Hand Lettering

I've been drawing letters for as long as I can remember.

My mom, a first grade teacher, always encouraged me to be creative when I was a child, and she would buy me books of decorative fonts so that I could try to recreate them. Even now, it's probably my dominant doodle– if I'm doodling, it's usually some typographic doodle with letters or fonts. I know my mom still encourages her students to be creative by having them practice their spelling words in different lettering styles, which I think is a pretty fun exercise for an artsy little kid!

There is something special about receiving cards and notes that are handwritten. It's even more special when you do some fancy lettering or fun fonts. They aren't hard to do, I promise!

I thought I would walk you through my favorite styles that would be easy for you to recreate! It's perfect for making a handmade Valentine's card (or birthday card, anniversary card, etc).

Let's start with what I consider the easiest lettering style. I call them fancy stick letters.

You start with a stick letter and then decorate the points. You can use dots, hearts, stars, squares, lines, flowers, butterflies, smiley faces... anything you can think of! Easy cheesy.

You can mix it up by doing all capital letters or all lowercase... or you can do both, which is something I almost always do. I like the lowercase versions of some letters better than some uppercase so I just pick and choose as I go. I think the mix is charming and whimsical! 

The next group of letters I use quite often are what I like to call the swirlies. This style is feminine and funky and is one of my favorites. I love a good swirly pattern!

Here's an uppercase version with the same size swirls on each point...

And here is a lowercase version in a similar style, but you'll notice the swirls are less free flowing. It has a different look that way. 

This is an example of using different size swirls to add flourish. Some letters really lend themselves to extra flourish: A, Y, W, T, S, etc. I like to add a little something to the first and last letter to keep things balanced. 

Next up, the bubble letters. There are a million ways to do bubble letters. Rounded edges, square edges, thin, thick. You can get really creative with these!

Here you can see the difference between the standard bubble letter at the top (rounded edges) and the two versions in the middle. The second lettering style attempts to keep each letter on the same line and in the same size, while the third version is staggered and a little bit more funky. The option at the bottom uses lowercase letters and a much thinner style.

Once you've got the basic bubble letters down, you can start to add more pizazz. How about a shadow? It's a fun effect commonly used in comic books.

How do you draw a shadow? You start with your bubble letter and then draw small lines off each edge. The key to making it work is to have the angles of the lines all be the same. You'll notice in the above drawing that I drew each line at the same angle from each edge, and all are pointing down and to the left. You connect those lines from each edge and fill it in and your letters are shadowed!

What other fun patterns or affects can you add to these basic letters? The possibilities are endless and can be themed to any type of card or occasion.

If you want to make something special for someone in your life this Valentine's Day, you should try hand lettering your own card! Basic, plain cards are available at all craft stores and are the perfect blank canvas for your new lettering skills. 

I'll be back tomorrow with more fun lettering styles to try, including script and calligraphy!

* creativity time! *

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