Tuesday, January 27, 2015

introduction to lettering

Hello everyone! I'm Megan of Makewells, and I'm quite thrilled to be contributing to Alisa's blog today. She asked if I'd share some tips on hand lettering, one of my favorite things to do. I don't consider myself to be an "expert letterer"; however, after about three years of truly investing my time in developing the skill, I have some tips and tricks that work for me. So I'm excited to share a few of these things with you.

But, first, I just want to talk briefly about what hand lettering is: put simply, it's the art of drawing lettersThat is a key thing to remember no matter where you are in your hand lettering skill set. We aren't talking about typography (the art of arranging type) or technical calligraphy.

One way to think of the difference between calligraphy and lettering is that calligraphy is based on penmanship, or writing letters, while lettering is based on draftsmanship, or drawing them. So to improve your lettering skills, essentially you are looking to improve your drawing skills. 

Getting started with hand lettering is easy (and cheap!). All you need is your basic drawing supplies: pencils, an eraser, paper, tracing paper, and a straight edge. And none of these need to be fancy. Most of my sketches are done with a mechanical pencil in my sketchbook or on basic copy paper. You can invest in lined or gridded paper, though I prefer to draw my own guides using a straight edge. 

As you become more skilled at lettering, you can add to your collection of drawing tools and surfaces. I'll be sharing some of my favorites in my next post. But, for now, that simple set of supplies I mentioned above is all you need.

When getting started lettering, it's important to get to know a few basic types of letters. I've highlighted three of these below:

From the three types of letters above, there are infinite ways to draw the 26 letters in the alphabet (52 if you think upper and lowercase)!

And that is what I love so much about lettering: there are endless possibilities. Not only can each letter be drawn an infinite amount of ways, but the combining of letters to form words, and words to form phrases, opens up a world of creative interpretation that could go on forever. 

Which leads me to my favorite go-to practice exercise. 

I know it sounds like a lot, but I believe so much in this exercise. Not only are you getting valuable practice drawing each letter, but you are also stretching your creativity to find innovative ways to interpret them. 

I have pages and pages in my sketchbooks dedicated to letters - which serve just as much as practice in the moment, as inspiration when I'm creating work in the future. 
I chose the letter A, but you can choose to start with any letter you'd like.

One way to discover the many variations of a single letter is by utilizing tracing paper. Draw the main body of your letter on white paper. Then, using the tracing paper, trace that same letter, varying a small detail each time. 

Below are some simple variations you can try.

Have fun practicing - you will be surprised how easy it is to come up with 100 variations! 

If you do complete the exercise, post your photos on Instagram so we can see. Use #redefinecreativelettering - we can't wait to see what you guys come up with!

Makewells Instagram: www.instagram.com/makewells


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