Hand Lettering 101 – A Simple Guide To Get You Started

If you are keen on art, then you have definitely come across some beautiful examples of hand lettering. From street signs to coffee shop walls to national ad campaigns, you can find hand lettering styles everywhere. As hand-lettering is so much in trend nowadays, it is nearly impossible for it to go unnoticed. Unlike the typical printed fonts, these hand lettering fonts are visually appealing and stand out. Especially for those of us who always look out for something creative and handmade, hand lettering instantly connects to our hearts.   If you are anything like me and find yourself spending a lot of time binge-watching those oddly satisfying hand lettering and calligraphy videos on IGTV and Pinterest thinking, “Oh, I wish I could draw like that! ” then, bingo! you have come to the right place. By the end of this blog post, you will be mastering the art of hand lettering as a beginner.    So, are you interested in Hand Lettering? Then, why wait? Let’s dive into it and explore the style. Welcome to the ultimate guide to Hand Lettering!

What Is Hand Lettering?

Hand Lettering is a specific creative skill in which you use letters to create beautiful art or design. It is the art of drawing or illustrating letterforms by hand (hence the name). There are no rules, all you have to do is put your creativity onto your letters. You can draw the alphabet in different sizes, shapes, fonts, forms, etc.        You might think that Hand Lettering is just a fancier version of handwriting. But this is not true! Even though both practices use the same written language, hand lettering requires some level of skill and discipline that need to be developed to achieve your desired lettering goals. So, no matter how your handwriting looks (neat or messy), you can still master hand lettering fonts.    The best part is you can create a masterpiece without the use of any fancy tools. You can always get started with a tool as simple as a pen or pencil. However, professionals use a variety of mediums to their art, including chalk, ink, paint, brush pens, and even bizarre mediums like make-up, food, and coffee.  

Where is Hand Lettering Used?

Hand lettering can trace its way back to the middle ages where all the books and letters were written by hand. They often include intricate drop caps and drawings of the letters to help narrate the story.    Today, hand lettering is back in the trend and is used everywhere. Logos, posters, t-shirt designs, magazine covers, social media posts, album covers, lyric videos, cases & skins of phones, tablets and computers, mug designs, stickers, greeting cards, bags, advertising campaigns, book covers, movie posters, drinking labels, murals, calendars – you name it.      Honestly, the possibilities are endless. You can use the hand lettering alphabet wherever you wanted to add a personal touch and be creative.    

A Four-Step Guide To Get Started With Hand Lettering As A Beginner

Are you are someone who wants to learn hand lettering but couldn’t keep it in practice due to lack of guidance and knowledge? Don’t worry! You are not alone. Scroll down to a simple four-step guide to get you started with hand lettering.

Step – 1: Choose Your Tools

Like I said earlier, you don’t have to spend a fortune buying fancier tools right away. However, having the right pens and pencils will make hand lettering a bit easier. There is a wide range of supplies for various styles, the most important thing is finding the best tools that work for you and your hand-lettering style. 

Pencils – Mechanical Or Lead-In

I like to use mechanical or lead-in pencils as they always stay sharp and gives a lot of flexibility. My personal favourite is the Koh-I-Noor Mephisto Pencil. Lead-In pencils range from 6H (hard) to 6B (soft), HB being the middle of the road. It is always a wise option to typically sketch with the lighter pencils (harder lead) and then move on to harder ones (hard lead) once your design has taken more shape.  

Pens

Pens come in a lot more varieties than pencils. I prefer using fine point ink pens but I also have friends who love using thicker brush pens. So, choosing the best pen is all about finding what works for you.    Micron pens can be a good starter as they come in a range from really tiny (for those little details to give a little something extra from your work) to a nice thick size (for filling the alphabet with ink). If you want to focus on clean and detailed letters, these pens are a good bet.    If you want to go for a looser and freeform style, bush pens for brush lettering are the best. Try Tombow for brush lettering.  

Paper

There is a host of varieties when it comes to choosing paper and everyone works differently. However, lettering books or sketchbooks are a great way to start. Canson Multi-Media Paper Pad is a popular choice when it comes to using various medium like pen, pencil, marker, pastel, watercolour, charcoal, etc. If you want to use ink pens, then these books are a perfect choice as the paper won’t bleed.    Tracing paper is also a great choice if you are just starting as they give you a smooth surface to practice on, while not draining all the ink from your pens. If you want help in keeping your weights consistent as well as having a hold on your baseline, cap height, and x-height, you can use graph paper too.   For a complete toolset, you can try the Tombow hand lettering kit for beginners. It has everything you need to start hand lettering right away.

Warm-Up Yourself

Since we have gathered all the tools necessary to start hand lettering practice, let us now warm up ourselves by sketching different lettering styles.   I start each of my projects with simple warm-up exercises. Just make a few straight lines on a piece of paper. Start by drawing a few angled straight lines, curved lines, and move on to more complex curves and shapes. Why the Lines and shapes? Because they are the building blocks for letters and so are good for practising. Try keeping these shapes in the same line and evenly spaced as this helps with the balance and kerning in your future hand lettering works. Also, don’t rush! Take your own time as it is better to be slow and accurate than quick and messy.

Start The Lettering

Start lettering by taking a simple word and drawing as many styles as you can with that word. Dump all your creativity and produce a few unique styles. Don’t care about the looks. Whether they are ugly or pretty, just continue producing more and more styles and fill the whole page or multiple pages with the word. This practice will help you in getting used to the lettering and making you confident.     Want some inspiration? Here are a few hand lettering fonts we have on the internet, you can have a look.              

Produce the Masterpiece

Now that you are comfortable with the basic strokes and your hand is nice and warmed up, it is now time to have fun. From the last exercise pick up a few styles you love the most and produce the masterpiece. Before you start, as I said before, first draw a layout on the chosen paper with a lighter pencil to get a clear view of how the model will look like after completion. Make a basic layout by giving enough room for each word. To complement the art piece, highlight the keyword of your message using a desirable font, text, and colour. You can give each word a different style, don’t be afraid to mix different looks. Make the text easy to read, don’t complicate it.     Your piece may not look good on the first attempt. Don’t be disappointed! You will eventually get better after practising the above tips multiple times. Written by Sowmya Cherukuri  [email protected]

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