How to Draw 3D Letters

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This drawing lesson shows you a bunch of nice ways how to draw 3d letters.

Such 3D letters are of great use when you want to draw your own cards for Valentines Day, Christmas or Birthday Parties. You can also use them in all sorts of logos, comics or just any drawing that needs a few outstanding letters that look good and get attention.

Everything in this lesson can be drawn freehand, but in some cases this will be rather difficult. That's why I recommend using a ruler. Optimal is such a handy triangle set square, which will make it easy for you to draw parallel lines and measure angles.

All my methods how to draw 3D letters have in common that you first have to draw the letter in 2D, and then make it 3D through a special technique. Big and bulky 2D letters, like the ones shown below, work best for this, in my opinion.

Here are the lessons how to draw 3D letters (click on any one to jump straight to it):


Cavalier Perspective

One Point Perspective


How to Draw 3D Letters with Shading

The first simple technique how to draw 3D letters is to shade your 2D letters.
When shading, you press the pencil down with different degrees of pressure, while you are coloring your letter. This will make some areas darker and others brighter. In general, there are two possible ways how you can do this to achieve a 3D effect for letters.

The first possibility is that you shade the letter dark around its edges and make it brighter towards the middle. The 'A' was shaded in this way.
The second option is that you shade the dark value into the middle of the letter and let it get brighter towards the edges.
See the 'C'.

It is important that you shade through the whole range of color your pencil can give. Go from total white to the very darkest color value, making a smooth transition in between.

That being said, let's look at the next technique how to draw 3D letters.

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How to Draw 3D Letters in Cavalier Perspective

In the Cavalier Perspective you draw diagonal lines, which reach into the background, from the edge of each letter. These lines create the illusion of depth.
We'll call them perspective lines.
There are four possible directions into which you can draw them:
upper right, upper left, lower left and lower right.
For each letter below I used another direction. Yet if you write a whole word in 3D letters, you should draw the lines for all letters in the same direction.

Draw the perspective lines in the following way:

1. All lines have to go into the same direction, so draw them parallel to each other.
2. Make all lines equally long (1.5cm in my example).
3. Draw the lines only from edges where they wouldn't cut into the letter.
4. Draw all lines in an angle of 45° to the horizon. There is no horizon in the picture, but you can imagine a horizontal line at every edge. If it helps you, you can draw one in, like I did at the right leg of the 'A'.

An exact angle of 45° is of course not necessary if you want to draw freehand. Just try to let all lines go diagonally into the same direction and make them roughly equally long.

On round letters you don't always have an edge from which to start your perspective line. Draw a tangent to the rounded side in this case.
(A tangent is a straight line which touches a curve in only one point, without crossing it.)
You can see this at the top of the 'B', 'C', and 'D'.
Make two little marks on each tangent. One mark is the point where the tangent touches the curve and the other one marks the end of the perspective line (so that you just get your chosen length between the two marks, 1.5cm in my example).

A letter with only straight lines, like the 'A', it is easy to finish now. Just connect the ends of the perspective lines.
If you have a single perspective line, like in the middle hole of the 'A', draw lines from its end, which run parallel to the edges of the front side and stop as soon as they touch the letter.

To connect the ends of the perspective lines at the rounded letters can be difficult to do freehand. You would have to draw the curve of the back side parallel to the curve of the front side, and that is not so simple.
To ease the process, you can project single points of the letter into the background, and then draw the connection from point to point.

Just mark several points along the side of the letter.
Then imagine that you would draw another perspective line from these points reaching into the background, but you only draw a cross, where the end of the perspective line would be.
(In the picture above, the red arrows are the imagined perspective lines.)
Afterwards connect these dots, so that you get a curve that is parallel to the front side of the letter.

In case of the two holes in the 'B', you have to find points, which still lie inside of the opening, when you project them.
For each hole I chose two points, which's projections just lies on the margin of the opening.

And this is what it looks like, when all dots are connected.
For the finishing touch, you can now redraw the letters with an inking pen and erase the underlying pencil lines, so that you don't see the crosses anymore.

Side Note
The Cavalier Perspective is not only a method how to draw 3D letters. It can also be used for other objects you want to draw in 3D. Just draw the object in 2D first, add the perspective lines to its edges, and then connect them in the background.
For example, if you do this for a square with a triangle on top of it, you get a 3D house.

If you want to color your letters right away click here to jump to the coloring tips.

Below follows the next method how to draw 3D letters.

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How to Draw 3D Letters in One Point Perspective

The One Point perspective is probably the most realistic and best looking way how to draw 3D letters.
This perspective takes into account that three-dimensional objects become smaller and smaller, the farer away they are from the observer.

Arrange your 2D letters in a way that fits your purpose. I placed them in a circle to demonstrate the 3D effect, which occurs later, from all possible angles.
Choose a point on your paper and make a little cross there. This cross is your vanishing point, towards which the letters will become smaller and smaller.

Take a ruler and connect all edges of your letters through a line with the vanishing point (these lines are called perspective lines).
But don't draw any lines that would cut through a letter.
In some cases, like at the bottom of the left 'E', you can draw the lines for a short distance, until they touch a letter (a 'T' in this example). This gives the impression that the three dimensional shape of the 'E' continues behind the 'T'.
But all lines, no matter how short you draw them, have to point directly towards the vanishing point.

In the case of rounded letters, like the 'S' or the 'D', you don't have any edges from which to start your perspective lines.
Draw tangents to the sides of the letters in this case.
(A tangent is a straight line, which touches a curve in one point, without crossing it.)

And with that your 3D effect is already achieved.
Now you know how to draw 3D letters that beam into infinity.
But if your letters are supposed to end somewhere, you have to cut them off at one point.
Below I use a 'T' to demonstrate how to do this.

Place a little mark on one of the perspective lines, where you want your letter to end. The closer you place this mark to the vanishing point, the thicker the letter will appear to be.
Use this mark as the starting point to draw a line that runs parallel to the front side of the letter. In our example this line is the top of the T's back side.
From where this line touches the next perspective line, you continue to draw the back side of the 'T' parallel to the front side.
In this case, it is the right edge of the 'T', which runs straight downwards.

Now you have completed the upper part of the 'T'. But where you have to cut off the trunk is not immediately visible.
To solve this problem, you can draw in the whole backside of the 'T' with dotted lines:

First you can draw in the whole rectangle of the T's upper part.Since you know, that the trunk of the 'T' lies exactly in the middle of this rectangle, you can use this knowledge to draw in the whole trunk with dotted lines also.
And on the right side, where the trunk is not covered by the top of the 'T', runs the line we were looking for.

Erase your dotted lines afterwards, and you have successfully constructed the back side of your 3D letter!

Now use the same method for all of your letters. For some this will be easier than for others. Especially rounded letters are difficult, because you don't just have to draw parallel straight lines, but parallel curves.

In the picture above you can still see the dotted line, which I used to construct the back side of the 'D'.
Note that I placed the ends of the '3' and the 'D' very close to the vanishing point, so that these shapes look thicker than the others.

Finally you can erase all perspective lines and the vanishing point, as well as any other dotted lines you may have drawn for additional orientation.
And there you have your 3D letters, floating in the depth of space!

Side Note
This method is a generally good way how to draw in perspective. You can use it to draw any sort of objects in 3D, not just as a way how to draw 3D letters. First you draw your object in 2D. Then you connect its edges with your chosen vanishing point. Afterwards you draw in the backside and erase the superfluous lines. That's it.
A circle, for example, would become a long, round pipe; and a square with a triangle on top of it would become a 3D house.

If you want to color your letters, check out the short section below.

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How to Draw 3D Letters in Color

Here are a few simple tips how you can color your 3D letters to enhance the three-dimensional effect (I just show the letters in Cavalier Perspective here, but the coloring can also be used for letters drawn in other perspectives).

Comments on the coloring of the letters:

The 'A' is colored in three different values: a very faint blue on the top, a light blue on the front, and a dark blue on the right side.
This looks like a light source is shining at the 'A' from the left top, so that the right side lies in shadow. You could also draw a shadow below the letter, to give the impression that it is standing on firm ground.

The 'B' is colored a bit simpler. Just two different color values can be sufficient to strengthen the 3D effect. Here I made the front bright and the sides dark again. Experiment with this and try to make it the other way round. What looks best to you?

C and D:
You can shade the rounded sides of letters to emphasize the curves of their shapes.
Start with very dark color values at both ends of the letter's side. Then lessen the pressure of your pencil more and more the closer you come to the middle. Leave a diagonal, white stripe free there.
While shading, move your pencil into the direction of the perspective lines. For example, the C's perspective lines are pointing to the lower left, so the pencil movement also has to point in that direction, too. For the 'D' this direction is the lower right.

And that's all for now about how to draw 3D letters and the ways to color them.
I hope you enjoyed our little excursion into perspective drawing as well.
Take care and keep practicing your drawing skills!

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