Hand Lettering: How to Get Started

Hand lettering has gained a lot of interest in recent years and shows little sign of slowing down. Creative and non-creative people alike all seem to appreciate and enjoy looking at the art of hand drawn lettering, and as someone fairly new to the scene, I’ve gotten a lot of questions and curiosity on how it’s done and how one would get started. Luckily, there is a lot of info and many resources online to help beginners get started learning this rewarding art form, but it can be overwhelming and honestly, a little intimidating. Particularly, if you’re new to hand lettering, looking at other’s work for inspiration can lead to feeling frustrated at the process of learning and practicing.

Don’t fret!

I’ve pulled together a short list of things you need to know to get started with hand lettering including some resources and a list of tools you might need.

TOOLS TO GET STARTED:

Basic drawing utensils to get you started in learning hand drawn typographic art
Basic Drawing Utensils

Pencils: A typical HB pencil will suffice just fine in getting started. If you have one handy, you can also use a hard drawing pencil, like a H or 2H pencil. Mechanical pencils also work great!

Pens: Ballpoint, gel and felt tip pens work best while you’re getting started. Preferably, not a pen that bleeds a lot of ink out onto your paper while writing. My favorite pens to use for detailed  work are Micron pens.

Eraser: While the eraser on a typical HB pencil will work, I suggest investing in a hi-polymer eraser. They are really good about not tearing up the tooth of your paper after a few swipes.

Paper: While you’re getting started, normal copy paper will work just fine. In fact, when I’m sketching out ideas or trying something out, I’ll often grab a piece of scrap paper from my home or office that had something printed on one side that would otherwise have been thrown away. I’ll even use a sticky note, and if I like what I’ve done, I’ll give it to a friend or co-worker that I know appreciates little pieces of art!

TIPS:

Caroline Kelso Winegeart came up with a great mantra on how to navigate the process of learning how to hand letter with her “3 P’s”:

Pay Attention:

The first step Caroline outlines is all about paying attention to fonts and letterforms that strike your fancy. Start to pay attention to hand lettered sign in storefronts, or the chalkboard menu in your local coffee shops and restaurants. Find out what YOU enjoy looking at and use that as your starting point for inspiration.

Hand-Lettering Tips For Beginners: Where Do You Begin?
Caroline Kelso Winegeart: Focus on Process & Practice

Learn The Process:

Hand lettering is like any other form of art, it takes time and starts with studying and learning from the pros. There are TONS of articles on how to do almost any kind of hand lettering, from brush calligraphy to black letter. Caroline recommends investing time in a few tutorials online. There are also a lot of process videos on Instagram of amazing artists showing their creative process.

Practice:

I cannot stress this point enough, it takes practice to get better at anything new you want to learn. Don’t get discouraged, many hand lettering artists started out with rough skills in not only drawing, but planning their designs out. I am very encouraged when an artist shares a photo of their work when they were just beginning and where their skills are now. And all of that improvement came from hundreds of hours of practicing over the course of a couple or many years. Click here to see Caroline’s hand lettering evolution over a few years!

One additional tip I recommend folks, especially if you’re a little new to the drawing scene: when sketching out your designs, use very light pressure with your pencil. I’ve seen few things irritate people starting out like not being able to erase previously laid pencil marks.

There you have it! A simple guide in what you need to get started on your journey of learning how to get started in hand lettering! For more information on this topic, check out Caroline’s article: Hand-Lettering Tips For Beginners

Be sure to follow her on Instagram along with other artists that you come across for daily inspiration!

Cheers!

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. quanitaboston says:

    This is spectacular. i think I may try this!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Try it, girl! I’ve found, that even if I’m just playing around (i.e. not TRYING to make something beautiful, so there’s no pressure) that it is a very calming activity. In fact they say that sketching does the same thing to your brain as meditating. Very calming. Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help!

      Like

  2. I love hand lettering! I grew up loving to draw, but for some reason my ability to do fonts and lettering was a little off. You said something about a hi-polymer eraser, would a kneaded eraser work as well?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! A kneaded eraser would be an excellent choice as well since it’s very easy on the surface of your paper. It can be a little awkward if you’re not terribly familiar with them, and it can be a little more work erasing finer details in your work (notice that “C” in my post picture at the top?) I hope you give it a try and learn to love the craft! It just takes lots of practice, just like learning to draw. And if you know how to draw already, you’ve got half of the work down!

      Like

  3. carlaosborne says:

    I’m so glad to see that the craft of hand lettering is coming back into vogue. Thanks for the information!

    Liked by 1 person

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