Before we dive in to this post, let’s talk about what hand lettering is! I define hand lettering as illustrated letters. It relies on embellishments and creative letter modifications to delight the eye. Many people find hand lettering quite easy to approach, and rightfully so! Hand lettering doesn’t really have rules except that you should be able to read what has been written. There aren’t any special tools needed, and it’s fun to come up with different ways to make letters! In this article, we’ll talk about seven ways you can improve your hand lettering so the results are polished and professional-looking.
1. Use Pencil Guidelines
Pencil guidelines are the easiest thing in the world to make! You just use a ruler and a pencil to draw a top guideline, then repeat the process to draw a parallel bottom guideline. These two guidelines dictate how tall your letters should be, and they ensure that your writing is nice and straight!
2. Sketch Out Your Letters First
You need two elements to achieve eye-catching hand lettering. First, your letters need to look nice. Second, and equally important, they need to have a good layout! You can ensure that you achieve both nice letters and a nice layout by making a pencil draft of your letters first.
Once you draw the pencil draft and everything looks good, you can go over the draft with ink!
3. Commit to Practicing
The only surefire way to improve your hand lettering is to practice it regularly. Try to start a sketchbook — either one that you dedicate solely to hand lettering or one that you incorporate some illustrations into! In that sketchbook, be sure to experiment with several different letterforms.
For inspiration, check out Draw Your Day by Samantha Dion Baker. It’s a quick read, and one that will inspire you to start keeping a sketchbook journal! You don’t have to do like Baker and draw/letter every day; in fact, I’m shooting for once a week. Whatever practice you can fit in your schedule is perfect!
4. Find the Perfect Pen for You
I say find the perfect pen *for you* because we’re all going to have different preferences! Recently, I’ve been lettering with a Muji pen. I really like Mujis because the ink flow is awesome, and whatever you’ve written doesn’t smudge when you erase over it!
There are so many pens available that the only way to find the pen that you connect with is to experiment! Many hand letterers love Micron pens. I’ve heard others say that the Uniball Signo 207 is their go-to. Still others just enjoy using a fine-tipped permanent marker! As long as the pen writes smoothly and doesn’t smudge when you erase over it, you’re golden.
5. Find the Right Eraser
I have to admit that I haven’t widely explored erasers because I’ve always used the same one. For years, the Staedtler Mars plastic eraser has been my go-to! It is a nice, clean eraser that you can count on.
When I erase white pencil marks on dark envelopes, I use a black eraser. I find that white erasers leave a certain sheen on dark papers, while black erasers leave minimal residue.
6. Challenge Yourself with Many Different Styles
If you want to grow your hand lettering skills, the best way to do so is to try out drawing several different types of letters. Challenge yourself to take on styles that intimidate you!
There are several hand lettering worksheets and exemplars on TPK, but you can also find inspiration on Pinterest. If you see a photo of hand lettering (or a font) that you like, try to replicate it at home!
7. Use Your Lettering for Real Life Applications
One of the best ways to improve your hand lettering is to incorporate it into everyday projects. From bullet journals to logo design to signage, you can use hand lettering to communicate in an effective and impactful way!
So, next time you are working on something, ask yourself: can you incorporate hand lettering into the project? If so, do it! It might be a small project, like making place cards for a breakfast you’re hosting. Or perhaps you’re making a sign at work. No project is too informal to incorporate some hand lettering into!
I hope that these hand lettering tips (and photos!) inspire you to take on some creative lettering this week. If you’re interested in hand lettering, remember that we just released a new worksheet — and a Procreate version of that worksheet! It’s called Stitches Hand Lettering, and it’s a fun style that “Stitches” together and features accent dots.
If you have any questions about hand lettering, feel free to comment on this post! I’m always happy to hear from you, and equally happy to help you out. Thanks very much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your week!
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