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My hand lettering (aka modern calligraphy) journey began after I read Big Magic. I realized I was in desperate need of a creative activity that brought me joy. Something that wasn’t a money maker or linked to success in any way, but instead just brought me joy. I used to love to watercolor, but I don’t really have the time to sit down and create a whole image. Maybe I could just write something with watercolor? And this is how I joined the hand lettering craze. I have played with lettering and layout (um- any other yearbook editors out there) most of my life but I soon realized I was a real hand lettering beginner when it came to creating beautiful modern calligraphy (aka hand lettering).
Since I started practicing hand lettering I have gotten the chance to share it with others and they ALWAYS ask how to learn hand lettering too. So these are the steps I suggest to learn hand lettering for beginners (like me).
Steps to Hand Lettering for Beginners
- WATCH OTHERS
One of my good friends had been working for years on her lettering and design and she was able to direct me toward some great teachers. At the time many of these ladies were teaching on periscope and I would sit and watch. Try to catch the tiny details the mention like how to hold your hand and when to apply pressure. Start with some of my favorites for beginners:
- START with Crayola Markers and printable sheets
It’s all about muscle memory and practice and more practice. Crayola Markers are great because you can use the tip and the beveled edge to get thick and thin variations, which are essential in getting attractive letter forms. Get practice hand lettering printable sheets from any/all of these trusted sources and artists: Random Olive, Tombow lettering sheets, Dawn Nicole Designs, Amanda Arneill, Lemon Thistle
- DUPLICATE SIMPLE WORKS
I’m not advocating stealing, but I found replicating what I liked…. helped me understand space and form in a final piece better than letters on a line. And helped guide me to create my own work. I follow a TON of great artists on Instagram. Click my follow list and add some to your feed.
Starter Supplies for Hand Lettering
If you are just getting started I would have these tools ready (you might even have them at home already):
- Crayola Broad Line Markers (classic colors)
- Pencil & Eraser
- Printer Paper (this will be great for future work too)
- Basic Watercolor Set
- Paper Mate Flair Pen (MY FAVORITE WRITING TOOL!)
- Sharpie Markers- Regular and Thin
- Mixed Media Paper
Then when you feel ready to step it up a notch add these to your lettering toolbox:
- Watercolor Set
- Watercolor Paper or this watercolor paper
- Waterbrush (This set will give you 3 sizes- great for growing into) Waterbrushes are preferred over standard brushes because they are constantly wet and keep the paint flow steady.
- Tombow Brush Pens – Soft Nib & Hard Nib
- Tracing Paper (this is better for your brush pen practice than any other paper since it won’t eat up the bristles)
Feeling more confident? These items complete my personal Hand Lettering ToolBox:
- Sharpie Brush Markers
- Tombow Dual Tip Brush Pens (Starter Set, Large Color Collection) *Kit pictured is out of stock.
- Staedtler Pencils (Or other quality pencils)
- Watercolor Tubes (not pictured)
- Tool Pouch: these are so cute! OMG- and these felt cases. (it’s a good idea to store your markers flat so the ink isn’t sitting in the tip or at the bottom)
- Huion Tablet (not pictured, but what I use for lettering and all my digital projects like photo editing. It’s a great lower cost alternative to an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, or a Wacom Tablet)
Let me know if any of these was helpful to you and what else I might be able to share. I’m not an expert by any means, but I am enjoying this journey and would love for you to join me.
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