Hand Lettering Basics: A Simple Tutorial

What is Hand Lettering?

Many people compare hand lettering to calligraphy. However, there are important distinctions between the two. Calligraphy is a form of handwriting where letters are formed in a deliberate and rhythmic fashion using a nib pen. Hand lettering is a form of drawing to create decorative letters.

The art of hand lettering allows for more freedom in the interpretation of letters and fonts, and you can use just about any kind of pen to create the the text, including brush pens, markers, and even ballpoint pens. Hand lettering has become especially popular in recent years. You may have seen beautiful examples of hand lettering in weddings where it’s used to decorate menu cards and invitations, or on social media feeds where it seems like the pros can write just about any word flawlessly and effortlessly.

Hand lettering may seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually easy to learn! To help you get started, we created this hand lettering tutorial along with an instructional video that includes basic tips.

Materials Needed for Hand Lettering

You’ll need the right tools to get started. Here is a list of materials we recommend for hand lettering for beginners.

  • Paper – A paper pad specifically designed for markers is a great way to start. The smooth surface of the paper allows for the optimal fluidity of strokes.
  • Ruler – Mastering the basics is all about consistency. A ruler will help you establish straight lines to practice on.
  • Pencil – You’ll need a pencil to establish your baselines, x-lines, and cap-heights to guide your first few words.
  • Brush pen – A brush pen with a medium-length brush tip, such as the Kuretake Cocoiro pen, is ideal for beginners. The length is long enough to create flowy strokes and short enough to maintain control.
  • Stationery card – By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to write your very own hand lettered message to give someone special. Check out our free printable card here.

Basic Hand Lettering Terminology

Before you start putting pen to paper, there are few words we’ll be referencing in our video tutorial that you should become familiar with:

  • Cap line – The guiding line that establishes the height for all capital letters.
  • X-line – The guiding line that establishes the height for all lowercase letters.
  • Baseline – The guiding line upon which the entire word or phrase sits on.
  • Flourish – Flourishes are decorative strokes that can be added to letters to provide movement. It’s easy to go overboard with flourishes, so the key is to maintain balance in order to create an elegant look. Flourishes include loops and swirls.

How to Hand Letter: A Video Tutorial

Now that you’re familiar with basic terminology, let’s get started! Check out our video tutorial below, which teaches you how to achieve the perfect hand lettering style.

Hand Lettering Alphabet

The key to mastering the art of hand lettering is practice. Use our downloadable reference guide, which includes all the letters of the alphabet, to help you hone your hand lettering skills.

To recap, here are a few pointers to keep in mind while you practice your hand lettering skills:

  • Establish a cap-line, x-line and baseline to guide your first few letters.
  • Release pressure on upstrokes to create thin lines.
  • Apply pressure on downstrokes to create thick lines.
  • Stray outside of the guiding lines to achieve a more dynamic look.
  • Play with loops and flourishes once you’ve mastered the basics.

Write A Romantic Phrase + Free Printable Card

Make that special someone in your life feel loved by using your hand lettering skills to write a note that they will cherish. Better yet, use our love note generator for more ideas!

We also created a floral printable card, so that you can write your very own romantic message to send to your sweetheart. After all, a handwritten note is the perfect way to personalize a bouquet of fresh flowers. Check out our featured Pure Opulence™ bouquet or browse our collection of romantic bouquets for more ideas on how to treat your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day!

Click the button below to download our free printable card!

Hand ettering card


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