A Beginner’s Foolproof Guide to the Art of Hand Lettering

Fine Arts College, Fine Arts School

Hand Lettering guide for beginners

Hand lettering has been on every creative’s plate. We’ve seen artists and aspiring ones alike jumping on it. With a plethora of fonts available on the Internet, hand lettering seems to be a waste of time, but it is how unique, creative, and imaginative an artist can get that makes this creative path worth chasing after. With the right strokes, loops, and tools, you will surely be able to create marvelous pieces. Gathered in this guide are the first steps you’ll need to expand your knowledge.

Basic Terms and Concepts About Hand Lettering You Should Know

First, let’s be clear: There’s a fine line between calligraphy and hand lettering. Hand lettering is the art of drawing or illustrating letters, while calligraphy refers to the art of beautiful writing.

In hand lettering, you must consider the mood, theme, and overall look of the project you’re trying to achieve; it must go well with your choice of words. Thus, we can agree that hand lettering is the marriage of design and words. Subsequently, you will figure out your best styles and art personality. So, grab your pens and note the following terms involved in this art form:

Hand lettering terminologies
  1. Cap Line refers to the top line that sets the height for capital letters.
  2. X-Line is the middle line that guides all lowercase characters.
  3. Base Line is the line that carries the letters and words.
  4. Upstroke is a basic hand lettering movement that needs to be light and airy.
  5. Downstroke is a basic hand lettering movement that asks for heavier pressure.
  6. Flourish is the decorative stroke you can add from basic cursive writing.

Now, are you ready to put your skills to the test? Heed the following steps to get you started.

Hand Lettering Made Easy in Five Steps

Now let’s talk about the essentials in this craft. Of course, you should be using the right tools that complement your skills. Pens you will use must depend on your preference, style, and approach in giving life and personality to your craft. However, there are a few basic writing tool recommendations for beginners:

  • Crayola SuperTips is best for doing thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes.
  • Staedtler Lead Holder is best for sketching initial letterforms and raw ideas.
  • Sakura Pigma Microns are best for your fine tip pen needs.
  • Uni Pin Fineliner Pens are another great tool for fine tip pens.
Various lettering materials

Aside from the hand lettering pens, you also need the following materials to kick-start your hand lettering project:

  • A ruler to help you create guidelines and outline longer straight lines.
  • An eraser to rub out unnecessary outlines and guidelines.
  • A quality paper to enhance and preserve the quality of your work.

Now, here are the five basic hand lettering techniques you should follow to launch your passion.

Step 1: Lay down your ideas and try sketching them.

Before starting, set your goal, theme, and target output. Drafting is a vital step in hand lettering. Master the alphabet letters first or discover different designs using your name. Using pencils, you can try lettering quotes and popular phrases too. This step allows you to control your design.

Eco-friendly tip: You may use scratch papers or ordinary papers for practicing or for sketching. Use the actual quality paper once your outline’s done. This way, you’re consuming less paper by recycling old ones.

Step 2: Choose the best lettering style for you.

In fact, there are multiple lettering styles every artist can use. These include bold, linear, sans serif, serif, script, and ligatures. However, you can focus first on just a few. With that, let’s zero in on the serif, sans serif, and cursive styles.

  • Serif is a style that uses small decorative strokes added at the end of the letterforms.
  • Sans serif is the easiest style for beginners because of its basic shape forms.
  • Cursive or script is almost similar to calligraphy.
Different lettering styles

You may gather pegs online to better visualize your target output based on your chosen style. Instagram and Pinterest are great platforms to get inspirations from.

Step 3: Start with your draft.

After laying down your ideas and reviewing pins, you may now start the actual process. Hand-letter your chosen word, phrase, or quote up to three times without putting too much effort. With this, you’ll see the variations your project can have, and choose the style that best suits the words.

Step 4: Bring your ideas to life.

Create your masterpiece

Finally, once you’re satisfied with your layout, sketch the primary lines and adjust them based on your preference. Maintain consistency with your style.

Step 5: Finalize your piece.

Erase all unnecessary guidelines and outlines and go over to fill the letters and lines to achieve your desired piece. Voila!

Hone Your Hand Lettering Skills Through These Tips

Like any other passion, career, or hobby, you can always go the extra mile to refine your skills. That said, here are some of the best pieces of advice:

  • Discover the best writing tools and materials that suit your style and preferences.
  • Try out various lettering styles and techniques to widen your skills.
  • Track your progress. Doing this helps you monitor how far you’ve improved in your craft.
  • Practice, practice, practice!

Pursue Your Passion with CIIT’s Arts Courses and Tracks

Passion for the art of traditional lettering

As the popular saying goes, learning never stops; why not continue perfecting your craft and make the art of hand lettering your career?

CIIT Philippines, one of the top multimedia arts school in Manila, offers world-class arts courses and strands. Be part of our growing family! Enroll in the CIIT SHS media and visual arts strand under the arts and design track now. You may visit CIIT Alabang or CIIT Kamuning to inquire about our bachelor’s degree in fine arts and multimedia arts as well. Know more about the CIIT admission process or contact us today for more queries.

Curious about the artistic CIIT community? Browse through our CIIT Gallery to view our students’ artworks.

Related Articles:
Fine Arts Degree: What’s Life Like after Graduation?
Media and Visual Arts School’s Guide to Art Portfolio Building

Sources: lettering-daily.com | mymodernmet.com | rayanealvim.com

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