Learn Hand Lettering: A Beginner’s Guide


Has there ever been something that you were determined to learn? Maybe it was a hobby or a new cooking skill. Perhaps you took up an extreme winter sport because you love the rush of adrenaline it brings. A couple of years ago, I fell in love with what I was seeing on event signage and was determined to learn hand lettering. Lettering? Let me explain…

I’ve always really loved writing. Not just the act of getting your thoughts down on paper, but the physical act of forming each letter. There’s something about putting pencil to paper and watching the beautiful result form right before my eyes that I just absolutely love.

After giving birth to our daughter a couple years ago, I decided to learn hand lettering. I was always intrigued by the hand lettering I saw online and I was determined to learn everything I could about letter heights, downstrokes, and everything in between. The end result has turned into a beautiful way to express a sentiment on paper and a skill I continue to practice.

Learn Hand Lettering: A Beginner’s Guide

You might be sitting there thinking, “Okay, but my handwriting is way too messy.” I want to tell you something. You do not, I repeat, do NOT need to have beautiful handwriting to be successful at hand lettering. It’s all down to your personal style and the way you already form your letters.

Your style of lettering will grow and evolve, too. My hand lettering from two years ago looks nothing like it does today. All it takes is some practice, some patience, and a willingness to learn something new. All you have to do is…

Gather your materials.

To start, know that the materials are minimal but have the potential to cost a small amount of money. The easiest way to learn hand lettering is to grab a pencil or marker (I prefer broad line crayola markers) and a piece of paper (I recommend computer paper or cardstock). If you’re feeling a little more confident, give brush markers a try

Everyone has to start somewhere, and I started with reading and practicing with Chalkfulloflove’s Hand Lettering 101 and 201. However, a quick Google search will bring up multiple books to learn from! Remember, it’s more about your personal style of writing and lettering, but it’s helpful to learn the terminology and basic letter formations.

Have patience for the process.

Secondly, keep in mind, beautiful hand lettering will NOT happen overnight (but if it does, way to go!). If you’re going to learn hand lettering, you need to have patience and practice, practice, practice! To get started, find a spot with a good writing surface (smooth, not textured or bumpy) and be sure you have plenty of space to spread your materials out. Set aside some time to read over the book you’re using (if you grabbed one). I used computer paper to work with so that I wasn’t writing directly in the book.

The main thing (for me, at least) behind hand lettering has to do with your downstrokes. Any time your writing utensil (let’s call it a pen) writes in a downward direction, that line should be thicker than when your pen writes upwards. The easiest way to do that is to draw in a thicker line and color it in (see below). With a brush marker, you simply apply more pressure when writing downwards, and less pressure going upwards. Whatever thickness you decide, keep it consistent for all of your letters.

If you just can’t get it and feel you need some extra help, give it some time, and seek out some inspiration. Everyone who wanted to learn hand lettering had to start somewhere. A quick hop on social media will lead you to a community of people who are learning just like you or have been in your beginner’s shoes.

Seek out some inspiration.

I wanted to share a few Instagram accounts/businesses that I’ve followed since I started, and absolutely LOVE! Each has her own unique style of lettering and is doing absolutely amazing things with their skills. It is very easy to feel inspired after peeking at some of their work!

Sarah, Chalkfulloflove®

Photo courtesy of @chalkfulloflove on Instagram.


Brynna, Pop Fizz Klink

Photo courtesy of @popfizzklink on Instagram

Danielle Holloran, Details and Swirls

Photo courtesy of @detailsandswirls on Instagram

Carry your new skill with you.

You started as a beginner who wanted to learn hand lettering. You’re feeling confident with your hand lettering skills and your letter formations are just gorgeous. Looks like you’re ready to put those skills to use! Here are some fun things you can apply your new hand lettering skills to.

  • In your home: a weekly menu board.
  • For gift giving: write out first names on small gift tags.
  • Sending holiday cards: hand letter the recipient’s name and address on your envelopes.
  • In the mail: send a beautifully hand lettered note via snail mail to brighten someone’s day.

Hand lettering is a skill that is timeless and beautiful. There is a reason people seek out hand lettering artists for custom signage and artwork. To learn hand lettering is to practice patience and learn appreciation for a slower pace of work. It’s no secret that we have all been spending more time on screens (work from home, kids in virtual schooling, etc.). Now is the perfect time to learn a new skill which will allow you to step away from a virtual environment and immerse yourself in a calm, beautiful craft.

I hope you are inspired to try out this new skill!

Looking for ways to spread holiday joy and cheer? Check out our 2020 Detroit Mom-Approved Local Holiday Gift Guide.


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