9 Steps to A Perfectly Lettered Quote

One of my new favorite things is to hand letter. I have been doing this since October, but just recently got a set of brush pens that i have been learning to use. Lyssy from Lyssy Creates shows us how to make a beautiful work of art!

We’ve all seen the cards and posters, right? Maybe on Etsy, maybe on Instagram.
All that gorgeous lettering. Then we see it tagged handmade and think, “I could do
that!”

That’s how I got started on brush lettering. I googled, looked up YouTube videos and
tried to learn this stuff. If I was lucky, I didn’t waste yet another piece of card on an
unevenly written “Merry Christmas”.
I wanted pretty cards, why was it so hard? Digitizing required a scanner I didn’t have,
and a light box? That’s an expense I couldn’t afford!
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If this is you, this tutorial is for you. I’ll be working with brush pens here, but
it doesn’t have to be brush lettering — this layout hack is for anyone working with paper
and costs under $30.
Don’t believe me?
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  • Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Grid paper

  • Card paper (for your final copy)

  • Scissors

  • Washi tape

  • Glass tabletop

  • Clip on light

  • Lettering pens — that’s brush pens for me!

Let’s get down to business!

1. Choose your quote.

My copy of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” on my mood board could be
improved, so I’ll be lettering that today. I suggest a quote that’s around 5-10 words
long for starters.
Pinterest is a great place to quotes. Or you could always go with greeting card
cliches: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Get Well Soon, etc.

2. Highlight the keywords

Write out your quote, regular writing is fine, and highlight the words that jump out at
you. For me, that’s “kill” and “stronger”!
It’s really down to what you want to emphasise. For example, if you were lettering
“happy birthday, sweetheart”, would you want to emphasise the wish or the
endearment?

3. Decide on your font choice

I adore brush lettering, but even then, there are font choices to be made.
Here are three possibilities:

  • A. 100% brush lettered, 1 font size

  • B. 100% brush lettered, different font sizes

  • C. Keywords brush lettered, others in different fonts

If you can’t visualize it, sketching it out always helps! Which brings me to the next
step.

4. Sketch it out!

This step is crucial for mixed fonts or different sized text. This is where you roughly
figure out where to put which word and how you want it to look.
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Here are some of my sketches for my quote, and the example quote of “happy
birthday, sweetheart”. I do this on grid paper, so I know how tall each letter should be
later.

5. Letter it

Now you have some idea of how you want it to look, it’s time to draft your words.
Notice I didn’t say quote!
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Whichever font choice you made, write each word separately. This is where the grid
lines come in really helpful, since you can use the dimensions as a guide. Dot grid
paper is great too, but I prefer grid since it’s easier to see. It may take a few sheets
before you get something you like!

6. Arrange your words

So you have your words the way you want them to look. It’s time to put them in
place. We’re going old school now, so grab that scissors and cut out your words! Be
sure to leave some room around each word so you can tape it down later.
Play around with it. Put all the pieces on your glass table top and arrange it
according to your sketch, or maybe something else altogether!
If you need a word bigger or smaller, go letter it again and replace the piece.
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Once you have something you absolutely love, tape each piece down with some
washi tape. I love washi tape because it tends to come off cleanly, unlike other tapes.

7. Set up your ‘Light Box’

For the uninitiated, a lightbox is a box, with light inside. You lay what you want to
copy on it, put a blank sheet over and turn it on. The light shines through the layers
of paper so you can see the design and copy it directly.
If you’re like me and either can’t afford it, or can’t justify buying one, here’s what you
can do:
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Get a clip on light like this one from IKEA), clip it to your table edge and shine it
through the glass.
If you really want to go budget, see if you can find one of these clip-on phone stands. I
bought mine to film my Periscope videos, but you can also clip a flashlight instead of
a phone and use it like the IKEA lamp.

8. Make your first draft!

Switch on that light and put a sheet of grid paper over your quote. Now the light is
on, you can move the paper around until you have the text exactly where you want it.
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Then just tape it down — again washi tape is great — and letter it!

9. Letter your final copy

If you’re really confident, you can skip step 8 and jump to this one. For me though, I
like to do a few drafts to see if I really like it. Then I put my favourite draft on the
makeshift light box and letter it on card.
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And there you have it. One pretty card. Or several! I did different versions of each so
you can see some examples.
And that’s how you letter a card cleanly without digitizing it! This can work for faux
calligraphy, pointed pen, and other lettering styles as well.

Bio: Lyssy is the face behind Lyssy
Creates
, a blog on crafting and creativity. When not blogging or Instagramming, she can be found
reading, playing with her brush pens and creating new things for her Etsy Store

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