Learning to develop your own lettering style is a process that requires lots of practice and patience.
Similar to learning any new skill, when starting out, you have to mimic others’ writing before you settle on your own style. One way to do improve your hand lettering skills is by reading books on the topics of design and lettering. This doesn’t have to get expensive. A budget-friendly way to read up on lettering and design is through your local library. Some libraries have interlibrary loan systems that allow you to check out books and other resources from other cities within your county, which exposes you to even more possibilities. There are a number of great books on lettering that I’d like to share with you, and I’ll start with one by Thy Doan Graves.
“Hand Lettering: Creative Alphabets for Any Occasion”
It’s a comprehensive guide that illustrates more than forty full alphabet examples by Thy and additional letterers. There are three main chapters – a gallery of lettering examples, a chapter on tools, materials, and techniques, and then a directory of alphabets. There’s also a section on punctuation that’s paired with each alphabet set.
Here are some highlights:
The gallery of lettering displays a variety of work from letterers, like, Martina Flor, Michael Mullen, and Alexandria Snowdon, that demonstrates the many directions in which you can go with any lettering project. In the chapter on tools, materials, and techniques, Thy covers the essential basics of lettering, including: anatomy of letters, layout and composition, and embellishments, like, shadowing, flora, texture, adding motifs and outlines, and more. And in the directory of alphabets, Thy calls on other letters to share their creative takes on alphabets as well as sharing her own. One example of a guest alphabet is, “Epic Story” by Olga Zakharova, part of which can be seen here.
And there’s more…in between these sets of alphabets, there’s not only space to practice, but there are also more in-depth lettering instructions. For example, if you need more help understanding how to incorporate floral elements into your lettering projects, there’s a page that explains this decorative approach. As seen in this image, leaves, blossoms, marks, and shading are used to embellish this letter, “W.”
That’s it for this hand lettering book review. Overall, “Hand Lettering: Creative Alphabets for Any Occasion” is a great guide for those new to lettering, and I think that it can help expand a more seasoned letterers approach to drawing letters. It’s a thorough guide, and you’ll get a lot of practice if you use the included alphabets as a template to help evolve your lettering style.