Everyone loves to get fun mail

How to design for and print for letterpress (1 of a 4 Part Creative Process Series)

How to design for and print for letterpress (1 of a 4 Part Creative Process Series)

As I work on all of the final preparations for the launch my new line of cards, I wanted to share with you a little bit about my design and printing process. 

One of the reasons why I love to print is because I can take an idea in my mind and craft it all the way from a sketch into a final tangible item that anyone can enjoy.

Cards are extra special because not only do they bring joy to the person buying them but also to the person receiving it.

When you go out to find a card for a friend, you are thinking of them with love in your heart. You are searching for that perfect message that speaks to your friendship, that sparks joy, and brings back memories. When you find that card with that special something you were looking for, you know they will enjoy it as much as you do.

After you add your special letter inside it becomes a perfect capsule of your relationship. Once received this card has the power to strengthen your bonds in amazing ways.

So how do I come up with these perfect cards for your besties? I’m glad you asked!

STEP ONE: It all starts with writing

I constantly have little sayings pop into my head at all hours that I think to myself “that would make a good card that I would want to send to _________.” Whenever that happens I try my best to record it in an app on my phone that syncs to the cloud. This way, no matter what device I have in front of me, when I am ready to draw I have a whole log of sayings to pull from.

I personally use Microsoft's OneNote but there are so many apps out there that can work for this.

STEP TWO: Pencil Sketch

A photo posted by Adina Segal (@bunnybearpress) on

This just past January I took a pledge to hand letter everyday. This was just the kick in the pants that I needed to get going on a passion of mine that I kept putting off. Drawing is so much fun to me, and it doesn’t seem like work. So in the past, it was always really easy for me to keep putting it off in favor of other items that needed my attention in my business. It wasn’t until I really made a commitment to myself and where I wanted to take the direction of my line that I really got serious about drawing and hand lettering.

I made a pledge to myself to either draw, ink, digitize, or print a lettering piece every day of 2016. I fell miserably short of my goal. Here it is now September of 2016 and I only made it about 87 logged days.

A photo posted by Adina Segal (@bunnybearpress) on


I actually don’t consider this a failure. I got going on a passion of mine and I churned out so much amazing work this year. I did more lettering that I had ever done before, and that was the whole purpose of the exercise. It was really amazing to watch myself improve leaps and bounds day after day.

Lesson Learned: Next time I tackle this project, I will stick to a more manageable number maybe 50 or so.

For the first time doing this I wanted to give myself a big lofty goal so I would push myself. it was good for me to recognize that this process–in my case–is cyclical. I learned that some parts of the process take longer than the others. For example, I can draw one new piece a day, but for the other parts of the process I can churn out several at a time in the same timespan.

Since this daily lettering project was so free form and I wanted each piece to evolve into it’s own natural style, I really didn’t over think the types of lettering styles I used. I did what felt right and came naturally.

My Step by Step Process to Sketching a Lettering Piece


I quickly write out the saying breaking it into how I want the words to line up with one another and on which lines. I decide which words are going to be bigger and stand alone and which ones will read smaller and together on the same line.


Once I get that settled, I use a ruler to block off the layout eyeballing how far apart everything will be and how tall I want the letters to be. I use just plain copy paper. It is the same proportions as a greeting card so I can really see how everything is going to look at scale before I start scanning and resizing. 


Next, I start to draw. I usually draw the biggest words first and then work the smaller ones around it to make the layout feel balanced.


Once the basic form of the words are down, I begin to embellish. I’ll add shading, flourishes, and illustrated elements until I feel like it looks done.

    I usually don’t do more than one drawing for a particular saying, unless I really hate how it turned out, which isn’t very often.

    (Side Note: If I were to be doing these for a client and be actively solving a design problem for them, this process would be much more involved. It would include several rounds of drawings, layouts, and designs. BUT, since I am really focused on discovering my own personal style right now, I let myself be really loose and let my hand tell me what IT wanted to draw.)

    A photo posted by Adina Segal (@bunnybearpress) on


    Next week I am going to share how I ink my sketches allowing for multiple color separations in preparation for printing them and how I go about digitizing them.

    I even took a bunch of time lapse videos of me inking my sketches. I am working on stitching them all together into a video for you to watch. This is something that I have never done before so it may be a little wonky...

    Until then, I am going to be sending out Pen Gal packages this week to friends as I clean out my studio while getting ready to move. I have been hoarding way too many goodies and I need to spread the love around. Who can you send a care package to? What can you put in it?


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