Type Tuesday: The Letter F

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!

What I love the most about being an artist is that we have the freedom to do what we want with our canvas. I first approached this project with excitement, and I knew I was finally going to get to stretch out my brain a bit by illustrating something very different. But there lie the challenge, what should the letter F be. How could I challenge myself but also have fun doing it? Narrowing down the subject matter turned into the most difficult part of this. I needed help, and quickly, so I went to two experts in creativity…my kids.

I thought it would be fun to combine two ideas into one, so I asked each of my girls (8 and 3) to give me a word that started with the letter F. They both yelled out “FISH!” at the same time, so fish it was. My 3-year- old changed her mind fairly shortly after, and said “Fan,” and it was then I knew it needed to be a koi fish. So onto phase one – the sketch.


#1 I looked at a few different photos of koi to get a feel for their anatomy. I debated on doing a more characterized, cartoon version in the shape of an F, but seeing how free-flowing the photos were, I decided to go for a direct approach. I began a simple sketch and shaped it into an F shape. Then it was time to scan it in and vectorize it.KOI-FISH-1

#2 I had another set of choices to make: trace as many details as possible, or simplify it. I started with the basic outlines of the koi and separated that from the sketch. It was simple, and clean, and it sparked another idea. It was time to enter what I like to call my exploratory phase. KOI-FISH-2

#3 The koi was free-flowing, but I wanted to add some depth/dimension by encapsulating it into a shape to make it pop out to the viewer. The outer portion of the koi was already in an elliptical shape. A little tweak here, a little tweak there, and voilà, it mimicked the shape on the outside. KOI-FISH-3

#4 Next I had to pick a color palette. Bold colors are a must. Of course I had to use blue (my favorite color), and something to compliment it – a golden warm yellow. At this point I debated whether or not to stop here. Simplistic, sharp, easily identifiable, everything I hoped to accomplish. But I had been wanting to illustrate something more complex for a while, so it was time to push this bad koi (boy) a little farther.


#5 Let’s see what else I could add to it. A little texture here, a little layering there, some fin details, and how could we not include the scales! A few wave-esque shapes behind, and boom! We now have one fully flushed-out letter F.


My daughters were surprised that this fish could turn into the letter F. These were their reactions.

Emma: AW! That’s so cool!

Mackenzie: WHOA……

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

Michael Romero, Web Developer/Designer

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