How to master lettering with these 5 tips – and have fun doing it

Lettering and typography is a fun and creative way to visually play with a statement. What is even more fun about lettering, is that it can be done without any expensive equipment or professional design software. All you need is paper, some pens, and your imagination. Whether you have already started your lettering journey, or you are only looking for a way to get going, these five practice proven tips to lettering are designed to get you closer to your lettering goal. And once happy with your work, don't miss out the free image series on the bottom of the page to present your work the best possible way.


Tip 1: Sketching

Sketching is the number one most important step in lettering, and is what takes up most of of the designing time. Not everything in lettering has to be done with free hand. Use sketching tools such as ruler, circle, patterns, and so on to align your words neatly. If you are drawing on computer, blend in help lines and draw shapes you want to follow in your lettering on the background. Sketch your drawing first with a pencil. Continue to refine your drawing until you are really happy with it. Once you have the shapes you want, draw along the pencil lines with the pen of your choosing.

Sketchbook 03.jpg


Tip 2: Drawing instruments

Choose your drawing instrument according to the end result you want to achieve. Basic tools for lettering are fine liners of different thickness, calligraphy ink fillers, and brush pens. If you are new to lettering or have a new pen, do some simple line and circle exercises with your drawing instrument to get a feeling for thickness and behaviour of the instrument before trying it on a sketch. If you feel like you need more practice with your instrument, use an alphabet practice sheet to draw letters. There is a myriad of writing instrument on the market for lettering. Trying to figure out which instruments you need can be overwhelming especially if you are new to lettering but don't worry, a basic fine liner set and a ruler will get you far.

Lettering 01 small.jpg


Tip 3: The message

Before you begin to draft, think about the message you want your drawing to have. Choose your script types so that they fit to the overall message of your script. For example, use girly cursive letters for messages about love. Pick the text you want to draw apart by placing word or short sentences in different rows. Set the words you want to emphasise in your message on own row and make those considerably larger so they really stick out to the viewer. Small words, such as "but, then, in, etc." can be written smaller so they leave the arena to the significant words in the message.

Plants and blackboard small.jpg


Tip 4: Shapes

The message can be presented in a particular shape complementing the message and mood you want to create for a viewer. For example a message about summer could be designed in a round shape with sun rays extending to all sides from the message. Drawing entire texts in particular shapes is quite difficult especially if you are only tapping into lettering, but drawing some words in shape already livens up the drawing. Consider drawing some words in your message in shapes such as a curve or an arch. Drawing words to represent their own meaning also livens up your message giving it a playful touch. Consider drawing words like "boat" or "house" in boat or house shape.

Watercolor 03.jpg


Tip 5: Additional visual content

Once you have drafted your words you can add additional visual content to support your message and to add to your intended mood in the drawing. Camping texts do well with some additional doodles of mountains and a tent. Draw your ornaments in a way that they frame your message and complement the overall shape you intended for your drawing. Great simple doodles are arrows, flowers, stars, and hearts. Another great way to add some quirkiness to your visual statement are swashes for firsts and last letters of a word. Swashes can also be used to connect two words visually, and to fill empty spaces between words.

Fern bg 13.jpg


Want to present your lettering with a cool background? Download these free lettering backgrounds for your works, or use the lettering examples for your creative works. All images in this article are released under CC0 license. Free for private and commercial use. Attribution is not required but greatly appreciated. For more modern free images click here, or checkout freebies in other blog posts.

Pin me!

Lettering pin.jpg