Chalk Lettering with Soft Shadow Lines

Apply this shadowing technique to your next chalk lettering design. This technique will leave your design with softer edges and a more finished look.

By Valerie McKeehan
July 2018

chalk lettering cover

In The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering: Create and Develop Your Own Style, Valerie McKeehan guides readers through the art of chalk lettering. All readers can learn to master the designs found in the book with over 60 lessons, a review of basic tools and tips, and a practice space to try some of these lessons out. An additional 12 projects are included in the final chapters for readers to practice everything they learned. The following excerpt is from Chapter 3, "Shadows and Dimension."

    soft shadow lines

  1. Create a wavy guideline. Draw two lines (top and bottom) to ensure a consistent wave.
  2. soft shadow lines

    soft shadow lines

  3. Draw the letters on the guideline. Then erase the line with a cotton swab. The shadow lines here are drawn very tight to the letters, which achieves a different result.
  4. soft shadow lines

  5. Let's take our "HELLO THERE" example even further. Using extremely light pressure, drag the chalk in short bursts, feathering out your original shadow line. The shadow line becomes much more muted and recessed compared to the vivid lettering.
  6. soft shadow lines

  7. Then, use a cotton swab to slightly clean up the edges for a more finished look. You don't want a crisp line here, just a soft, even edge.
  8. soft shadow lines

More from The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering:

Excerpted with permission from The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering, by Valerie McKeehan. Published by Workman Publishing, © 2015.