Waking up this morning I thought of how I talk about the subject a lot but have never really touched down about what hand lettering is all about! As usual I run into things with full speed ahead until I stop and start to reflect on my progress.
Thinking back on my youth, I have always been drawing and writing. I loved transforming words into drawings. I remember the first time I drew my name in script, I doubled the line and made loops going in front and behind letters. Loving the fluency my name made. (I must admit that I had a rather hateful relationship with my name as a child.)
Nowadays, hand lettering is starting to become the new knitting. So many people have taken on this fantastic hobby!
What is hand lettering and for what?
Well basically, hand lettering is in my opinion an art form whereby you pretty up a text by drawing letters. Not to be mixed up with Typography or Calligraphy, which I will speak about later in my blog.
I use it to make posters of quotes or cards for my friends and family. I also use it when I draw on windows or when I design a bag or a coffee mug.
The things that are so awesome with hand lettering is that it is made by hand. No software has been involved what so ever! So every little imperfection or crooked line gives it its rightfully deserved charm. Making it one of a kind!
You can use it for designing texts on walls and windows as well as drawing beautiful texts on clothing and tableware. Making beautiful menu’s to making gift tags for that one special person or even hand letter a chalk board!
You can use it to paint a hand lettered text on a board, decorate a journal or use it for your everyday lists and grocery shopping.
Hand lettering is basically a design of hand drawn letters. The uses for hand lettering are endless.
What do you need for hand lettering?
Actually you do not need very much. You make this hobby as cheap or as expensive as you want.
You can start out with as little as a pencil, an eraser and a piece of paper! That was how I started out. Doodling some alphabets with a school pencil on a piece of paper until I thought; “hey! This is pretty fun and relaxing!”
When you start to pick up on this hobby or skill if you’d like, you might think to yourself you want to progress and then you will start to look into different markers. There are a ton out there! So many it made my head spin at the beginning. Feeling like I needed a GPS to find my way out of the jungle, I decided to start out small and then explore further.
My first markers (or pens) were the Sakura Pigma Micron pens. They come in all kinds of sizes, from very thin tips to a thick brush pen tip. I love these pens because;
- They are not crazy expensive! You can even ask them for your birthday or put them on your Christmas wishlist without having to feel guilty!
- They do not fade when you pull an eraser over them! This is very handy seeing as how hand lettering comes with a bunch of erasing.
There are a whole bunch of amazing instructional books about hand lettering out there. Follow my blog and I will share with you my favorite ones!
Pens and markers
Most hand lettering are done with pens or markers as I stated above. I am not very advanced in every marker there is to use. I do however follow the newest trends in marker market. (Ha! Try to say that a few times fast!) I have tried anything from the Microns, to Faber Castell to even Staedtlers, Tombows and Ecoline. The last two pens are used for Brush Lettering which I will write another post about later on.
I love using the Faber Castell Artist pens if I do not need to erase any pencil lines. I do use these a lot in my BulletJournal.
When I do however make a poster or a card for somebody, I use the Micron pens.
If I do a piece with a bit of color in it, (which is not very frequent as you have seen in previous blog posts or as you can see in my Instagram or on my Pinterest) I use the Staedtler Triplus fine line pen. This pen has a 0.3 mm nib and makes adding color to the letters or shading with colors very precise and easy.
You have other markers too off course. This is something that is one of my short term goals, to try out more markers and write reviews of them here on my blog.
If you have a tip for me on a great marker which you love and you think, this is a marker Sas really needs to try out, let me know by writing a comment or a mail!
Sketching and doodling can be done on any kind of paper. You can even use a paper tissue or a napkin! I like to sketch my ideas on either a plain printing paper, which is a cheap choice, or in my Moleskine sketchbook. The Moleskine sketchbook is nice that the pages are not too thin and are a bit rough making sketching on them ideal.
If you are using printing paper, I would advice you not to use it for your finished piece. The bleed of most markers on printing paper is horrible! It is also mostly way too smooth for most pens and markers and can even go so far as to destroy the tip of your marker. Another down side with putting a finished project on printing paper is that the paper is pretty acidic which will make the paper yellow over time.
When I make my finished piece, I use a thicker kind of paper. In the past I have actually been hand lettering in a scrapbook. I use this book to keep all my projects in one place and because I love how thick and smooth these papers are. I am now reaching the end of my scrapbook so I went to the art store to look further. Here I stumbled upon the brand Bristol. Totally worth to check them out. Paper quality is outstanding!
There are sure many more types of paper but look for a nice thickness that works for you. A thickness which won’t allow the pen to bleed through or to leave smudges because the ink takes forever to dry. Ask the store owner if you can maybe try the paper out before purchasing it. I am sure the store owner will not mind if you do!
Now you got your paper, your pencil and your marker, what do you do now? You need to start thinking about what it is you want to hand letter. Is it a quote? Is it a birthday card? Is it a menu? Whatever it is, there are some “rules” that apply to your hand lettering. I am a bit mischievous (as you might have noticed) and see them more as guide lines. It’s a bit like going back to school to be honest.
These lines helped me out a bunch of times when making a rough sketch of a design or a quote that I drew. You can take a look at an older post where you can see how I made use of the lines to get a nice straight row of letters.
Even when making designs where you want to use slanted letters (as you can read in this post) do these lines become pretty useful.
Look around on Pinterest or on Instagram to see if you can find a quote that you want to make your own! On my Pinterest board I got almost more than 200 quotes that I love. Take a look over there to see if you can find anything you like!
Maybe you already have a quote you love and want to try out?
When you have found a quote you want to hand letter, you will need a font. This font can be one that you thought of yourself or came to life when you were sketching and doodling. You can also again look on Pinterest and Instagram to see if you can find something you would like to use.
When I want a quick scan of beautiful fonts, I like to take a look over at TheHungryJpeg site. They have so many awesome fonts and craft bundles. Once a month they make a nice font pack you can buy with a huge discount and they also have a bunch of free fonts you can just download from their site.
So now you have your materials and your quote that you would love to hand letter AND a font you would love to use. You can start sketching away! Think of how you want the layout to be, sketch lightly. Even make a few “art boards” (about 4×6 cm squares) where you can draw an example of your layouts. To show you what I mean, although this is a very light sketch, this is a project I am working on at the moment;
This is usually how I work. When I find a board which I love, I will start sketching out the banner and layout of the letters first. When I am happy with that draft, I will start pretty the letters up, hand lettering that is, until I am happy with how it all looks.
When you are done with the sketching part and everything is how you would like it to be, you can trace it over on your chosen paper where you want to draw your finished pieceon. Again, start with sketching very light. The erasing part will become so much easier when you sketch real light with an pencil. When you are happy with your work, you can start tracing over the pencil lines using a marker! Erase the pencil lines after the ink has dried up.
If you want to add stuff on your project, I would advice you to make little corrections with a pencil at first. This way you won’t accidentally ruin all your hard work if maybe you put a line totally out of order.
I hope you enjoyed my little explanation of what hand lettering is all about.
Got any questions? Other tips or resources? Leave me a comment!