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Beginner Lettering Tips

Are you just here for the free March wallpaper? Clickity here. If you’d like some beginner lettering tips, read on internet comrade!

I have been lettering for almost 5 years, and I am still learning new things about it all the time. Here are some beginner lettering tips that will help you get a head start if you want to learn how to letter.

Study the alphabet.

ceindy doodles alphabet

This may seem very silly, but since lettering is the act of drawing letters – you should know what they look like. A lot of people knows the gist, but if I was to ask you, when you draw a capital A as a serif – where is the “heavy” stroke – the left or the right? If you didn’t know what I meant when I said serif or didn’t say the right stroke, you should take a hard long look at an alphabet.

I happen to know a few handy fonts that help with this. One of them is called Didot. Didot has very extreme thins, so it’s very easy to look and get a feel for the letters.

Learn some terms – these are the basis of all letterforms

  • Sans Serif
  • Serif
  • Slab Serif
  • Script
  • Display/Decorative

Learn some more terms: Google Anatomy of Letters or Typography diagram.

I don’t think you need to know these terms to be good at lettering. But, I do think knowing these terms can help you talk to others when you need help. If you asked “Why does this word look weird?” and someone answered, “Because you have inconsistent x-heights,” you’ll know what they are talking about.

Here’s a quick guide to what’s what (the most important – there’s more) and an example of pretty bad kerning – because that is the killer of all good lettering.

lettering basics ceindy doodles

Grid Paper, Tracing Paper, Pencil, and Crayola Markers

Many beginners want to know what pen is this, what pen does that, but you don’t have to invest in a ton of supplies. You really only need these 4 things to start.

  1. Grid paper will help you with sizes and how to keep everything straight and proportional.
  2. Tracing paper will help when you’ve done 3 of the letters perfectly, but you messed up somewhere on the 4th. Tracing paper is a lifesaver.
  3. Pencil – because duh.
  4. Crayola Markers are perfect for practicing your thicks and thins. If you like modern calligraphy but don’t want to spend a ton on new pens, start here.

If you have been using these for a while and want to know my favorite pens and pencil for lettering, check out this blog post.

Are you reading this thinking – GIRL! I KNOW ALL OF THIS ALREADY!

Well, I did say these are beginner lettering tips.

Alright, here’s some more pro tips.

Practice. Observe. Practice purposely.

None of this comes “naturally” it comes after a lot of practice. It might come with less practice for some and more for others, but it’s only with purposeful practice that great lettering comes out.

Want more lettering tips? Email me your questions: ceindyton@gmail.com.

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