Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been the girl who hoarded the markers. Highlighters, ballpoints, red and green markers, I had to have one of each within my grasp all through grade school high, school, the office, the studio. And you know how I always got busted for hoarding the pens? The ink smears up the back of my left arm! Yup, I’m a leftie! Us lefties have a tendency to write and draw from an upside down angle, which doesn’t fare well for ninja doodling assignments. Oh well, I think it makes us all the more special!
OK, on to some lettering tips!
In honor of National Lefthanders Day today, I’m sharing a book review and lettering tutorial! Ink smears, let’s celebrate them!
I’ve always loved to make signs and flyers, and noticed how in recent years hand lettering has become the norm. From chalkboard art to script to bubble letters, it’s everywhere. I came across this tutorial book that has them all – and gives a lettering 101 overview. It’s just what I needed and wanted to take my lettering to the next level!
It’s called Hand-Lettering Ledger: A Practical Guide to Creating Serif, Script, Illustrated, Ornate, and Other Totally Original Hand-Drawn Styles by Mary Kate McDevitt ($18.95, Chronicle Books, 192 pages, paperback)
The book starts with an overview of knowing the difference between typography (typeset), calligraphy (writing) and lettering (drawing). It goes into all the types of pens, brushes and inks you can use to achieve different looks. It also has a few spreads breaking down the anatomy of a letter – the ear, the eye, the stem, the bowl, apex, etc. The more you know all the facts, the more you’ll feel inspired to play. You’ll also find a helpful “do’s and don’ts” guide. After all of the front of the book matter, there are chapters organized by hand lettering styles: Serif, sans serif, ornate, scripts, dimensional and more.
I found this book super helpful for inspiration, but there were a few issues. First of all, for each of the sections mentioned above, I wish they had included a full alphabet for reference. Instead we get assorted words that look gorgeous, but hello, Dimensional chapter, how do I shade a Z? There area few alpha sets in the back of the book, but it’s a bit confusing. Also, Starting on page 67, you get a LOT of blank practice pages. I get that they want you to practice the techniques here, but at $19 bucks, I’d rather make my mistakes on scrap paper or a practice journal. Seeing the bright side, those blank pages could be a nice spot to invent your own letter set and keep it within the book as a resource.
Overall, I’ve already put this book to good use, so I give it a thumb’s up!
I use my Smash Book to practice all my lettering (it’s the Couture theme), and a thick black marker. In the video I made, I used Tulip Fabric Markers because I love the brush tips, but you can play with all types of markers, pens or pencils!
Click here if you can’t see the video above.
I definitely am a fan girl of the serif. Serifs are the little lines or embellishments that go on the main stem of a letter. I like how it gives the entire word personality!
Most of these are all phrases I copied (freehand) from the book for practice. Now the real test is to go out on my own with my own phrases and see what I can do.
Here are some easy ways to add love to your lettering:
1. Highlight the left side, all the down strokes.
2. Add black to only the top of each letter.
3. Use a wide marker to draw your letters and a fine marker to add decorations inside.
4. Extend the edges of each letters into curls, and swoops!
5. Accent with a glitter or metallic pen!
Just keep practicing! and Happy Lefthanders Day!
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