Lettering Styles – Guide to Types of Hand-Lettering

Understanding different types of lettering styles can enhance your hand lettering skills. Adding different types of lettering styles to hand lettering artwork or letters can provide a more visual richness to the end product. Lettering styles can be broken up into a variety of different categories, however, understanding a few essentials can be enough to enhance your lettering repertoire. There are many different lettering types, but understanding the fundamentals can give you a basis for your hand lettering styles. Sometimes knowing the basic lettering styles gives us enough information to create new adaptations, or utilize some of the strokes and line variations. So, let us look at a few essential lettering styles within this tutorial.



An Easy Guide to Essential Lettering Styles

There are many different types of letter styles to explore, however, most of the various lettering styles are simply adaptations of a few basic styles. There are a few basic lettering styles that are adapted and turned into various other quirky hand-lettering variations.

In this tutorial, we will be introduced to four fundamental lettering styles, and we will then be taught how to draw through an easy step-by-step process.

We will want to make sure we have a few basic tools for this tutorial, as we explore the basic variations of lettering. These lettering styles will be demonstrated with hand lettering tools; however, the principles can be applied to any digital application. Let us see what materials we will need for this tutorial.


Necessary Materials

We will be exploring four different lettering styles in this tutorial, all of which can be practiced with simple tools. Firstly, we will want a pencil, as this will help us with constructing some of our hand letters. We will explore block, serif, brush, and faux lettering. For most of them, we will use a pencil and pen to construct our letters.

However, for brush lettering, we will use a simple brush pen.

Some lettering techniques will require straight lines, so we’ll want to have a ruler. We will also encounter a few mistakes throughout the process, so make sure you have an eraser as well. Lastly, we will need some paper, any paper will do since this is intended for practicing these four different lettering styles. All materials can be found through the links below:

  • Calligraphy Pen
  • Micron Pens
  • Pencil
  • Koi Brush Pen
  • Paper (Any paper will do)



How to Draw Different Lettering Styles

In this tutorial, we will go through four different lettering styles that are foundational for most hand lettering. These four lettering styles can be changed to look both formal and casual. We will be introduced to all four, following which we will be given a simple step-by-step guide that describes how to draw each. We will also look at how these letters can be turned from formal and professional to quirkier and more casual.

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Knowing how to draw different lettering styles in both a casual and professional way gives you an option for making lettering types that are for professional reasons and more personal creative reasons.

In general, it is always great to broaden the variety of lettering choices. Now that we know what to expect, let us go through the different types of letter styles. 


Normal Block Lettering

Block lettering is probably the foundational lettering style that influences most other lettering drawing processes. The construction of block lettering is an easy process and demonstrates how you can turn simple line text into thicker text, giving it its block letter quality. Learning how to do block lettering through a hand style is a great entry point into the lettering. It’s easy and it provides you with skills that will carry over into other lettering styles within this tutorial.

Let us take a look at the process of forming block letters.

Block Lettering Style 1


How to Draw Block Letters

We will go through a few simple steps that give you an indication of the letter forming process for block lettering. Block lettering is a great entry point into lettering as it provides a fundamental process of forming letters, which can be used in different types of lettering.


Step 1: Writing Letters

Block lettering begins with writing a letter as you would do with a pencil. However, keeping the letter as geometric as possible will be conducive to giving the letter the iconic blocky style. Let us begin by taking our pencils and writing out the letter “M”.

Use your ruler to keep the lines straight. You can also draw two horizontal lines to guide you in your letter formation.

Block Lettering Style 2


Step 2: Making the Letter Block-Style

Using our ruler and pencil, we want to draw parallel lines along each line of the letter. As we do this, we want to keep all the parallel lines as consistent as possible for each line of the letter. This means the width of each set of lines within the letter should be as consistent as possible.

By doing this, we are creating a formalized version of a block letter.

Block Lettering Style 3


Step 3: Filling in the Text

From here we can proceed to take our black micron pens and outline the text. Again, you want to use your ruler for creating seamless straight lines. Slowly go over the pencil lines with your micron pen.

Going over the lines with our marker also makes us less likely to go outside of the lines when filling in the letter.

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Then we can proceed to fill in the text with our black marker or micron pen, making the letter completely black. Of course, you can leave the text open or even fill it with different colors. This is just a formal form of block lettering, and it’s a way of familiarizing you with the general process of filling in a text.

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Consistent for Formal

To make a text look professional and formal, consistency is key. Keeping consistency in thickness, width, and spacing gives the text a uniform appearance. This makes the text look professional. You could develop text this way by creating guidelines in which you write your text.

Even the earlier stage of writing out the text should be done so with consistency.

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Once your word is written, you will apply the same process of adding parallel lines next to each line that makes up a letter. Remember, as you do this you want to keep consistency in thickness. You should always use a ruler when writing straight lines.

For curved lines, it’s more a matter of going slowly and cautiously.

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If you are filling in your letter with a single color, you want to make sure that you go over the pencil lines with the color of your choice. Going over the lines provides us with a bolder lining in each letter, making it easier for us to fill in each letter.

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Lastly, you then can proceed to fill in your letters. Again, take your time, especially if you are wanting to create a professional-looking hand lettering image. Lettering is a process that does require patience. However, there are a few ways to informalize lettering.

Make lettering more casual and quirkier for personal hand lettering endeavors.

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Inconsistent for Casual

Making lettering look more playful and casual is all about tweaking the rules of lettering. For instance, you know how to write letters and thicken them with parallel lines. However, to make letters more playful, you could play around with inconsistencies.

This could be capitalized and lower-case combinations, thickening different parts of a single letter, or even conjoining letters.

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Once you understand the fundamentals of a lettering style, it’s always fun to make adaptations, using the rules but tweaking them to create unique-looking texts. Inconsistency is the best mental note to remember when creating a more playful text. So, explore inconsistencies within your lettering.

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Now you understand the general process of constructing block letters. You know how to make them both professional looking as well as playful and quirky. Both methods can be used for different reasons.

Lettering is utilized for various reasons, so knowing how to make and then adapt lettering is essential.

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Serif Lettering

Serif is a different type of adaptation of block lettering, this time there are two things to remember. The first is the strokes, every upstroke is a thin stroke and every thick stroke is a downstroke. Also, all horizontal strokes will be thin as well, which means just down strokes are thick.

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Secondly, there are little additional strokes that are added to each letter, which gives serif lettering its iconic serif look. We will similarly form letters; however, we will change the width of lines within each letter. From there we will add the final little strokes. Let us take a look at a general guide for this type of lettering.


How to Draw Serif Letters

The drawing process is very similar to the block lettering process. However, we want to consider how we write letters normally. Generally, there is a hand gesture for each letter that has movements going up and down to form a letter.

Remember this, because now when we draw the letters, we want to remember that every stroke that goes up will be thin and every stroke that goes down will be thick. Let’s take a look at a few steps on drawing serif.


Step 1: Writing Letters

Same as block lettering we draw out some horizontal guidelines, which we then proceed to write letters within as normal. Remember to use your ruler for straight lines, and keep your letters spaced out and within the horizontal guidelines. Let’s try together by writing the word “ART”.

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Step 2: Making the Letter Serif-Styled

From here we will give each line of our letter a parallel line that runs alongside it. However, this time we want to remember how a normal letter is written with strokes. For every stroke that goes up, we want it to be thin and for every stroke that goes down, we want it to be thicker.

All horizontal lines can be thin as well.

From here, we can add in the serif strokes at the ends of each letter. A good suggestion is to do some research and look at a serif alphabet to guide you in placing your serif strokes. Another useful idea is to make sure that they are consistent in thickness and width within each letter.

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Step 3: Filling in the Text

From here we can proceed to take our micron marker and go over the pencil lines to outline the text. Again, make sure you use your ruler for straight lines and take your time, cautiously going over any curved lines.

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From here we can then proceed to fill in the text with our black marker. This is the general process of creating a serif-styled text. We can see that it is similar to block lettering, except we have thin and thick strokes within each letter and we add the little serif strokes.

Again, there are two ways to utilize these rules for a professional and casual look.

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Consistent for Formal

Making serif look professional is all about consistency. A good way to start is by writing out your letter within horizontal guidelines that will keep your lettering in a straight line. Spacing your letters as you write them should also be consistent. Lastly, making sure that straight lines are drawn with a ruler is important.

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Making sure you remember how a normal letter is written is important. This way you know where to put the lines that indicate the thick strokes within each letter. A good suggestion is to construct a single letter at a time, this way you can use the last drawn letter as a reference for the next.

Make sure there is consistency between them, including the serif strokes.

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You must take your time with formal lettering. This also means it’s okay if you make a mistake with your pencil in the earlier stages. You can always tweak and erase your lettering until you are satisfied that it looks uniform.

From there, it is simply a matter of outlining your text.

When you want to fill in a text with a single color, it is always helpful to outline the text before filling it in. This will just make it easier for yourself when you want to fill in the text adequately.

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Once you have outlined your text, you want to slowly fill in each letter. Taking your time is important, you don’t want to go out of the lines of the letter, compromising the formal quality of the text.

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Inconsistent for Casual

For a more casual and playful look of serif lettering, we can play around with the rules that we have learned. This means we can play around with capitalized and lowercase letters.

We can also play around with the spacing; however, we want to keep the serif strokes as well as the thin upstroke and thick downstroke qualities.

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Another method of constructing the serif lettering is by establishing your drawn letters and then outlining them before adding the serif strokes. This means that once our letters are drawn in pencil, we can go straight to outlining them.

Serif Lettering Style 27

Once you have outlined your text and filled in each letter, you can fill in your letters. Keeping the strokes and the serif strokes are still important. However, you can still play around with the inconsistencies of how thick and thin each set of lines are within individual letters.

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Once your letters are filled in you then can go ahead and draw each serif stroke for each letter. This is just another way of adding serif strokes to a serif-styled text.

However, for more playful approaches, you can also explore various colors within your lettering.

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Brush Lettering

Brush lettering is a great lettering style to move on from serif, as it also uses the thin upstroke and thick downstroke rule. Similar to serif, in brush lettering, we use thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes, however, there are a few basic calligraphy strokes to memorize that will enhance your brush lettering.

These basic strokes can be applied to all types of calligraphy-style lettering.

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For brush lettering, we use different pressures on the brush to define the thickness of different strokes, rather than having to construct each stroke individually. What is nice about brush lettering is you can combine different styles of text, simply by using the method of thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes. 

By using this method of letter construction, you will find a coherence within your hand-lettering that looks beautiful. Let’s go through the process of constructing brush letters.

Brush Lettering Style 31


How to Draw Brush Letters

Drawing brush letters is a simple task, once you understand the basic strokes form calligraphy and the rule of thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes. These two concepts are foundational to brush lettering and can give the iconic look of brush letters.

That being said, let us look as this different letter style and how to draw it.


Step 1: Understand the Basic Strokes

We want to understand how to approach both the cursive and block style lettering, and we will use the thin upstroke and thick downstroke methods for both. For calligraphy-styled letters, we want to be acquainted with the basic strokes. You want to practice writing them out with your brush pen.

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Step 2: Construct a Word With Basic Strokes

From there we can construct a simple word using the basic strokes to form each letter. As long as we understand each letter in its calligraphic form, we can easily assemble each letter using the basic strokes. 

A good suggestion is to write out words using the basic strokes, to acquaint yourself with the process of constructing letters.


Step 3: Apply Thin and Thick Strokes to Other Letter Styles

To create a range in our brush lettering, we can apply this thin and thick stroke rule to any letter style. This is a secondary part of brush lettering, where we utilize the brushes’ capabilities to create unique lettering combinations. Applying this rule to simple lettering forms and other letter styles is a great way to create variety in your brush lettering drawings.

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Consistency for Formal Styled Lettering

 Once you have the hang of the brush pen and understand how different pressures create different strokes, you can begin to play around with lettering combinations. However, as you write out your letters using guidelines to keep them straight will help to create a formal and uniform look.

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Another good suggestion for creating a formal look is to keep different letter styles in different rows or different guidelines. This works well when creating a lettering artwork that fills a page, keeping each row of letters the same.

While you can play around with different letter variations, using guidelines to keep letters the same is another suggestion.

Brush Lettering Style 36

However, the most successful way of creating a formalized brush lettering drawing is by using guidelines in the first place. Keeping letters more straight gives the brush lettering a more professional quality and can be a great technique for formally-styled hand lettering. Again, you can change the different letter styles within a brush lettering artwork, where you change the lettering style for each word.

However, using horizontal guidelines on the page is the best way to keep a text uniform and well placed on a page.

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Inconsistency for Casual Styled Lettering

Again, we can use the tool of inconsistency to give ourselves a little more freedom with hand lettering. Especially, with brush lettering, we can play around with subtle curves in the letter placement, different lettering styles in a single row, and breaking letters up in an individual word.

Inconsistency can be applied in various ways, it’s all a matter of tweaking the rules.

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Faux Calligraphy

Moving from brush lettering to a different calligraphy-styled text such as faux calligraphy is a good transition. Now that you are acquainted with the strokes that make up letters within the calligraphy-styled text, you can assemble these letters with a new lettering style.

Faux calligraphy is a great way to construct letters because it can be done with simple tools, such as a pencil and pen.

However, this time, we won’t make thicker lines with a single stroke. Rather, we will draw them into an already existing letter with lines that can be colored in. Let us take a look at how to draw a faux calligraphy text.


How to Draw Faux Calligraphy

Faux calligraphy is a great way to learn a more classical form of calligraphy. This is because the process is much easier than normal calligraphy. The main difference is that instead of making a thick stroke with a brush, you add them in by drawing a set of lines in each letter that can be colored in. Similar to how you draw letters such as in serif-styled lettering.

However, this time, we are going to construct a letter using the calligraphy basic strokes, and then add in the thicker areas within each letter.


Step 1: Writing a Word With the Basic Strokes

You can begin by making a simple horizontal line on the page, on which you can write a word. You can write any word. We want to write this word with our pencils, the same way we would construct calligraphy-styled letters. If you want to reacquaint yourself with the strokes, refer back to the brush lettering section.