Hand Lettering Guide
What is hand lettering, anyway?
Hand lettering is the creation of artistic lettering. It’s more to do with drawing or painting letters than with traditional handwriting. Every letter is formed from different repeating shapes, requiring a great deal of patience, precision and creativity. From different variations of block letters to cursive script to advanced lettering techniques such as faux calligraphy, bounce lettering and brush lettering, there is a wide variety of alphabet and hand lettering styles. Different hand lettering styles can be combined with each other, embellished, supplemented with decorative features and assembled to form complete phrases. This means there are no limits to your creativity with hand lettering, as long as you stick to a couple of basic rules. Here, we tell you everything you need to know: what materials you will require as a beginner, what to consider when you’re hand lettering and how to learn the different lettering alphabets. We‘ve collected together all the hand lettering guides and practice sheets for you to download, to help you work step by step towards becoming a hand lettering pro.
An article by Lea
What should I consider when I’m hand lettering?
In principle, when you’re hand lettering you can do pretty much anything that helps you create artistic designs with letters. But to make sure you get beautiful results, it‘s important to observe a few specific rules. It’s practice that makes perfect and lettering is all about practice, especially when you’re just starting out. That’s why we’re giving you a few tips for beginners – rules you should follow right from the start:
- The right environment: make sure that you always have enough space and light! A well-lit and tidy desk will get your creative juices flowing and help you practise for longer.
- Posture: since you’ll be needing to do a lot of practice, particularly at the start, it’s important that you cultivate a good posture right from the beginning. Sitting up straight not only prevents unnecessary back pain, it will also help you maintain the right distance from your paper and ensure you have an overview of your hand lettering.
- How you hold your pen or pencil: get used straight away to holding your pen or pencil between your thumb and forefinger, and to keeping the point at some distance (about a finger’s width) between the point and your fingers. This way you will prevent your fingers from cramping too quickly and ensure you have enough control.
- Take your time: approach every letter with lots of patience. Hand lettering stands or falls by the precision and symmetry of the image created by your letters. With regular practice, you’ll soon see improvements!
What do I need for hand lettering?
It’s crucial to have the right materials if you want to be successful with hand lettering. If you use the wrong paper or an unsuitable pen, you won’t enjoy practising and you’ll end up with disappointing results. That’s why we’ve listed here all the hand lettering materials you’ll need as a hand lettering newbie, to enable you to practise different styles and design great phrases.
Basic equipment for creating phrases
- Coated paper: your hand lettering pencils, fineliners and markers will always perform best on coated paper. A smooth surface allows your pencil to glide fluidly and makes it easier to draw straight and precise lines. We recommend that you use coated paper for printing, even when you’re printing out practice sheets from our downloads section.
- Geometry set square and ruler (Mars geometry set square 568 36 / Aluminium ruler 30cm 563 30): a geometry set square and/or ruler will help you draw in guide lines and grids, to ensure that your phrase looks straight and symmetrical.
- Pencil (Mars Lumograph 100 HB pencil for drawing and sketching): an HB pencil is the right hardness grade sketching your phrase. Take care not to press too hard when you’re sketching, so that you don’t leave unsightly pressure marks behind when you rub out your sketch lines.
- Eraser (Mars plastic eraser 526 50): an eraser allows you to rub out your sketched lines, grids and letters once you’ve finished your piece. Only do this when the ink from your coloured lettering pens is completely dry, so as to avoid creating ugly streaks.
pigment liners are your best friends when it comes to designing hand lettered cursive alphabets and more advanced variants such as faux calligraphy or bounce lettering. The black pigment liner is available in 12 different line widths, so you can choose the appropriate width for your desired final image. The finer the tip of your pigment liner and the narrower the line width, the greater the filigree effect you will create with your lettering! In addition to black, the pigment liner is available in 12 other colours.
metallic markers are suitable for any decorative embellishment you might want to add to your lettering. They allow you to add a touch of colour to faux calligraphy lettering or creative alphabets, for example. Opaque metallic markers, which come in 10 different colours, are especially eye-catching when you use them on dark paper.
triplus color fibre-tip pens are wonderful for practising hand lettered block letters. Their ergonomic triangular shape means they’re very comfortable to hold. Their stable, pressure-resistant tips are perfect for newcomers to hand lettering and make it easy to draw straight lines. triplus color fibre-tip pens are available in 48 different colours, which also makes them wonderful for designing creative hand lettered alphabets. Their water-based ink means you can also use them to create fantastic blending effects.