This hand lettering for beginners guide covers basic information to get started in hand lettering. Whether you are a newbie or slightly more advanced, there are tips in this guide that everyone can use.
When I discovered hand lettering, I knew I had found THE thing that my creative soul was missing. And since then, I have learned from so many of you that you too want to learn to hand letter. Most of the questions that I get are from people just starting out and looking for the basics. I put together this hand lettering for beginners guide to get you started. It’s packed with everything I’ve learned that I wish I had when I started.
WHAT IS HAND LETTERING?
Hand lettering is the art of drawing/illustrating letters rather than typing them. There are many different hand lettering styles… calligraphy, brush lettering, monoline, script, block, serif, san serif. Each style is unique and evokes a different mood when drawn. The style that I focus on the most on the blog is brush lettering and that is the style that this post is focused on.
HAND LETTERING SUPPLIES
You will need a pen that will allow for thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes. I recommend Tombow Dual Brush Pens and also the Tombow Fudenosuke. The Dual Brush Pens have a flexible paintbrush-like tip and also a hard tip, perfect for small details. The Fudenosuke have smaller tips but still produce thick and thin strokes. Fudenosuke are ideal for small lettering/letters. There are many different hand lettering pens on the market but Tombow is the brand that I use and I feel most comfortable with them.
You will also need some high-quality paper. Some people use regular copy paper but I have not had good luck with it. My markers seem to bleed more on copy paper and sometimes there is a “pilling” effect on the paper. I recommend Canson Mixed Media Paper.
A high-quality printer paper is ideal for printing out practice worksheets. You can also use tracing paper on top of practice worksheets so you only have to print once.
HOW TO LEARN HAND LETTERING
The hand lettering style I create and that you see on my blog and Instagram is mostly brush lettering. This lettering style is composed of thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes. In order to master this technique, you will need to get comfortable with how the brush pen feels in your hand and the amount of pressure that is needed to create thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes. To do this, start by practicing hand lettering drills. You can find practice sheets with these drills in the section below.
USING HAND LETTERING WORKSHEETS
One of the best pieces of advice I can give when it comes to lettering is practice, practice, practice. Your first attempts will probably not look beautiful and that’s ok. That’s what hand lettering practice sheets are for. They allow you to practice different styles of lettering. I have many free practice sheets available.
A good place to start is with my hand lettering practice sheets for beginners. This sheet is filled with basic hand lettering drills that allow you to perfect the thin upstroke and thick downstroke. Hold your pen at a 45-degree angle when doing these drills. Apply more pressure on the downstrokes and less pressure on the upstrokes. Practice these drills daily until you build up muscle memory and your strokes become consistent.
Once you are comfortable with the basic strokes, you can move on to uppercase hand lettering practice sheets and lowercase hand lettering practice sheets. The same rules apply to letters as the drills. Thick on the downstroke and thin on the upstroke.
In addition to the practice sheets mentioned above, I have many more available in the hand lettering practice sheets section of the blog.
HOW TO LETTER DIGITALLY
My favorite way to letter is on the Procreate app. Procreate is an iPad app that works with the Apple Pencil and allows for pressure-sensitive drawing. This means that you can achieve thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes just like you would with brush pens and paper. Procreate also allows you to work in layers, similar to how Photoshop and Illustrator work, so if you “mess up” on one layer it doesn’t destroy your entire piece of work.
As with any new program, it may seem overwhelming at first. So I put together a post on how to use Procreate, guiding you through the basic tools of the app that you will need to create lettering.
I also have a basic tutorials on how to hand letter on the iPad with Procreate and how to use hand lettering practice sheets in Procreate.
Although it might be tempting to run out and purchase an iPad, Procreate, and the Apple Pencil, I highly suggest starting with brush pens and paper. This is the best way (in my opinion) to achieve the muscle memory that you need to form the basic strokes and letters.
OTHER WAYS TO HAND LETTER
We’ve talked about lettering with pens and paper and also digitally but did you know there are other ways to letter? Watercolor is one of my favorite mediums to work with and it pairs really nicely with lettering. The tool that I like to use when lettering with watercolor is a Pentel Aquash Water Brush. This brush is like a paintbrush/brush pen combo. It has a reservoir for water and allows you to squeeze various amounts of water into your watercolors. Then, just pick up the paint with the brush and letter like you normally would with a brush pen. Lettering with watercolor produces a beautiful blended effect. When lettering with watercolors, I recommend Canson Mixed Media paper or Canson Watercolor paper. For watercolors, I recommend Artist Loft or Koi.
I hope this hand lettering for beginners guide is helpful to you on your lettering journey. I’d love to see the lettering that you create. Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @kellylcreates so I can see your amazing work!
LOVE IT? PIN IT!