Creating a bold numerical design with Mario De Meyer

In this tutorial, graphic designer Mario de Meyer shares the process behind one of his slick numerical designs created for this year’s 36 Days of Type challenge. Open up Affinity Designer and follow his step-by-step written guide to try out his techniques.

Step 1—Creating the outline of the number

Draw a circle with a black stroke of 40pt with no fill and hit Convert to Curves. Add an extra anchor point with the Node Tool.

Select the left and bottom anchor point of the circle and click Break Curve, then delete that part of the circle.

Go to the Layer menu and select Expand Stroke. Hold alt and press Add on the context toolbar to convert this to a compound path, you should now see a “compound path” in the Layers Panel as shown below.

Select the Contour Tool from the Tools Panel to the left of your workspace (or press shortcut O) and make sure the overall compound path is selected in the Layers Panel. With the Contour Tool still selected, drag left to apply a negative contour until the path becomes a thin line.

Select the curve layer in the compound path and make a copy by alt+dragging the curve layer, or dragging the curve layer to the Add Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel.

Scale the copied layer down and place it in the centre of the other curve. Because of the scaling, the outline will disappear. Select the Contour Tool (or press shortcut O) and apply a positive offset by dragging right until it has a thin line similar to the bigger curve.

Select the Rectangle Tool in the Tools Panel (or hit shortcut M) and draw a rectangle until you have a thin line with a similar thickness to the other curves.

Place the rectangle between the two rounded curves and adjust its length by dragging the middle anchor points of the selection either left or right.

Make two copies of the rectangle by alt+dragging or dragging the rectangle layer to the Add Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel, then rotate them by 45° (hold shift then rotate for 15° increments).

Adjust the length of the rectangles and position them like the below example.

Copy the horizontal rectangle twice and rotate it 90°. Then place it at the bottom as shown in the example below.

Copy the horizontal rectangle two more times, adjust the length and position as in the image below to finish the outline of the “2”.

Step 2—Making the inner shapes

Copy the big curve layer you made earlier and position it like in the below example.

Select the Pen Tool from the Tools Panel (or press shortcut P) and draw a shape that covers the part that’s outside of the “2”. Select both the curve and this new shape and click Subtract on the Toolbar.

Repeat the above step several more times.

Your “2” should now look similar to the example below.

Step 3—Colouring the individual parts

Select everything and go to Layer > Convert to Curves. Make a copy of this new layer and turn the visibility off (on the Layers Panel, untick the tick box to hide the layer).

Draw a rectangle that covers the whole “2”, select this rectangle and the “2” shape and click Divide on the Toolbar.

Delete all the excessive parts and turn visibility back on for your copy of the “2” until the design looks like the example below.

Colour the individual parts to your own preference. For this I used:

  • white = R228/230/216
  • yellow = 255/150/59
  • red = 242/82/68
  • teal = 95/186/176
  • blue = 64/94/130

Select all layers and group them by selecting Group from the Layer menu, then make a copy of that group.

Lower the opacity of the top group to around 50% and set the blend mode to Overlay. Move that group to the lower right so it’s creates the illusion of a shadow.

Select the Pen Tool and draw a line with a black stroke at a 45° angle. Repeat and place these lines at the edges of your “2” design like in the below example.

Drag the diagonal line in the top group (the group with the Overlay blend mode) and position as in the below example.

The other lines should be placed outside this group with a 100% Opacity and blend mode set to Normal. Your design should now look like this.

Step 4—Adding the background colour

Make a copy of the top group, drag it to the bottom of the layer hierarchy and hide it for now. Add a rectangle background layer and place this at the bottom of the layer hierarchy with an RGB value of 210/210/210.

On the Colour Panel click the dot on the left of the opacity slider to reveal the noise options and set noise to around 27% to give this rectangle some texture.

Select the Pen Tool and draw a shape underneath the top group with no fill or stroke that covers the whole inside area of the “2”, this will serve as a clipping mask. Drag the top group into this new shape layer to make a clipping path.

Turn on the visibility of the bottom group and adjust the layer opacity to 100%.

Your finished design should now look like this!

The final design

To see Mario’s 36 Day’s of Type challenge in full, check out @mariodemeyer on Instagram.

If you would like to learn more about Mario and his work, visit his website and Behance profile, and read our interview with him here.