What am I going to learn in this complete guide?
In this guide, you are going to learn the Basics of Handlettering. You will learn what tools to use,
Calligraphy vs Handlettering
While Calligraphy is the art of writing letters and sentences Handlettering is the art of drawing and illustrating letters and sentences. So when doing Handlettering you are allowed to do an underdrawing and you are completely free in choosing your medium and tools with almost no limitations at all. So you can go wild, try different things and have fun!
Ink pens are one of the most used pens for doing Handlettering. This isn´t surprising as they are easy to use, inexpensive, and available in different thicknesses and colors. There are a lot of different Brands out there, you can pretty much choose whichever you want but be careful! There are a lot of ink pens out there, that are of poor quality. These pens tend to bleed on the paper, smudge easily or even drip in some occasions. So be sure, that your ink pen produces even and sharp lines before using it for
Here are some of the ink pens I use for my work:
These are made in Japan and are
Rotring Tikky Graphics
Brush pens are, as the name already suggests, pens that have a brush as a tip. These are normally refillable but there are some exceptions to this. There is a Hugh variety of brush pens with different tip strenghs and colors. I normally use the brushtip of the Copic Markers but I do have one Brush Pen, that I absolutly love. Its the Pentel Brush Pen from Japan. It has a very soft and long tip that will help you achieve clean lines that can be very slim and extreamly thick with one stroke!
Copic Markers are very well known and I can´t recommend them enough. They come in a lot of different
Aquarellcolor is one of my favorite mediums for illustrating and hand-lettering. A Basic Aquarell case with some colors will take you a long way! The
This is a very simple but insanely useful little tool. It is basically an eraser but you can form it in any shape you want. You can control the amount of graphite, that you want to remove, by pressure and amount of times you go over the drawing. This eraser also doesn´t damage the paper, when using it. Wich is very
There are a lot more Mediums and tools, that you can use or try. Get creative and try different things!
You can use any paper you want. There are a few things, you should lookout for though. First of all, the paper should be absorbant but notto the point, that the clean lines of the markers bleed out. This isespecially true if you are using Markers. Ink pens are not as bad,when it comes to bleeding. I usually use Aquarell paper, that haslittle to no texture, copic marker paper, this paper is realy thin,so you can lay your scetch underneath and trace it, or you could usethick drawing paper or illustration board.
Scetch out your Design
Before you start on your final
Thumbnails are intended to pump out and test out a lot of Ideas very fast and in very rough form. They are meant to be small, hence the name, so keep them small and draw a lot of them! Try and change things up. Use different fonts, test out a lot of different compositions, try interesting decorations and try modifieing different Letters. I would recommend
When doing an underdrawing you shouldn´t use
If you plan on using colored Markers you should be careful to not draw over graphite with these markers because you will see the lines through the color and once you drew over them you cant
Finish the Drawing
Tips on choosing the right Font
Choosing the right font for your design can be tricky and in some cases even the hardest part of the sketching and designing phase. Here are some personal Tipps and some Tipps, that helped me a lot to choose the right font for your project.
Fonts are like voices
This advice confused me when my former typography teacher first gave it to me. But it didn´t took long and it clicked. All of a sudden it made so much sense to me, to think of every font and script as a voice. If you read a sentence written in cursive and with hearts instead of i – dots, what voice pops in your head?
It is probably a female voice, right? If you see a font, that is written in capital letters with strong lines, how does the voice in your head sound?
Is it loud and screams or is it calm and speaks quietly? Probably the first option right?
So when you choose a font for your project just ask yourself, what should the voice sound like? Is it loud, does it scream? Is it stable or does it tilt? Is it insane or clean and modern? Is it small or gigantic? Is it playful or serious? Ask yourself these questions and more until you have a voice in your head and then find or maybe even develop a font, that matches the voice. Also remember, that the tone of the voice may change depending on what word it says, so you can use more than just one font.
Vary the line weight
This is a good trick if the font looks too boring or uniform. Break the lines up by changing the individual line weights. You could use thin upstrokes and thick down strokes. Or you could always make one side of the letters a little bit thicker so simulate light shining. Or just give fonts insane outlines. Just try and experiment with different things, there are no rules and you could discover an awesome effect!
Modify the letters
Basics of composition
Composition is one of the most importand and often compleatly overlooked things. It is importand in every design or concept you make. Knowing theese rules will help you to create interesting and compelling designs.
Lead the eyes of the viewer
This rule is pretty interesting. It is used in a lot of illustrations, concept art and in Graphicsdesign as well.
Subconsouslywe will always look at certain things or elements first or our eyes will be caught by some specific elements first before we move on. I wrote a quick hierarchy of things our eyes get attracted to from most relevant to least.
The first thing we
The other thing, and the thing, that is way easier to utilize when doing hand lettering, is a high contrast area. We will always look at the part of the picture with the highest contrast first. There are seven main contrast types, you can utilize. If you want to know more about them in the section color, below, I will go more
We will always start looking in the top left corner and our eyes will move down to the bottom right corner. We learned to read this way and whenever we are “Scanning” something with our eyes we will do so by starting in the top left corner. So the first element in the top left corner, that is not overshadowed by a high contrast area or a person is the first thing we will see and read. So If you have multiple faces on a design, we will also start with the first face closest to the top left corner.
There are a lot of other small things our eyes get attracted to but these are the most important and most utilized ones. Once you know these eye magnets you can use them to lead the viewer’s eyes. The viewer will always follow lines or hard edges. So when you start with a high contrast area and a line that goes from that area to another element the viewer is
This is a quick and easy trick. Think of what is important in your design and make sure it gets the space and awareness it deserves. For
The Rule of Thirds and the Golden Ratio
The rule of thirds is a very powerful compositional trick. And it is relativly easy to utalize as well. Just divide your canvas with threeequal distance horizontal lines and three equal distance verticallines. Now you have nine equaly big sections. On the four corners ofthe middle section there are compositional points of interest. For some reason, that a lot of mathematicians tried to solve and yet still can’t really answer, we tend to look at the elements, that are displayed at these corners. I would not recommend using all four corners at once
I won’t go into to much detail about the golden ratio. It is a well-known aesthetic rule and it is also the reason why the rule of thirds works. If you follow the golden ratio your art will look astheticly more pleasing. You can
Light and dark contrast
This is the best known contrast. Black and White for example fall under this contrast categorie. You can utalize any colorin its brightest form and in its darkest form to create this contrast. It is a simple but effective way of creating contrast but also the most used one of them all.
Contrast of Hue
The Primary colors red, yellow and blue have the strongest contrast of hue. You can use these colors against each other to achieve a nice contrasting effect.
Cold and Warm color contrast
This contrast is a little bit related to the contrast of hue but it still is its own category. Blue and green are the coldest colors and red and orange are the warmest colors. So you can contrast a lot of different mixes of cold and warm colors against each other to create awesome and eye-catching contrasts. Just keep in mind, that you d
Complementary colors are the colors on the exact other side of the color circle. Each color always has one complementary color. For Yellow its Violet, for Red its Green and for Blue its orange. These are just some examples but there are a lot of great complementary colors to discover!
And finally, you can add some little or prominent illustrations to your work. This can be literally anything, that fits your design. You can either add something to “underline” the message of your work or you can add some Decorations. You could use an Illustrated figure on your letters or illustrate the background in an interesting and fitting way. Just get creative and don’t be afraid to make a mistake!
Digitize and refine your work
The last step is optional but it can help you out a lot. If you digitize your artwork, you can then manipulate or refine your work in Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop or any other similar program. You can change or enhance the color of your design, you could simply color it completely digitally or you can change little things, you didn’t like. You can also make it to a vector drawing in Adobe Illustrator and prepare it for printing. A Vector Graphic can be upscaled almost infinitely so can use a vectorized artwork for almost anything you like. Or you could clean up some mistake you made and that bugs you. There are a lot of different things you can do from here on out.
Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.