Over the years I've been asked about how to get started with hand-lettering often enough that I created a piece of art showing some of the basic tools and techniques. Now that computer lettering has largely taken the place of hand-lettering, I don't get those requests very often any more, but if you'd like to know, here is that piece.
A larger version which you can download and print is HERE. The tool at the top, with the circular wheel in it, is an AMES LETTERING GUIDE, which can be ordered online from sites such as this one, ArtSuppliesOnline.com
The two most important tools you'll need are pens and ink. Pens for lettering fall into two categories: Technical Drawing pens and Dip (or Nib) Pens. For Tech Pens, such as those used to create most of the lettering in the art above, I prefer FABER-CASTELL TG1 pens. Unfortunately these are no longer available in the U.S., but can be found online from vendors in the United Kingdom and Europe. An alternative in the U.S. are KOH-I-NOOR RAPIDOGRAPH. These pens come in sizes measured in millimeters and (points). I use four sizes almost exclusively: 0.35mm (0) for smallest work and touch-ups, 0.50mm (2) for regular letters, 0.70mm (2.5) for bold italic letters and 1.00mm (3.5 or 4) for extra bold.
Dip pen points and holders are made by Speedball/Hunt (once each rivals, now co-owned). For regular lettering I prefer a SPEEDBALL C-6 wedge-shaped point, and a B-6 round point for bold letters (though I often do the bold letters with a Tech Pen instead). B-5, B-4, B-3, B-2, etc. are successively larger round points that are useful for larger solid letters such as those in the art above. Some hand-letterers prefer the HUNT #107 wedge-shaped point, which takes a smaller pen holder.
For ink, you need a waterproof black ink that is as thick as possible, and will hold up to erasing, yet still flow through pen points. My current favorite is CALLI JET BLACK #010, but (SPEEDBALL) SUPER BLACK INDIA is also very good. All these items can be ordered from online sites such as the one linked above.
The big hurdle to overcome with hand-lettering is practice. It's a skill, and regular practice will improve it. Even if you plan to work mostly with computer lettering, I'd still recommend learning to hand-letter, as it will teach you many things that will be useful with computer lettering as well. And, if you decide to create your own comic book fonts, you'll need to have some hand-lettering skills to make the letters.
All text and images ©Todd Klein, except as noted. All rights reserved.
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