Have you ever heard of bubble letters? If not, you’re in luck, because we’ll go through the concept of bubble lettering. If you want to know how to bubble a letter, check out this article to draw your own letters, or even fonts!
To resume a bit, bubble letters are letters with round curves, in an almost bubble or balloon shape or form. Usually, they are found in graffiti/street art walls, fun posters or titles, among other graphic design formats. Nowadays it’s common to see them in digital art, since lettering lovers and people with a graffiti background love them.
Here’s Bubble Lettering Font Showcased in Artixty.com
So, why are they relevant and what turns them into powerful and head turning messages? First of all, bubble letterings are usually done in bright colors and have a few details that catch our eye. The most common examples are:
- to add a 3D effect, with bright highlights, and shadows;
3D Bubble Lettering design by Simon Dee
- or by adding funky colorful outlines
Graffitti design by Yone
As you can see by the examples above, one done digitally in Procreate and the other painted on a Paris metro map, bubble letters, when nicely done, catch your eye. You can use them to draw attention to something, like a title, a message, a name, among others. Its strong presence, with vibrating contrasts, forms and colors, can send powerful messages. Through colors we can give them a gloomy vibe, a sense of urgency, or a playful mood. The shapes follow these moods, either by being too bubbly, or less bubbly, drippier or with other forms around them (or on top of them, or under). Regardless, when using them with a purpose you can either have a background color (or colors) and use black and white to draw the letters or make the letters shine with a neutral background (as seen on the two examples above).
Obviously, although this style can be versatile, it’s usually not used for anything serious. Think about it like this: if it’s not a good place for Word Art, it’s not the place for bubble letters either. Although almost nowhere is a place for Word Art, so take this with a grain of salt.
I have to mention this style is mostly used in street art. In the graffiti world, bubble letters are part of what is called the throw up style. The style itself has many variations, and bubble letters are just one part of it. In the next examples you can verify that the letters are all different, but they all follow the same main principles. Let’s look at some of those examples.
Graffiti by Will Vibes
In this street art piece, you can see Will Vibes used a few concepts of bubble lettering we previously mentioned. Although there are a few pointy angles, the letters are mostly round; there are two shadows behind the letters, one in black and the other in dark green; there is a shape bellow, over and under the letters, almost like wind or smoke, that gives this piece a more dynamic look; it’s a high contrast piece, because even if the lettering itself is black and white it creates a contrast with the green of the wall, and last but not least, in the letters themselves, we see a few lines here and there, to and more dynamism and help with the 3D effect.
Digital piece by Sena of AKR
This is perfect to describe the bubble lettering style to anyone. It has it all! Contrast between red, black and white; white highlights to give them that round 3D balloonie feeling; shadows to make the letters pop out; a few drips (both with their own shape as well as in the shadow, supper common in the throw up style), plus they’re also also bubbly; and to top it of we even have a smiley face in the ‘e’. Could it BE any cuter?
Speaking of digital graffiti art, this one, and most of the ones you see online, are done on the iPad with Procreate. Nowadays, a lot of artists create specific brushes and sell them online, with ‘stamps’, guides, calligraphy and lettering brushes and lots more. If you are interested in trying this style out digitally, check these two bundles on Artixty with lots of brushes for different styles, and a few others, like retro brushes, pop art and more.
Graffiti by Note
This specific piece by Note isn’t one of his most interesting ones. It’s showcased here to compare it with Sena’s piece, because even though both are bubbly letters, the few differences they have makes it a little less interesting. It’s great to show how much details matter and are important, regardless of the use you want to give to a lettering. The color scheme used here makes all the difference. While Sena’s uses contrasting colors (red, black and white) to separate the outline/shadow and the letter color, plus the highlight, makes it a much more vibrant piece. Note uses only warm colors, one is orange and the other is a darker orange. It only differs in the tonality of the color, not the colors themselves. This makes it pop less and makes the piece a little dull, by comparison. Plus we don’t see the use of highlights. What this one has that Sena’s doesn’t is the use of traditional graffiti signs, like the halo above the ‘o’, the star making the center of the ‘o’ and the arrow below it. The pieces are kind of close in aspect, but these details make all the difference.
Graffiti by Poms
I mentioned the throw up style in tattooing, but I didn’t explain what the term has to do with bubble lettering, or any artwork in that style. The idea of throw up designs is that they were made fast. When street artists do this type of work, most times, the idea is to be as quick as possible to not get caught by law enforcement. So the idea behind the curved letters is to avoid straight or pointy angles, since they can take a bit more time to do. It’s also why, in these examples we saw, you never see more than 2 or 3 colors in a truly throw up design. In this piece you can see the highlight lines in black, the dripping style above the m and on the shadow and some dots on the sides of the shadow as well. I believe it’s not the case here, but many artists have signature elements that they incorporate in their throw up letterings, or when tattooing their name in general. These eyes in his name could be a good example of this.
To wrap up this article, I must show you an artist whose throw up designs, or bubble letters, aren’t really done to be fast. The lettering matches the style, but he likes to add a little twist to them, using familiar icons.
Graffiti Art by ACHO
As you can see, and most likely recognise, he uses Mickey Mouse’s hand on a lot of his pieces. Sometimes they are grabbing the letters, other times they are drawing them, in a variety of “anatomic” ways. This is an amazing example of how you can be creative with this style, on top of the letters themselves. Other of his works include a simpson’s hand, and he even did a special tribute to Khaby Lame in his trademark pose and face. Check them out below.
Graffiti Art by ACHO, Simpsons version
Graffiti Art by ACHO, Khaby Lame version
Some of the artists mentioned above are Brazilian, but you can see this style around the world. Maybe close to your home, your work or anywhere in your town. But, even though this is perceived as the birth of bubble letters, as seen in the beginning of the article, they come in all shapes and forms. From simple handmade drawings colored with colored pencils…
… to Canvas,…
Canvas Art by Snooze One
… to digital Art,…
Procreate Art by Snooze One
…to paper cuts (yes this is real paper gluer to carton to make the 3D pop up style),…
Pop Up Paper Art by Snooze One
…to 3D Renders…
3D Art by Mercurio en Julieta
…to 2D digital art, that looks 3D rendered!
Digital Art by Snooze One
The possibilities are endless! The one thing you must know before you start is what’s the purpose of the work. Is it commercial, is it for your portfolio, is it a present for someone, or you’re just exploring and seeing how it goes?! From that point on, let your creativity flow. It all starts with a drawing, so don’t be afraid to give it a go!
Ps.: If there is any artwork showcased on this article that is yours and we didn’t give you credit, contact us.