7 Best Hand Lettering Tips for Beginners
Have you seen all of the hand lettering videos and projects out there? They are stunning!
I've tried my hand at hand lettering, and while it is a technique that takes some getting used to, the results are so pretty to look at and share. You can use hand lettering in just about anything - from hand-witten letters and cards to crafts and advertisements. Share the beauty of typography with everyone!
These tips are meant to be helpful to beginners and those who don't have hands trained in the art of making pretty things (aka me). It's definitely an adjustment from writing like I've forgotten how to creating art.
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Choose Your Pen Wisely
If you go to the store or check online, there will be so many pens to choose from. My tip is to choose a bunch of different ones to practice with. This way, you can find the style of pen and tip that works well with your hand and grip.
We all hold our pens and write differently. Hand lettering will be no different. Find what's most comfortable for you and practice. The most common pens are the Tombow brush pens, but they're pricey. Try these by Artists Loft or Crayola Super Tips when you're first starting out. That way, if you destroy the pen, it wouldn't hurt too much.
Not All Paper is Created Equal
When working with brush pens and soft tip pens, you want to make sure that the texture of your paper won't destroy your pen. Frayed pens don't make for very pretty lettering. To stay within budget, these are some great options.
HP Premium Choice LaserJet Paper $9.99 for 250 sheets
Rhodia Black Dot Pad $9.95 for notebook of 80 sheets
Hold the Pen at an Angle
Now that you've got your tools in mind, let's talk about technique. First, know that you're not going to get good results holding the pen upright like a normal pen.
When you hold the pen, hold it at an angle with very little pressure on the paper. Hand lettering uses light upstrokes and heavier downstrokes. To get this down, you'll need to be sure that your pen is angled and the tip or the pen is not pushing down on the paper.
Sounds easy, right? You'd be surprised how tempted you will be to press harder. Resist the temptation!
Practice Light Upstrokes and Heavier Downstrokes
In hand lettering, the upstrokes are light and airy while the downstrokes are thicker and heavier. The best way to get used to alternating between strokes is to practice separately.
Grab a sheet of paper and your pen and practice only upstrokes on this page. Draw a line upwards, really lightly. Fill half of the page with upward straight lines and the other half with upward angled lines.
When you've completed the page, grab another sheet of paper and practice only downstrokes, straight lines and then angled lines.
After that, grab another sheet of paper and combine light angled upstrokes with heavier angled downstrokes. It will look like a wave. Practice this and fill up the entire page.
Practicing your technique will help you figure out which way is going to work best for you. You'll realize which process yields better-looking results that you're happy with.
Move Your Entire Hand
When you write, move your entire hand in the direction you want the pen to write. If you're practicing light upstrokes, gently slide your hand up, brushing against the paper. When creating downstrokes, put a little more pressure on the pen and slide your hand down in the direction of the stroke.
What this does is it reduces the shakiness in your letters and in your hand. You'll find that your hand will start to hurt after a while, because it's not used to writing like that. After practicing a while, you will build up those creative lettering muscles, and your hand won't hurt anymore.
Go from Big to Small
Now, you're ready to practice the alphabet. My tip is to write big first, and when you master your technique, practice writing smaller and smaller.
It is much easier (for many) to write big. Writing smaller requires more control, and when you're just starting off, you might not have much control over where the pen goes or what your hand does.
Now, you see why we're buying cheap pens and paper? A lot of it is going to be used up in practice.
There are so many fonts out there that are brush-type fonts. Pick a font and try to imitate the way the letters form and melt into each other. Here are a couple of my favorite brush fonts:
Free Hand Lettering Practice Sheets
I'm all for practicing, and I want you to practice too. I put together some alphabet combinations using Brusher and Playlist fonts to help build those hand lettering muscles.
You can grab them here and print them out.
Want to write pretty letters? Practice, practice, practice. You can do it!
Practice Sheet #1
Practice Sheet #2
So there you have my best hand lettering tips, and I hope you've found this post helpful.