Here are some of the best resources I have encountered for understanding Bezier Curves and vector best practices, so you can vector and digitise your lettering and logos. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me!
Logo and Font Lettering Bible
This book has one of two covers, the contents are exactly the same (awesome!):
The section titled “Bezier Curves for Cowards” provides a very clear and easy to follow method for getting to grips with vectors and bezier curves. This section has helped me tremendously.
Contents sample image from the logofontandlettering.com official site:
A couple of close up images of the Bezier Curve for Cowards chapter:
I picked up a copy from my local library and have it pretty much on permanent loan renewal. I don’t think there are any other lettering artists in my town amazingly! Libraries are such underrated amazing resources!
You can order the Logo, Font & Lettering Bible from Amazon.
These are some great online courses that give a great insight and instruction on drawing with vectors and bezier curves:
Jessica Hische Introduction to Lettering: One Letterform at a Time Skillshare class. Jessica does a really great job of explaining bezier curves and vectors away from the computer, drawing examples with pencil on paper. She also said “Live Trace is the enemy of beautiful perfect curves” ha ha!
Sean McCabe Digitizing Hand Lettering: From Sketch to Vector Skillshare class is all round goodness, and it has one specific video that covers vectoring really well: “Creating Precise Vectors With The Pen Tool”. A slightly different approach which I like the look of, but haven’t tried is that Sean plots all the extrema points first and then goes back and extends and positions the handles after.
Neil Tasker – Lettering: Learn to Draw Illustrative Words Skillshare Class. It is really useful to watch Neil vector lettering in this class.
Lynda.com - There are numerous courses on Lynda.com. If you happen to have a membership already, you can find some good stuff in there, if not, I wouldn’t pay solely for that purpose. One of the best lessons was following the methods from the Logo and Font Lettering Bible previously mentioned. The other resources such as Skillshare are cheaper and just as good. Skillshare is lifetime access and most of the tutors in the lettering classes are professionals in this specific niche which is one of the reasons why I like it.
Other artists sharing their vectoring process
I also observe what other lettering artists do and how they place points and handles.
If you search carefully, some of the top respected lettering artists post insights on their vector process which I always find super helpful. Here are two examples that have really helped me. Thanks to Neil for always answering my questions!
Note – I have only shared / embedded other artists images when the option is available, the rest is links to their own sites to respect copyright.
Neil Secretario Example
Notice how Neil has constrained the angle of his handles to 0, 90 and 45 degrees.
Also check out this image.
Ryan has shared some great tips and resources around vectoring in this post.
Putting it all into practice
So, using all these wonderful resources and things I have learned, here is a personal example that I recently vectored so you can see the principles put into practice:
Electro Skin Original Brush Pen Scan
Not a perfect design by any means, but practice makes progress!
Waaaay too many points at varying angles = a big mess!
Constrained as far as possible all points at the extrema and to 0 or 90 degree angles. Much cleaner and smoother!
I have shared the final design on Behance.
Feel free to use these “after” screen shots of my vector points and handles to trace over in illustrator to learn about the process. I can’t guarantee that these points are the absolute best placements but they are certainly better than the before shots. If anyone has an further comments or tips or if you can improve upon what I have created please let me know! If you do practice with these images, please keep the work to yourself and do not share on social media or claim it as your own as this was an actual logo that I created for a client. Bezier Curves and point placement is definitely something that takes practice.
So that wraps up this article on bezier curves best practices and top resources. I hope that it was useful and helps you on your vector journey! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
Practice and have fun!
Happy Hand Lettering!