Every social media platform you log onto, you’ll see image upon image of perfect handwriting, lettering and numbers. I remember looking at them with envy… how come so many people are blessed with such perfect lettering!? Well, I’m here to debunk that myth!
Very rarely are people simply ‘blessed’ with the talent of lettering. When you see an example of lettering on social media, you’re not seeing the failed attempts, the mistakes, and the years of practice each person has put into getting that ‘perfect’ lettering. Furthermore, these people will probably still see flaws in their work – just like you do with yours! In this blog I want to show you how I improved my lettering, and how you can too.
- Journal– Whilst you can use loose paper, I love to have a dedicated journal for lettering to be able to see my progress in one place. My pick is the Archer and Olive Journal. The lovely and thick pages have no bleeding or ghosting with every medium you need for this project – even Karin Markers!
- Pencil – To this day I still plan out lettering in pencil first, so this is a must!
- Fineliners – My favourites are the Unipin fineliners as they’re waterproof, affordable and have a strong nib.
- Brush Pens – For beginners I suggest something with a smaller, firm tip, as they’re easier to control. My favourites are the Tombow Fudenosuke (hard tip) and the Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pens.
- Ruler – This is useful to create guidelines, but also to help with getting perfect lines in bolder lettering.
Step One: Imitation
So you went out and bought some fineliners and brush pens, but you still don’t know where to start! Here are some ways to get you started:
Find One Style You Love
You may have been looking at millions of styles and just want to master them all! But I believe it is super important to focus on one style at a time, especially in the beginning! Pick a style/medium that you really love – for me that was brush lettering. The more excited you are about learning that style, the more determined you will be to practice and master it. If you pick too many styles you will most likely get overwhelmed, not have to time to practice and give up pretty early on. I also found it helpful to follow a few artists who use this style to watch their techniques and learn any helpful tips they have too!
Many people have now made books and printable worksheets for you to use as guidelines. I found these extremely useful for learning brush lettering and dip pen calligraphy as following the sheets helped me understand the techniques to create these styles, and helped me gain control of the new pen types.
This is an example of a sheet created by ErinFlotoDesigns (@erinflotodesigns on Instagram) that you can buy and digitally download from her website and Etsy shop! I personally love printables as you can keep printing them and practice as much as you need.
Understand The Basics
By watching other people and completing worksheets, you will start to learn the basics of that style – e.g. where to add more pressure. Understanding these techniques means you’ve already learnt the hardest part, now the important thing to do is…
Step Two: Practice!!!
So this is the most obvious point to me now, but seemingly best kept secret on social media: YOU HAVE TO PRACTICE! People don’t start off perfect like it seems. Every lettering image you have seen has been created by someone who had to perfect their style – and almost certainly still has techniques they want to improve. Here are some easy ways to get you practicing everyday:
Drills, Drills, Drills
You now know the techniques, so it’s time to put the worksheets away and simply work on mastering them. You can do this by repeating letters/techniques over and over until it becomes muscle memory. Here’s an example:
This amazing spread was created by Stina Skagert (@supermassiveblackink on Instagram). She is such an inspiration for anyone wanting to learn a new lettering style as she has been documenting her progress on her Instagram account. It is amazing to see someone with such a big following openly show her progress. She may sometimes not like the spreads she creates, but she still posts them! By being open and honest about her progress you can really see what it takes to master new techniques. I really recommend following her, and others who are documenting their learning process, as it will give you realistic goals for improvement and encourage you to keep improving!
Incorporate Lettering Into Everyday Tasks
Do you have a diary? A journal? A calendar? A family note board? Then use these items you use everyday to practice, practice, practice! I personally have a journal, so here are some ways I would include lettering to make sure I was practicing:
This is the easiest way, especially if you use dailies!
One Word A Day
This amazing challenge was created by Sophie (@phiespoetry on Instagram). Each day you pick one word that summarises your day and letter it on one page!
And if I had more time one day I would also create a dedicated spread to that lettering style!
Step Three: Mix It Up
Once you have mastered one, or a few styles, here are some ways to really take your lettering to the next level!
Create Your Own Styles
Once you have learnt a few different techniques, it is really fun to create your own styles! When creating your own style/font, it is important to highlight a technique you want to keep consistent across each letter.
Simple Stylistic Regularities
There are so many aspects you can change: e.g. the line thickness, or adding embellishments. Here is an example of how just moving the guidelines can really change a font:
Create Cheat Sheets
Once you have decided on the style, create a page including each letter in that style. This is my favourite thing to do as I can look back at this spread when creating quote pages/headers and instantly see how I wanted each letter to look. You can also do these with fonts you find online, but make sure to always credit the original artist! Here’s some examples:
Fun Brush Font
When you have really mastered a font, you may want to create a statement piece/quote. In this case I strongly recommend making use of guidelines and planning out the piece:
That way you can ensure you make room for each word and make sure it is centred etc. No matter your level, a pencil will always be your best friend! Here how this piece turned out:
Fonts inspired by @jonbensondesigns on Instagram.
If you've really put in the work and mastered a few fonts, try mixing up a quote page by using more than one font!
Take A Style To A New Level
Finally, I believe no style is ever truly ‘mastered’. There are always fun ways to change up a style, and new techniques to learn for every style. For example, once you are happy with your brush lettering, you can tweak your technique and learn bounce lettering! So get out those worksheets again and practice, practice, practice!
Hopefully I’ve given you some help and inspiration to pick up a pen and master that lettering style you’ve been eyeing up for months. If I have, I would love to see your attempts, so tag me on Instagram (@hayleyremdeart) and use #hayleyremdeinspired to get the chance to get your creations featured in my stories!