Hand-Lettering Guide for Beginners

It could be too much to call it a trend, but nowadays, there are tendencies for people to look back to the time before technology boomed and just appreciate the simpler way of life. Although simple, the things that we used to do manually are generally not easy and will take more time to do without the aid of technology. In lieu with this, let us take a step back and appreciate hand-lettering! Hand-lettering is very much different from, and should not be confused with calligraphy. As a base rule, hand-lettering entails “drawing letters”, while calligraphy is more on the “penmanship” and “writing of letters”. An example of hand-lettering is hand-drawing or making a sizable “for sale” sign instead of printing. On the other hand, an example of calligraphy is writing a letter by hand showing the penmanship of the writer.


If you’re interested in hand-lettering, here’s a short, easy to understand, yet comprehensive beginners guide based off of the hand-lettering steps provided by Creative Market. Let’s get started!


Step 1: Get your materials ready. Use your preferred materials and medium. At this point there is no wrong and right with what you choose to use. You just need something to draw on, like printer paper, Bristol board, or grid paper; something to draw with, like markers, pens, pencils, erasers, etc.; and something to help you measure like a ruler.


Step 2: Pre-plan your design. Dealing with traditional tools, there is very little to almost no margin for error so plan out your design beforehand. Pre-planning includes determining the purpose of the hand-lettered piece, the word and character style, what you would like to convey, and colors, in addition to many more.



Step 3: Measure the design on the working surface. With the help of your ruler, measure out and decide the basic overall shape of your design. Beginners are recommended to stick to a more rectangular shape which is bound to change as you get more experience. It is also a great idea to experiment with different shapes if you seek variety.



Step 4: Start on your base pencil sketch. Here’s where the drawing part starts. Just like any artwork, it is best to start with a light handed sketch of your design. There is a technique used for hand-lettering called making a “graphite transfer” – basically this means you let the graphite of the pencil rub against the back of your work page since too much graphite can clog your pen and can also show through the pen lines.



Step 5: Inking and filling in your work. Trace your work carefully and as precise as possible. Start with the outer lines of the letters and do not fill in yet. Fill in the areas with your pen after ensuring that the work area is clean with no smudges. Once done, check your work and fix corrections after letting everything dry completely. Corrections can be done with a white gel pen rather than correction fluid for a cleaner, more polished look.


And the process is done! All you have to do now is to repeat from step 1 to 5 again to make more! Make use of your new found skill today!


To inspire you even more, see some amazing hand-lettering examples collected by Canva Design School, along with expert tips.