Intro To Hand Lettering

This tutorial is an introduction to hand lettering for beginners. Click here to download a printable Beginner’s Guide!


When selecting a paper, you don’t want it to be too slippery, so copy paper isn’t the best choice. You also don’t want it to be overly textured, because that makes it difficult to control your lines. I prefer sketching paper because it has a little bit of grip while providing an adequately smooth surface.

 A beautiful end result starts with good drawing tools. Investing in two or three nice pens will significantly improve your work. Look for a pen that has permanent, archival-quality ink. It should also feature a precision tip and consistent ink flow. My personal recommendation is Sakura’s Pigma® Micron®. It comes in many colors and a wide range of nib sizes. They’re available at most stores that carry fine art supplies.

You’ll also need a pencil for sketching. A mechanical pencil is preferred for making lines that are fine and light. Make sure it has a good eraser. My favorite pencil is Sakura’s Sumo Grip®, because it’s comfortable to use and has an extendable eraser

If you’re interested in adding color to your work, Sakura’s Koi® Coloring Brush Pens are the best investment you could make. The brush tip makes it easy to fill in large areas or to trace fine lines.

How to:

What Is Hand Lettering?

Hand lettering is the art of drawing letters to create an aesthetically interesting design. It’s a relatively inexpensive hobby and a beautiful way to express yourself. Here are some supply recommendations to get you started…

Anatomy of a Letter

It’s helpful to first become familiar with the anatomy of a letter. Choose a font and study it carefully.

  • Pay attention to the terminals, or tips, of the letter. Does it have a serif? Is it a wedge, or is it rounded?
  • Look at the crossbars. Where are they placed in relation to the height of the letter?
  • How are the tails finished?
  • Are the bowls of the letters narrow or full?
  • Is the letter stressed, or, does it become thicker along the curves?


printable guide to hand lettering

Now we’ll practice lettering. Type the same short word in a variety of fonts. Enlarge it so that you won’t have to adjust for size when copying.

Use a pencil and straight edge to lightly draw three lines. The tallest one will be the cap height, or where the top of ascending letters will touch. The middle one is called the x-height, and is where the letters sit. The bottom line is the baseline, where the descending letters touch.

Some people like to draw additional lines for letter spacing or other guidelines. Use whatever you’re comfortable with. You can even use graph paper while practicing.

Start sketching the rough outline of the letters with the pencil. Keep the size and spacing of your letters consistent. Erasing is part of the creative process, so don’t be afraid to use your eraser!

Next trace the letters with a fine tip pen. A black Micron® 05 is my go-to pen for this. Then erase all of your pencil marks. You can now fill the letters in or add a pattern.

Remember, absolute perfection isn’t the goal here. If that were the case, you might as well just print the quote! Rather, the goal is to create something engaging. Don’t stress over minor inconsistencies, they add character to your artwork.


Once you’ve practiced writing letters, you’re ready to try creating a hand-lettered design. Because the text itself is the artwork, you have to consider not only what the text says, but what message the overall design gives. A good question to ask yourself is, “If this were written in a foreign language, would I still find it interesting?”

Ultimately your design will be driven by your own aesthetic, but here are a few techniques to consider as you begin.

  • You can draw the eye by connecting words at the crossbar or tail.
  • You may want to shape the text to reflect the message.
  • Choose a font style that reflects the word’s meaning. For example, “love” drawn in script, and “ice” drawn in block.
  • Consider whether color would benefit your design.
  • You may want to add a simple illustration within the word if it enhances the message.
  • Try combining contrasting letter types: light and bold, tall and short, solid, empty, and patterned.

You can further embellish your work with frames, banners, borders, and dividers. Learn more by watching my Hand Lettering: Accents video!

Made By Marzipan may have received product or payment for this post. Posts may contain affiliate links. Disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

24 thoughts on “Intro To Hand Lettering

  1. Alyssa says

    can you send me some more pictures of the hand lettering art

  2. Alex says

    Hi! Can you make tutorial on how to transfer this work in digital format but to keep this “casual” feel..
    All the best,

    • says

      Hi Aleska, I do that with Adobe Illustrator. I’m to sure how you’d do it in another program… do you happen to have AI? If so I can give you some tips :)

  3. I really love your new website design!
    “Im from Brazil.So if i say something wird is because…im from Brazil”

    Hay,and your hand latterings are so cute and creative s2

    • says

      Thanks so much!

  4. your work is amazing, i am a starting youtuber and i love drawing and writing. i make small texts and love it!¡!

  5. michelle says

    thanks you so much for this helpful tutorial!
    could you please tell me whats the name of the song played in the first couple of seconds?
    it’s adorable!

    • says

      Hi Michelle! It’s actually an original song I had commissioned specifically for my YouTube videos, to avoid any future copyright complications. I’m so glad you like it, I love it too :)

  6. Tricia Keller says

    I love your tutorial! I just started teaching a new 6th grade Graphic Design elective at my Middle School, and your YouTube videos capture my students attention! I’d love any more ideas/advise on more lesson plans you might be able to direct me to.

  7. Omg! Im soooo in love with your blog and your you tube channel! you are so talented!

    Love from Mexico!

  8. Glaucia says

    Your tutorials and videos are very helpful. Easy to follow, easy to understand. Thank you!

  9. Karylle gacos says

    Hi ! ;) I love your tutorials, more tutorials plss… ;)

  10. Emma says

    Can you do a tutorial on YouTube on how to do cursive bubble letters.

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this; lettering is tough for me so I tend to avoid it or use workarounds, this is very helpful :)

  12. Angela says

    Hi there! I love your website and your tutorials, they’re so helpful. I was wondering how I could enlarge the beginners’ worksheet without it being too blurry. I was hoping to print it out to learn all the steps & tricks on it. Thanks so much!
    With much love,

  13. Angela says

    Oh sorry about that, didn’t see the link there. Excuse my brainfart! Again, love your website and tutorials!

  14. Smiley says

    Hi Marzi,
    Thank you for an AWESOME tutorial! I just printed the your FREE Beginner’s Guide and can’t wait to start practicing. If it’s not obvious, I’m a total beginner!! I LOVE the look of pretty writing/fonts and would like to learn to do it myself. I’m going to start with you as my teacher. I’ll be checking your website often in the future.
    Thanks again!!

  15. Jane says

    I love your work! Do you think maybe you could posta video on different ways to arrange your hand lettering?

  16. This design is spectacular! You obviously know how to keep
    a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to
    start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job.
    I really loved what you had to say, and more
    than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  17. Ginny says

    Watched your Strathmore video today on the free class site.
    That was fun! Very nice ideas and I plan to watch it several times.
    I am hoping that you’ll give us some ideas of some good books to get that will give us some fonts to play with.

  18. Lizann Painter says

    Love it – need guidance how to print off the materials please. greetings from Cape Town, South Africa! Lizann

  19. Gabbie says

    Hello! I love your tutorials, I’ve been trying to practice hand lettering, as I find it very relaxing, can you tell me where I can find fonts to practice with? thanks again!

  20. Alexine says

    Umm hey!Could you make or put your tips and tricks to hand lettering to your website that we could print it out like a practicing sheet for us to practice on and we could print it:)

    Just suggesting because I am still starting hand lettering:)

  21. Katie says

    This is a great video for beginners. I found it on Pinterest, and it was very helpful. Thanks for posting!

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