Hand Lettering Ideas

Today’s blog post is a different kind of one from me, and it’s a sheet that’s full of hand-lettering ideas. Ideas I can use in my BuJo or in illustrated quotes, greetings cards, note cards, dangle designs, monograms, and so on.

Earlier today – around 5 hours ago by my time here in the UK. I started to watch a video on YouTube by AmandaRachLee and I liked some of her ideas there.

So, I thought I’d create a reference sheet of ideas for hand-lettering to add to my arty reference folder/visual dictionary. This sheet is the result. I’ve numbered the ideas/variations that refer to the notes below.

I’m going to start, however, with the last examples first! I realised when I finished the sheet that I hadn’t included examples of my basic hand lettering.

42 – My lower case hand lettering showing how I like to make all the letters the same height. This gives a cute, whimsical feel to the lettering.
43 – My upper case hand lettering.
44 – Variations on how I sometimes form some of the letters, whether I do that as a conscious choice or not.
45 – My lower case cursive script. My cursive is my least favourite of my writing types.

All of the other examples on this sheet are based on this hand lettering.

What I’m coming to understand is that my hand lettering is uniquely me. I don’t want it to be like other peoples, though I do want to be able to vary the style to meet different needs. That means I need a bank of ideas of how I can do this to refer to.

So, onto notes about the ideas.

  1. Draw the letters with a broad pen. I used a Crayola Supertip pen. Next, I added thick black lines to the left and bottom areas of the letter to create a shadow.Look carefully at where the black lines have been added so you can see where the bottom and left areas of the letters are. My preference for shadows is always to the left and bottom; you could choose a different combination, such as to the right and top.
  2. This time I added lines to the left and bottom of the letter mirroring the shape of the letter. Look carefully at how this is done in the centre of these letters.
  3. I drew lines from the corners that extend to the left and angling downwards to create a box around the letter and coloured them in black. This gives a very heavy, graphic box-shadow to the letter.
  4. This shows how the lines form a box-shadow around a letter. Leaving the areas uncoloured gives a ‘lighter’ feel to the letter.
  5. I used a black pen to outline the letter. This really defines the letter. It also allows you to smooth out any imperfections in the letter drawn with the broad pen.
  6. This is just like version 2, but the  shadow lines have been doubled up. If you spread the letters out more you could add more repeats of the shadow lines.
  7. A variation on the box shadow where diagonal lines have been drawn without an outline for the box. This gives a lighter feel to the shadow. It’s not at all fussed on it, but I included it as it may be appropriate to use at some point.
  8. A box-shadow where lines are used to fill in the outline.
  9. Seriously heavy drop shadows here. You can even draw them without outlining the letters and let the negative space form the letters, as in the ABC example. You can also see how lines were drawn to form the box-shadows here.
  10. Choose a point above or below the letters. Draw lines to this point from the corners of the letters. It gives a great sense of dimension.
  11. I drew the letters with a broad pen. Then, I added black lines within the letter re-writing it. 
  12. Instead of solid black lines I used dashes and dots inside these letters. The dashed lines give a feeling of the letter having been ‘stitched’ onto the pate
  13. White lines instead of black, with the E having the white lines added as highlights to give the letter a sense of dimension. This would be increased somewhat if black lines were added to the left and bottom of the letter.
  14. White inside black; the inner lines really show up. White highlights on a black letter gives a sense of dimension.
  15. Black solid lines, dashed and dotted lines within the letters, as well as partial lines as highlights.
  16. More rounded letters with a shadow and highlights. These have a fun almost comic feel to them.
  17. Write the letters using a broad pen. Use a fine pen to draw a line around the shape formed by the word. This line could be in any colour you choose.
  18. Outline the letters in black gives a bolder feel to the lettering.
  19. Doubling or tripling up on the outline gives a different feel. There’s also opportunity to colour between the outlines or to add patterns there, or shadows.
  20. An example of cursive faux-brushpen hand lettering. This time, the outline has had a shadow added to it.
  21. Here, the letters have had a black outline added. Look at how the lines help to give the illusion of dimension to the letters.
  22. Draw outline letters then use a broad pen to write the letters again, but offset them.
  23. The outlines have been filled in. I prefer this one as it gives clarity.
  24. Instead of a solid outline usde a dashed line.
  25. Fake brush pen lettering. Write in cursive. Then, add an extra line where the downstrokes of the letters would be.
  26. You can leave the spaces in the fake brush pen lettering blank, or colour it, or fill it with black or even a pattern such as horizontal lines.
  27. Fake brush pen lettering doesn’t have to be cursive! Just thicken the downstrokes of any letter you write.
  28. Combining drop shadows with various ways of filling in the outline letters.
  29. Colouring in the outlines and adding lines, both solid, dotted and dashed gives different ‘feels’ to the letters.
  30. Add a bold box-shadow to the letter gives a great deal of weight to it.
  31. Drawing a smaller version of the letter inside it and adding texture again gives a different feel to the letter.
  32. Outline letters are perfect for adding colour or, in this case, patterns. The patterns can be simple lines to more complex ones. They can be dots, stars, hearts, leaves, flowers, anything that makes your creative heart sing! Shadows help add variety to the letters too and here you can see how the shadows ‘lift’ the letters.
  33. Serifs are the little lines placed at the end of lines forming the letters. The simplest way to achieve this is to hand-letter your simplest letters and then add lines. Using a broad coloured pen to write over these letters add interest.
  34. Serifed letters can have their downstrokes thickened too. The serifs can become triangular in shape too. Adding a drop shadow helps to lift the letter.
  35. Adding white dots inside the letters adds a different feel to the letters – much more whimsical and less serious than serif letters can be.
  36. You can add serifs to outline letters. This allows patterns to be added. I particularly like the F in this word.
  37. Hollow letters are perfect for adding colour and here are some simple examples of how to do that. Putting the darkest colour at the bottom adds weight and the letter feels more ‘stable’. 
  38. Ombre colour fills from bottom to top and also from one side to another. You could also do them diagonally.
  39. Sunburst lines have been added to the word. You could also add them all around the letter to make it feel like it’s popping or exploding.
  40. Wiggle lines added to make the word appear wiggly!
  41. Big, bold block letters with circles inside create a marquee letter.
  42. A bold, black letter with white lines drawn across give a different kind of graphic feel.
  43. Curlicues can be added to the letters at the start and end of words. They can also be added to letters with tails or the crossing of a t. 

That’s a lot of words! Believe it or not, it’s a lot easier to do hand lettering than to explain how to do it.

Of course, I could start a YouTube channel myself and show how I do this … I’m thinking about that. Either way, I hope my reference sheet and words give you some inspiration. I think I’ve managed to cram a lot into an A4 sheet of dot grid paper!

Would you like to see more like this? Let me know!

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