Looking for a hand lettering tutorial that gives you everything you want is going to be next to impossible. The craft of lettering extends across multiple mediums and can get as complicated or as simple as you can imagine.
It can be a daunting thing to start, so we picked out some of our favorite hand lettering tutorials available online and broke them down by category to get you started on exactly what you’re looking for.
Hand Lettering Starter Pack
If you’re starting off lettering for the first time and don’t know a tittle from a tilde, this is the best place to start! These guides and classes offer a great introduction to the world of hand lettering.
For the visually-minded person with a vague interest in getting started with lettering, Mary Kate McDevitt’s video class on Skillshare is an amazing resource. She sketches out the entire flow of her process, including the initial research of what she’s looking to create. Need more convincing? Just take a look at these beautiful projects made by her students.
An insanely comprehensive guide to most questions you’ll have about lettering and offers some helpful personal anecdotes, inspiration, and pointers about getting started with crafting your own letterforms. If you’re really looking to jump in with both feet, be sure to dive into Tim’s 365 days of hand lettering challenge.
This is a common conundrum for people looking to get into hand lettering but who cringe at the thought of constantly getting ink on their forearms, or worse, ruining their work. Designer Sean McCabe tackles these difficulties unique to southpaws with letterer Winston Scully; it’s an essential resource for the 10% of us that prefer their left.
A solid overview of the lettering fundamentals, Creative Market’s post goes over the history of hand lettering and the difference between calligraphy and lettering (“Calligraphy is about perfecting the motions of your pen […] lettering is essentially drawing.”) before diving into everything from materials, to layouts, to exercises. There’s also some great pointers on how to create your very own lettered alphabet.
Getting More Advanced
So maybe you’ve got the basics down and you’re looking for a little more to boost your letter game to the next level. The hand lettering tutorials below will get you on track.
Design legend Jessica Hische takes you through her process and reviews her best practices for plotting vector points on your letter or lettered logo. This is essential if you’re looking to deliver your work to clients; a vectorized file is typically a required delivery so that the image can be sized up or down and not lose its quality. This video is part of her larger class on making drop-cap letterforms, also a great skill to add to your lettering repertoire!
In the age we now live in, it’s critically important for your work to be digital, whether it’s for your freelance portfolio or to design a t-shirt for your grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Getting the analog colors and inks of your lettering projects translated into pixels can be tricky, but this 30-minute tutorial from Sean McCabe is comprehensive, clear, and will get you to the finish line. Be aware: you’ll need Adobe Illustrator to complete this one!
Ok, so you’ve got the letters on the page, but how do you make them pop? This tutorial from Amy at One Artsy Mama takes you through her procedure for creating shadows and highlights, as well as extra flourishes that will give your lettering projects more texture.
A popular method of hand lettering that requires a lot of practice and technical skill to pull off, these tutorials should help get you on the path to brush mastery.
Ok, maybe we snuck paint pens in this one. But professional poster designer and artist James Victore will give you a quick crash course on how to use paint pens and sumi brushes to create unique looks. Use them to add uncontrolled embellishments to your lettering, an effect James swears by.
A more in-depth look at the technical skill of using pressure in your brush lettering, this guest post from Sharisse of Pieces Calligraphy does an excellent job of going over how to create a consistent look and style for your letters. Using pressure accurately is crucial to this process, and Sharisse gives you plenty of pointers on how to master it.
A brush pen is basically what it sounds like: a brush tip housed in the structure of a typical pen. In this video, Will does an excellent job of illustrating the basic techniques and offers advice on how to weight your different strokes (more pressure on the downstroke, light on the upstroke).
Not to toot our own horns here, but Lance’s Complete Guide to Brush Lettering, based on Peggy Dean’s class on Skillshare, is a super comprehensive look at the techniques, the materials, the terms, and how to continue your brush adventure. Once you get through this, you’ll be brushing and talking shop like a lettering veteran.
As we’ve already seen with brush lettering, the medium for lettering isn’t simply isolated to a pen and paper. These tutorials cover unique ways to play with your new found letter-forming talents.
Hand Lettering for Chalk Murals An Online Skillshare Class by Lauren Hom
Chalk lettering is the perfect format for a house decoration or a hipster coffee shop menu. Enter: this fun Skillshare class taught by freelancer and self-described Cheeto-lover Lauren Hom. You’ll learn everything you need to know about how to work with chalk and letter a full-scale mural for your home that’ll make the baristas jealous.
Although watercolors are generally more liquid than brush ink, the techniques for lettering with watercolor are quite similar. This tutorial serves as a quick intro to using watercolor paint to make a beautiful greeting card that has a simple, one word cover; it’s perfect for holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter, or just a thank you note.
Ever thought you’d use Crayola markers after elementary school? Well now you can using this tutorial from Colin Tierney. His beginning “crayligraphy” post dives into how you can use a childhood favorite to craft letters and words that you likely did not know how to spell back in your early days.
Maybe this sounds like too much to invest into for a first-timer, or maybe you’re too lazy to go to your local art store; whatever the case, this tutorial from Stephen Bradbury is for those artists that aren’t interested in committing to buying new supplies and want to just start off lettering with whatever they have lying around.
We talked all about the painting and writing utensils, but what about the paper!? If you want to give your project more of a classic, distressed look, this tutorial has got you covered. Throw a gothic, serif, hand lettered font on there and you’ll have a genuine-looking parchment scroll, great for a costume prop or a fun birthday card.
If you’ve made it through all the tutorials above and are still looking for more, check out this list of classes to master hand lettering. It includes all the Skillshare classes mentioned above, plus more!