Here are the steps I took with a short introduction of the task:
STEP 1 : Browse for ideas, well actually… read a book
For this class, you're supposed to read a book first, or use the book as the subject for this task and create a cover design in the form of a drop cap letter. The book I’m currently reading isn’t really ideal material for this class (murders, crime scenes etc.). Although I have to admit that there is some material to work with here as things take place in Russia around 1800. The time and place alone is already good stuff to work with, but I just had my mind set on creating a drop cap of the first letter of my name as I want to create some sort of illustrative symbol for (possible) personal use. Sorry teacher :)
STEP 2 : Jot down some keywords & start sketching
To be honest I didn’t spend all too much time on the keywords. I was writing down some things that define me: design, cycling, creativity, illustration, colors… I was thinking, either to go into the direction of vector-based illustration, as people know me from my Illustrator tutorials, but I know I’m also fond of colors, and geometrical shapes and patterns. Then there is my love for cycling of course. Can’t miss my bike for a couple of days or it starts to feel like I haven’t been cycling for more than a week. So enough stuff to go on…
The first sketches I tried out are a very curly letter V where I tried to add in a bezier curve to put in the link with Illustrator vector art. Then I tried out the direction of cycling, starting from a bike, then have a letter V emerged from the bike's frame, and some geometrical lines, ending up with a square shape.
From there I tried the geometrical route. The one on the right was the first one I drew. I had the idea adding in some Illustrator vector points. This one felt a bit too 'organised' and simple. I think a lot depends on how the colors are applied. I used a circle because while I was drawing these I was thinking to place the icon next to my avatar illustration, which I would also place into a circle. So I would end up with 2 circles side by side.
Since I found the end result a bit too ’simple’ to my liking, I tried out another version with a bit more random lines. I started by drawing the letter V, and then adding in some straight lines, and trying to find intersections and tangents.
In the last 2 sketches I tried to create something with a triangular pattern. Very simple idea really. The other one I tried to do something with depth, geometry, and Illustrator vector anchor points.
STEP 3 : Start drawing in Illustrator
After I scanned in the sketches. I choose to draw the geometrical V with the random lines and see where it would get me. That one gave me the best feeling to end up with something I like.
I drew a circle and the lines, and made sure the lines were perfectly intersecting…
Then I decided things up into segments by going to Pathfinder > Divide.
Next, I chose my color palette. I started from the colors I’m using for my (new) avatar and went from there…
The most difficult step was to add the different colors to the segments. This took several different rounds to end up with this result.
Then I added in some effects by duplicating the layer (on top) and adding in transparent gradients (I used 100% opacity of the color to 0%).
The result is way too hard to my liking, so I reduced things to keep it more subtle. I actually removed most of them and kept only the red/pink ones.
In the last step I tweaked and fine-tuned the colors to have them perfectly streamlined with my avatar. Some of the blues didn't match well and I removed the green tone in one of the lighter colors.
At this moment I let it rest, look at it again later… I’m also considering trying out one of the other sketches to see to which result I'll get. All in all the course Lettering for Designers: One Drop Cap Letterform at a Time is something I would recommend joining.