Hand Lettering for Your Journals

Of course there is nothing wrong with your handwriting. In fact, if you know cursive, you may have a valuable and rare skill in a few years. Many schools aren’t teaching cursive anymore.

Lynn did the artwork on the shoes–and she’s adding purple laces, too.

But just like you don’t want to wear the same shoes everyday, you may want to switch up your handwriting–using a different stye adds a different vibe to your art journal. Lynn Trochelman is a hand-letterer after my own heart. (Those are her shoes over on the left). She is funny, easy, generous, and invited me over to get over my non-calligrapher status. She let me use her parallel pens and we explored different papers.

Finally, I settled on using a sheet of super shiny and polished cast coated stock. I tried my Copic markers and discovered the perfect combination–the Copic markers glided over the stock, creating interesting marks.

The lettering in Marci Donley’s and DeAnnSingh’s book, Hand-Lettering was tempting. There are a large variety of hand lettering exemplars in the book.

There are standard calligraphy hands, but there was also a set of letters made with plant stems. As a naturalist, I couldn’t resist trying it out.

A series makes a good border or page divider.

I warmed up by drawing the big blue agave we see around us in the desert. These are simply lines, drawn from the center of the plant to the top in a pulling motion, using the brush-end tip of the Copic marker.

Next, a few Palo Verde leaf stems–in pink and orange instead of green. They make nice corner decorations, or a substitute for a drop cap. Draw the center stem first. Then, using the brush tip of the Copic, turn the pen so the brush tip points away from you. Push down, rolling from the wide end to tip of the brush tip, in one smooth motion. You can see the ink is heavier at the tip than at the base. That’s what you want.

Now it was time to try out the letters. Each letter is formed by making smooth, swooping motions for part of the letter and making stems and leaves for the rest of the letter.

That’s just the beginning. Once you’ve worked with one color, you can add a flower top (now it look like an ocotillo), and some shading as well as some decorative marks around the letters.

Lynn suggested I try Pitt Pens to add yellow shading. Pitts won’t smear or blend with the Copic, so you get good color separation. For these leaves, I turned the pen so the point went down first, creating rounded-end leaves.

Finally, I worked the whole alphabet in a monochromatic scheme–blues, blue-grays, purples. Here is a sample:

I also used a fine-point Pitt pen to add a few lines, as the book had shown. I was pleased for the result, considering this was my first try. With some practice and repetition, I should be able to use these comfortably in my journal as well as on a handmade card.

Go ahead and try these–they are fun!

Quinn McDonald is a writer, creativity coach, and raw-art journaler. Please join her for a webinar on October 20, 2011, hosted by her publisher, F+W Media. If you look at the right hand column, you’ll see the sign-up notice. It’s free, but you do have to reserve a space. Details when you click on the announcement. Or here.

9 thoughts on “Hand Lettering for Your Journals

  1. clicking on the webinar address does not seem to get me anywhere. I did sign up for Wired, but don’t feel secure about having a place on Oct 20th. What time is it taking place? Thanks!

  2. Oh, I love the agave and the stems of leaves. I’ve lettered much of my life, but never using plants. What a great idea. Oh, I do love the agave. Would love to be walking in the Sonoran, studying the agave right this moment. Well, soon enough. Wonder if you can letter using autumn colored leaves? I have plenty of those for models right now.

  3. What fun we had! Lettering and laughing! Everyone should try it!

    I love the agaves and your lettering! I’m thinking that both the agaves and that alphabet would be a fun border around a page or three, or perhaps as the decoration on the cover of a journal! I’m thinking you’ve nailed calligraphy and you can change that status now!!!!

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