developing your style
Developing your style may take time, and you may only begin to discover it today. But with practice, you will narrow it down and fine-tune it. Creating a personal style you love will allow you to have a consistent base to go back to as you work. Over time, you may develop several different styles that you can use for different projects.
When you’re trying to figure out your style, it’s important to take in a lot of creative inspiration. The key is not to copy another artist’s work. I recommend filling up an inspiration board full of images that inspire you - either from Pinterest or by printing out images and creating a real life one - but when you’re ready to sit down and practice or create something for yourself or your business, don’t have those images right in front of you. Use them as inspiration in the back of your mind. Not only will having them right in front of you hinder your own creative process, but you’ll also be more likely to copy them.
What kind of lettering are you drawn to? Is there a common theme among the images on your inspiration board? Write down some thoughts about what inspires you and what you’d like to apply to your own lettering style. Then practice writing how you’d like each of your letters to look. Is your lettering loose and free flowing or tighter and more controlled? After playing around with your name and various words, write out your thoughts about the exercise. Circle your favorite styles and note what you want to improve.
There are many different ways to write each letter of the alphabet in calligraphy. Sometimes it helps to take a look at the different ways you could adjust each letter to create an alternate form. Take a look at these alternate examples to give you some ideas for developing your own style.
1. adjust the overshoot
The overshoot is the amount to which a letter extends higher than the x-height or lower than the baseline. Experiment going above or below those lines in various ways like the examples shown.
2. adjust the angle
Although the angle at which you write your letters should stay consistent within each piece of artwork, it can be fun to play around with different angles to create different looks. Just be sure to keep it consistent throughout your piece.
3. Adjust the loop sizes
In my opinion, one of the most fun ways to create alternate characters is to adjust the size of the ascending or descending loops on different letters to be more or less exaggerated.
4. adjust the flourishes
Flourishes speak a lot about the style of a piece of hand lettering. They can add elegance or create a whimsical feel depending on how you use them and how ornate you create them to be.
5. ADJUST THE LIGATURES
Adding ligatures to your piece makes it incredibly unique and truly hand done. Ligatures are two or more characters combining to create one letterform, so try using different techniques to combine letters within your piece.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to keep each piece consistent within itself. So, once you decide on what style to use, stick to that style within each piece of artwork. Sometimes it's appropriate to use more than one style within a piece, but if you do, I would recommend using no more than two and to be careful to balance them within the piece.
After you narrow down what you want your main style to look like, letter the complete alphabet using that style. Later on, you can use this as a reference for that style as you work. Over time, you may create alphabets in other styles that you can reference. You can use the following alternate letter examples for inspiration to help you develop your own.
Please note that I’m not trying to limit your creativity by having you stick to one style. You can, of course, change the way you write your letters every time you create something if you wish. And when you add in flourishes or decorative elements, you may want to change them each time too. The intention of this lesson is to get you to home in on a specific way of lettering that is your “go-to.” Soon you will have multiple styles in your tool belt to use.
Just like any other skill, lettering takes time, practice, and dedication. You might not arrive at something you are completely happy with right away, but give yourself a little grace and keep practicing! It takes work. For me, it took nearly a year of practice to develop my unique style and start selling my prints. It might take you a while to discover your style too.