5 Hand Lettering Mistakes To Avoid

Hand lettering mistakes you may be making as a new calligrapher and how to avoid them

Hand lettering is a fine art and a lovely hobby. Have you ever received a handwritten letter? There’s something very personal and attentive about it. 

However the art of hand lettering takes a lot of dedication and a bit of time to master. These are a few common mistakes that you need to avoid to better your skills. 

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1. Slow down

Hand lettering is not supposed to be fast, it is a pretty slow process. Those videos you see on Instagram and on YouTube with fast hand lettering are sped up to make it more fun to watch. Sometimes these videos are sped up up to six or even eight times! Even if the individual is not slow in hand lettering.

 That is done because the videos would be extremely long and no one would want to watch them! If you feel like you are dragging, you’re doing it just fine. Don’t compare yourself to the Instagram videos! Even if it doesn’t look obviously sped up, they are at least two or four times faster than the real deal. Slow down, take your time and don’t worry.

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2. Lift your pen!

A lot of beginners will make this mistake in the beginning of not lifting their pen, trying to write a long continuous word using one stroke, while it is possible, it is not the best way to do it. Lifting your pen after every stroke makes the whole process easier and more accurate. When you do everything without lifting the pen, even if you get everything right, you might look at your progress at the end and think that you have things unevenly spaced, or that certain letters are bigger or smaller, or maybe that they are slanted. 

One of the most popular questions is about how to make your letters even, and the answer is… lift your pen. That way, you can stop and look at what you’re doing, and readjust your pen whenever needed. In the beginning it is hard, but later on it will become second nature for you. This will save you from a lot of mistakes.

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3. Use the right products

If you’re quite frugal and trying to get the best things for the lowest prices, that's great but they need to work. Exploring various brushes and pens even if they are not made for hand lettering can be fun, it doesn’t mean that they are bad or that they don’t work.  

But you also don’t need a fancy brand. Just make sure you get good equipment, and take care of them. You can purchase a big branded item with all the hype around it and it doesn’t work for you as it turned out to be very difficult to use. So just look for things that you like that works, don’t worry about brand, worry about quality and comfort. A nice paper can make everything look better as well, more vibrant and smooth. So explore various options and make your choices.

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4. Expensive products does not make you better

Adding to the previous tip, hand lettering is all about skills and dedication. Some people spend a ton of money trying out different products that they’ve seen other calligraphers recommend, and expect that their lettering will look the same even without all the practice it took to get there. 

Even if the product is awesome, you won’t get better because you have it! To get better, the only way is to know the proper techniques like the way you hold your pen, how to create thick and thin strokes, how to form the letters, and practicing enough so it becomes second nature for you. 

Once you’ve done all that, fancy pens will help you out, and you’ll love them even more than when you just began. But there will be some struggle in the process… those lettering videos look effortless, especially because they are faster. But most of them needed to be shot twice or even more times because mistakes are very common, but no one shows them. 

So don’t waste your money on stuff because they won’t make you better at lettering. It will take time and practice, but it is worth it because when you finally grasp it, you’ll feel a really sweet sense of accomplishment after putting the hours into something and seeing the results. So no more of the comparison game.

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5. Take a LOT of pictures

Trust me, it will be so much fun to see your progress! You don’t need to be on Instagram or social media. Just keep track of your development. It doesn’t matter if you missed it or if it doesn’t look perfect. Just document it and keep it in your phone so you can look back and see how much you’ve grown after a few months.  

The most important thing to remember is that it takes a lot of practice, but you will get better daily.