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What Is 3D Lettering?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 23, 2024
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3D lettering is a typography design choice usually found in graphic design as well as some types of industrial design. This kind of multidimensional design can be done in digital, print, and sculpture projects, and many 3D fonts are rendered so that the letters appear to visually jump off the page or computer screen. Instead of looking flat, each letter has a visible top, side, and bottom view, depending on the angles used. Advertising designers frequently use 3D lettering in banners, posters, or billboards to capture viewers' attention quickly. Although 3D graphic design projects can be done relatively easily with an electronic illustration software program, experienced graphic designers often report that a solid understanding of drawing 3D letters by hand is important for effective use of this kind of lettering.

Various non-digital platforms for 3D lettering include signs, portable trade show displays, and even sculpture. Industrial designers sometimes create large 3D letters for the facades of office buildings to advertise the businesses inside. These letters can be made from steel, plastic, aluminum, and other similar material. The process of designing these lettering projects frequently involves the use of 3D software for rendering models of the letters before the actual fabrication steps take place. Businesses that incorporate this kind of lettering usually appeal to customers because 3D images in general have a higher degree of visual interest than two-dimensional ones.

Websites are additional places to find 3D lettering. Some of the most popular choices for this kind of typography design are banner ads placed on websites in the webmaster's hope of catching visitors' attention and inciting them to click on a link within one of these ads. Website graphic designers usually create these letters with image editing or illustration software; many of these programs allow them to create effects such as drop shadowing and color gradients. Designers who include 3d lettering often have a range of decisions to make concerning letter size, position, and angle.

Successfully drawing 3D lettering can be accomplished with a stencil or ruler to create the beginning flat letter shape. Many beginning designers start with simple block letters without serifs in order to make filling in the shadows easier. Connecting the required lines by hand sometimes takes a fair amount of practice, but many people in the graphic and industrial design industries find that this initial process leads to better results with 3D design software.

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