This is my standard process for hand-lettering work. A typical project will take about two weeks.
When I have the vision and the content for the project provided, I begin with sketches. First I simply write out the words to get a feel for them, and then I'll play with different arrangements and text styles.
This part of the process can be very brief, with maybe one page of little sketches, or it can span many days and many sheets of paper.
I will begin to consider one or two serious options for the direction of the project. I will draw out more full-page sketches, and from those we can determine what direction I am going to move forward with.
I make meticulous improvements to the final concept, tweaking and perfecting the desired shape for each letter, ligature, and stroke.
I do a final hand-rendering of the concept, beginning with a pencil outline followed by ink. This part of the process can take anywhere from one to five hours, depending on the size and level of detail.
I scan or photograph the final inked piece and digitally trace it. Depending on the desired aesthetic, I either auto-trace, leaving all the edges rough and imprecise for a piece that looks more like the original drawing, or I will manually trace for more ability to tweak and to achieve more exact curves (more than 90% of the time I will manually trace). In either case, I will make adjustments in letter spacing, thickness, and alignment at this stage. Time for this step can range widely, between one hour and 15+ hours.
I present and deliver the final work, along with an outline of the entire creative process.