A Personal Project

Blackbird fly

A lettering and illustration project celebrating Beatles Day – June 25. The illustration is also available as a free digital wallpaper download.

The Project

The Idea

I wanted to create a piece for Beatles day on June 25, but I also wanted to create a piece with meaning and importance for today. I considered a number of their lyrics but settled on blackbird fly. Paul McCartney’s original intention was as a tribute to the civil rights fight among the black community. The song works as a lullaby and to me is deeply meaningful to young people who will need to pick up the fight for justice, for freedom, for their needs, for their life.
Considering the fact that it sounded like a lullaby made me think of young people, so I wanted to keep the lettering funky and fun but also include the idea of freedom and justice.

2022 | 2023

The Details

Size | Style | Tools

I knew I wanted the lettering art to be available to anyone and digital wallpapers have been popular for my followers but I also wanted the feeling of a poster, so I decided to create first a size that would correlate with more horizontal orientation then try a design with a vertical feel. Using just the title, Blackbird Fly worked for the more horizontal, but using the chorus where they repeat Blackbird Fly twice worked better for a more poster like design. As you’ll see in the sketches I attempted a number of ways to create it.

I knew I wanted to create something funky, like a 60s style lettering and loved the idea of creating the trippy swirls and rounded edges on the letters that are also evidence of the art nouveau period. I also chose a more obvious illustration in the bird but knew I didn’t want to make him actually black, instead I wanted to keep the illustration more colorful. I also wanted to add something with meaning for freedom and because I love creating works with flowers, decided on lilies since they are a symbol for freedom.

Finally, the tools I used for this project were pencil and paper, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop.

From Beginning To End: Blackbird Fly

The Process


Step One

Step 1: Sketches

I began this project with sketches since I already had an idea of the style I wanted to use. I did begin with smaller sized sketches to get the composition but used tracing paper to continue refining the lettering and ideas. This was one of those, but didn’t work like I wanted. Once I had a composition I liked, I went on to refining the sketches.



Step Two

Step 2: Sketches

Once I have the layout I want, I tweak and at times chang things up by making the lettering thicker or taller, or slanting it, moving the flourishes, generally making the lettering look more balanced. I keep working sketches until I have something I love. Here, I got through about 11 sketches, then I created the final sketch.


Step three

Step 3: Digitize

After scanning in the final sketch I get to work in Adobe Illustrator, using the pen tool to create the letter shapes and illustration pieces. Here, I print out what I have and check for necessary changes. I adjust in Illustrator and print again. I use this process until I like how the letter shapes and illustration look.

Then, I work on color applications. I may work through several, trying them out on a number of different screens and eventually printing 2 to 3 and deciding on 1. Then it’s off to the final steps in Photoshop.


Step Four

Step 4: Finalize

Most of my letting art in this project makes it’s way to Photoshop. In photoshop I copy the original Illustrator layers and begin adding fine detail to the lettering and illustration. Usually this means light, shadow, textures, line work using brushes. I also add effects like noise layers, drop shadows or bevels that I didn’t do in Illustrator. From here I take it to a couple different screens and print it off again. If I like how things look I move to creating mockups and the actual use items like the digital backgrounds.

Digital Background Wallpapers

Blackbird Fly

Mary Kathleen Scott

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