiting the nuances of the Paste command options in Illustrator
  • Using the Pathfinder panel to combine the duplicated shapes into letters
  • Using the Blend command to distribute the type character’s elements uniformly

If you’re a member of, Deke’s got two follow-up movies in which he shows you how he creates the R, P, and U (which require special handling due to their curves and holes) and then how he puts this text to use in Photoshop. If you’re not a member of, you can get a free week’s trail at to check it out. 

Of course, this is the text he used to fire up his project Designs dekeConstructed: Retro Superhero. Your free week of (or your full-fledged membership) will give you access to learning how to make that entire project, too. 


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