The (not so) Lost Art of Hand Lettering June 09 2012, 0 Comments

Hand lettering has popped up everywhere. From band posters to the chalk sign at your local café, hand written typography is a trend that is staying strong. The good news is that it’s not that hard to create! Why not make a beautiful hand lettered card for your best pal’s birthday, or frame your favourite words to live by and hang it on your wall at home? This week I will be giving you a few easy tips to create your own hand lettered masterpiece.

Ok, so to create neat hand written typography, there are a couple of rules to take note of. You can still create cool typography that isn’t perfectly neat, but you need to know the rules before you break them! Firstly, we need to take a trip back to grade 1. Remember having to learn to write between the three ruled lines with curved precision? It’s kind of like that….

Firstly draw four ruled lines, that have are spaced at equal distance apart. Draw with pencil as you will erase these later.

   Practise drawing letters between the lines. Here's a breakdown of what each line is for:

Top line: Ascender. This line acts as a guide for your ascenders, the stems of letters which rise higher than the rest of the text, like the stems of an L, or an h.

2nd line: X-height. Your lower case letters should not reach higher than this line, unless they have an ascender (stem).

3rd line: Baseline. Most of your text should sit on this line. You want your lower case letters to fit between the 2nd and 3rd line.

4th line: Descender. This line acts as a guide for your descenders, or the bottom stems of letters like y or decorative fs.

Next practise decorative letters. Much of the gorgeous hand lettered typography at the moment has fairly wide stems such as this example. Practise some letters, making sure that they all have the same thickness. Also decide what letters you want to have extra decorative features such as flourishes and loops. You can also alter the space between the four lines to create different effects.


Finally, practise drawing a flourish, such as this one:

Flourishes look great on the beginning or ending letters of a composition. Take this example below:


Finally, start putting together your little work of art. Consider the space you have and how long your words are. You don’t want to run out of space. For phrases, try using a centred composition so that the words group together nicely. If you are going to colour in your letters, or outline them with pen or other media, make sure you erase any unwanted pencil lines first, otherwise they will remain visible under the ink, and won't rub out.

Here are some beautiful examples to get you inspired!