Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New Art Series // Hand-Lettering

I finally got to my next post in this series.  Took me long enough, right?  If you missed the first post in the series, A New Art Series // Adult Coloring, click here.  After this post, there will be one more in the series... and I'm saving the best for last (at least, that's my opinion).


About a year ago, I started getting into hand-lettering.  It's like modern calligraphy.  I can't do calligraphy to save my life.  I've tried.  Not happening.  I can however do "fake" calligraphy.  IT'S A MILLION TIMES EASIER.  It just takes some traditional cursive.  (My cursive is a scribbly mess, but that's okay.  I have a trick. *wink*)

Before I get started with the "tutorial", let's take a look at a sample of hand-lettering.  See what we're up against.  HAHAHA.  Just kidding.  It's really simple.  Wait, did I just say I was going to show you a sample?  Excuse me a moment while I dig through my overflowing folders of artwork to find a decent drawing.


That is the best one I could find.  It happens to be one of the few I have done in color.  Personally, I prefer black and white, but either way works.

One more thing before I start.  Hand-lettering is't made to be perfect.  It can have flaws.  Those flaws are what makes it so pleasing to the eye.  It shows that is was hand-done, not typed out on the computer.  Don't worry about the tiny mistakes you make.  Perfection is not the goal.

There are a couple essential tools needed, and then there are some that are optional.  Let's start with the necessary tools.

- Paper
- Pencil
- Fine-liner pen or Sharpie pen/marker

Now for the optional items.  I didn't start using these until after I got some experience.

- Ruler
- Graph Paper
- Colored markers
- Colored fine-liner pen


I have my own unique handwriting - the way I write when I don't think about exactly how a stroke is going to be.  So, how do I overcome that?  How do I develop a font that has no relation to my handwriting?  Here's that trick I was talking about earlier.  I think about the letters as shapes.  For example, the "M" is an upside-down triangle, minus the top edge.  Then, two lines come down from each side.  I really hope all that jabbering made sense.

Okay, let's talk fonts.  I'll go through a couple different ones that I use the most, like calligraphy, all-caps, and block.

If you need some ideas for fonts, check out dafont.com.  SUPER HELPFUL AND AWESOME!

How to: Calligraphy

For this, no special tools are needed.  Just a pencil and fine-liner pen/sharpie.  First, I draw the word in cursive with a pencil, spacing out the letters more than normal.  If I need to adjust it, I can easily erase.  Next, on the down strokes, I thicken up the line as shown below.  Lastly, I go over my work with a fine-liner pen or sharpie and erase the pencil marks.  I illustrated this process in the picture below. 

Step 1: Draw the word in cursive with a pencil.  Erase and adjust as needed.

Step 2: Thicken the down strokes in the word.  Then, go over with a fine-liner pen or Sharpie.

How to: All-Caps

All caps is one of the easiest fonts to do.  The hardest part about this font is keeping the letters consistent in height and width.  All caps is self-explanatory, so instead I will show you a couple twists I use to jazz up the capitol letters.  

How to: Block

Block is another one of my favorites.  The Block font is the word "Child" on my sample.  The easiest way to draw block is to put graph paper under the paper I'm drawing on.  By doing this, it's way easier to make sure my thickness stays consistent.




Now it's time to put all of this together.  This process is how I do it, but you might do it differently.  That's okay.  Everyone has their own style.

Make a plan.  This is my first step.  I take a scrap piece of paper and write out the quote or phrase in all caps.  I circle the words I want to be larger and more emphasized on the paper.  Then I draw a mini version of my paper.  Just a rectangle.  I decide my overall position of the words, borders, and other shapes. In this stage, I begin to experiment with fonts.  I have my basic design down.  Is it readable?  Is it arranged so all the words fit on the page?  When I finally get everything the way I want it, I ask myself the most important question.

Not only is the drawing about the words themselves, but the way they are designed and placed on the page.

Sketch out the design.  I have my plan.  Now it's time for me to do the dirty work.  I grab my pencil and eraser and get to work.  The reason I don't use a pen in this step is because a pen is permanent.  If I make a mistake, which I will, I can't erase it.  This step is where I can draw, change, and tweak things.  When I start drawing in pen, there is no changing it, so it has to be perfect now.  Once I have a sketch in pencil and I am satisfied with my work, I bring out the pens.

Go over the sketch in pen.  I typically use a black fine-liner pen for this, but some other options are a black sharpie, or even other colors.  I would go with darker colors, though.  The pencil marks might show through and mess up a yellow.  This step takes some time and a smooth hand, but my drawing really starts to shape in this step.

Touch up the drawing.  I can fix some of my squiggly lines by going over them again, but remember, the imperfections are what adds to the beauty of it.  If I choose to add color, I do so in this step.  Once the drawing is exactly the way I want it, I erase my pencil marks.  And its done!

Whew... that was much longer than I thought it would be!  There is so many tips and tricks for hand-lettering that I could go on for days.  For more help with hand-lettering, I found YouTube a very helpful tool.  Have fun with it!

- Mickayla