Handlettering: tips & tricks

Hand lettering art piece

Handlettering: tips & tricks

The origin of handlettering lies in calligraphy. With handlettering, the emphasis is on drawing or painting letters and therefore not on traditional writing. So there are also a huge number of types of styles and ways of lettering, in which you can let your creativity run wild. As long as you stick to a few basic rules, you can make it as crazy as you want. Below you can read about what to look for when handlettering and what materials you need, so you can become a real handlettering pro!

What do you need for handlettering?

It is very important to have the right materials for handlettering so that your results will not be disappointing. But what do you need as a beginning handlettering artist? Besides paper, a pencil and an eraser of course you also need good (calligraphy) pens. Read here what to look out for when choosing the right materials.

Basic Materials
First, good paper. Since you will be working with pencils, fineliners and markers, it is best to use good quality coated paper. In addition, it’s helpful to use a geodesic and/or ruler so you can draw guide lines and grids. For sketching your sayings you will need a graphite pencil, an HB pencil is fine. If you are not satisfied, it is always helpful to have an eraser on hand.

Handlettering Pens
What kind of pen you need depends on the result you want to achieve. Do you want calligraphic letters? Then good fineliners are a must. Go for a thin chisel tip for fine letters and a thick chisel tip for broad letters. Brush pens are ideal for a colorful or watercolor brushlettering alphabet. They have a flexible brush tip that allows you to create various line widths.

Starting with handlettering

With handlettering, basically anything goes and you can really express your creativity, but it’s still important to follow a few rules for a beautiful end result. Handlettering takes a lot of practice before you get the hang of it. Therefore here are some tips that you can pay attention to as a beginner:

  • Work space: Make sure you have enough light and space so you can concentrate optimally
  • Body posture: Because you have to practice a lot and therefore sit for a long time, it is important that you have a good posture. So sit up straight, so that you keep the necessary distance from your paper.
  • Pencil posture: Teach yourself to hold the pencil between your thumb and forefinger. Keep a little space between the tip of your pencil and your fingers. This way you have enough control over your pencil and your fingers are less likely to cramp.
  • Be patient: Take your time with each letter. After all, handlettering is all about symmetry and precision of each letter.

How do you use a brush pen?

Now that you know what you need to do before you can start handlettering, it is also very helpful if you know exactly how to use a brush pen or calligraphy pen. Using a brush pen takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, it’s tremendously easy. Hold the pen close to the tip for extra control. Hold your hand at a 45-degree angle and move the pen with your entire arm, not just your wrist, it’s much smoother that way. Apply a little less pressure when drawing a line up. When you draw a line down it is better to apply a little more pressure. This way you get a nice variation in thickness of the lines.

Workshop: handlettering for beginners

Learn the basics of handlettering with this comprehensive workshop for beginners from Tombow:

Good luck with your handlettering!

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