How to Make Block 3D Letters

Lettering is a good tool for most artists. Often a letter or word may be integral to an art design, or it may be necessary to hand-letter captions for a portfolio or other purpose. On its most basic level, lettering is simply using or drawing squares, circles and triangles in a particular arrangement. A good way to practice simple block letters is to print out a set of letters in the block style. Enlarge them to more than an inch tall and then practice tracing the shapes until you can freehand the shapes easily.

Create a sample of the block alphabet you want to use. Tape the alphabet close to your drawing area for easy reference.

Tape drawing paper on the drawing table. Use a straight edge to draw a horizontal guide line. You may draw a top and bottom line to easily keep your letters the same size.

Draw the word you wish to dimensionalize. Allow extra space between each letter for your shadow effect.

Mark a vanishing point on your paper. The vanishing point will determine the angle of the three-dimensional sides of your block letters. As you draw, the letters farthest from the vanishing point will have more extreme angles than those closer to the point.

Place a straight edge on the vanishing point and on the corners of your closest letter. Draw a line from the corner of the letter along the straight edge. For a square block shape, your vanishing-point line should appear to be approximately the same length as the height of your letter. Imagine that your letter is solid; your vanishing point will show up only in lines on the side of your letter that is closest to the vanishing point. If your vanishing point is on the bottom left of the letter, you will draw lines from the bottom left corners of the letter. (You will have lines on the left-side curved areas as well.)

Draw vertical lines to connect your vanishing-point lines into boxed shapes and curves that imitate the sides of the letter that are visible. You will quickly be able to see how these lines relate to each other. As you draw the vanishing point lines on the next adjacent letter, you will notice that some portions of the lines will be hidden by the bulk of the first letter. You will also see that the shadow or three-dimensional effect will appear to stretch. Use guide lines along the bottom edge of your shadow line to constrain your shadow to a consistent height if you have trouble with the perspective.


Add different colours or weights of shadows along the side and bottom or top of the three-dimensional letters to provide more visual cues for seeing and understanding the block letters. You can also draw 3D block letters without a vanishing point. Use a straight edge and a triangle template and draw all of the shadow angles with the triangle. This will make the letters look 3D, but it will not position them in perspective.

Things You'll Need

  • Block alphabet
  • Paper
  • Tape
  • Straight edge
  • Pencil
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About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.