Lettering designs are downright gorgeous, and a useful skill for designers to master. The good news is that anyone can learn it – it just takes practice. We compiled some hand-lettering tips from HOW Design University‘s lettering extraordinaire, Denise Bosler, to get you started in your lettering practice.
First, you need the right tools. We grabbed this practical tool guide from Denise Bosler’s Hand-Lettering Power Course.
Next, you’ll need graph paper to practice drawing your letters. This will help you maintain consistency. Pro-tip: You can find free graph paper on the Printable Paper site.
Once you have the right tools, see the tips below on the lettering process. For more advanced lettering instruction, check out the Hand-Lettering Power Course (starts April 25 – today!) where you will find guidance on basic letterforms design.
Basic Hand-Lettering Tips:
Lettering is not the same thing as handwriting. When you are lettering, you are actually drawing the letterforms.
Create a library of inspiration. We included our lettering library below to give you ideas on what to include in your library. Also browse Pinterest and YouTube as lettering artists frequently publish their work on those sites. We recommend following Denise Bosler, Jeremy Pruitt, and Jessica Hische’s Pinterest boards as they always post fantastic resources for inspiration.
Look to typographic design for inspiration. Denise Bosler advises that “the best way to start [lettering] is by copying from existing typefaces to get to know the feel of the letterforms.” Trace popular typefaces, such as Helvetica, using the grid paper. Pay attention to the spacing, line heights and widths.
Refine, refine, refine. Once you have sketches of your lettering, refine until the letters follow the typographic rules. Refining might take several tries. This is why you need an eraser nearby as you’ll use it often.
HOW’s Lettering Library:
In Mastering Typography, typography expert Denise Bosler teaches you EVERYTHING you need to know about the art and science of typography. She details the fascinating history, gives you the correct terminology for pieces of the letter you probably didn’t even notice were there, and shows you how it all comes together.
Inspire your type designs with the side-by-side travel photo comparisons in Culture+Typographyby Nikki Villagomez. Each image features examples of typography in culture, along with cultural and historical commentary to go with the image.
Inside this typography book is a view of the discipline incorporating an exploration of typography in media versus typography in motion, and coverage of topics like letterforms, syntax and legibility, the evolution and technology of typography, communication and the typographic message, typographic design processes, using the grid, and more.
With Elegantissima, the first documentation of Louise Fili’s body of work, you’ll discover the wide reach of Fili’s four-decade design career. Case studies explore sketches, inspiration, references, and design process, making this the perfect reference for graphic design students and professionals, or anyone with an interest in books, advertising, food, restaurants, and Italy.
With this visually stunning primer, designers will develop the skills and vision to produce truly innovative, stunning type design. Using more than 1,500 images from the 18th century up to the present day, the author describes type as a unique language that follows its own rules for communication and that requires great sensitivity for the reader’s needs.
Perhaps as a backlash to our digital lifestyles, hand drawn type is making a comeback. Design expert Steven Heller explores the history of hand lettering, while we profile 6 creatives who draw type as illustration.
Serving as inspiration as well as a helpful workbook, Drawing Type by Alex Fowkes is sure to encourage any designer to draw and explore type. Featuring actual projects and sketchbooks of prominent type designers, as well as interviews about their processes, this guide to hand-drawn type helps clarify the process of drawing typefaces for anyone looking to improve their type design skills.