I have been enamored with lettering for as long as I can remember. When I was in 5th grade, I’d dot all my i’s with hearts and stars. When I was in 6th grade, I’d draw up fake magazine covers to practice different fonts. I LOVE fonts and I adore writing. Writing is one of those things that we all know how to do, and is something that can be used as a method of relaxation or mental decompression.
Beautiful penmanship has been coveted for as long as we, as humans, have been able to read the written word. Think back to the signing of the Declaration of Independence–John Hancock was known for his beautiful, large, flowing signature. Hand lettering really has become a “fad,” and there’s a good chance your Instagram feed has been overtaken with people penning beautiful, inspirational quotes. The best thing about a person’s writing is that it is their own–no two people write completely the same. Your writing is an extension of your personality.
Luckily for you, even if you think your regular writing isn’t anything to “write home about,” you can still create beautiful, swoon-worthy text!
Here’s the lowdown: hand lettering takes practice, but you have to start somewhere, and today’s a good a day as any, so let’s begin!
The most coveted of all writing is calligraphy. But if you don’t own a calligraphy pen, or if you DO own a calligraphy pen, but it doesn’t give you the results you’re looking for, here’s how to fake it:
SO easy, but super aesthetically appealing. When you’re adding your lines, you want to add them to the back side of the letters, or any parts of the letter that are more vertical.
My favorite writing tool for this type of writing is a brush pen or good-old-fashioned Sharpie, but for these examples, I have used my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.
The next task is figuring out how to “fancy up” your run-of-the-mill cursive. A few swirls here and there do the trick:
On most of these letters, you’ll notice that the end of the swirl comes to a sharp point. This adds to the elegance of a letter and makes it look more flowing. Experiment with extending crossbars (the center lines of letters like A or H) in a free, almost excessive way.
Once you’ve figured out how to form and stylize your letters, put it all together with a fun quote!
Mixing cursive with print, and thicker strokes with thinner strokes adds a certain whimsy.
Since I did this on my iPad, I just went for it. If I’m lettering with physical materials, I pencil first, very lightly, and then marker, pen or paint over the top. Sometimes, though, I just start right in with a marker and see what happens. I like to live on the edge.
There are multiple variations of cursive that I enjoy. Varying the slant, kerning, tracking and thickness of letters is what gives these all their individual style.
1. My go-to style of writing
2. Excessive whimsy. Notice how the letters are curved and juxtaposed for added character.
3. Wispy, light, and spread out.
4. More traditional cursive
5. Crazy descenders. Adding long, swirling descenders (the part that extends below the baseline on a font) really makes things fun
6. Simple and quick. A variation of 1.
Lettering is such an enjoyable process. Adding a quick script to any finished piece of art can really personalize the work. I always have a notebook on me, so practicing lettering really does happen on a daily basis. When I’m in the car, sitting in a waiting room, or just vegging out in front of the TV; I’m lettering.
If you decide to use these techniques, share them on Instagram and make sure to use the hashtag: #barnyardgypsycalligraphy
I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
*All graphics that appear on this post are handmade by me and should not be used outside their original format. Images should not be copied, shared, or reproduced without my permission.