In this post, I’ll show you my top tricks for how to practice lettering effectively — all while having fun and making cool projects!
So Much to Learn
When you first jump into hand lettering, you might feel overwhelmed with all the skills you seemingly need to master. There is so much to do, so many things to learn! But what is the best way to practice so you improve day after day?
Thankfully, there are tons of ways that you can quickly grow your skills and have fun along the way.
Drills, Drills, Drills
One of the most effective ways to practice your lettering is with drills! Lettering drills are simply exercises that you do to slowly and steadily build the correct posture, movement, and muscle memory for top-notch lettering. Just like athletes, dancers, and musicians, you need to do repetitive drills to hammer the basics into your mind and body.
You can grab my free drill sheet pack by signing up for the Fox Den Resource Library here!
Using a drill sheet is simple. All you need to do is follow the prompts on a drill sheet with your pen or pencil. The trick is to move slowly and steadily — don’t try to blow through the drills quickly. Instead, try to slow down, focus on the movement of your hand, and aim for consistency between your strokes. Over time, this deliberate practice will build strong muscle memory, making future lettering more smooth.
Poise and Posture
One common mistake I see among new letterers is poor posture. You might be tempted to practice your lettering while lounging on your couch, slouching at your desk, or hunched over your work. While you certainly can letter in these positions, they won’t lead to ideal lettering.
The best way to practice lettering is while sitting upright at a desk or table with a straight back and both feet on the floor. This gives your arm the most freedom of movement while also promoting good habits down the road. If you get in the habit of hunching over your work while you letter, you’ll run into back and neck pain down the road — trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way.
It’s All in the Shoulder
As you practice, it’s important to remember to practice with the right muscles. You might be tempted to letter with your writing muscles — that is, your wrist and hand. However, when you letter, you actually need to rely on your shoulder and elbow.
Your writing arm should be resting lightly on your desk or hover right above. This helps you get the most movement and flow out of your shoulder. If you rest weight on your writing arm, you will end up writing with your hand and wrist, resulting in cramped, uneven lettering. Moving from your shoulder and elbow will — after some practice — give you smoother, cleaner, more fluid lettering.
One way to begin developing the correct muscles is to tape paper to a wall and try lettering on it. Alternatively, if you have a chalkboard or dry erase board, that will work beautifully. It is much harder to write with just your wrist and hand while working on a vertical surface. You’re forced to use your shoulder. This is a great way to get used to the feel of the correct muscles and movements so you can apply it to your lettering.
Lettering Practice Ideas
There are tons of ways to use lettering in your day-to-day life. Want to really maximize your progress? Do a round of lettering drills before any lettering projects to warm up and reinforce your skills!
- Your name
- Names of friends and family
- Pet names
- Bullet journal headers
- One item on your daily to-do list
- A sweet note for a loved one
- An affirmation for yourself
- Your Why Statement
- Headers in your work or school notes
- Gratitude log entries
- Song lyrics
- Inspirational quotes
- DIY cards
- Addresses on envelopes
- Social media lettering challenges
- Seasonal bucket list
- Organization labels
- DIY wall art
- Gift tags
- Holiday decor
Make a Mess and Have Fun
The most important way to practice your lettering is by just practicing. Any amount of practice is better than nothing — even if you practice half-assed. Maybe all you can muster is lettering snippets of a TV show while you’re sprawled on the couch. Maybe you’re slumped over in a boring class and lettering bits of your notes is the only thing keeping you engaged.
No matter how you practice, just remember that every single session is worth it. It might not feel like you’re getting better, but a few minutes of lettering here and here really pays off in the end. Don’t be afraid to try new projects, get ambitious, and push yourself. Before long, you’ll look back and realize how far you’ve come!