Hand lettering, brush lettering, faux calligraphy – there are many names for the art of beautiful writing. What is hand lettering? What material do I need? How do I start as a beginner? - If you’re asking yourself these questions, you’ve come to the right place.
You’re already familiar with the basics? No problem! Click here for inspiration, including new lettering styles, materials, layouts, and phrases.
What is hand lettering and how do I get started with it?
Helpful tips and tricks for beginners and advanced hand lettering artists
Hand lettering is not as new as many people think. The art of beautiful writing has its origin in calligraphy. Even back then, the line between writing and drawing was blurred.
Especially in the digital world, handmade products are becoming popular again – a new revolution. People want to express their own individuality again and are not satisfied with something mass produced off the assembly line. This is why, in addition to the DIY (do-it-yourself) trend [link to magazine tag], hand lettering is also playing an increasingly important role in our daily lives. Today we can find many postcards, bags, and advertising signs with handwritten elements.
Hand lettering is also about slowing down in our fast-paced world. It takes time and practice. You have to fully concentrate on your artwork and forget the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The written word becomes a work of art, the writing itself becomes art. You can only achieve your own personal perfection with calm, patience, and focus.
Since there are endless variations and styles, the search for your own style is also a form of self-discovery. The advantage? – There is no right or wrong. Without firm rules, perfection lies in the eye of the beholder. Hand lettering is suitable for everyone and anyone can learn it. And you don’t need to have fine penmanship! As is the case in many other fields, practice is the key to success. Line by line, you work your way to perfection.
You can essentially use any pen for hand lettering. Depending on the style, different pen types are more suitable than others. A pencil, an eraser, and a ruler are also good tools to have. You can use them to draw guide lines or entire phrases and correct small mistakes.
For brush lettering, you mostly use brush pens, which are also called brush markers. They have a flexible tip that allows you to vary the thickness of your lines by applying different amounts of pressure, creating a dynamic look. Brush pens are available with brush tips of different lengths and hardnesses. If you want to learn more about brush pens, you can find additional information here. You can also use felt-tip pens and fineliners to achieve a calligraphy effect by using faux calligraphy techniques.
Can’t decide? Then simply start with a brush pen with two tips, like our ABT Dual Brush Pen. You can use it to combine different lettering styles and you only need a single pen. Otherwise the Fudenosuke Brush Pen is suitable for beginners because its small hard tip is easy to control.
If you already have some practice and would like to continue to expand your hand-lettering skills, you can use more materials such as glue and glitter powder to add highlights, or try different materials with permanent markers like the MONO twin Faux Calligraphy.
Brush Lettering – It’s all about pressure
Hand lettering is most often equated with brush lettering. The brush gives your lettering a dynamic style similar to traditional calligraphy. With a brush or special brush pen, you can draw different line widths by applying different amounts of pressure. Use the following rule as a guide:
The size of the brush tip determines the size of the letters you can write. With large brush tips like the ABT Dual Brush Pen, you can also draw large letters, whereas small brush tips like the Fudenosuke are also suitable for greeting cards or place cards. A further distinguishing feature is the hardness of the brush tip. Harder brush tips make it easier to control the line width. Soft brush tips offer feather-light dynamics.
An introduction to typography
In typography, the design of a typeface is determined by a line system. In simplified form, it can be displayed on a three-line system. Each letter begins on the baseline. The x-height describes the height of a small letter, such as a or o. Descenders are used for p or j, and ascenders are written with capital letters, h, or l.
The first challenge you’ll have to master in hand lettering is consistently applying either a lot or only a little pressure to the pen. You’ll learn this with a lot of practice and patience. We offer special practice sheets that you can download for free – one for large brush tips like the ABT Dual Brush Pen and one for small brush tips like the Fudenosuke. Pay attention to your choice of paper when printing the practice sheets. Further information can be found here.
Faux Calligraphy – Hand Lettering with Fineliners and Markers
Faux calligraphy is a technique that seeks to imitate the look of real calligraphy. If you want dynamic line widths without having a brush or brush pen at hand, you can add the wider lines afterwards. There are three main steps you need to follow:
Not sure which part of the letters to make thicker? Then have a look at our Faux Calligraphy Alphabet for inspiration!
Hand Lettering paper – the agony of choice
People just getting started with hand lettering often face the daunting task of choosing the right paper for hand lettering.
The wrong paper can cause your brush tip to fray, or it can draw a lot of ink into its fibers, giving your lettering unclean edges. Nevertheless, a number of other factors play a key role in your choice of paper. Are you using the paper to practice? Would you like to make a greeting card? Are you combining watercoloring and hand lettering?
As a general rule, smooth paper is preferable to coarse copy paper when using brush pens. Good choices include Clairefontaine DCP copy paper and Mondi Color Copy. If you’re just practicing, 80 g/m² paper is perfectly sufficient. For high-quality lettering or greeting cards, you can use smooth drawing pads. These usually have 250 g/m² - 300 g/m², such as the Tombow Bristol drawing pad.