Do you have a goal to learn hand lettering in 2021 but don’t know where to start? I’m so glad you’re here! The new year is a great time to get started on a new hobby, and picking up hand lettering is certainly fun. Hand lettering is such a creative way to express yourself, and I am so excited to help you along this journey!
Step #1 How to Learn Hand Lettering: Pen
For now, you can use a regular pen or a brush pen if you have one. Don’t stress right now over having the latest and most expensive materials! If you want to buy a new pen to embark on your hand lettering journey, my personal favorite pens for beginners are Crayola markers or Pentel touch brush pens. Use whatever you have, and feel comfortable with right now!
Step #2 How to Learn Hand Lettering: Paper
Next, you’ll need paper. If you are using Crayola markers or the Pentel touch brush pens, you can use any type of paper because they won’t fray. When using other brush pens, you may want to use smoother paper so they won’t fray so soon. All brush pens will fray eventually, but using smooth paper can help them last a little longer. I like to use HP premium 32 paper because it’s inexpensive for the amount of paper you get. If this isn’t available to you where you live, you can look for Rhodia notepads, Bristol smooth paper, marker paper, and tracing paper. When you touch the paper, you can feel if it’s smoother than standard paper. Right now, don’t be too afraid of what paper you’re using! The absolute worst that could happen is that your pens fray sooner, but that is okay when you are beginning to learn hand lettering. Don’t let paper hold you back!
Step #3 How to Learn Hand Lettering: Downstrokes
So now that you’ve got your pen and paper ready, it’s time to start lettering on your blank pages! What’s really important to know when you are beginning to learn hand lettering is that downstrokes are thick and upstrokes are thin. Downstrokes are when your pen is going down, and alternatively, upstrokes are when it’s going up. With a brush pen, you give your pen more pressure on the downstrokes and light pressure on the upstrokes to achieve this look. It will take some practice to learn the correct way to hold and use a brush pen to achieve clean looking downstrokes and upstrokes.
Step #4 How to Learn Hand Lettering: Faux Calligraphy
This is what I always teach first to someone beginning to learn hand lettering. Faux calligraphy is my trick to learning faster! Instead of using a brush pen, we’re going to add the downstrokes with a regular pen. With this technique, you can write a word in your own handwriting and make it look like calligraphy. This is called faux calligraphy. You write your word and go back in to add extra weight to the downstrokes, and that’s it! You could even do faux calligraphy forever and never have to pick up a brush pen! I think brush pens are fun, so you’ll definitely want to, but you certainly don’t need to.
Step #5 How to Learn Hand Lettering: Basic Strokes
The next thing you’ll need to know to learn hand lettering is the basic strokes. Hand lettering and calligraphy are not the same as cursive. When you write in cursive, you don’t pick up your pen. With hand lettering, you pick up your pen between strokes. This allows you to have a little more control of your letters and time to breathe.
Step #6 How to Learn Hand Lettering: Forming Letters
Once you know the basic strokes, it’s time to start putting them together to form letters. There are so many different alphabet styles out there, but you only need to start with one to master. It can be helpful to use practice sheets to trace letters when you get started. If you are looking for worksheets, I have several digital worksheets that you can print out to practice or check out my physical book called Hand Lettering for Beginners. My book has several worksheets to trace and many other great tips on learning hand lettering for beginners.
Step #7 How to Learn Hand Lettering: Practice Makes Perfect
Now you understand hand lettering basics, but you think your lettering still doesn’t look right. What’s next? Where do you go from here? Next is taking the time to practice. No one masters a skill overnight. It takes some time. When it comes to what exactly you should practice, I think it’s so important to practice what is meaningful to you. This means you may not be able to listen to my specific advice on what to practice. When I first started, I would join many different Instagram lettering challenges with daily prompts so I would make sure I had something to letter every day. If you are looking for guidance on what to practice, I send out an email every week to give you some inspiration. Personally, what I do is letter whatever it is, I need to hear that day. For me, lettering is a type of therapy. It’s my way to unwind and find some calm. If you don’t feel like you have time to letter, try only lettering for 10-15 minutes. You may not be able to find hours in your day to practice, but you can probably find 10 minutes. It’s those little moments that really add up over time.
I hope one of these seven tips helped you to feel like you can get started in hand lettering right now. Hand lettering is such an exciting passion, and I love being able to share this with you. Best of luck on your journey and happy lettering!