I spent a lot of time stumbling about when I first began learning hand lettering, unsure of where to begin. I certainly wasn’t emphasizing deliberate practice, and found it difficult to improve. When I finally found a few solid tutorials and online classes, I was able to focus my practice and improve faster. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the many artists who were willing to share their process and expertise with the world.
A few years ago, I was only able to find a few structured classes and a smattering of tutorials for specific parts of the process. Luckily for you, the selection is expanding every day! No matter what your budget is, there is plenty of content out there to help you grow your skills.
At $9.99 a month for unlimited access to hundreds of classes, Skillshare provides a really great value. The classes available cover a variety of topics, including many great lettering courses! In addition to the video lessons and any supplemental materials for the course, each course has a discussion area, where you can post questions and talk to classmates and the teacher. If you’re interested in taking Skillshare for a test drive, sign up with my link and try it out for a month for free. I’m not sure when it ends, but they’re also currently offering 3 months of unlimited access for $.99, so get on that!
Brandon Rike: Lettering Made Simple
Brandon Rike’s Lettering Made Simple class shows you an example of creating a lettering piece by adapting a font. He breaks his process down into approachable steps. He also shows you how to use existing fonts as a starting point, but make them your own.
Jennifer Coyle: Lowercase Letterform Study
Jenn Coyle’s Lowercase Letterform Study provides awesome tips for sketching efficiently and saving time as you’re creating a final, digitized product. She gives a great overview of the essentials of lowercase typography, followed by valuable tips for digitizing and minimizing your sketching time. If you’re interested in making one of your lettering styles into a font, she has a class on that, too!
Jessica Hische: Lettering for Designers
Jessica Hische frequently credits her Daily Drop Cap project with putting her on the map. Her Lettering for Designers class focuses on how to develop your own drop caps on a theme, from developing initial concepts to digitizing your final piece. She reveals her entire creative process, and breaks everything down so it’s completely approachable.
Lauren Hom: Chalkboard Lettering
If you want to get some tips for chalkboard lettering, Lauren recently launched a really awesome class called Chalkboard Lettering: Adding Charm To Your Home. I painted a chalkboard wall at home, and her class is full of great tips for making use of that space and gives an in depth look at her process.
Martina Flor: Golden Secrets of Hand Lettering
Martina Flor launched two Golden Secrets of Hand Lettering classes this year, and they are chock full of awesome tips, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned designer. Create the Perfect Postcard provides a brief overview of typography, finding inspiration, and creating a polished piece from initial sketch to final vectorization. Find Inspiration In Your Handwriting is focused on script lettering, as Martina takes you through the process of transforming your script handwriting into a polished design.
Mary Kate McDevitt: Lettering I & II (and more!)
Mary Kate McDevitt has several classes on Skillshare, and every single one of them is worth checking out! Her first class (Lettering I) is a great overview of how to decide on a concept, polishing your sketch, and inking up your final drawing. She follows that with a class (Lettering II) on scanning, digitizing, and adding texture and color to make your piece truly one of a kind. Vintage Hand-Lettering shows you how to draw inspiration from vintage packaging and design, without copying. Hand-Lettering Workshop is a solid option if you’re looking for more detail about finding inspiration and creating polished sketches.
Creative Bug is a really affordable way to play with auxiliary mediums to expand your skillset and experiment. For $4.95 a month, you get unlimited access to all of their classes. They offer a 14-day free trial, which will give you enough time to take a class or two to decide if it’s worth the subscription.
Their classes tend to be focused on topics falling into the “craft” category, and aren’t focused on lettering per say, but there are plenty of tips you can apply to your lettering practice. I love the classes on Creative Bug that are focused on sketching and using watercolor.
Yao Cheng: Beginner & Intermediate Watercolor
Yao’s watercolor classes helped my skills improve quickly when I first started dabbling in watercolor, and I still go through them from time to time to continue practicing. Although Yao’s class is focused on learning to paint trees, leaves, flowers and landscapes, her painting techniques helped me learn to control the brush and improved my brush lettering. I also picked up some new tips that sparked ideas for incorporating watercolor into my lettering in other ways, besides just brush lettering!
Lisa Congdon: Sketchbook Explorations & Basic Line Drawing
Lisa Congdon’s classes explore creativity and the fundamentals of drawing. She does a great job of putting you at ease and teaching you not to take yourself too seriously when you’re practicing your craft.
Seanwes’ Learn Lettering
Seanwes has built a reputation as an impeccably precise hand lettering artist. His Learn Lettering course is a fantastic and comprehensive review of typography, how to draw individual letters, how to build a strong composition, and how to approach practicing deliberately. Sean offers three price tiers for the course, depending on how serious you are about hand lettering. No matter which level you choose, the price is a one-time fee for lifetime access. The Starter Class is available for free, and provides an overview of typography fundamentals and lettering basics. The $299 Intermediate Course provides a more exhaustive overview of hand lettering techniques. If you want to improve your hand lettering and focus on developing strong techniques, I’d go with one of these two options.
If you want to improve your hand lettering and learn how to leverage it into a business, check out the Master Class. This course currently goes for $447 (current introductory rate, full price is $699). It includes all of the Intermediate Course, plus several lessons on contracts and licensing agreements, attracting clients while maintaining your value, and how to price your work.
Tuts+ is full of fantastic tutorials – though most of them are not specifically focused on lettering, many of the design and illustration tutorials contain tips that translate easily to your lettering process (for example, their Illustrator and Photoshop tutorials). They have plenty of free tutorials to occupy your time for now, and paid plans to gain access to all of their content.
Scott Biersack Lettering Series
While not a video-based course, Scott Biersack published a series of articles on Tuts+ earlier this year designed to teach you basic lettering and typography concepts, with tutorials on script type, brush lettering, and vectorizing your drawings. This series is a great introduction to the fundamentals of typography and drawing letters. The best part is, it’s free!
Learn From The Experts
If you’re serious about improving your hand lettering skills, take advantage of the many learning opportunities online. Learning from the experts will help you improve faster (they’ve already figured out best practices for you!) and inspire you to be better. Beyond these classes, there are countless tutorials and tips out there for improving every part of your process. Are there any online classes you love that I missed?