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Top 3 Hand Lettering Tips for Beginners

Top 3 Hand Lettering Tips for Beginners

A question I often get or a request I get is “what are some hand lettering tips for beginners”, “how do you start hand lettering”, or “do you have any thing to help me with lettering”?

I broke down my process into three essential tips to help you get started with hand lettering. This process is known as the 3 R’s of modern calligraphy.

Research

Hand lettering for beginners

Serif: a slight projection finishing off a stroke of a letter in certain typefaces
Sans-serif: a style of type without serifs

Out of all the steps, researching is the most important. If you don’t research then it is like building a house without having the foundation. This isn’t your normal type of research though. What you’re doing is picking out a font you like. To start out you’ll need to pick two styles of fonts you like: a serif and sans-serif font.

There are many different fonts that are in the serif style and sans-serif style. You’ll want to pick one font you like in each category. There are three ways you can do this.

  1. Start up your computer and search through your fonts
  2. Go to Google Fonts and search for a font. Google fonts has an excellent filtering option that makes it easy to search for fonts
  3. Go to DaFonts.com. Da Font has a tremendously large archive of fonts

If you prefer using a script style, feel free to research different script styles as well. Use the same process for a script style that I outline in the serif and sans-serif styles.

Once you find a serif and sans-serif font you like, you’ll want to choose one of two fonts. After you pick one, you’ll want to make a chart of each letter in that font. This chart will serve as a guide for you. You’ll begin by tracing over the letter ‘A’ or whichever letter in the alphabet you want to start with.

Then you’ll want to trace over the letter again and again. You want to keep tracing the letter until you can remember how to draw it exactly without looking at the guide. You’ll want to continue this exercise until you get through all the letters in the alphabet in both lower case and upper case.

By doing this exercise you’ll not only learn how to draw the letters but you’ll learn the little nuances that make each letter different. For example, one thing you’ll discover is the crossbar (middle stroke) of the capital E in a sans-serif font is shorter than the top and bottom strokes.

After you feel confident that you can draw serif and sans-serif letters, you’ll want to search different hand lettering styles out there. You want to build up a collection of these. As you’re looking through different lettering styles, try to think why you like a particular style and write it down. Do you like it because it has a colorful style, do you like it because the letters are drawn in a playful way, do you like it because the letters have depth and look like they are popping off the page, or do you like it because it has flourishes?

Recreate

Once you’ve collected hand lettering images from different artists you like, you’ll want to start to copy them. Did I just say ‘copy’?!! You darn well, I did. Copying is the way we all learn. You copied your parents when you started learning your language. You copied a tutorial when you tried learning that program. Copying is an essential part of the learning process. Keep these copied drawings for your eyes only. Copying is only meant as a way to help you learn.

Repeat

The final step is to repeat what you’ve learned by continuously drawing and repeating this process as you discover more things you want to learn.

You will get to a point where you are learning from many different artists, and that is helping you carve out your identity as a lettering artist. By following through with this process, you’re going to be more than ready to conquer lettering! With these hand lettering tips for beginners soon you will be that artist that other beginners are looking to as a source of inspiration!

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