3 Tips to Master Hand Lettering

Hand lettering is a great way to take your designs one step further. It takes a lot of practice to master the trade. Golden Press Studio’s graphic designer Cory Romeiser walks through the basics of hand lettering and gives three helpful tips to help level up your lettering style.

In the tutorial video, Cory uses the Killer Brush Pack for Procreate. The pack is based around calligraphy and typography. If you’re looking for an easy hand lettering guide, you can search for free worksheets online. 

TIP 1: PRACTICE UPSTROKES AND DOWNSTROKES

The downstroke of a letter is a thick line, while the upstroke is thin. This is fundamental to hand lettering. Cory recommends practicing upstrokes and downstrokes over and over again. You’ll get used to the way the pen moves and build up muscle memory. If you’re struggling with thicks and thins, think of it this way: Your downstroke is a thick line, and your upstroke is just a way for your hand to reset back to that downstroke. It’s like you accidentally grazed the surface. 

Cory sets up a guide for his letters. He draws a straight, horizontal line on the sheet and duplicates it to create three parallel lines. It creates a grid for both upper and lower case letters. He then sets up diagonal lines along the guide to help keep the angles consistent. This grid helps make sure your lines aren’t arcing downward, and that the height and angle of your letters is even.

A hand rests next to the calligraphy word "Minimum"

 

The key to hand lettering is practice. A great word to practice downstrokes and upstrokes with is the word “minimum.” When the word is all written out, it looks like the same lines written over and over again. If you’re feeling brave, add a curve to your strokes. A slight change can make a big impact. 

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TIP 2: LEARN LETTER FORMS

All letters are based on six shapes (shown in the image below). Cory shows how to utilize these shapes to make hand-written letters. 

A hand draws 6 basic shapes in hand lettering

He grabs the shapes, duplicating them and bringing them to a fresh space on the document. By adding a line or two, Cory can create most of the letters of the alphabet with ease. Each shape can be made into many letters with a little creativity and a couple of downstrokes.

Some letters don’t fit these six shapes. For example, you’d have to create letters like “S” from scratch. By learning these shapes and practicing them, you can make your hand lettering consistent and professional. 

TIP 3: STUDY OTHER PEOPLES’ WORK

Creativity inspires creativity. If you’re hung up on a letter, or want to switch things up, check out other people’s work for inspiration. Cory has a few hand-lettering experts he recommends:

  • C.J. Amaya has amazing work and creates hand lettering in many different forms
  • Will Paterson is a great artist who Cory gained most of his knowledge from.
  • Stefan Kunz is a legend in hand lettering. Cory thinks Stefan is the one who made hand lettering “cool” again.
  • JansArts® does a lot of quick-style brush lettering with a hip hop feel.
  • Jacob B Morgan has been a huge inspiration to Cory, who followed along with one of Jacob’s lettering challenges.

Learning hand lettering is all about figuring out what looks best on your designs. Gaining inspiration (not plagiarizing) from other artists will improve your hand lettering game. As your skills improve, you’ll hone your own unique style. Most of the artists mentioned above have brush packs and education to help you out as well. 

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A hand traces the letter "H"

Find resources that help you, like brush packs or tutorials. When you’re just starting out, achieving those perfect letters may seem like a daunting task. Whether you’re using Procreate or Crayola markers, mastering hand lettering is about practice and precision. Stick with it, use what you have, and take inspiration from others to make your lettering unique and amazing.

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