Thursday, March 19, 2015

I'm Teaching a Hand Drawn Font Class on Skillshare!

BIG NEWS GUYS - I'm PUMPED about this one.

A bit ago, Skillshare reached out and asked if I could teach a class on their platform.

What? Mind blown! So I said yes, and my class on how to Create your Own Hand Drawn Font is live!

It was a bit of a bumpy ride in the decision making process, but now that I'm done I don't know why I even hesitated. I had SO much fun planning, recording, and editing the videos, and when the class finally went live I was so excited. And then I bombarded social media.

Anyway, enough about me. So, I've talked a lot about how to create your own font here on the blog, trying to cram in a lot of stuff into one post, referencing other posts where I could. But, in my new Skillshare class, everything is wrapped up in one nice little bundle.

Here's a special preview of my class:

Also, the class is under an hour long. My friend Amber recently told me that an hour is just 4% of your day. So if you've always wanted to learn how to create your own font, and you have 4% of your day to spare, hop on over and take the class!

About the Class

Love typography? Have you always wanted to design your own typeface? Guess what: you don't have to be an expert to create your own font. Learn how designer and illustrator Jennifer Coyle of Hello Brio Studio (that's me!) creates hand drawn fonts. In this 50-minute class, you’ll learn all the steps of font-making from sketching to digitizing. By the end, you’ll have a personalized all-caps font that you love.


In this class, you'll learn first and foremost that when you're creating your own font, it doesn't have to be perfect to be awesome.

I will take you through the entire process of hand drawn font creation, from brainstorming to sketching, then from digitizing in Photoshop and Illustrator to plugging in your letterforms into Glyphs App. I'll teach a lot of time-saving tips and tricks that will allow you to create your own all-caps font in no time.

- Learn where to start when brainstorming letter styles

- Find font inspiration from what you already know

- Typography anatomy basics and what goes into making a cohesive typeface

- Best practices for sketching and inking your hand lettering

- Digitize your artwork quickly using Photoshop and Illustrator

- Use how to use Glyphs Mini App

- Export and create your all-caps desktop font!

This course was created with designers in mind. But even if you aren't a Photoshop or Illustrator expert, you will be able to follow along and learn all of my tricks. No matter what - the main purpose is to inspire you to create your own font and make it your own!


Create an all-caps font by transforming your hand lettering or handwriting into a working desktop font.

This assignment will cover a multitude of helpful lettering techniques like typography basics, letterform brainstorming, and taking your designs from paper to digital. You can create a font that is for you or for a client.


Here are the tools you will need for this class. Please keep in mind that Glyphs App is available for Mac only.

- Paper or graph paper

- Pencil and black pen and marker

- Eraser and ruler

- Scanner (not mandatory but highly recommended)

- Adobe Photoshop

- Adobe Illustrator

- Glyphs App or Glyphs Mini App (get a free trial here) - Mac only

So yeah. If you've always wanted to create your own font but never knew where to start, this class is for you. Thanks for letting me spew excitement all over the page.
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

No, I Haven't Found My Passion Yet

I recently published a post that was titled "What it looks like when you've found your passion".

Let me be clear, my creative world isn't bundled up into a neat little package. I want to be real with you guys.

While I've certainly found several things that I consider myself very passionate about, my creative future is still very hazy to me.

No, I haven't truly found my passion yet

This notion of fuzziness became more apparent to me as I was emailing an Instagram friend, "John".

Recently John emailed me and asked me where I find my inspiration for my illustrations.

But as we exchanged emails and dug deeper, there was more at the root of the matter. Ultimately, he's looking for his creative passion. He has a creative degree but is now working in tech. Not creative AT ALL. He has his eyes on the more creative tasks within his office but ultimately he's still combing through his options on his own time.

He's tried photography. Film. Illustration. But nothing is really landing for him. He's not feeling a pull towards any one thing.

So I wrote back to him, and I'd like to share that with you. Here I share my story and where I am creatively, and I'm also am hoping it helps you too. (Note: I edited the email for more context... and to correct my bad grammar.)


I TOTALLY hear where you're coming from [in regards to not feeling a pull in a specific creative direction]. Let me give you my back story.

I graduated with a degree in interior design. In 2009. Right after the economy crashed. Any prospects for me as a paid interior designer were non-existent. Then I moved across the country, away from my family and friends.

I ended up working as a fundraising data person for years as a result of a move. Not creative at all. I looked for artistic opportunities within my office. While my boss was accommodating and supportive, it was clear to both of us that I wasn't ready to take on a professional project like that.

Because I was away from my social circles and had extra time on my hands, I discovered blogging. Soon I had a mildly successful beauty blog (hilarious now because I wear the same minimal makeup every day), and I designed my own blog in WordPress. My work gained some interest within the beauty blogging community and through word-of-mouth I started designing sites for fellow beauty bloggers.

Since then, a lot has changed. Beauty blogging morphed into lifestyle blogging which is now somewhere between lifestyle blogging and design blogging.

On this journey, I learned more and more about design and art. I was fortunate to work for my friend's graphic design company as their social media gal, which catapulted me into the design world full-time and allowed me to learn a ton about marketing.

Eventually it came around to where I rebranded my Instagram account to reflect only illustration and lettering. By publishing illustrations regularly, I found an awesome community.

Also, by posting my work on sites like Dribbble and Behance and marketing myself as a designer on LinkedIn, I got hired as a full-time designer (just this year).

Back to experimenting with your passion:

My advice to you is - do whatever feels right to you in the moment, but make sure to publish your work.

Here's where I am:

Photography? I picked up. DSLR while beauty blogging in the hopes of taking better product photos for reviews. Since then, I developed an interest in industrial photography and I started a stock photo site at and have since dropped that. Maybe I'll pick it up at some point.

Design? I did a handful of custom WordPress and Blogger designs and that eventually got me a design job. I have my reservations about my own skills just as any professional creative does in a field where they know they only know a slice of the entire picture, but it just goes to show you that consistently publishing your work on a portfolio site can get you places.

Drawing? I don't consider myself an artist at all but I've found a niche in illustration and lettering because it allows me to say something. I don't know where this will go and it may just be a hobby for me, but in the meantime I am also working to generate passive income through my Creative Market shop.

So, don't worry too much whether you've made the right choice. It took me a while to get where I am, and I still don't see myself as having found my true thing yet.

All of these skills that you'll develop practicing and trying out these different hobbies and interest will keep building until it all comes together naturally.

For now - think about your ultimate goals. What does that look like for you? Then think about the steps that may help you get there. And publish. Consistently.

I hope this helps.


So ultimately I hope this helps you understand where I am, creatively. Even though it may look like I have my shit together from time to time, it couldn't be further from the truth. And the same goes for other folks.

The key takeaways here:

  • Always be sharing your work.
  • Don't worry about your passion being clear. Just keep working on things with heart and it'll pull together organically.
  • You're not alone in your indecisiveness.

Just keep plugging away, and enjoy the process.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ambition is a curse

Ambition is a curse. It leaves you always yearning for things that are just out of reach.

ambition is a curse

You set big goals for yourself and are constantly working to achieve them. Or you're anxiously obsessing about achieving them. Or you feel guilty for not achieving them.

Ambition also squanders small accomplishments.

Publish a blog post? But you didn't publish your book.

Get a promotion? But you're still not manager.

Host a party and cook an amazing dinner? But you didn't get your Pinterest-worthy name cards and table settings in place.

The concept of "having guilt for not living up to your self-mandated expectations" is a double-edged sword. It keeps you motivated, but it also bums you out when you didn't get as far as you'd hoped.

The character Michael Scott jokes in The Office that his biggest strengths are also his biggest weaknesses. "I work too hard. I care too much." In terms of ambition, this is probably something you can relate to.

You work too hard. You care too much. Quote from The Office

Ambition is a curse. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
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Monday, March 9, 2015

On Net Negativity

On Net Negativity: Cut everyone some slack. We're all just doing our best.

What's with all of the negativity on the internets lately? I'm talking about the ones in creative circles. The posts on Mediocrity and Experts.

These posts are really irking me. And I know I'm not alone.

Let's take a step back and remember that creativity is a means of self-expression, no matter what form it takes.

People should always feel comfortable expressing themselves: writing, drawing, painting, making music, anything. If you don't agree with it, don't think it's good enough, or if you think it's threatening to your profession, then maybe it's just your own problem.

We're all just trying to do our best, in this game of life. Cut everyone some slack.
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Monday, March 2, 2015

Regarding Experts

I just read this post, "Everyone Is An Expert" which is a response to this one from Ciera Design, "Growing Your Blog By Positioning Yourself As An Expert".

Regarding Experts in an over-saturated world

The Ciera Design post talks about how you can boost your blog by blogging what you are passionate about, and allowing yourself to be an "expert" in the field. Sophie's response on "Everyone Is An Expert" talked about how things are becoming over-saturated and how people calling themselves experts is dangerous.

Sophie continued to say how we're all responsible for the advice we publish and how we present ourselves to others. And on the other end, we're also responsible for how we absorb information. We need to be responsible consumers of information.

The commenters on Sophie's post agreed wholeheartedly, myself included. But now that I think about it, I hear the "remember the grey area!" side of my brain kicking in.

In this world, everyone is in different stages of knowledge. It's an obvious statement but it's important to remember.

For example, while I hardly know anything about illustration, I've had more "success" than the guy who has never published one of his drawings anywhere. I am more "experienced" than the gal who is scared to put pencil to paper.

Does this give me an avenue to give advice on illustration? Yes. Does it give me a right to call myself an expert? Hell no. I'm the first to admit I'm far from being an expert. But I'm further along than some. And a lot of you are in the exact same position.

Same goes for everything else I've ever given advice on in this blog. Same goes for anything anyone else who has ever given advice on their own sites. The main difference is how you position yourself.

So I agree with Sophie's article "Everyone Is An Expert" but I also want to clarify. I think a lot of people who are giving advice are doing so because they know they have more experience than the newbie, and want to help. It doesn't mean that everyone giving advice considers themselves an expert.

Does this mean we should stop giving advice if we're not an expert? No. As long as we share valuable and real knowledge, we're contributing to the greater good of the community.

We just have to remember that most people are in that fuzzy grey area and take it all with healthy skepticism. But that shouldn't stop us from learning and spreading knowledge when we can.
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Saturday, February 28, 2015

How to Watermark Your Blog Photos Quickly, Plus a Photoshop Tutorial Video

There are certain things that happen in a visual and digital world, and one of them is straight-up image stealing. It's not that a person means to do harm when they use your photos on their own social media accounts, it's really just laziness.

But really, you've worked hard to create your blog images. Do you really want someone stealing your hard work? It's a good idea to watermark your photos and images so that you will get credit for your images in the future.

Watermarking is a hot topic in the blogging community, and I've gone back and forth on it several times. To watermark or not to watermark? Some say it's tacky, but others argue that it's the only way to make sure another blogger or company doesn't straight-up steal your photos. I've seen it happen too many times.

Regardless, knowing how to watermark efficiently is an awesome time-saving skill.

How to watermark your blog photos quickly, plus a photoshop tutorial video

And to go one step further, having a consistent watermark is really important for your brand. If you have one watermark that is in one blocky font, another with your signed blog name, and another with your logo, the branding will get out of hand.

So in this tutorial, let me show you basics on how to watermark and then how to save time doing it by using a "stamp" in Photoshop.

Basics of Watermarking Your Photos

In my time spent blogging, there are tons of different ways of watermarking. Some people slap their logo all over the photo over and over and over again so there would be NO WAY that you can steal their photo.

bad watermarking

That is a little too much for me. Plus, a watermark is supposed to allow you to claim ownership over a photo or an image, but it should never distract your reader from the content.


That said, your watermark will be happiest in the corner. Your watermark isn't Baby. She knows her place as a watermark and will be happiest sitting pretty in the corner of your image.

You can leave the option to use any of the four corners, but when possible, try to use the same corner for all of your images. Since the eye travels from left to right, I recommend the bottom-right or the top-right so the reader will be able to absorb your photo first without being slapped in the face with a watermark.

corners are good watermark locations, with bottom-right and top-right being the best

Give a healthy amount of margin to your placement, too. This will also help stave off those folks who are crop-happy and will spend some time cropping off the bottom of your photo so that they can use your photo for their own content. (Those people suck.)

Use a healthy margin for watermarks so that people aren't as tempted to crop out your watermark


In a nutshell, you want your watermark to be as small as possible while still being readable. It depends on if you're using a font or a logo.


Like I mentioned at the top, it's important to keep your shit together when branding your images. A blog that has 50 types of watermarks is confusing. (Let me be real here - I've gone through several iterations of my own watermarking over the years. I'm not proud of it.)

If you have a logo that can be used at a smaller scale, use that.

Use a logo that can be scalable. Don't have one? Use text or higher a designer!

If you use a certain font within your branding, use that.

text-based watermarks are ok

If you don't have either but still want to start watermarking your images, choose a bold font that doesn't have a TON of personality. That way, if you hire a designer later to do further branding, the designer isn't stuck trying to design around a crazy-ass font that is burned into every images you've posted for the past year.

Don't use a crazy font with a ton of personality to watermark your photos if you don't have a real logo or branding yet

How to Stamp Your Logo On Your Blog Images

So now that you've gone through watermarking 101, let's talk Photoshop tricks.

Funnily enough, I discovered this Photoshop shortcut right after I wrote a post on how a blogger should have a standard Photoshop file in order to save time with watermarks, image text, and consistent image graphics. But moving on.

This tip is going to blow your mind! Follow this 5 minute video to learn how to make your logo into a "stamp".

0:00 Hey guys it's Jenn from Hello Brio Studio. Today I'm going to show you how to make your logo into a Photoshop brush so you can stamp your watermark on all your photos in a really quick and easy way.

0:10 The first thing you want to do is make sure you have your logo with a transparent background.

0:27 In order to find the correct watermarking position, you're going to want to try with an actual photo. That way, you can tell how it's going to look when you go to use it in a real setting.

1:17 I'm going to drag my transparent logo onto this photo so I can see about the placement and the size.

1:34 Hold down Command + T and resize your logo. Because it's a vector object it won't get weird when I resize it.

1:48 In terms of positioning, you want to have it in one of four corners.

1:58 You want the photo to about the photo and then the watermark to be secondary.

2:09 Right-click on the layer that says HB Logo. Click Convert to Smart Object. What this is going to do is allow it to be opened in a new file now at this new size so that you don't have to carefully crop and resize your image all the way down to this size.

2:32 Double-click on the Smart Object thumbnail, which will open it up in a new file. From here, hit Command+A to select all, and then go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset.

2:58 From here, I can go back to my photo. Hit B for brush. Click for the brush preset picker and now you can see my logo. How cool is that?

3:18 You can see how if you drag it onto the photo, it's ready to go, and you can stamp it all you want. Stamp your heart out.

3:32 You can also choose whatever color you want too.

3:47 Open a new layer. I'm going to stamp it about where I want it.

4:14 I'm going to choose [an opacity] that looks good while still being visible but doesn't distract you from the content of the photo.

4:21 So that's really it. Now you have your watermark for your photo and then any time you go and open a new photo, you can just go ahead and stamp it wherever you need it.

4:30 I hope that was helpful. Please hit the subscribe button for more tutorials.

What are your thoughts on watermarking blog photos? Comment below!

Like this blogging and Photoshop tutorial? Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Thanks to Adams for helping me record part of the YouTube video. Definitely explains why I'm coming out of a laughing fit in the intro!

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Trying - Free Desktop and Phone Wallpaper for March

Adams shared this Derek Sivers video with me last week. The title of the video is "Why You Need to Fail" and this particular quote really stuck out to me. I want to share it as this month's free desktop wallpaper!

Free desktop and mobile wallpaper from Hello Brio Studio

The quote is sticking with me, as evidenced by the fact that I lettered it and put it on Instagram earlier this week.

Stick it on your devices for March and beyond (you can download it without a calendar, too), as a reminder to keep pushing towards your goals. Not everything you do is going to be perfect, nor should it be. Continuing on, and maybe making mistakes along the way, is so much more important than not trying at all.

If I didn't try, I wouldn't have been able to publish a new font this month nor would I have had a shirt successfully printed on Cotton Bureau. By the way, the new font is featured in this background freebie!

Free desktop and mobile wallpaper from Hello Brio Studio

Download for Desktop w/ CalendarDownload for Desktop w/o CalendarDownload for Mobile

Please share a moment of failure and how it helped you grow. Also, share this with anyone you think needs an extra kick in the pants this month.

Want more freebies? Make sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter and follow me on Bloglovin'.
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