How to Do Hand Lettering for Beginners

From handmade gift cards to canvas paintings in homes, hand lettering has obtained a huge following in recent years. This style of art uses text created by hand in various styles to embellish and showcase a phrase. Anyone can do hand lettering and calligraphy, even if they don’t have fantastic handwriting, as this is a freeform way of putting words on paper or other materials. 

If you love the look of hand lettering and would like to give it a try, you can take a hand lettering class online to get started today. You don’t need great handwriting and you don’t need any previous experience with creating your own letters or with artwork. You’ll just need a few basic supplies and time to work on the first piece you want to create. 

What You Need to Get Started 

You don’t need a lot of supplies to get started. There are many different materials you can use, so you may end up purchasing more than the basics if you enjoy creating your own letters and artwork. However, to get started, you’ll need paper, a pencil, and a pen or brush you can use to finalize your work. 

  • Paper – You’ll want to have a stack of printer paper or other inexpensive paper for sketching and practice. You can purchase an inexpensive sketchbook as well so you can keep all of your design ideas in one place. You may also want some better-quality paper for creating your final design. 
  • Pencil – Any pencil is going to be fine. You’ll want to make sure you have a pencil and eraser for the sketching part of this process so you can easily draw out new design ideas or erase something that’s not working quite right for you.  
  • Pen or Brush – There are many different pens and brushes available for you to use today. You can start with a pen you use for everyday writing or purchase a fountain pen so you can use any color ink you might want. You can also choose a pen that has a flexible tip to get thinner or thicker lines by changing the pressure you use, or gel pens that come in a bunch of different colors. This is used to finalize your design, so the medium you use is completely up to you.  

If you want to learn more about how to use these tools to create your own hand lettering artwork or learn more about how to use specific materials in your work, check out the lettering classes available online. Some are more general classes for beginners while others go over how to use certain types of pens or how to use different materials for different effects.  

Different Styles of Writing Words 

Hand lettering is a form of drawing letters instead of writing them. As such, there are many different ways to draw the letters so your work looks the way you want. You can try boxy letters, flowing letters, cursive letters, balloon letters, and more. You’ll want to try out different styles when you’re considering the design of your work so you can see what works well for what you want to do. 

When you take classes to learn how to do hand lettering, you’ll be able to learn more about many of the different styles you can do with your own work. Taking a class is suggested when you’re first starting so you can learn more about how to choose the right style and how to create the style on your own. You can also learn how to adjust the style to create something similar but more unique for your own work.  

Combining Different Styles in One Piece 

You don’t have to use the same style of lettering through the entire phrase for your project. You might want to have one or two words in a different style for emphasis or do every word in a different style to make the whole project stand out. Your options are limited only by your imagination and the amount of time you put into choosing how you want to draw your letters.

In fact, some people even mix their pen-to-paper calligraphy with digital media using Adobe Illustrator! Some artists may even choose to include the elegance of watercolor painting.  

Choose Your Phrase and Lettering Styles 

To get started on your first piece, you’ll need to choose the phrase you want to use and the lettering styles you might want to try. You can use any phrase you want for your work, but you may want to start with a shorter phrase for your first project. This gives you fewer letters to draw and lets you really play around with everything in a shorter amount of time compared to a longer phrase. 

If you aren’t sure which lettering styles you’ll want to use or you don’t know how to draw any of the styles, check out the lettering classes available online. You can learn how to draw in different styles, learn what looks great together, and get inspiration that will help you create your own designs. You can do the lessons at your own pace, so you will easily find the time you need to learn more and to start working on your own projects.  

Play with the Layout for Your Words 

One of the things you’ll learn during a hand lettering class is how to play with the layout to get the perfect one for your project. Should each word be on a different line? Should some words have their own line for emphasis? Should your lines be straight, curved, or round? Taking an online class lets you learn more about layouts and how to play around with the different options to find one that’s going to work well for your project. 

You’ll want to write out your phrase using different lettering styles and different layouts to ensure you like the final option. The more you play around with styles and layouts, the more likely it is you’ll find the options that are right for your phrase and the more likely it is you’re going to love how your project turns out. Don’t be afraid to spend a lot of time in the planning stage so you can make sure everything is perfect before you move onto the next step.  

Sketch the Letters in the Size You Want 

During the planning phase, you creating a layout and chose the styles you wanted to use. You may have sketched these on printer paper and they are likely smaller than the final size you want to use. Once you have everything figured out, sketch the letters in the final size you want on the material you’ll be using to create your final project. Make sure you use a pencil to lightly draw any lines you might need for the layout to be perfect so you can easily erase them after you have your letters drawn on the new material.  

Sculpt Your Letters and Finalize 

Sculpting your letters means filling them out and making sure they look the way you want them to look. You might experiment with making the lines a little thicker or a little thinner for some of the words. Similar to how you go from a sketch to a finalized drawing, you’re going to keep working on your letters and adjusting them in pencil until they look the way you want. Once they look the way you want, you’re ready to finalize them by using the medium you want. 

To finalize the letters, you’ll want to use the pen or another medium to go over the letters. Instead of pencil, you may use a basic pen, a specialized pen, or even a brush. Work carefully with this as the medium you use will not be erased as easily as a pencil would. This is, however, why you sketched out all of your ideas in pencil before moving onto a more permanent medium.  


Take Classes to Learn How to Do More 

If you’ve created your first project, you might be thrilled with how it looks. If you haven’t started quite yet, there’s no better time to start than today. Check out the beginner hand lettering class to get a good overview of the basics you’ll want to learn to start sketching your own designs today. You can always try out different tutorials and classes to learn new techniques and to boost your knowledge so you hand lettering continues to improve. 

Hand lettering can be a fun way to create a work of art, whether you want something to put on your wall at home or you’d love to create a fun greeting card to send to someone. Anyone can learn how to do hand lettering, even if you have no prior experience creating art or you don’t have gorgeous handwriting. It just takes practice and time. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can do this to create your own projects, go ahead and check out the different lettering classes available today. You’ll be able to use a beginner class to go through this entire process step-by-step and start working on your first project right away. You may be amazed at how fantastic your first project turns out, no matter what choices you make during the design process.


Having a little trouble? Try the basics of drawing shapes. You may find that your pen becomes much easier to use!


Please sign in or sign up to comment.