If you're interested in graffiti art, you'll quickly discover that it can be difficult to find helpful tutorials on lettering. Graffiti is a secretive art form, so many who do it aren't willing to share their techniques. Fortunately, some cities and towns have set aside special areas for legal graffiti. These walls are the perfect places to create art without worrying about the police arresting you. If there are no legal walls in your area, you can always use your own private property to practice. You can also use a pen, pencil or paint to draw out designs on canvas or paper.

Materials You Need to Graffiti Letters

Whether you're drawing graffiti letters on paper or on a larger canvas, you'll need some basic materials to create your art. For graffiti letters on paper, you'll need a sharp pencil with an eraser and drawing or sketch paper. Paper with some texture will pick up the pencil marks better than smooth paper, and it will smudge less. If you plan to add color to your sketches, then you'll need colored pencils, pastels or markers depending on the look you want.

Once you're ready to transition to spray paint, you'll need paint, a mask and gloves. You can use different tips to vary the thickness and heaviness of your paint spray. If you want a bigger canvas than a sheet of paper, you can practice drawing or spray painting on large pieces of cardboard.

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Drawing Graffiti Letters

If you're new to the art of graffiti, you'll want to practice with pencil on paper first. Then, you can try canvas or cardboard before moving up to using paint on walls. Giving yourself time to practice allows you to develop your own style and come up with a tag. You'll also avoid making rookie mistakes in public where others can see you.

To make graffiti letters on paper: Start by printing a word in pencil and spacing out the letters evenly. Next, draw around the letters with curved lines to make bubble letters, or use straighter outlines to make block or spiky letters. You can add serifs, or short lines to the ends of the letters, or use shading to round out the surface of your bubble letters. You can also try out hearts, arrows, skulls or other objects to add visual interest to your lettering.

Try using colored pencils to experiment with shadows, shading and color combinations. For example, try outlining your letters in one color and filling them in with another color. In addition, look at other examples of graffiti lettering for ideas. Although you don't want to copy other people's art if you work in public, doing it on paper can be a good way to practice and build your own style. Don't forget to erase any unwanted pencil marks before you finish a piece.

Moving Up to Spray Paint

After practicing and perfecting your tag and style, you might decide you're ready to take your work to a bigger canvas. If you decide to spray outside, make sure you work in a place where spraying is legal. Spraying without permission is vandalism, and it can result in fines or even jail time.

When you choose a spray paint, make sure you have one that matches what you want to create. If you're using an oil-based spray paint, wear a mask and gloves since the fumes are toxic. Spray paints come in different colors, and their cap diameter and pressure can also vary. You can also use different tips to create a variety of paint effects.

Shake your spray paint for a least a minute before you start. Varying how quickly you move the can, how close you stand to the wall and the angle of your spray will affect the final result. After you start using spray paint, you may still want to practice on large sheets of cardboard. Spray paint can be a difficult medium, and it has its own tricks, so your work probably won't look perfect right away. If you keep practicing, you'll develop the skills to wow people with your graffiti lettering and art.

Different Types of Graffiti

Although you might see some form of graffiti every day, most people don't pay attention to it. This makes it hard to realize that there are different types of graffiti. These range from quick tags to elaborate pieces. Tags are the artist's name and signifier done in a single color, which makes them the simplest kind of graffiti. On the other hand, throw-ups and blockbusters are more complicated tags that have multiple colors and different styles. Wildstyle is an art form that is difficult to read and may include arrows, stars and other symbols.

Some types of graffiti tell you more about the creation process than the style. For example, heaven is graffiti in a difficult to reach place. Another common type of graffiti is a stencil, which requires using a cutout. On the other hand, a poster is graffiti made on a separate sheet of paper and mounted in place on a wall. A sticker is a small poster, and a piece is a large picture painted freehand. Thinking about these styles when you look at graffiti will help you understand what has gone into each creation and what the artist may have been trying to accomplish.

About the Author

Stacy Zogheib's writing has been published in various online publications including Classroom.Synonym. She is a teacher and developmental specialist with experience teaching first grade, special education and working with families of children ages 0 to 3. She has a Bachelor of Arts in elementary and special education from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio and a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Northern Arizona University.