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Today in The Creative Play Challenge we’re going to faux hand letter a quote. Before you get nervous about the concept of hand lettering (“But I have horrible handwriting!”), let me tell you a little secret. Hand lettering doesn’t have to be perfect. Yes, there are artists and graphic designers who make a living carefully drawing out fonts and gorgeous hand lettering work (Marian Bantjes is one of my favorites) but today, we’re going to play, have fun, and remember the good old days of drawing bubble letters. (Or was that just my childhood?)
To start, it’s nice to have a few supplies on hand. You can use a plain piece of paper (copy paper is fine), and will also need a pencil, eraser, and pen. I prefer gel pens as the ink comes out very smooth. (The clean black line created by gel pens also makes it easier to convert to digital artwork later on, if that’s something you’re interested in.) You’ll also want an alphabet that you want to practice with—I’ll share some styles below but having an entire alphabet will help you on your way to writing your quote. There are some alphabets and more examples on my hand lettering Pinterest board below. You can also find them by Googling “hand lettering” (be forewarned, though, as many people draw not-so-nice quotes in pretty letters.) You might also have a book lying around your house that has pretty lettering in it that you can copy. (As long as you’re not selling your work, it’s fine to copy while you’re learning. Just make sure you give proper attribution: i.e., “Inspired by . . . “)
In the example below, I drew a lowercase “a” and then added a shadow on the left side. At this point, I could have stopped, but I went ahead and filled in that portion to make it look more like calligraphy. Tada!
Here’s an example from my sketchbook of what a quote could look like in this style. Know that you can initially write out your letters using a pencil, ink them in, wait for them to dry, and then erase with a kneaded eraser.
Feeling especially uneasy about hand lettering? Find a font that you really like on your computer, type out a quote, print it, and then trace it onto another piece of paper. You’ll be able to embellish it and you’ll feel how the letters are shaped as you swoop up and down tracing with your pen.
This is just my regular handwriting with some extra embellishments. My mom used to teach her second graders how to draw these kinds of letters, and they LOVED it.
Here’s another idea with similar steps pictured. I use this style a lot (as you probably noticed if you purchased a copy of The Creative Retreat!) :)
For the example below, I held my pen loosely and tried for a more sketchy look. This reminds me of the Zentangle look before you add extra doodles to it.
You can also experiment with a couple of different fonts. Usually two fonts are sufficient for a graphic piece. If you use too many, the lettering becomes difficult to read.
For image below, I used a watercolor brush to paint my quote. This technique is less predictable but I really liked trying it out. I like how the letters end up having an ombre effect. This is a good example of using your own handwriting while experimenting with a different medium—you never know what you’re going to get!
Little details in hand lettering pack a punch. Add some extra shading to a word to make it POP! Another fun way to make different words stand out is to paint behind them. Start your lettering piece by lightly sketching out your words on mixed media paper. Paint splashes of color over the words you want to embolden, and let dry. Then draw out your quote in ink. The extra color behind certain words really helps to make the piece look amazing.
Okay, now it’s YOUR turn! Pull out your sketchbook, and start practicing quotes. Have an amazing day!