What Exactly is Hand Lettering?
So you've found my page on your quest to learn hand lettering.. but what is it and where do you go from here? Maybe you have tried but didn't feel like you could get the hang of it? Or maybe, like me, you research before you get started with something new? Whether you're a newbie or you have experience in the field, this will help walk you through some basics and get you on the way to lettering your own beautiful things!
This picture is from one of my hand lettering workbooks I offer on Etsy, Click here to check out my shop!
I'll start with the most basic part of it all. What is hand lettering? When I first started with hand lettering, I thought I was just doing fancy cursive. I learned that it's not quite the best description. It is more of a form of art instead of just plain 'ol writing. Hand lettering requires much more discipline that just writing. It also takes some time (and lots of patience) to develop the skills and muscle memory needed to achieve your lettering goals.
A few things before you dive deep into the art of hand lettering are pens, materials, the lettering itself, and practicing techniques.
FIRST THINGS FIRST, PENS!!!
This is always the first question I get asked. What kind of pens do you use?
My favorite to practice with are the Crayola Super Tip markers. They have a good tip for being able to apply the pressure you need in your downstrokes, without ruining the markers. I print out my hand lettering workbook pages and use them for practicing.
Another favorite of mine are the PaperMate Flair Felt Tip pens. These are good for doing faux calligraphy! Click here to get a practice sheet for faux calligraphy and a how-to guide!
I also love using regular thick Crayola markers. These helped me a lot with learning the pressure of the up and downstrokes before I spent the money on the brush tips. For beginners, I would suggest trying this. It is an inexpensive way to learn the basics. and more easily accessible. You can get these at the store when you go for groceries. The cool thing about these markers is that when you apply more pressure for your downstrokes, it will bend the tip of the marker, without ruining it! The thin tip Crayola markers are also good for learning the faux calligraphy.
Once I got better at lettering, I bought some of the Tom Bow Dual Brush Markers. These are a lot more tricky than Crayola, but once you get it down, they are the best! I practiced a LOT with these. They come in some really beautiful colors and are water based, so I use them to do hand lettered watercolor signs too!
Now What Kind of Paper?
The obvious choice would be printer paper. Most people have it on hand so it's more accessible. That definitely works, but there are some better options, rather than just a blank piece of paper. A Bullet Journal is a great option. If you aren't familiar with what that is, it is a journal that has dot grids on the pages. The dot grid makes it easier to keep your sizing, angles, and proportions the same throughout your lettering. It's also cool to be able to use the journal and track your progress as you practice more and more.
Another option is using blank, lined sheets. Download some FREE practice sheets HERE! You can print a handful of these and start practicing. If you purchase any of my hand lettering workbooks, these are included with each workbook. My hand lettering books will have different types of lettering, depending on the workbook. It will give you traceable lettering so that you can practice tracing, get a feel for how the letters are formed, then practice on your own. Each workbook is themed and has cute, traceable sayings. My favorite one right now is the Farmhouse Workbook. Go to my SHOP and check them out.
Download a FREE Dot Grid sheet HERE to practice. Also, check out one of my bullet journal spreads below.
One thing I wish I would have known before I started hand lettering is this.. You will find your own, unique style. You can practice with worksheets, trace and trace for hours, but you will learn that your letters are always going to turn out as your own! Embrace your own style and build on it. I spent lots of hours trying to make my lettering look like the lettering in the YouTube videos I was learning from.
Another thing I wish I would have known is that you can use tracing paper over your workbook pages instead of using LOTS and LOTS of printer paper and ink. In the beginning, I was printing so much and was finally relieved when I learned this trick. Definitely saved me money.
It's always a good idea to start your lettering with some warm-up drills. This will help you get into the groove of the pressure of the strokes before you just jump right in. This part saved me from a lot of anxiety. I hated jumping right in and messing up. This helps a lot with that!
I would assume that if you're here, maybe you have watched some YouTube videos of people hand lettering, seen some posts on social media? One thing to remember is that people who post themselves hand lettering, often speed up their videos. I do the same thing. You should be taking your time. Pick up your pen after each stroke and make sure you go slow. If you don't go slow and make time to think ahead, most likely your letters are not going to turn out how you want them. You can see how the letters below are formed from separate strokes.