Hand lettering is super popular right now, and it’s no wonder why. It is a fun, creative outlet that anyone can try! Learning how to hand letter is something you can learn with just a few simple tools. All you need is a pen, paper, and the desire to learn!
Maybe you want to learn to hand letter OR maybe you are just curious about how I create the prints for Sweet Lilac Prints? Cool! I am so excited to share my process with you! Keep reading for my tips and tricks on getting started with hand lettering.
Getting Started with Hand Lettering
Let’s start with a little background on my hand lettering journey. I taught myself the art of hand lettering about a year ago, and it has quickly become my favorite thing. But even before learning to hand letter, I always had a fascination with writing and creating.
Words, whether written or spoken, carry so much meaning. Just like people FEEL your attitude when you speak words, hand letterers use the detail of their design to evoke the tone and feeling of written words.
What I love most about hand lettering is the detailed intricacies of a design, and the process of improving my lettering skills. When words flow together on a page beautifully, you can literally FEEL their meaning as you read them.
I have vivid memory from elementary school sitting in my third grade class and learning about signatures. I had a vague idea of what signatures were. After all, I’d watched my mom sign her name many, many times.
When the teacher told the class that each of us would someday get to CREATE our own signature I thought I had just won the LOTTERY! I was so excited to have my own signature some day.
We pulled one of my elementary school journals out of my parent’s basement recently, and there was a page at the end with my name written in about six different letter styles. Block letters. Lowercase letters. Cursive letters. And that was totally me. I hated art class but I loved writing.
It seems ironic that I hated art class. Those loose guidelines of “creating art” STILL make me want to hide under my bed.
But with lettering, there is definitely a formula approach to creating great designs, and I totally dig that. You see, I’ve always been more left brain dominant. Like really left brain dominant (I have degrees in accounting & finance and worked in corporate tax).
In high school, I remember being a part of our class’s mock trial. I was to play the role as reporter. Our teacher explained to our group of three reporters what an important role it was. She told us that she was intentional about who she chose to be reporters, and picked students that she felt would not gossip or slander classmates.
Her words stuck with me. Words have influence. And I should use words to be kind, good, and fair.
This project was totally my jam. I also loved brainstorming our newspaper name. That meant designing our own logo! I spent countless hours “designing” the perfect logo for our little newspaper, the Political Spy. We made the ‘p’ into a magnifying glass! Oh man did we think we were clever.
Tools for Hand Lettering
Fast forward to this time last year when I asked my family for a few birthday gifts. I wanted: the Calligraphy for Dummies book, calligraphy pens, hand lettering pens & markers, the Handlettering 101 book and an apple pencil.
At the time, I had NO clue that you needed the iPad Pro to use the apple pencil. I thought I could just use an apple pencil with our current iPad, easy peasy. But guess what? My sweet husband figured it out and gifted me an iPad Pro (which is what I needed to use the apple pencil) and the apple pencil. PLUS my sweet sister and step mom got me all the markers, pens, and books that I asked for. I was off and running!
How to Hand Letter on Paper
I spent the next year perfecting my handlettering. I started with the book Handlettering 101, working all the way through it. I decided my first hand lettering project would be our Christmas cards, and set out on addressing every single one by hand. It was an awesome way to practice all kinds of unique letter combinations.
I was such a fan of Handlettering 101, I went out and bought Handlettering 201. I loved this book just as much as the first one. I definitely recommend both of these books to anyone looking for a jump start in hand lettering. I worked through both books front to back, covering all the pages with letters and words!
Next, I played around with my calligraphy pens and worked through the book Calligraphy for Dummies. I was definitely a dummy at first, but after quite a bit of practice I got the feel for moving pen on paper with different pressure.
I quickly decided that using calligraphy pens, though SUPER fun, was not my favorite medium. It’s not something I can pull out with my two young kiddos around, and it takes a bit of set up and clean up.
I also found it difficult to stop and start (which is kind of my life with kiddos). I haven’t given up on old school calligraphy, but it’s just a tricky hobby to have with my young kids. Maybe once they are a bit older, I can enjoy doing old school calligraphy.
How to Hand Letter on the iPad Pro
After spending around 100 hours with pen and paper, I was feeling more confident in my lettering skills. It was time to pull out my Ipad Pro and figure that bad boy out.
You guys! I literally hugged this new toy after I got it out of the box. I had watched so many YouTube videos on all the cool things you can do with lettering on the iPad, and I wanted to learn!
Once it was all set up, I downloaded the Procreate app and dove right in. If I’m honest, I was a little bit frustrated at first. Just like learning to letter on paper, learning to letter on the iPad was a new skill that took a bit of time to master. But it was definitely worth my time and effort, because I’m still totally obsessed with creating art on my iPad Pro.
iPad Lettering Resources
I leveraged a few resources to learn iPad lettering with Procreate. But you can also just search for iPad lettering on YouTube and find a wealth of resources. To save you some time weeding through all the info, here are my three go to’s:
iPad Lettering: This site has a ton of resources including practice sheets, brushes for Procreate, and tons of awesome tutorials. Make sure you block a chunk of time though, because you will not want to stop looking at all the awesomeness.
Rad and Happy: Two of my favorite free brushes for Procreate come from Rad and Happy. She also has a great, short video on vectorizing your handlettering, and a Doodling class that is on my Christmas list.
Every Tuesday: Another awesome handlettering website with tons of resources and freebies. AND if you’d rather not letter but like to dabble in graphic design, check out her script fonts. She has tons of classes including how to use watercolors, fluorishes, metallics and more.
iPad Lettering Tools
Once I got into the Procreate app, I invested in a few things for my iPad Pro. You certainly don’t need these items to use Procreate, and these are just my personal favorites. But since I found these tools useful, I wanted to share them with you.
iPad pencil cover: This was one of my first purchase and it was a game changer for me. I found the iPad pencil slippery, especially compared to my lettering pens and markers. I like this one because it’s grippy, but not too much so.
iPad Pro case: I wanted a case with a pencil holder, and I love how this case can be rotated. There are also tons of colors and designs to choose from with this case. Just be sure you check the size of your iPad Pro to make sure
Don’t be like me though: be sure your case is closed and secured with the elastic before standing up with your iPad. I managed to drop my iPad right on its face and completely busted the screen.
I can’t even tell you the amount of expletives I strung together that day. Yikes! That was an expensive $230 mistake. Another tip: insure your iPad Pro if you are clumsy like me.
Screen protector: The transition from lettering on paper to iPad screen can be a bit of a jump. If that’s the case for you then you may like to use matte screen protector.
What are you waiting for?
If you only takeaway one piece of advice from me, here it is: the more you practice handlettering, the better you will get! I’ve logged about 350 hours of handlettering practice over the past year, and I just can’t get enough of it!
The math works out to about an hour a day, give or take. Some days I’ve spent four hours working on lettering! Then other days I’ve taken off. So, it just depends.
And you know what? My lettering is still evolving. And I[m still practicing new techniques! I love looking back and seeing how my lettering has grown and changed.
Now it’s your turn to start lettering! Get yourself a pen or marker, and some paper and start! Your first attempts might not be your favorite, but just keep practicing.
Do me a favor, will ya? If you use this post to start learning handlettering, please PLEASE drop me a comment or email and let me know. It would make me so happy to see what you are creating.