How to Get Started with Hand Lettering: Modern Calligraphy Resources for Beginners
When you’re new to hand lettering, it can be tough to figure out where to start. That’s why I put together a list of my favorite resources to help you navigate all the options. If you’re looking for tips on the right brush pens and tools, check out my supplies guide here.
One of the biggest mistakes that new letterers make is skipping the basics. It’s fun and exciting to jump right into writing words and sentences, but you need to learn the fundamental strokes and drills before moving on to letters. Becca Courtice of The Happy Ever Crafter has an excellent program called “Show Me Your Drills.” I went through her entire semester of workbooks, and it gave me an excellent foundation to build on. I highly recommend her course.
Nib and Ink
When I wanted to get started with nib and ink calligraphy, I found it confusing. Luckily, Lindsey Bugbee from The Postman’s Knock had some great resources to help me get started. She has a post about creating a DIY starter kit that I followed to the letter. She also has a ton of great alphabets and drill sheets to choose from. Her envelope calligraphy is incredible. Check out her site!
Once you’ve learned the basic drills and letters, another question that frequently pops up is how arrange your lettering in eye-catching layouts. Stefan Kunz is the master of that. His composition grids are a great way to explore the possibilities and learn about what looks good.
There are a ton of great free tutorials on YouTube to get you started. Some of my favorites are Teela Cunningham of Every Tuesday, Jillian and Jordan of Loveleigh Loops, and Ian Barnard. If you have an iPad, I love the tutorials from Holly McCaig of Holly Pixels and Abbie Nurse of Abbie Uproot.
If you're ready to move on from YouTube, Skillshare is a site that you can subscribe to monthly in order to get access to their entire database of classes. Tons of calligraphers and letterers are on Skillshare, and I’ve found it really useful. I’ve taken classes from drawing to watercolor to surface pattern design to creating gifs in Photoshop. It’s a great way to get a quick lesson on a specific topic. I recommend taking classes from Peggy Dean of The Pigeon Letters, Teela Cunningham of Every Tuesday, and Liz Kohler Brown for awesome iPad classes.
There are so many great lettering books out there, and I've only scratched the surface in this area. I encourage you to explore and see what you like. Amy Latta’s book, Hand Lettering for Relaxation, offers a great foundation by walking you through the basics of faux calligraphy, brush lettering, layouts and doodles. You should also check out Hand-Lettering Ledger: A Practical Guide to Creating Serif, Script, Illustrated, Ornate and Other Totally Original Hand-Drawn Styles by Mary Kate McDevitt. If you’re interested in chalk lettering, try Amanda Arneill and Shannon Roberts’ book, Chalk Art and Lettering 101.No matter what resources you use to start, my biggest tip is to just keep at it. This is a new skill that will take regular practice to develop. It takes time to build that muscle memory, so don’t give up too soon. Do you have additional recommendations that you’ve discovered? Don’t keep it a secret! Send me an email or comment and let me know.