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

33 comments:

dawn said...

Hello Megan, so nice to meet you. I love this post, thank you for the tips and encouragement. One of my goals this year is to practice my handwriting, it would help me when sending out happy mail to friends. I was going to pick out 5 new words to learn each week and write them 10 times out each, using print and cursive. I will put your tips into the mix too and lots of practice. Thanks again!!

Thanks Alisa for another wonderful guest post!

Edwidge De Mota said...

Thanks Morgan and Alisa, this so helping !!!!!!! Thanks Alisa for your usual and so inspiring generosity.

Sue Marrazzo said...

I really appreciate the ART of lettering..It is so skilled and precise!
Thanks for sharing this = )

CathyB said...

Thank you for sharing this. Do you have any recommendation for a left handed person whose letters slant left instead of right. lol I've battled this my whole life. :) I rarely add lettering to anything I do!! Thank you for your time. Cathy

Primroses Attic said...

Would love to learn this.
Rosezeeta.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful guest post!! Very inspirational....Will enjoy using your great tips! Thank you Alisa for a fabulous blog!

Danielle M said...

Very nice post, simple and broken down...can't wait to start lettering.

Anonymous said...

Great information. Thank you for sharing it. I love the art of letters.

Stacey said...

Thanks for sharing. I love hand lettering and have been trying to sharpen my skills. Thanks for your help! I love your work.

Lauren Douglas Creative said...

I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS!

I'm Sara. said...

This is awesome! I am so intimidated by lettering but you've made me feel like I could give it a try. :)

studioGypsy said...

gorgeous and inspiring!! i like the challenge of 100.. :D and lovelovelove makewells! xoxo

studioGypsy said...

gorgeous and inspiring!! i like the challenge of 100.. :D and lovelovelove makewells! xoxo

Valerie Brown said...

Thank you for the useful tips. It makes lettering seem achievable! The light bulb moment for me was when you wrote that lettering is drawing, not writing!

Vanessa Falle said...

Megan and Alisa, thank you for sharing this post. I've recently fallen in love with hand lettering and have been unsure as to how to start doing it myself. This is exactly what I needed! ♥

Megan said...

Cathy - my advice would be just to keep thinking about lettering as "drawing" letters...it just takes practice and more practice!

Meg said...

What an awesome post! I've recently been trying (and failing) to design a new blog header...I wanted to hand letter it until I realised how difficult I find hand lettering! Now I've read this, I'm thinking I might take a while to teach myself using your 'one hundred ways' idea and try my blog header further in the future :) -Meg

Kelly said...

Oh my goodness, these are beautiful and this is always something I have wanted to learn, I will add the supplies to my list, thank you for the inspiration!

xx Kelly
Sparkles and Shoes

Emilee Land said...

Thanks for sharing these tips! I've been wanting to try lettering for a while, but I feel like it will be hard for me. I normally have what can only be described as "doctor handwriting."

pavinee said...

I was wondering if my hand drawn lettering is counted as calligraphy or not as it doesn't look as elegant as what calligraphers do. Now I know I'm doing 'lettering' and I'm happy about it :) Thanks for this helpful and beautiful blog post :)

Lydia Holden said...

This post for hand lettering is very inspirational for everyone of us i am sure! Thank you very much for taking time to explain these tricks!
Cleaning Services in Hampstead

Mary W said...

Great post today and what a nice exercise - better than sudoku! for waiting in car line, doctor, etc. I have my notebook packed and ready. Thanks.

Colleayn said...

Thank you! This is a great post. I need to play with my lettering some more.

Stephanie said...

thanks for the guest post

joyfulltiredmom said...

Beautiful work!

Lanie J. said...

Excellent post! Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

The word "calligraphy" comes from the Greek, "kalligraphia", which is a combination of "kallos", meaning beauty, and "graphien", meaning write. That makes your hand drawn lettering "calligraphy", since I'm sure it is truly beautiful

Penne Norris said...

Thank you so so so so so much! This post is oh so helpful and I can't wait to get started! I have paid for several online classes in lettering and honestly, didn't get anything from them. This laid it all out so simply. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! <3

Nish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nish said...

Beautiful work! I have a set of technical pencils and permanent markers beside rulers, pencil etc. Cant wait to start hand lettering, I am into 100 days of art and its day 70th. Can I do lettering with these basic supplies or should I order and wait? Are brush pens absolute mandatory?

Unknown said...

Merci beaucoup 😊 c'est un article super !

Neha said...

This is beautiful, thanks for sharing :)

Anonymous said...

Dawn Nicole on Pinterest and Facebook is left handed and does videos on lettering. Don't mean to steal your thunder here, but I am trying to find other resources because she is a lefty; she gives lots of helpful advice for coping with it.

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