- Truth be told, not all designers draw. That statement would have been unthinkable in our industry just a few decades ago. But with the advent of a digital workflow and access to software tools, designers in general, have in my opinion, neglected their analog skills. Hand lettering, by its very name, implies a tactile requirement, a need to draw it out. There's no work around or digital trickery to avoid that fact.
It all comes down to the foundational skill of drawing. If you find drawing challenging, or even intimidating, know it's completely normal and should be expected. No one starts off drawing great. You progress from deficient and slowly proceed to efficient over time. The key is to just start. And once you have, don't stop. Anyone can improve their drawing skills. So make sure to check out my drawing challenge courses on lynda.com.
They contain a good variety of fun drawing exercises that will help you loosen up your inhibitions and assist you in developing your own drawing capabilities. Doesn't matter who you are, everyone has the capacity to improve, grow, and learn new things that will make them a better designer in the long run. That fact is the better your drawing skills, the better your designs will be, lettering or otherwise.
When it comes to hand-drawn lettering, you'll be making a lot of design-centric decisions to guide your drawing of the letter forms. Like most design efforts, you'll want to let your design sensibilities guide you. I should point out that I certainly don't consider myself a typophile. Frankly, I don't care about some of the so-called established rules some designs hold to regarding the use and design of type. So, the methodologies I'll go over in this course are just how I approach hand lettering in context of my own projects.
It works well for me, and it's certainly adaptable to any creative process. When it comes to hand lettering, I live by two simple rules. One, it has to be readable. If people can't read your lettering, then it ultimately defeats the whole point of communicating with it. Two, I have to like it. I don't mind if a client loves the design I create, but if I feel I can improve it further, then I don't consider the job finished.
I keep working on it until I like it. And until I think it looks good. Both of these rules are self-evident, and I'll admit, a little self-serving as well. But remember, no one will care about your work more than you. So it's good to have creative conviction about how you approach your design. That said, don't get hung up on the aesthetic rules others apply to type. Feel free to break them and explore with your hand lettering however you wish.
Accept failure and frustration as you draw, but keep moving forward. And most importantly, have fun while you do it. Our industry may be digitally driven, but ideas are still best developed in analog form. And drawing is still design's best friend. So embrace it and use it. If you do, you'll learn to love hand lettering and improvement will naturally be a byproduct of this creative endeavor.