Type Tuesday: The Letter D

This is the continuation in the series of designs based on the alphabet from our Creative team. Each post will include their designs and a peek into their process. Enjoy!

My approach for designing the letter D, simply started like this: how to impress my two little art critics: my son and daughter, Landon who is seven and Ava who is four.

So right away I knew I needed to illustrate something that would WOW them. This ‘client’ is very diverse, super honest and quick to judge. Damn, I had my work cut out for me. How do I illustrate a letter that speaks to both demographics? The boy that likes scary and gross things and the little girl that likes princesses and sugar.

This is a very similar challenge we face every day at JP.  The creative brief is written and we as artists have to magically create this visual that connects to the client. In my case two little clients, that are ready to give feedback without any hesitation. Oh, got to love the pure honesty of a child.


#1 The best way for me to jot down ideas quickly is with thumbnail sketches. Very loose, quick sketches with any pencil or pen lying around. The idea is to not judge the marks, just throw them at the page as quick as possible. You can self art direct the illustration at a later time.

#2  Thinking about my two clients, I created about 8-10 thumbnails to review. I like to review my illustrations at least a day or two later than I created them. You need to let your eyes rest and have a clear perspective. I selected this thumbnail sketch as my starting point. It had the gross / sugary thing going for it. I felt it would get a ‘whoa cool’ response from my son and an ‘eww gross’ from my daughter…perfect. JP-Letter-D-pickens-730x730-step1

#3 My next step is to draw a tighter sketch from the thumbnail.  I always use a light blue prisma color-erase pencil.  It has a great feel to it, very light in color and you can erase your mistakes. The goal here is to experiment. Keep it nice and loose and just try things out. I will draw a couple of different drawings of the thumbnail and go from there.


#4 Next I will scan the fairly tight sketch into Adobe Illustrator. I use Illustrator for inking. With the Wacom tablet, I am able to ink the drawing pretty quickly.JP-Letter-D-pickens-730x730-step3

#5 Next I import the lineart into Photoshop for coloring. Photoshop just feels more like traditional painting than Illustrator. My vision for this illustration is to have a nice ’50s vibe and color palette- kind of a muted palette to offset the semi grotesque drawing. I like the balance between beauty and ugliness. What’s nice about Photoshop is I can tweak the color, erase, and skew the art. Everything is non- destructive, until I am happy with the composition. JP-Letter-D-pickens-730x730-step4

So there you have it, a nice sugary, eye-popping, slice of cake in the shape of the letter ‘D’. Bon Appetite!

Feedback from two clients:

“ Whoa that’s cool dad, I want cake.” – Landon

“ EEEEEEWWWWWHHHH, yucky, ewh.” – Ava

Bryan Pickens, Art Director

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