One of the most common messages I get goes something like this: “What is your process for creating sigils? It can’t be as simple as scrambling up letters, so what’s the real secret?”
The truth is, there isn’t a secret. Making sigils is actually quite simple. Anyone can do it. Even for a complete newcomer, the process should take less time than a coffee break. While there are many, many ways to create sigils — magic squares, automatic drawing, grid overlays — the methods don’t really matter all that much.
In this post, I’m going to show the step-by-step method I used for creating the most recent sigil I’ve published. It came at the request of a young woman who wanted to catch the romantic attentions of another female. It said simply: “She will see me in a romantic way.”
As you can see, I’ve gone with the most basic sigil-creation method here. I’ve written out the text, and I’ve isolated the consonants from the sentence. While there is an “occult” tradition behind this method, I wouldn’t get hung up on thinking that it’s the “right” way to make a sigil. It’s no better than any other method, it’s just easier to explain.
This first step is meant to abstract the coherent words into a less-coherent jumble of letters. The words stop being as meaningful, but the symbols behind the sigil’s intent remain. To keep things simple — and to speed up my next step — I arrange these letters into a grid.
The next step is to abstract the remaining letters even further. Here, I’ve simply started combining elements of the letters together. I generally start by picking two letters from the grid of consonants, and start combining lines, curves, curls, dots, and other pieces of those letters together.
I try to keep these new symbols as simple as possible — four or five pencil strokes at most — because I’ll be further combining them in the next step.
From here, I generally play around with a few ideas, combining elements of symbols as I go. Sometimes these ideas come easily, as seen in the picture, but sometimes it can take pages and pages of sketches to find one I like. In particularly thorny situations, I’ll even start the entire process over from scratch, just to give myself a clean slate.
Once I’ve found a design I like, it’s time to start on the final design. Much like every other stage in the process, there is no one “right” way to do this. This is also the step where most people could happily stop. The sigil is complete, after all. The sigil is complete when it feels right.
In my case, however, I’m also making art for my website and social media. That means creating a version of the sigil that will (hopefully) catch other people’s eyes. There are countless ways to do this — charcoals, crayons, digital painting, markers — and I’ve experimented quite a bit over the years with each.
I also like to have an excuse to play with ink and brushes, so that’s how this one came together. I like that it’s a little unpredictable — with streaks and globs and splatter — and I’m always thrilled when a happy accident improves the design.
As you can see, I create tons of variations, tinkering with brush sizes, stroke direction, the amount of ink in the brush, and other stuff. While I liked some of these versions, it wasn’t until much later
A few ink-soaked pages later, and this version was the clear winner. From here, it was just a matter of scanning the image in and doing a few technical things in Photoshop to make it look better in black and white. I add the text, the watermark, and … that’s it.
Here’s the finished version.
As you can see, there’s no great secret to making a sigil. Nor should there be. Sigils are about focusing intent, and even a few pencil scratches on notebook paper can become a perfectly wonderful sigil with the right intent behind it. Yes, some people (like me) like to do a little showing off with things they picked up from art class, but that should never be a barrier to creating your own personal sigils.