How to Make an Abstract Graffiti Letter

Letter manipulation is a cornerstone of graffiti art. To create your own alphabet, you want to study the form and shape of each letter, then slowly push and stretch it to reconfigure it with your own style. Here, graffiti artist Scape Martinez shows us how to create a radical letter. They tend to be thick, with very little dependence on arrows and extensions. Follow along to to create a radical e.

1 Sketch the Letter
Sketch a basic letter e, lowercase and thick.

2 Stretch It Out
Stretch the letter out, elongating it to create more of an egg shape. The trick is to think outside the box. Challenge the notion as to what an e can be.

3 Tilt the Letter
Tilt the e forward while still keeping the basic integrity of the letter.

4 Remove a Section
Remove a section of the lower hook part of the e. (If it weren’t for the bar going across the letter, it would now look like a lowercase c.)

5 Drop the Crossbar
Drop the crossbar down so that it almost touches the lower mouth of the letter.

6 Modify the Negative Space
Look for the negative spaces in and around your letterform. Shrink down the opening of the e and line it up with the lower opening of the letter.

7 Step Outside the Box
Begin thinking about the type of flow or movement that can be added to the letter as a motif. This ink sketch details some movement that would add a lot to the development of this e. Use it as a guide to transform what you’ve already done.

8 Combine Style and Form to Finish  the Letter
Take the previous two forms and combine them. Keep the form and body of the basic letter, but take direction from the ink sketch, picking up the twists and turns and morphing them into the style. Drastically change the line weight all around the letter.

The more you practice, the more intuitive and effortless you’ll become at manipulating letters. For more how-to graffiti tips and demonstrations, check out Scape’s two instructional books Graff 1 and Graff 2 by IMPACT Books. He shares his expert approach on creating your own alphabet, tags and backgrounds in paint, pen+ink, pencil and marker.