I’ve decided to write a little blog post about food lettering, since I’ve done a few food lettering pieces now and have learned some things along the way that I thought might be helpful if you wanted to do the same. Food lettering has got to be one of my very favorite forms of lettering. I love the tactile nature of it and, mostly, I love food, so getting to play with (and maybe eat it at the same time) it is really fun.
So far, I have lettered with coffee beans (the darker the beans, the jumpier by the way!), Nutella (my best smelling project), Halloween candy (my most intricate and first animated food lettering piece), Special K cereal, and more recently, marshmallows and cocoa powder. This last one is the piece I am using as an example for this blog post, as it was the only one I shot a process video of. Here are some of my previous food lettering pieces:
So, before I get into my tips, here is the sped up video of the lettering process (sorry about the blurry beginning and the missing parts in the middle, my camera died and it was starting to get dark so I didn’t want to wait):
You can see an even faster version of this on my Instagram if you don’t want to sit through the 6 minutes 30 seconds of it.
Side note, in the very near future, I will have a better overhead setup, as this angle shot is not the greatest.
So, I will walk you a little bit through my process and share some screenshots from the video to explain what I’m talking about. To start, I always make a very loose and simple pencil thumbnail sketch for each piece, like this:
In this case, I decided to go with the second sketch since I thought it might be more interesting than the simple script.
Because I always free-hand these to keep my surface clean from pencil marks, I “sketch” my lettering with the food I’m using. So in this case, I loosely placed the marshmallows to form the shapes of the letters just to see where they would go and how large they can be. This method is really quick and lets you move things around before actually diving into the lettering. With this piece, my initial sketch showed me that I needed to move the whole word over, and it was really easy and quick to do.
After you’re done with your “sketch,” you can start adding weight to your letters. In this case, I used small marshmallows for my sketch and for the thin parts of the letters and large marshmallows for the thick parts. With food, one of the hardest things usually is the transition between the thicks and thins, especially if you’re dealing with chunkier food. Here, I used the small marshmallows, and in some cases squeezed them to make them a bit narrower, to create the transition.
When you have your letters all laid out the way you want them, take an overhead photo of the piece with your phone. You’ll be surprised how many mistakes you will see on the photo that you don’t notice in real life. If your lettering is done on a high surface, where you can’t stand over it to look, this will be especially helpful. Here’s the photo I took of my piece and the mental notes I made for adjustments:
While referencing your photo, make all of the fixes you need to make before you proceed to adding smaller details to your piece.
For my details, I wanted to add a cocoa powder drop line to my lettering and to help me with this without making a giant mess, I made a quick little paper cone using a post-it, leaving a hole at the bottom for the cocoa powder to pass through. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds, as the powder still got really stuck in the cone and I had to shake it out, but it still made a neat enough line where I needed:
To fix the lines up, I then used a small paintbrush to gently brush the cocoa into place:
I tend to use a paintbrush a lot when lettering with food actually. It’s one of the most useful tools for this since it’s soft enough that it won’t fling your food everywhere and small enough to move little details. For example, when I did my Halloween candy piece, the paintbrush was one of the only things that made dealing with tiny Nerds candy possible. Some things are just too small or even too sticky for your fingers to be able to make perfect. Plus, using a paintbrush means you get to keep your hands clean. Aside from that, I’ve used tweezers before for laying out coffee beans, a toothpick (believe it or not) to spread out the Nutella lettering, and a ruler to straighten out lines of food like candy.
That’s pretty much it on my process! I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment! I love hearing from you guys!
Also, bonus, but you can now subscribe to my blog feed with the form below! I will just be here praying that it actually works since it took me a very long time to figure this out.