No we’re getting into the funky stuff, baby. As more developed graffiti writers like ourselves go through things on what can elevate a piece, we know things like cut-backs, bits, doodads and the most obvious of all – arrows – will help take a piece to the next step. It’s obvious when we paint more sophisticated pieces we’re going to be implementing some funky fresh add-ons for the viewer to use in order to turn some standard issue lettering to a solid wild-style that everyone wants to look at. These elements of piecing are one of the most simplest yet effective ways that many new-jacks seem to neglect and allow their weak style to not progress over the years of painting.
But probably the most important thing of all of this is to talk about 3D. How the hell can we talk about graffiti add-ons without talking about 3D? This is probably the most important element to graffiti lettering since the dawn of the craft. 3Ds are an essential element to adding a severe and incredible amount of depth to a piece with the most minimal effort. When adding in 3D you can go up, down, side to side and of course, ground up. This takes measly old letter fills to being bigger and more detailed.
The beauty of 3D as well is you can add a whole new element of fill tricks and techniques that you’ve used in your letter fill. Often times we want to shade these in a darker way to give it that depth, much like anything you’d see in design or typography, but it’s not limited to that just like anything else.
You can get your invert on and when you rock a dark colour fill you blast a light colour outline and 3D. Then we’ve got the drop shadow, which is like the younger, simpler brother to the 3D but definitely a solid and essential skill to have in your toolkit. The drop shadow tends to be the solid choice for when you’re rocking throw-ups, straight letters, or quick pieces. It’s another brilliant choice in regards to giving depth to your letters very quickly.
- To paint 3D we try to elaborate on what we already know from our fill and outline portion of the piece. We want to simply extend the the outline to give it the illusion as if the piece has thick and chunky, brick-like letters in it.
- The 3D isn’t limited to any sort of direction, you can go down word, on an angle, left side, right side or even upwards, which is a seldom used style, but looks really funky. What all of these things have in common is making sure that wherever you’ve decided to direct your 3D, all of the lines follow each other properly. There is nothing more unprofessional or ugly than inconsistent 3D.
- Let’s choose going downward for starters. This is one of the more simpler ways of painting 3D because all of the lines basically go in one direction and more or less end at the same end-point. If you’re painting 3D downward and you notice the bottom portion of you middle letter is much higher than your first letter, you’ve done it wrong and the viewers will notice it. So make sure you pick an end point and stick to it like glue.
- If you are painting on a brick wall, it’s nice to use the levels of the brick as guidelines where things should start and stop. This means that you can say your 3D with be one, two, three or however many bricks big, and that way, if you’ve painted the end of your first letter’s 3D being three bricks downward, then all of the following letters will be that size. This will ensure it will look correct.
- With downward 3D make sure to paint each side of an individual letter’s outline going straight down and connect these two lines however the letter is shaped. If the letter is straight then it will be a straight line across, and if the letter is rounded then they will connect with a rounded shape and so on and so forth.
- What’s good to remember with straight down (or side or up) 3D, is that at any point, the line will meet the 3D at the exact same point however big the 3D is. It’s almost as if you’re connecting points like a constellation and then filling in the sections that are open.
- Once you’ve connected these points and filled them in, that’s where you can use some of the techniques that we discussed in the fill section to add more funk and flare to your 3D. Giving your piece more visually stimulating elements.
- Now, let’s get into cut-backs. This element to painting could be filed under the fill technique category as well, but isn’t necessarily exclusive to that as not everyone uses them. The intention of cut-backs are generally to crisp up lines that may overlap incorrectly or have too much overspray. Some writers actually enjoy those elements in their pieces, but everyone should still know how to use cut-backs.
- When you’re cutting back you’ve generally already placed the first colour or colours into the piece and you’re getting ready to clean them up. When you’ve dropped down your original sprays, such as fill, outline, highlights, background, etc… this is where one might want to be using a thin cap, close to wall and with a quicker motion to get up close and personal to the line you’re going over.
- Cut backs tend to be a tricky thing as you have to see what’s right before you paint them. But generally you’ll notice something wrong and then implement the cut.
- Once you see some drips, over spray, or you’ve even gone too far over elements of your piece with paint, you analyze what’s wrong, get into stance and then cut over top. This can go for any part of the piece, if you notice that there is a portion you don’t like, you just cut back.
- Similar to 3D you must pick a start and end up to shave off the piece in order to make it correct, when you spot things like drips or overspray this is easy, but when there are more cryptic elements that you need to shave off this is where your discretion comes into play. As we’ve said before, all elements to a piece should make sense. So if you notice one part of your letter or 3D that is going in the wrong direction or is too big or little, you shave it off with the colour that should overlap it.
- Take the outline for example. If you notice your outline is too skinny in certain areas, you merely grab your outline colour, and spray over top of your fill in the direction you choose to go and make sure that from the starting point to the end point is all the same width or thickness. This similar to 3D ensure a clean and consistent look to your online.
- Think about it almost as if you’re taking an X-acto blade to a ripped piece of paper and you’re slicing through it to give it a sharp and clean line. Hence, why it’s called a cut back. With keeping that in mind, you’ll notice that you’ll be shaving off a portion of the original lines you’ve painted, so you have to be extremely cautious on not going over and over too much, which will end up leading you to having to cut back your cut-back. Confusing it sounds on paper, but in practice it all makes a lot of sense.
- Another funky element to graffiti burners we all enjoy adding, and seeing, are bits and doodads. Doodads look exactly how they sound – a little doodad or bit coming off the letter to give it some extra funk and size.
- The elements can utilize a variety of different shapes and sized, however, the often are just an extension of the letter themselves so the look as if they should be continuing on from the piece. This allows them to have a similar sizing to what they are branching off, but they are not limited to this.
- This is another place where utilizing your own unique style comes in handy. You can have a bit coming out of a letter that is sharp or angular and make the bit itself rounded or going in a different direction. Allowing this piece to break free of the lettering itself. It’s generally nice to add these to a piece for more visual stimulation, but the beauty of them as well is they can add extra size to the piece.
- One of the most common bits and doodads that we use in our pieces are arrows. There’s almost no way you haven’t seen arrows in all the graffiti you’ve seen. In fact, you’ve probably seen arrows coming out of arrows. Which again may not make sense, but can work brilliantly with your style if you so choose to do so. Arrows are like the grandfather of all the funk we extend off our letters and, like doodads, add much needed visual aesthetic and sizing to a piece.
- You can have an arrow breaking free or coming off a letter on each side of your piece and you’ve now extended the burner an extra 20% if not more. Some people tend say they’re played out, which may be partially true, but if they’re done tastefully, they’re just as dope as anything else you can add. Because they’re an extension of the piece, this leads us into another element, which we tend to just call “
- These are all within the same vein of bits, doodads and arrows and they are things that just fly out of the piece in any direction you choose to give some extra space. These similar to doodads hold a variety of shapes and sizes running from big rounded arms coming out of a letter, to thin connections that bring other letters together.
- To paint these elements to a piece you must take this information and choose where you would like to implement them. If you are going to add arrows to your piece, think about where might be an appropriate place to have one and then choose a starting point. We often tend to think of these parts of the piece as “tails”, now tails are their own sort of “doodads” but even arrows have tails as they whip off the letter they’re coming out of.
- Let’s say you decide to add a tail on your first letter, because this doodad is an extension of the letter it should almost always come out as an extension. That is to say, if you’ve got an ‘A’, you may what the connector (middle bar) to whip out from the right to the left of the letter, having it extend from the left bar of the A and moving further passed the outside of the letter and then stopping at a point you so choose.
- This is as your discretion, though some people don’t choose to go too far. Once you’ve established your end point you can either cut it off as a circle, flat bar, an arrow or even break off the connector at some point. In this case, we will choose arrow.
- When you’re adding an arrow, you generally will put the point of the arrow going in the same direction the extension is going. So if you’re going from right to left out of the ‘A’ then your arrow will be pointing in a left direction. This is what just makes sense.
- Fortunately in graffiti, many of these elements are pre-existing. So if you are using an arrow, you would make it look like one and make sure that the points between one another are equidistant so it looks like a correct triangular shape. If you are going to make it rounded, a similar school of thought is to make sure that the rounded edge would on in the same direction of the extension.
All of these elements are quick tricks at your disposal to floss your piece in such an easy but effective way. A lot of these treatments are not for everybody and they’re not mandatory in your work. In fact, nothing in these graffiti tutorials are absolutely mandatory, they’re just simple additions to adding extra flare to your already dope piece.