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  • Rebecca Ogilvie

Hand Drawn Lettering


Letters allow us to convey information, set warnings, or consume and produce education, like this post you are reading right now but lettering is just a simple part of life that has become so normal from the moment we start to read and write it is drilled into us without fully thinking about the history and reason for why letters are the way they are presented now.


What is Hand Lettering?

Hand lettering is an art form where in letters are individually drawn, in the artist's chosen style, to convey a visual message or feeling. Hand lettering employs the use of different strokes, designs, and letter-drawing styles to create unique artistic pieces with language at the centre.


The Difference Between Hand Lettering and Calligraphy?

Calligraphy, while also beautiful in its own right, differs drastically from hand drawn lettering. Calligraphy is concerned with replicating already-established fonts, whereas hand lettering artists have a bit more creative license within their work. You might think of calligraphy more as penmanship and hand lettering as the art of drawing letters.


Different Styles of Hand Lettering

  1. Sans serif

  2. Serif

  3. Cursive / Script

  4. Vintage

  5. Graffiti

  6. Creative lettering


1. Sans Serif

Sans serif lettering (a.k.a block letters) is one of the best starting points

for lettering beginners.

The term comes from the French language where ‘’sans’’ means without, which exactly describes this style of lettering. When creating sans serif lettering you need to pay close attention to the letterforms. (like with any other style)

It is highly important to maintain a level of consistency throughout the thickness, heights, spacing etc. sans serif fonts are a great addition for your lettering

pieces especially in a combination with a script style.



2. Serif

Serif lettering shares the main form of the letters with sans serif letters, however, there are two main differences between sans serif and serif lettering.



The two things to know about serif fonts is that the serifs have small decorative strokes added at the end of the letterforms and the different thickness in the strokes, not every stroke has the same thickness.


The important thing to know is how a letter is written and know that the up strokes are thin and down strokes are thick.



3. Cursive/Script

Cursive lettering also known as script, cursive is originally a penmanship style where the characters are written together in a flowing manner.



With hand lettering you can create whatever shapes or forms you wish, as long as you follow the fundamentals such as consistency, balance, spacing etc.


Best way to construct a cursive letter is by dividing it in separate shapes rather then drawing it as a whole.




4. Vintage

Vintage lettering can be characterized as a style that used to be contemporary in the 19-20th century. It is very recognizable on a few different aspects such as Decorations (flourishes/embellishments), Serifs, Textures, Colours.


Vintage lettering is a great way to represent something old and traditional.


Adding different (pale) colours and textures is kind of difficult with pen

and paper.





5. Graffiti

Hand lettering and graffiti are always looked as two totally different things, Graffiti is an art form that it’s mainly performed on vertical surfaces (like walls) with spray paint cans.


Graffiti can be characterized as a more ‘’free’’ art form, meaning that there aren’t really any firm rules on how to create it. Thick, thin, round, sharp, graffiti gives you total freedom of doing whatever you want, but still needs to be well balanced, have good contrast between colours etc. Graffiti is great when you are going for that street and urban feel in your piece.



6. Creative Lettering

Probably the best way to describe creative lettering it the type of lettering that incorporates some different elements besides just the letters.

This could be illustrations, textures, play on words, perspective etc.


So instead of just drawing letters in nice shapes and forms, you add illustrations, motives, and other elements to give it some context and bring it to life. Probably the easiest way is to just show you what you mean exactly.


This may be a more complex style to pull off as it requires some illustrational experience aside from the lettering one.

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