Want to learn hand lettering or brush calligraphy, but not sure where to start? Here are the bare bones basics to help you build a solid foundation!
The defining characteristic of beautiful hand lettering is maintaining light, thin upstrokes and heavy, thick downstrokes. Whenever you move your pen upwards, keep your grip loose and your pressure light. Whenever you bring your pen downwards, put a bit more pressure to create a thicker line. It will take time to get used to the transition between thick and thin lines, but that’s what basic strokes drills are for!
When writing a word, keep in mind that consistency between letter sizes will make your hand lettering much more appealing to the eye. Your word will look uniform! So, I suggest drawing out your guidelines before you start. Your medium height letters will stay at x height (a, s, e, m, n, v, c, x, r, etc.) while some letters will have ascending loops that go above the center line (h, b, t, etc.) and some will have descending loops that drop below the x height (g, q, y, etc.)
Hand lettering with a paintbrush is often called brush lettering and is another fun spin off classical calligraphy. The same rules apply, but with flimsy paintbrush bristles for an extra challenge 😉
Remember that hand lettering is the art of drawing letters, while calligraphy is writing letters (I have a whole post about that here). And unlike cursive, hand lettering is not one long continuous line of ink. It’s okay to lift you pen! After all, hand lettering is made up of several different basic strokes all strung together. So, don’t be afraid to go back in and fill in letters, darken lines, and fix any mistake you make along the way!
I’d love to see your practice! Post a photo on social media and tag @VirginiaGrahamDesigns so I can cheer you on along your journey!
Don’t forget to leave a comment below and let me know if this was helpful for you!
Until next time,
Watch the full video tutorial HERE.
To help get you started, I’ve created a FREE hand lettering alphabet worksheet for you to practice on! The act of tracing letters might seem trivial at first, but that’s actually what builds muscle memory so your hands get used to the shapes and know where to go next. You can grab that download HERE!