How to Start Creating Beautiful Phrases

If you have fond memories of learning to write the alphabet as a kid, hand lettering might just be the perfect hobby for you. You’ve probably seen a lot of great hand lettering examples in social media feeds, coffee shop chalkboards, and on greeting cards and birthday cakes. Once you learn it yourself, you’ll be able to use your skills in all these places and more! 

It only takes a pen and paper to get started, and just a bit of practice to master the basics. Below are some basic alphabets to start hand lettering with, plus some tips on the best hand lettering tools for beginners.

Hand Lettering vs. Calligraphy

Before you get started, here’s a little background on the terms “hand lettering” and “calligraphy.” Some people might think they’re the same thing, but they’re not. Calligraphy is when the tool you’re writing with determines the forms your letters will take: 

Hand lettering is when the letter is hand drawn first, then coloured in. Here’s an example of hand lettering:

Since the shapes in hand lettering are often based on calligraphy, it’s a good idea to start with sim-ple calligraphy alphabets. If you’d like some guides to help you keep your letters uniform, try our free Calligraphy and Hand Lettering Practice Sheets and Hand Lettering Project Examples. They come with multiple styles of lined pages, ideal for both calligraphy and hand lettering projects. Our pdf guides also come with great examples of how you can create unique hand lettering compositions!  

One of the convenient things about printable pages is that you can use regular printer paper first, then try out projects on parchment or watercolour printer paper once you’re a little more comfortable. 

Writing Tools and Alphabets

From pencils to paintbrushes to calligraphy pens and even feathers, there are endless options when it comes to picking what to write with. In general, it’s easier to start with felt-tip fineliner, brush, and chisel pens. Paintbrushes and metal calligraphy pens will give you more precision, but only once you get used to working with liquid ink. 

To practice the beginner scripts below, try to find a pencil, a fineliner pen, and a brush pen if you have them. If not, feel free to improvise with whatever you have to write with! For the first script, your favourite pen or pencil will work perfectly.

1. Monoline Script

Monoline scripts are calligraphy scripts where all the lines are the same thickness. Cursive writing is a type of monoline script, but if you already know how to handwrite, you can find other monoline scripts to practice. 

Since you don’t have to worry about how much pres-sure you’re applying to the page, this is the easiest type of script to start with. You can also use any everyday writing tool to practice, whether it’s a pencil, ball point pen, or fineliner pen.

2. Brush Script

Brush scripts have lines of different thicknesses, and are usually made with a paintbrush or brush pen. A general rule to follow when making brush scripts is that downstrokes should be thicker, while upstrokes should be thinner. 

When you’re just starting out with brush scripts, it can be helpful to practice the individual strokes before you move on to whole letters. But if that sounds a bit boring to you, then there’s no harm in jumping right in!

3. Faux Calligraphy Script

Practicing a faux calligraphy script is an easy way to transition towards hand lettering. Start with a monoline script, then draw in the places where a brush or chisel pen might make the lines thicker. It’s a good idea to try this one in pencil, then ink it in when you’re happy with it.

If you need a little help getting used to it, try writing the letter with a brush pen first, then copying it in a faux calligraphy style. Once you get comfortable, try experimenting with ornamental lines, flourishes, and shading. 

Next Steps

Once you’ve had a little practice, you can start putting words and phrases together in beautiful compositions. You can even add illustrations and experiment with different inks and pens to make your favourite words come to life.

For more in-depth information on hand lettering, check out our latest book, The Complete Guide to Modern Calligraphy & Hand Lettering For Beginners. It’s a complete step by step guide for anyone just starting out. As a bonus gift, you’ll get our free calligraphy and hand lettering worksheets, plus some hand lettering project examples to show you what you can do with your awesome new skill.