1. Never underestimate the power of the basics.
I’m talking the basics of the basics. If hand lettering tools were people, your pencil is your favourite sister and your sharpie is your boyfriend (and he is fiiiiine). What I’m saying is, there’s no need getting caught up in buying fancy markers or pens when the basics are what you’ll always come back to.
2. Be a cheater.
I know there are a lot of hand letterers out there who don’t sketch out their phrase in pencil first — they’ve trained themselves to form their letters freehand, not needing a sketch. That’s great for them! But most of the time I’m a cheater and I’m not ashamed to admit it. You shouldn’t be ashamed either, particularly if you’re just starting, and even more so if this is just supposed to be a fun release of your creativity.
So cheat. Sketch your phrase out in pencil first. And then dive in with that fine-sharpie-boyfriend of yours.
3. Down strokes thick, up strokes thin.
This is key to making your letters look rich and full. It’ll take a little bit of time to get used to, but slowly start to draw out a letter and visualize: which part of your letter does your pencil stroke down? which part of your letter does your pencil stroke up? On those “down” strokes, fill it in with a little more thickness. Your letter will have so much more dimension!
If you look at this picture of how I lettered hosanna, you can see that my “down” strokes are thick, and my “up” strokes are thin.
4. Don’t copy — instead, make it your own.
There’s no sense in blatantly copying someone — where’s the art in that? Inspiration is different than copying. I’m inspired by many artists, my most favourites being Ali Makes Things, Lindsay Letters, and Kal Barteski (a good old Canadian girl!). I never copy them, but instead become inspired by their lettering, which allows me to pour more of myself into my own art.
5. Quit worrying and have fun.
Stress isn’t fun. Worry isn’t fun. Becoming overwhelmed because your letters may not look like someone else’s isn’t fun.
Art is fun. Tapping into who you are is fun. Hand lettering because you want to try something new and exciting and creative is fun.
So don’t get stressed. Just let loose and chill out, and dive into something you may fall completely in love with.
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