Why You Don't Need To Be An Artist To Handletter

A common misconception that almost everyone has after learning that I am a calligrapher is that I can also draw and/or paint. Hate to break it to you, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. While I might have tried my hand at sketching at one point, I didn’t progress much past stick people. And even my stick people don’t look that good. 

But lettering, I love hand lettering. 

And I don’t think I'm awful at it. 

And before you say it, yes, there are most definitely people out there who are amazingly skilled sketch artists as well as calligraphers. But one does not equal the other and I want you to know that even if you don’t have an ounce of "artistic ability", that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn how to hand letter. 

So why are they different?

First of all, brush lettering is all about pressure sensitivity. In order to get the look of brush lettering, we need to perfect the art of applying proper pressure to our brush. I think this has little to do with talent and everything to do with practice and muscle memory. This won’t come naturally to most people (if anyone!) but with practice, your muscle memory will kick in and it will become second nature. 

I can’t even write with a pencil anymore without applying pressure on my downstrokes and lightening up on my upstrokes. It just comes naturally now. But it did not start that way. Promise. 

So, how do we get this to become second nature?

You might be thinking, how do I practice something I can’t do? 

Good point. It’s more than just writing words or even letters. It will come much easier if we break down our letters into strokes and start there. 

Watching a video of someone gracefully lettering may look like it comes naturally and seamlessly. However, letter formation is actually a strategic process of joining a few simple strokes and curves together to create our own lettering style that turns into art in the form of words. But first, we must break down our letters and look at these strokes individually.

So how does that happen? Well, drills are one of the best ways to begin! By practicing our lettering drills, we are able to get down the individual strokes before we have to put them together into letters. Want to know what I mean? Here's a quick video where I show you how to create every letter in the alphabet using just a few simple strokes. (PS - You can find my full set of drills worksheets for free by clicking here to and joining my Facebook group. They are listed in the "files" section of the group!) 

 


So as you can see, just a few strokes create each and every letter in the alphabet! (Keep in mind, these aren't done to scale since I didn't rewrite them for each specific letter). Once you get the feel for how to draw each stroke and the correct pressure to use, you can start joining your letters together to create amazing brush lettering! But be prepared for everyone to expect you to be able to paint like Picasso as well! :)

Happy Lettering!