7 Steps to Hand Lettering Quotes You Love
How do you hand letter quotes in your journal? How do you layout a quote? How do you find quotes to letter? These are common questions I’ve been asked about hand lettering quotes so that’s what this calligraphy tutorial is all about!
But first a disclaimer: I want you to know that there’s no wrong way to letter quotes. It all depends on the style you’re going for. There are a thousand ways to make a quote look good so don’t go into it with the goal of finding the one perfect layout for this quote. Go into it to have fun and experiment. If you don’t like one layout, make another one.
The more quotes you letter, the more you’re going to learn what you like and what your style is. Instead of making one perfect quote, make 10 imperfect ones. You’ll be 10 times farther along.
If you want to watch the video tutorial of this post, keep scrolling!
7 steps to hand lettering quotes that you love
1. Choose a quote to hand letter
Sometimes choosing a quote is easy and sometimes this can be the biggest barrier! Here’s what helps me. I take quotes from books I’m reading, songs I’m loving, shows, or movies I’m watching. I have a list on my phone in Notion where I’m constantly adding quotes I want to letter. That way I can always look through it when I don’t know what to letter and I can choose a quote depending on the mood I’m in.
Sometimes I have a specific thought in mind and I’ll google certain topics like “quotes about sunshine” and see if there’s anything I like. I also like to letter things that I need to hear right now like affirmations. For example, If you were your best friend, what would you tell yourself right now?
2. Choose your size and shape for your hand lettering quote
Knowing your limits can be really helpful in knowing what kinds of pens you’ll need to use. If you’re lettering on a large canvas, that’s going to be very different from lettering on a small piece of watercolor paper. Lately, I’ve been using my journal so I have to decide if I want to do a two-page spread, only one page, or if I want to turn it to the side and do a widespread. The size of your quote can also determine what you choose. Once you know what you’re going to be lettering on, we’ll move on to the next step.
3. Sketch out thumbnails
Basically, pull out a pencil and start sketching out any idea you can think of to lay out your quote. You can do this directly on your paper if you are ok with erasing a lot, or you can use some scratch paper. I like to write down the quote first so I can see where the longer words are and underline any words that I want to stand out. As you’re trying different things, you might get an idea of something to try.
Another trick for this is using tracing paper. You can place more tracing paper on top and try out a different version while seeing what you did underneath. You can see more details in my post How to Hand Letter a Quote With Tracing Paper.
The next couple of steps will give you some ideas to experiment with as you are sketching out your quote.
4. Experiment with the alignment of the quote
It is common to center your quote in the center of your page and that’s a great layout just keeping it simple. By the way, I almost never get the alignment right on the first try. I’m always erasing and moving things over.
You might also try aligning it to the left or right. I like to do this when my lettering is just in the corner and something else is filling the page. Or you could even try a justified alignment where it fills the whole space. You just have to stretch some words which also helps certain words stand out which brings me to the next one.
5. Experiment with the focal point of the quote
What is the main focus of your quote? Is there a certain word that you want to emphasize? You can help make them stand out by changing the color, the size, or the font style. There isn’t a right or wrong way. It’s all about experimenting to find what you like.
6. Experiment with the baseline of your words
This is a really easy and fun way to change up your lettering and make it unique. Try diagonal, wavy, or curved. This gives you something to work with so you’ll have some structure to begin with, but still allows for some room to play around with it. Once you have a layout that you love, now it’s time to finish it.
7. Hand letter your final quote
Use whatever pens or ink you’re excited about. When I am lettering directly on my pencil sketch, I first use my kneaded eraser to erase most of the pencil. If you don’t have a kneaded eraser, you can just use a regular eraser. I just find it a little easier to control the amount I’m erasing since I still want to see it a little bit, but I don’t want it to be too dark to show through the quote.
I also want to add that in my hand lettering journal, there are so many quotes that I didn’t plan out. They don’t always turn out looking balanced. But laying out a quote can take a lot of time and energy and sometimes I don’t have that time or energy. So just know that it’s totally fine to not plan out your quote with all of these steps. Pick and choose what you have time and energy for. Focus more on the process and how hand lettering is helping you at this moment instead of focusing on a perfect finished product. The way you create right now is exactly where you need to be.
Ready for more hand lettering quotes practice?
If this was helpful and you’d like to practice more hand lettering quotes, you might like my book Hand Lettering for Beginners which has examples of all of these steps with extra quotes to trace for practice.