Type Tuesday: The Letter J

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!

I was excited to do “J” because of its simple one-stroke swooping design. Anyone who has seen a lot of my personal work knows I tend to favor curvy, wavy lines over the rigid, straight ones. I think I enjoy using this quality of line because it can really give a design an interesting flow.


#1 The Sketch
I sketched out about 30-40 different thumbnails over the span of a few days. Spacing it out allowed me to keep drawing out ideas without getting burnt out or “stuck.” It was great to start early on a design that is so open-ended because there were so many options.

I hate thinking that I missed out on a potentially awesome idea after I finished a design, so I try to get all of that crazy stuff drawn out from the start. I have had experiences where I didn’t explore enough in the initial idea stage and then had to redo my entire design because I thought of a more successful idea. Not the most efficient way to go about things.


#2 Creating the Basic Shapes
The final design I went with was drawn out in a slightly different way than my other thumbnails. I thought it would be interesting to use the actual frame of the design to create an abstract composition that contained just enough information to let the viewer know that it was the letter “J” they were looking at.


#3 Evolving the Concept
I took the idea a step further and integrated it into my love for the beautiful California coast. I transformed the letter into a swirling wave. Normally when I start including details like this, I draw it out first on paper and trace over it in Illustrator. This time I just went for it because I knew I could play with the curves of the waves as much as I needed with the help of the pen tool.


#4 Shred the Gnar
I then added different hues and visual texture to the wave.


#5 Balancing it Out
As I neared completion with the ripples in the wave, I adjusted the colors to balance out the composition.


#6 Final Experimentation
I experimented a lot at this stage to figure out if I wanted the “J” to clearly stand out in bright white or to blend in and actually become more a part of the wave.


#7 The Grand Finale
I decided to blend in the “J” just enough to still recognize the letterform while at the same time not notice it right away. Darkening up the edges of the ripples gave more depth to the design and helps the eye follow the curve of the “J”.


It’s not often I create a design using only one individual letter. It makes for an interesting process to focus on one specific shape and figure out what can really be done with it.

Oliver Greenbarg, Graphic Designer