Final Product What You’ll Be Creating

If there are balloons near by, you’ve probably had or will be having some fun. I love balloons! So in this tutorial I will cover the process of creating some illustrative shiny balloon lettering. You will also learn how to create rounded, semi-transparent, bubble letters that will make up the basis of the balloon lettering. Let’s have some fun!

Starting with analog sketches has always been a part of my process, its not completely necessary but I think its extremely important not to neglect actual drawing. Many designers/illustrators would benefit from developing some hand-drawing skills and not depending so heavily on the computer.

Step 1a

I always like to start with a few quick sketches.

Step 1b

I also like to explore the highlights with sketches, so that you can really understand how they work and will look.

Step 2a

Once you have a good feel for how to draw the shape and highlights of the letters jump right into Illustrator and start developing the letters with the Pen Tool.

Step 2b

Try to keep each letter to its simplest form, one shape if possible. In some cases you will need to add a 2nd or 3rd line to complete the letter. Just remember to keep it super simple. For example, the letter ‘H’ isn’t very hard to read until the 2 (pink) horizontal lines are added. Notice that the main shape is closed, this is important to do on all letters.

Step 2c

I just wanted to have a bit of fun with this, so this is the full set of letter shapes.

Step 3a

Next, draw the knots of the balloons. It’s just a simple circle with a round cornered triangle-like shape below. Draw a few and repeat, they are such a small detail no one will notice.

Step 3b

All of the knots drawn. In-order to make the coloring process easy, group each letter and knot.

Step 4a

Next, color each balloon by simply selecting the shape and using the eyedropper tool. I like to just create a square for each color that I will use in the illustration. You could also create a new swatch.

Step 4b

The overall color. Be sure to choose the colors based on the overall composition. Meaning, don’t have awkward groupings of one color. I try to keep all of the colors equally distributed.

Step 4c

Also, be sure to convert the interior lines (in my example it is the ‘H’ and ‘G’) to a white 3pt stroke.

Step 5a

To do the highlights establish a ‘light source’. For clarity of explanation purposes I will put a circle (the sun) in to show the placement of my light source.

Step 5b

As you can see the light is coming from the upper left, so draw the highlights with the pen tool on the upper left of all of the letters. I am using a 3pt stoke white line.

Step 5c

All of the highlights drawn.

Step 5d

Also, be sure to layer the highlights and balloon shapes according to how they are positioned. i.e. The ‘I’ balloon is behind the ‘V’ and the ‘N’ is behind the ‘I’.