Hope Meng combines letterforms with designer strokes to create elegant monograms. See how she customizes lettering and strokes in Adobe Illustrator.

Hope Meng is a multidisciplinary designer and artist. Her passion projects tend to be long-running and driven by a deep love for letterforms and experimentation. Some examples include the Monogram Project, TEXT/TILE Studio, and the 36 Days of Type project.


Sync your favorite font from Adobe Fonts before you try this technique. The font used in this tutorial is Bely Display.

Create an outline

Meng used the Type (T) tool to add initials using the Bely Display font synced from Adobe Fonts. Then she dragged to select the initials with the Selection (V) tool, right-clicked, and chose Create Outlines. Meng included the white ghost image that you can use as a guide if you’d like to follow her steps to create the monogram.

‘tk’ show as black letters, selection tool is in the top left, white ghost of the monogram appears behind letters

Anchor your design

With the text converted to an outline, Meng could then customize the form of the letters using the Direct Selection (A) tool. She dragged across the top portion of the ‘t’ and pulled down on an anchor point to shorten it. Then she selected the crossbar of the ‘t’ and shortened it, removed a serif at the base of the ‘k’, and clicked the top anchor point of the ‘k’ and dragged it down as well.

Anchor points on top right of ‘t’ and ‘k’, on crossbar of ‘t’, and bottom serif of the ‘k’, direct selection tool is top left

Guide the slope

Meng drew a red guide using the Line Segment (\) tool. She aligned it to follow the slope of the ‘t’ and to extend beyond the ‘k’. Then she used the Direct Selection tool to select the top anchor points of the ‘k’ and drag them to match the slope of the ’t’. When she finished, she moved the guide out of the way.

Red line displays at angle over the top line of the ‘t’. Anchor points on the ‘k’ show it is being aligned with red guide

Decorate the type

For a bit of flair, Meng used the Pen (P) tool to draw a flourish extending from the ‘k’.

The Pen tool shows in the upper right and a line swirl decoration from the ‘k’ with anchor points on the line

Set the path

With the decorative swirl still selected, she chose Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

Menu selection Object > Path > Outline Stroke shows above zoomed in monogram

Unite the elements

Meng then joined the decoration with the type by dragging the Selection tool across everything and clicking Unite from the Pathfinder in the Properties (Window > Properties) panel.

Pathfinder appears to the right of the monogram with ‘Unite’ option selected

Form a connection

To further blend the artwork, Meng used the Direct Selection tool to drag the top inside corner of the ‘k’, then dragged an anchor point indicated by a circle to create a curved path between the ‘k’ and the swirl.

Direct selection tool shows in the upper left, the anchor point in the curve between the ‘k’ and the decoration has a callout

Refine the endpoint

Meng added the final touch by double-clicking the end of the decoration with the Direct Selection tool. She then dragged each anchor point to create a flared endpoint.

The ‘tk’ monogram is selected and the end of the swirl decoration is flared at the edges

Create expression through monograms

Combine typography and decorative strokes to create an elegant design for your brand.

The ‘tk’ monogram appears in goldleaf on a black business card

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.


Artist: Hope Meng

Adobe Stock contributor: Rawpixel.com