Hand Lettering 101. A Basic Guide to Hand Lettering. Many of you have been asking for tips and tutorials on how I create my hand-lettered artwork. This page is continually updated.
Hand Lettering 101
Disclaimer: I love what I do, but I am not claiming to be an expert at hand lettering. Although it’s worth noting I have several published books and ebooks on hand lettering and I have some designs in stores like Hobby Lobby, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and TJ Maxx…so I’m not completely awful at it either. 😉
Hand-lettering was not something touched on in my time in Graphic Design school. Most hand lettering artists, myself included, are self-taught. I learned about the history of design, color, type, etc. and how to use the design programs in school (namely Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop). One of my professors said I had a knack for choosing and mixing typography and I fell head over heels in love with typefaces, fonts, and especially hand lettering. I started reading up on it and basically just started practicing (more on that later in the post). My method may not always be the “proper” way (in fact, that’s highly likely to be the case). I simply do what works for me.
In my daily life, I don’t have the prettiest hand-writing. I consider lettering a type of drawing. While you do need some artistic talent to do hand-lettering, don’t let your handwriting deter you from trying this art form.
Ok, Let’s get started with Hand Lettering 101!
Hand-Type vs. Hand-Lettering
What I do is actually not hand-type, it’s technically hand-lettering. Read about the difference here. Many people use the terms interchangeably even though they’re actually different.
My Favorite Tools of the Trade
- Art Supplies | My favorite general art supplies can be found here.
- Markers | Read all about my Favorite Markers for Hand-Lettering here.
Find out how to fake it ’til you make it here.
How to Do Bounce Lettering
What is it? How to do it + a free practice sheet here.
The Best Markers + Supplies for Brush Lettering
See all my favorites here.
Best Watercolor Sets for Beginners
Check out the sets I own, use, love and recommend here.
Brush Calligraphy and Lettering FAQs
I took all the questions I’m most frequently asked and answered them here. Lefty tips, how to hold the pen, troubleshooting issues with upstrokes and downstrokes, paper choices that are brush pen friendly, and more!
Brush lettering requires some practice but it’s so fun to use pressure to control the thickness of your stroke, which gives you a calligraphic style of lettering. See the full Brush Lettering tutorial, video, and downloadable free practice sheets here. You can also get a second set of free practice sheets here.
30 Days to Better Brush Calligraphy
A free 30 Day Practice Challenge you can use to up those brush lettering skills here.
The Brush Calligraphy Guide + Workbook
Check out this complete guide for beginners here. This guide was created after many requests from readers who did the 30 Day Challenge above. 🙂
Fun with Flourishing: A FREE practice ebook!
Grab it here.
Brush Calligraphy Blending Techniques
Learn both techniques here.
Three Ways to Use Tombow Brush Pens
Check out the tutorial here.
Modern Calligraphy 101
Learn all about getting started with Modern Calligraphy here.
How to Do Watercolor Calligraphy
Learn how to create this beautiful and colorful Calligraphy here.
10+ Hand Lettering Tutorials
See all ten tutorials here.
The Best Books for Hand-Lettering
I got started by collecting books and practicing, practicing, and practicing some more. See 16 of my favorite books on the art of lettering here.
- I start every single print with a bunch of sketches of the phrase/quote I’m working on. This helps me figure out a good layout for all the words in the phrase.
- After I settle on a layout, I draw lines/boxes with rulers to keep my text straight or within certain parameters as dictated by my initial sketches.
- I always sketch in pencil…with a lot of erasing.
- When I’m happy with the lettering/illustration, I trace it in marker and add details. After the marker dries, I erase any remaining pencil lines. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I do a lot of cleaning-up after I import my drawing to my laptop. I’m a lefty. I’m forever smearing my work. Which is precisely why I don’t sell originals of my work. Work with what you have! 🙂
- I scan or photograph my design and import it into Adobe Illustrator (sometimes Photoshop depending on the situation but the bulk of the time I use Illustrator).
- I use Illustrator to trace (digitize) the design and then add in details and color and clean-up lines. I’m not going to do a detailed tutorial on this because it’s not a program most people have, but if getting serious about hand-type interests you, put these programs on your radar.
Want to learn hand-lettering in much greater detail?
Join my free art + lettering class here.
The class is run via Facebook Group and set up to you can jump in at any time. Just request to join and once added, visit the “Files” tab to get the course outline. Below is a sample of one of the weekly lettering exercises we do. There are also daily share threads that are an extension of the 30 Day Art and Lettering Challenges I run over on Instagram.
My Books on Art + Lettering
Check out my current and coming books here.
You can follow me here but these are specific to design.
I hope you find this bit of insight into how I do my lettering work helpful! Leave a question in the comments if I didn’t touch on something you’re curious about. 🙂