Design insights & tutorials.

Creating an Illustrative Monogram

Creating a Monogram

Monograms are an interesting way to go about making an identity. By nature they can be straight forward or extremely ornamental and illustrative. In this tutorial I’m going to walk you through the steps I (Chris Comella, designer at Go Media, hi!) took to making Go Media’s own Heather Mariano (formerly Heather Tropp) a monogram for her business card.

What follows is a series of animated GIFs. Each show the steps I took toward executing my concept. They all loop, so if you miss something the first time, don’t sweat it. It’ll be back in a few seconds. Also, below each animation you’ll see the corresponding notes.

Creating the H

Step 1: Creating the H

I start off making the general form of the H with basic shapes. Then I add in the negative I’ll be using as guides to ‘carve’ away any excess form. After I draw out the shape, using the pathfinder I unite all the white shapes together to create one solid piece I can use to subtract from the black base. To polish off the H I add a swirl at the stem and carve out a point on the leg.

Creating the T

Step 2: Creating the T

We start off again by creating a basic shape from which to work with. I basically create two circles with a square joining the middle to create an elongated circle. Merge the three pieces and start on the negatives. The two white circles again act as my guide for carving out an unwanted form. Once I’m done drawing out the shape on one side, I duplicate and rotate the piece to fit the other side to keep it symmetrical. Lastly, combine all the white shapes and subtract it from the black base.

Combining the H and T

Once I have that initial piece (the Arm) done, I end up squashing it a bit as you can see. I finish off the T by using two circles to create a a curved stem and adjust the angle a bit with a third shape. I merge those together along with the arm, and the T is set.


Step 3: Rendering the type

So now that we have the foundation of the monogram set, we can start thinking about how to render it. I wanted it to feel a bit more tactile, so what I did was create some contours that help define the shape spatially. I set the standard in my mind with the first line you see made above…following that precedent I just go ahead do the same around the letters. Next, I decided to take another look at the letters themselves. I end up adding in some open lines to two of the primary curves in the pair, giving it a more decorative, floral vibe. Also, you can see I added a horizontal line connecting the two letters.. here was something I kind of stumbled upon and decided to elaborate. What came to mind at this point was adding another aspect to the piece, I wanted it to appear ‘juicy.’

Creating Drips

So in that vain, I decided to add in some water droplets. I liked this because it was in line with the piece’s theme and created some more visual appeal. Following the contour lines I layed down previously, I used those as a jumping off point for the droplets. Drawing them with those curves in mind, I rendered an initial droplet and then elaborated further by adding a couple more throughout the type.

Adding the Color

Next up is the color. This step turned out to be very important, because not only is it making the leap from black & white, but it also defined the unique shapes of the letters themselves. What I did here, similarly to the contour lines, was set a precedent with the first piece and moved forward from there…essentially, winging it, but with a sort of mental guideline.

Step 4: Complimentary imagery

To emphasize the monogram’s theme, and to help round out the composition, I decided to make a flower to pair with the type. I started with the petal and finished by drawing the body out. This needed to be simple as it’s purpose is to fit in with the type.

Step 5: Putting it together

I pasted in the flower behind both the letters and trimmed it down to size (erasing any unwanted parts). Next I drew in a highlight and filled the flower with the same gradient from the type highlights. Taking it one step further, I decided to add in some (what I believe are called) Pistils… aka, antennae things. Finally I duplicate the flower and add it in at the bottom of the T to balance it out. From here I simply tightened the piece up, making any minor revisions or tweaks that were left. I decided to add a stroke on the T, a simple gradient to the water droplets, and create a small lightning bug riffing on Heather’s passion of photography (I always thought of lightning bugs as nature’s paparazzi). And there you have it!


We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Simon H.

    Niiice! I love how you do the step by step pictures.

  • parça kontör

    Creating an Illustrative Monogram

  • Ramon Thompson

    Wow, that’s great! One question; did you sketch the monogram first before starting to create it, or was it all just “feeling it out”. Thanks in advance for answering!

    • Chris Comella

      I didn’t actually sketch out the monogram as a whole, I more sketched the different curves I wanted to see in the piece. Then made it work as I went along.

  • Adıburhan

    süper ak

  • dini sohbet


  • Caroline

    I don’t understand how you added the color into the monogram
    Could you explain that to me again?

  • lig tv izle

    Gread post. Thanks admin..

  • leftCoast

    Very nicely executed. Was a tablet used or only a mouse?

  • parfum

    I like your tutorial pictures… How you make it? Actually your tutorial very nice..

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    canlı tv izleme sitesidir.

  • ankara web tasarım

    realy excellet thanks

  • DinD

    Excellent tutorial Chris.. the step-by-step gif’s work fine (although I had to look some a few times to follow what’s happening).

    The final monogram looks very nice too.
    I only find that the bug does not fit in the composition though.

  • East Smith

    The GIF displays are good, i think but only at the end, maybe next time around?? There should be a little more detail on how this process is done.

    There are gradients that weren’t explained and anchor points that weren’t talked about.

    The end result is good, but the elaboration of the process was kind of lax.

    scratch that. the end result was stunning!!!

  • home decor

    Sehr schön ausgeführt. War eine Tablette verwendet oder nur eine Maus?

  • Xavier Ian Paca

    very nice tutorial.. Can I put some link from my site to this page?

  • Karell Damour

    Animated gifs still have a life and this tutorial use them right! Beautiful and inspiring result too.

  • Theraisa K

    That was a very enjoyable read/viewing. It’s always interesting to see how a designer takes their ideas and puts them to work!

  • John Cole

    Really nice…good to someone’s work flow and how they finish it up!

  • Adam Merkison


  • Alasdair

    Really nice, Its nice to see a design like this with a bit of a difference!

  • dr mustafa eraslan

    Thanks in advance for answering

  • Ethan Fowler

    how do you apply these methods to different letters?
    I tried to make full words with this affect, but I am having trouble making letters other than “H” or “T” that have the same look.
    Any tips on the method to keep it consistent across the alphabet?

  • Mukto

    This is so Innovative design I like it But it is more than easier for me

    if u arrenged detail

    • NoOne


  • Jennifer Jones

    good looking image but fails in its recognizability. I had no idea what letters were being represented until I read the text. Surely good graphic design requires the clear communication of the concept. Nice way to present the tecnique tho.