A Peek At The Sigil-Making Process

by , under Custom Sigils, Demystification

I regularly get requests for clarifications on the sigil-making process, so I thought I’d show a few of the steps I use to (quickly) create some of the custom sigils I make for Sigil Daily’s Tumblr and Twitter followers.

This isn’t meant to imply my process is the “right” way to do it, as there are many, many techniques and approaches to sigilcraft. This is a fast, efficient way to make a sigil for one of our social media followers, and for a desire I have no personal investment in. In your sigil work you probably aren’t going for speed, and you may need to go through dozens of versions to create the sigil that speaks to your personal desire.

The example below is one I made yesterday, and I chose it because it came together quickly, on a single page, and in a matter of a few minutes. It’s common for sigils to take a half-dozen pages like this before I finally settle on a design.

Step 1: Drafting

The request here was a simple one. “I am enough.” I wrote it out using a charcoal pencil on a page i my cheap sketchbook ($4 from Michael’s). At first, I thought I’d try working with Irish uncial characters (top left), but soon decided that Orkhon characters (”Turkic runes”) were a better fit for my mood.

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Note that I didn’t strike out the vowels. I often don’t when I’m working with non-Latin alphabets, and if you’re curious about why, I explain it in this post.

You can see the merging of shapes as I play around with the basic structure. It may be harder to see the process, but a large part of my process is simply to turn letters and shapes until they overlap, then merge the lines.

The final rough sigil is in the middle.

Step 2: Clarifying

Once I have the overall symbol worked out, I break out the charcoals, conte crayons or oil pastels. Then I do a few versions with different line weights and proportions. It’s common for me to do pages and pages of these, looking for the one that comes together just right. I’m going to be showing these off on Tumblr, after all.

You don’t need to worry about this step. Your sigil is for you, and no one else. It can be as simple or as rough as you like.

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As you can see, this isn’t a home run. The lines are uneven, and it’s pretty rough. It doesn’t look as polished as the things I post to my site and to Tumblr. It has also changed a little from the charcoal sketch, as I’m still playing around with some of the details.

In this case, I didn’t create a final charcoal version. I knew I was going to make yet another version in ink, so I kept it simple.

Step 3: Final Draft

Now that I had a draft I liked, I broke out the brushes and ink. After warming up with some rougher versions (just to practice the strokes), I made an ink version. Here’s how it looked.

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Again, I’ve made a few tweaks to the design, but the fundamental shape hasn’t changed much from that first charcoal draft.

Step 4: Finalization

I didn’t feel like waiting for the ink to dry, so I simply took a photo and ran that into Photoshop for a but of cleanup. (If you’re curious, I cropped it, desaturated the image, and put it through the Treshhold process to get clean a black and white image.)

From there, it was just a matter of placing the text, resizing it for the web, and posting it.

"I am enough."

“I am enough.”

In retrospect, I could have cleaned up the edges a little to make for smoother lines. But art isn’t supposed to be perfect, is it?

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