There are two major elements of hand lettering: drawing calligraphy/script letters, and drawing regular/block letters. If you’d like to get started creating hand-lettered calligraphy, I have several beginner’s lessons here.
Getting started hand-lettering regular letters can be overwhelming. The sheer number of styles makes it hard to know where to start. It’s easy to get lost in the world of Pinterest, thinking that there are hundreds of different fonts, styles, and variations you need to learn. However, I’d like to suggest a far more manageable starting point, which will set you up to be able to learn and develop different styles of lettering down the road with far more ease.
The best way to learn to draw letters is to mimic and trace letters. And the best lettering styles to start mimicking are actual computer fonts, especially those that have been tested by time and have proven to be excellent fonts. When it comes to quality computer fonts, each detail is 100% on purpose, and is actually a good thing to mimic. Not so, if you start with styles that are already hand-lettered.
I have chosen five fonts, both serif and sans-serif, that I believe are a great starting point.
Why did I choose these fonts in particular? Nearly every lettering style you will meet will relate to one of these five fonts in some way, even if something about them is a little bit different. And in the same vein, once you learn these five fonts, you can alter them to make your own styles or to fit a particular piece you are trying to create.
Moreover, since these five fonts represent five major kinds of fonts, familiarizing yourself with their ins and outs will help you be able to identify the unique traits of other fonts, to be able to mimic them, too. These five fonts are, in a sense, a quick survey of font history; they represent five very different styles, and are a great starting place for getting to know typography, which is the basis of hand-lettering.
I've written more about why I chose these particular fonts here. I think you will really be helped by the information, so you should definitely take a look. I didn't want to put it here for fear of making this post look too daunting! Plus, I know what you're thinking—just give me the free stuff, dang it! Without further ado, here you go.
You might have several of these fonts on your own computer, and could print them off and trace them. However, I have created some free, simple worksheets for each of these fonts to get you started.
These worksheets are specifically designed with learning block lettering in mind:
- Each letter is positioned on a grid, so that its individual characteristics can be observed and easily mimicked.
- There will be room to both trace and try each letter on your own. I’ve also included tips for you based on how I like to go about drawing certain letters.
- At the beginning of the workbook, I’ve created a guide to observing and mimicking letters to get you started, along with other tips and tricks.
- This practice page can be printed on any kind of letter-sized paper (8.5in x 11in).
Files are for one user only. You may print the file as many times as you'd like, but for personal use only. This product may not be sold or gifted, either in print or digital form; however, feel free to share this blog post with your friends!
Subscribe to our email newsletter below (which are few and far between, and always come with more freebies!) to receive access to the free workbook!
- Quote from “Making Sense of Type Classification, Pt. 1” by Joseph Alessio ↩︎
- Making Sense of Type Classification, Part 1 and Part 2, by Joseph Alessio on Smashing Magazine
- The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
- Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton
- A Beautifully Illustrated Glossary Of Typographic Terms You Should Know by Janie Kliever