Learn handlettering - The art of drawing letters

Learning handlettering: the art of drawing letters

It's not only incredibly fun, but also looks great: The art of writing letters, words and texts in a particularly beautiful way. Handlettering originally comes from Japan and is a mixture of writing and painting, whereby the letters are painted slowly and particularly artistically. This is how impressive masterpieces are created on greeting cards, bookmarks or posters, which can be playful, elegant or decorative - there are no limits to creativity in design! Before embarking on an artistic adventure, however, you should make a few preparations and know a few tricks of the trade. Learning to handletter is not difficult in itself, you just need the right tools, the optimal technique and practice, practice, practice!      

Learning handlettering with the right tools

The tools don't make the artist, but a certain basic equipment (link handlettering products) is helpful to paint the artistic letters. For the first attempts, a few pens and some paper are sufficient. And then you can get started: The first strokes are always the most difficult, but once you get the hang of it, you won't want to let go of the sheet of paper. The transition from beginner to advanced then entails an expansion of the materials needed. In addition to the right paper - coated and with the optimal thickness (90g) - and a pencil, eraser and ruler, a black fineliner and a good brush pen should also be at hand. The latter two "lettering tools" can be used to practise variations in pressure and different stroke width contrasts. Once you have reached the pro level, the choice of suitable tools seems almost endless. But the most important thing is and remains what kind of handlettering you want to do. Depending on the lettering technique, different materials are needed.   

It all depends on the technique

To create great, artistic lettering, you can use different handlettering techniques, such as faux calligraphy or brush lettering. Both techniques are easy to learn for handlettering. 

Faux calligraphy: alternating between a lot of pressure and a little pressure

A good alternative or practice task for brush lettering is the faux calligraphy technique. Here you work with a fineliner and double all downstrokes to achieve the contrast between upstrokes and downstrokes. The technique imitates the effect of a pen or even a brush pen, whereby the letters can be decorated with different colours or patterns.


Brush Lettering: The Contrast between Thick and Thin Lines

The technique is based on the fundamentals of classical calligraphy, where a special look of the letters is created by applying different amounts of pressure. Thus, more pressure is applied to the brush tip for downstrokes and less pressure for upstrokes. Brush lettering is probably the most widespread form of handlettering, which requires some practice.

How to learn handlettering

Before you try techniques like fake calligraphy or brush lettering, it is important to know the basics and try them out. This includes first getting a feel for the pen and learning the different fonts and letter variations or taking a closer look at the basics of typography:

Block letters (Sans Serif)

Block letters stand for regularity: it is therefore important that the height, width and spacing between the letters are as equal as possible. It is best to draw a few guide lines on the sheet of paper with a ruler and pencil so that the height of the block letters remains even. You can vary the type of block letters as you like: Sometimes only capital letters, sometimes only lower case, sometimes mixed. You are also welcome to experiment with the width and spacing of the letters.

Block letters (serif)

Another possible variation of the block letters is to design them with serifs. Serifs are small horizontal strokes at the ends of the letters. They make the typeface look more classical, while sans serif typefaces look more modern. Serifs are best placed at a 90-degree angle at the ends of the letters, although here, too, spacing, width and size can be varied as desired.

Script Alphabet (script script)

The Script Alphabet is the classic script and the foundation for techniques such as Fake Calligraphy or Brush Lettering. In the Script Alphabet, all the letters within a word are connected with each other, whereby the letters are nicely curved and the loops, for example in the case of the L or F, are nicely large. Variations in the slant of the lettering and the spacing (bounce lettering) are possible and permitted.

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