Explore the process of hand lettering and start creating unique and stunning lettering designs today.

The word YES is shown is many different styles in orange on a yellow background

What is hand lettering?

Hand lettering is the art of creating typography by hand, usually by drawing on paper or creating it digitally in Illustrator. One well-known example of hand lettering is calligraphy. In calligraphy, the artist can use different instruments like a brush to create. Hand lettering you create on paper can be brought into Illustrator, and you can continue your process in a digital format. 

Plan your project

If you’re creating a hand lettering piece, first take the time to understand your client’s project and goals. Having meetings with them can help you determine the style they’re looking for. Whether it’s a restaurant menu or signage, understanding the client’s parameters will save you time and energy, and help to lead you in the right direction creatively. 

Two people look at color swatches and photos together in an office setting

Practice makes perfect

It will take time to develop your hand lettering skills. “Practice, practice, practice, and don’t give up. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes,” says Brooke Benjamin. A mistake may even lead to something that inspires you. 

Get a sketchbook or some other medium and practice creating versions of a letter, word, or phrase. Experiment with all sorts of writing instruments like pens, pencils, paintbrushes, and markers to help discover the lettering style that suits you.

A person is practicing lettering on paper at a desk with a modern quill and ink

Going digital

In addition to hand-sketching, you can also use a device such as a graphic tablet and digital pen to draw your lettering directly into Adobe Illustrator. Or you can take a picture of your paper sketch, import and open the image in Illustrator, and trace the image with Image Trace. In Illustrator, you can adjust your drawing in a lot of different ways, introducing textures, colors, and more.

"Life is an art, paint your dream" is handdrawn on the left side, and turned into paths on the right for editing in Illustrator

Using hand lettering in the world

When you take your skill into the digital realm using Illustrator, you can do a lot more with with your artistry. If you practice and take the time to really dive into your craft, you can take it as far as you like!

"Thanks" and "Thank you" in various styles in black on a white background

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