LEARNING HAND LETTERING – TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Learning hand lettering from traditional to contemporary is an in-depth process that takes years to perfect.

TRADITIONAL

For historical references

tools vector art

I started learning Calligraphy by first learning the TRADITIONAL styles of lettering:

Roman, Uncial, Gothic, Carolingian, Bookhand, Italic, and Copperplate.

TRADITIONAL

Remains fundamental to hand lettering

italic copperplate

All the TRADITIONAL styles are made with a Broad-Edge Pen or Brush, except for Copperplate which is made with a Pressure Point Pen. Traditional Calligraphy was a hobby did for purely for fun. I did make a little money addressing envelopes. I rarely do traditional calligraphy anymore.

CONTEMPORARY

For commercial applications

brush script image

Some years later that I started learning commercial lettering by first learning Brush Script, made with a Pointed Brush. I’ve since learned to draw lettering, develop scripts and typographic styles, create fonts, and use the computer to manipulate, apply special effects, clean-up, and vectorize my lettering.

THE TOOLS

BROAD EDGE PENS & BRUSH

Broad Edge

A    Pen with Speedball C-1 nib

B    Automatic Pen

C    ½” Broad Edge Brush

PRESSURE POINT PENS

Pointed pen

D    Pressure Point Pen with Hunt Imperial nib

   Fountain Pen

POINTED BRUSHES

Pointed brush

F    Strathmore Kolinsky – sable hair brush

G    Pentel Color Brush – synthetic fiber (my favorite brush)

H    Pentel FRH brush – synthetic fiber

POINTED BRUSH EXAMPLES

3 Bostons

The Pointed Brush is just one of many tools available for contemporary hand lettering.

The Brush/Marker is very popular. I do like the brush/marker, but I am still partial to ink.

The Ruling Pen is worth trying…it has a rugged look and can even splatter.

BRUSH/MARKERS & RULING PEN

brush and marker

I    Tombow ABT N15 – brush/marker

  Staeddtler Mars Graphic 3000 duo – brush/marker

   Ruling Pen

BRUSH/MARKER EXAMPLE

brushing up

RULING PEN EXAMPLE

grindhouse 2

There are many more real and improvised tools to make marks. Almost anything you can dip in ink and draw a line with is a tool.

Examples: a Q-tip makes a great mono- weight tool. A stick can make some wicked lettering. Ink made lettering can even be used as a template for hand drawn lettering.

HAND DRAWN LETTERING

Making lettering with an ink tool is just one side of contemporary lettering. The majority of “modern” hand lettering is drawn. Having a knowledge of pen and brush made lettering would be useful, but certainly not required. Drawing lettering is the quickest way to jump into lettering.  If you can draw, you can draw letters.  There are no tricky techniques to learn or rules to follow. Tools would include; pencils, mechanical pencil, felt pens, ball point pens, ink pens, and technical pens.

drawing Tools
alpharetta

THE COMPUTER

imac column

Ultimately all art ends up digital. For me, in nearly all cases, that means Adobe Illustrator vectors. This is when I do the final tweaks and get it all perfect.

brasnon vec pic

The computer enables you to do many things to the lettering you’ve created using vectors, filters, image adjustments, and special effects.

You can also create everything using the computer and not even touch a primitive drawing tool.

2 computer generated

Try this without a computer!