Four hand lettering types for beginners

Hand lettering is a form of art, and there are different styles that you can try. When you’re a beginner, some types of hand lettering may seem impossible but, if you persevere, you’ll master them all in time!

Keep reading for information on the four hand lettering types and how to get started as a beginner to this wonderful hobby.

What do I need for hand lettering?

Before you start, you are going to need some supplies.

When you’ve been hand lettering for a long time, you can incorporate a lot of different products — such as glitter and highlighters — to add additional elements to your art.

However, below is a list of what we’d recommend for a hand lettering beginner.

Paper

The best way to start is by having a great base for your lettering. If you have regular paper or plain card, that is fine; avoid anything textured.

However, it is an excellent idea to buy yourself a dot pad for lettering. Due to the dotted grid, this type of paper can make it much easier to keep track of your letter sizes and proportions.

Pen

Choosing the best pen for creating your hand lettering is crucial. You can use whatever writing pen you have available, but we would recommend trying brush pens.

Brush pens allow you to create a plethora of visual effects with varying thickness levels.

Here at The Pen Company, we recommend using the Tombow ABT brush pens, which are available individually or in colour packs.

Extra supplies

If you want to explore beyond the basics, there are plenty of stationery options available for you. You could try gel pens, highlighters or fine liner pens to add new elements to your hand lettering!

Often, people use pencils and rulers to practice their hand lettering techniques before they progress to a pen.

What kind of hand lettering fonts are there?

There are four main types of hand lettering fonts that all create unique and artistic styles.

As a beginner, once you have experimented with all the different types of font, you will develop a personal preference and understand where you would like to expand your skills.

Here are the four main types of hand lettering fonts for you to try.

Serif

Serif fonts have flicks at the end of each stroke. Originally, they were created to be easier to read at smaller sizes.

There are multiple variations of the serif font, including slab serif, old-style serif and hairline serif.

Although your lettering needs to be visible and readable, it is inevitably going to be larger than book print, for example.

So, for the purpose of hand lettering, serif is essentially a simple font with flourishes, and a good place to start your hand lettering journey.

Sans serif

Sans serif is more or less the same as the standard serif font. However, it doesn’t have the flicks and embellishments.

There are variations of sans serif, including grotesque sans, geometric sans, and humanistic sans.

This font has a simplistic and modern appearance and is popular in digital work.

Script fonts

If you enjoy cursive handwriting, this is known as script!

Script lettering refers to most styles that are joined by a continuous movement.

All script lettering doesn’t look the same — it is dependent on the speed you write and the number of flourishes you add — but will always result in beautiful writing.

Script gives you the chance to add your own personality to your lettering.

Decorative

Decorative lettering is known as an incredibly fun style.

Usually, it is used for headlines or big titles, but it is not very commonly used in smaller text.

Often, the decorative lettering style includes other fonts such as sans serif and uses elements like shadows and line work to really jazz it up.

A woman writing on a notepad while laughing at a laptop screen.

How should I start hand lettering?

Now you know the fonts, you may want to jump straight in and get going!

Although you can do that, the best way to start is through creating and understanding a basic framework.

By practising using a framework, you will gain a level of consistency in your work and see constant improvement.

Below is the framework that can help you improve your hand lettering skills.

Base

No matter what letter you’re writing, it will sit on the base line. Each letter’s bottom will rest on this line, and then you can form the rest of the letter from there.

X height

The name for this line came from the height of a lowercase ‘’x’’ in a typeface. The X height refers to the line where the top of lowercase letters reach.

All lowercase letters should reach up to the X height.

Ascender

Any letters that have strokes going upwards will make use of an ascender line. For example, letters like ‘’h’’, ‘’k’’ and ‘’t’’.

When you are using these letters in hand lettering, make sure you don’t forget to bring the strokes right up to the ascender line.

Descender

As the ascender line reaches up, the descender line hangs down. So, this is the line where letters such as ‘’j’’, ‘’q’’, and ‘’y’’ can put their tails.

From a young age, Natalya has been interested in all kind of stationery. From owning an assortment of coloured pens and pencils to buying a new notebook to write in every week. Natalya loves working for The Pen Company as it aids her in continuing her stationery passion as an adult.