Let me start by saying that Hand Lettering is not writing, it’s actually akin to drawing! Drawing lines and curves in such a way that they appear to be alphabets and numbers.
Now, I know what you are thinking, “Isn’t that the same as writing?”. Well, the point I am making here is that when you write, let’s say, when taking notes, jotting down details, writing a post-it note, you focus on delivering or registering a message, you don’t prioritise the ‘value’ or ‘weight’ of the strokes you use.
Lettering, on the other hand, is where you prioritise the value of the stroke. You are not rushing it but taking all the time you can to make those strokes look appealing.
Now with that out of the way, let’s focus on how you can start with digital hand lettering. The big question is, can you draw a line? Can you draw a thicker line? How about a thinner one? That’s great, you are almost there… I mean almost at the beginning of the journey. 🙂
In this blog, I will be using the iPad pro, Apple Pencil and Procreate app to illustrate. There are several other styli and apps you can use. If you have a favourite, stick to it but just make sure whatever you are using allows you to vary line thickness by varying pressure.
The only way there is to learn lettering is to actually start doing it! Pick up your Apple Pencil and draw a line, just any line. Now apply some pressure and try making it thicker. Now you have a thick line and a thin line. Do it a few more times.
It turns out that it is natural to draw thick lines in downward strokes and thin lines in upward strokes. It’s not the rule, it’s just natural. There are no rules!
Here are some examples,
I have some free practice sheets you can use for this. Head over to my shop and download these onto your Procreate app. I have attached instructions on how to import into Procreate if you haven’t tried it before.
Start with the separate thick and thin lines, and practice them until you feel comfortable. Then attempt the curves. This is likely to take the most time, gradually varying the thickness of the line as draw your stroke. This is, infact, most of what you need to do awesome digital hand lettering in brush-lettering-style!
Of course, there are monoline lettering styles, block print styles and several others. What I am talking about here is brush lettering on the iPad, which involves alternating and varying the weight of the strokes just like you would with a brush on paper.
So, remember, when you are drawing the stroke downwards, apply pressure, while you are drawing the stroke upwards, reduce the pressure.
Here are my tips for getting started:
- Use the practice sheets. Start with the simple strokes and progress to the alphabets only when you feel comfortable.
- Use rulings – they visually help contain the size of the stroke.
- Practise a few hundred times.
- Don’t worry much about any ‘shiver’ in your stroke, it will get ironed out with practice. Don’t try to rush it. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” they say.
- When starting out, I found that it helps to do thin-thick strokes versus doing thick-thin. Start thin and apply pressure to make it thicker. It forces you to practise firmer control over the length of the stroke.
- Finally, if you are using physical paper and a brushpen, the tilt of the pen plays a very big role. That’s for another day though. I will write a separate post on the brushes and paper that I would recommend and how to get started with them.