Hand Lettering for Laughter: Gorgeous Art with a Hilarious Twist

Hand Lettering for Laughter: Gorgeous Art with a Hilarious Twist

by Amy Latta
Hand Lettering for Laughter: Gorgeous Art with a Hilarious Twist

Hand Lettering for Laughter: Gorgeous Art with a Hilarious Twist

by Amy Latta


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Find Your Happy Place with Fun Fonts, Whimsical Doodles and Clever Quotes

Get ready to giggle your way through these clever hand lettering designs with bestselling author Amy Latta, back from her books Hand Lettering for Relaxation and Express Yourself: A Hand Lettering Workbook for Kids. Whether you’re lettering for the first time or brushing up on your skills, you’ll be highly entertained as you create your own works of witty, hand lettered art. Draw, doodle and dream right in the book on high-quality paper that will make your designs pop. With tons of ideas for special hand lettered projects like pillow covers, gift tags and personalized signs, it’s easy to share the laughter. Be careful: It’s contagious!

Keep the fun going with these other books in Amy Latta's bestselling hand lettering workbook series:
- Hand Lettering for Relaxation
- Hand Lettering for Faith
- Express Yourself: A Hand Lettering Workbook for Kids

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624147319
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 04/23/2019
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 662,619
Product dimensions: 8.90(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Amy Latta is the author of the bestseller Hand Lettering for Relaxation, as well as Express Yourself: A Hand Lettering Workbook for Kids. She’s a hand lettering designer and the founder of amylattacreations.com, where she injects some much-needed humor into the world of calligraphy. She lives in Hampstead, Maryland.

Read an Excerpt



Writing in Faux Calligraphy

Chances are, when you think of hand lettering, there's a particular style of writing that comes to mind. Brush script, that pretty cursive with a mixture of thick and thin lines that you see everywhere, has become the poster child for hand lettered art. It's the style that really took off and gained popularity, getting people excited about writing by hand again instead of doing everything digitally. There's a technique involved in creating brush script, and frankly it takes a good bit of time and practice to master. We'll look at that in more detail later on in this book, but because we want to hit the ground running, we're going to start with a super-simple way to achieve the same look without mastering brush lettering. Basically, we're going to fake it till we make it. I call this Faux Calligraphy, and you can do it on any surface with just about any pencil, pen, marker, chalk or other writing implement you can find.

If you've tried your hand at lettering before, this may already be a familiar technique to you. It's the first thing I teach when I lead workshops, and it's the first thing I cover in both of my other books as well, because it's such an important foundational skill. Even if you know how to do Faux Calligraphy already, you can use today's lesson as a refresher or a warm-up before we dive into some new material. Grab yourself a writing implement and let's get started!


I've been complimented on various things over the years, like my smile, my hair and my singing voice. My personal favorite, though, was one time in our dating days when my husband and I were walking through the mall and I jokingly pointed out what I'm still convinced was the world's ugliest shirt hanging in a window display. I decided to test him a little by asking, "What would you say to me if I wore that top?" Without missing a beat, he replied, "I'd compliment your pants." That just might be the moment when I really knew he was a keeper. Today, though, I'm going to give a compliment to you as we start this lettering journey together ... "nice I's." You might be rolling your "e-y-e-s" at the pun, but seriously, y'all, what could be a more perfect quote to start off a hand lettering book than one that talks about your writing? We're going to learn a few basic skills, and then you'll be hand lettering it yourself on the border page at the end of the chapter. Take a look at my sample design, then let's dive in and learn how you can letter one just like it.


Like I mentioned earlier, the most noticeable thing about this style of lettering is that it contains a combination of thick and thin lines. Every time you write, you are moving your pen either down toward yourself (this is called a downstroke), up away from yourself (an upstroke) or horizontally across the paper. The rule you need to memorize is as simple as this: downstrokes are thick while upstrokes and horizontal strokes are thin. If you can remember that, you'll always know where your letters should be thick instead of thin. With that in mind, here's how we take a word and make it look like it was written in brush script. This skill will actually come in handy even long after you master Simple Brush Technique, because there will be times when a brush pen won't work on your surface of choice, or may not be readily available.


To begin, write the word in cursive, leaving a little bit more space in between the letters than you normally would.

We're going to start with the word "you" because it's short and simple, and it's part of the design you'll be creating at the end of the chapter.


Identify all of the downstrokes in your letters and draw a second line in those areas.

The second line should be parallel to the original down-stroke with a bit of space in between.


Color in the space between the lines.

This will give the appearance of a thicker line or stroke.

That's all there is to it! Once all of the downstrokes are thickened and colored in, your word will look just like it was written in brush script. See?

You can do this with any word you write; all you have to do is figure out where the downstrokes are for each letter. Here is a sample alphabet to help you. Although I might form some of my letters differently than you do, looking at them will give you an idea of which lines should be thick and which ones stay thin.

Another fun way to use Faux Calligraphy is by following the first two steps, then using a different color to fill in the spaces in step 3.

Faux Calligraphy can be done with whatever markers or pens you have, as well as pencils, chalk and paint pens. In fact, because paint pens and chalk don't have a brush tip, this is the only way to achieve the brush-lettered look on many kinds of projects. Take some time to practice in the space to the right. Focus first on the words in our quote design, but you can also play around with your name and any other words you'd like to try. "Joy" and "love" are good practice words because they're short and sweet.

When you're ready to try creating the featured hand lettered design for this chapter, head on over to the bordered page and use this technique to write "You have nice I's." You may want to start by using a pencil and a straightedge to lightly sketch a few horizontal guidelines on the page to help you keep the lettering straight. Then, use your favorite marker or pen to write the quote in Faux Calligraphy. When you're finished, erase any pencil lines you can still see, and feel free to color in the border to finish off your masterpiece.



Minimalist Print Font

Peanut butter and jelly. Milk and cookies. Nutella and a spoon. Some things just go together. It works that way in design, too. A simple print and a fancy script make the perfect pair. Combining more than one style of writing within a design helps add visual interest to your work, and it also allows you to emphasize certain words within a quote. The next step in our lettering journey is to learn a basic print font that you can pair with the Faux Calligraphy script. It's called Minimalist Print, and it has a simple, farmhouse chic vibe that complements your script lettering perfectly. Let's take a look.


There's so much we can do, friends, if we put our minds to it! The world is full of infinite possibilities. But do you wanna know a secret? Sometimes seizing the day is overrated. Dreaming big and achieving goals is fantastic, but so is wrapping myself up in my fuzzy blanket like a human burrito and cuddling my cat. I don't know about you, but I think today is the perfect day for a nap and maybe reading a good book ... oh, look! You already have one in your hands! Let's give each other permission to relax. We'll still seize the day. Tomorrow.


Many artists live by the motto, "Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist." To create this font, we have to do a bit of rule breaking. I know I've got your attention now! Let's talk first about what the "rules" of handwriting are. When we write, whether we're using lined paper or not, there is a set of invisible guidelines that we follow. The baseline is where the bottom of each of our letters sits. The cap height marks how high the tops of our capital letters go. The descender line is where the tails of letters like "p" or "j" travel below the baseline. Finally, the x-height marks where lowercase capital letters stop and where we cross letters like "A" and "H."

To achieve this Minimalist Print style, we have to break a rule ... the x-height. Instead of crossing letters like "A," "E," "H" and "F" at a normal x-height, we're going to push the crossbar up toward the top of the letter. The same thing goes for letters that have lines touching or intersecting at x-height, like "R," "M," "P" and "B." The one exception to this is the "W," where we're going to use a lower than normal x-height instead. Take a look ...

Here's a look at the whole alphabet written in this style.

I've only provided an uppercase alphabet, because when I use this font, I typically only write in capital letters. It provides a nice contrast to my lowercase script. However, if you want to try a lowercase version, all you have to do is break the rules in the same way, raising the x-height line for things like the crossbar of the "t" and "f."

You can write in this style using whatever writing instrument you like, including markers, pencils and chalk. Personally, I like my print letters to be very thin when I use this font, so I like to use 01 or 03 size drawing pens whenever possible. Take some time to practice writing a few words in the space provided. It can also be helpful to practice on lined paper so that you can see the guidelines as you work. Then, when you're ready, head over to the border page and create our quote design using a combination of this style and the Faux Calligraphy you learned in the last chapter.

To create the sample design, I started by tracing a semicircle in pencil and using that as a guideline for "carpe diem." I started by penciling in the position of the center letter, the final "e" in "carpe," then worked my way out to both sides. Next, I sketched a horizontal line below the semicircle and penciled in "tomorrow." Finally, I went over all my words with marker and erased the pencil lines. Now, it's your turn!



Putting Bounce in Your Lettering

Remember how in the last chapter we learned to be rule breakers? We're going to be rebels again in this workshop, and we definitely have a cause: putting bounce in our lettering. As you've seen, you can certainly letter your words in nice, neat straight lines. But you've probably noticed that many of the lettering artists out there have a more whimsical style where their letters seem to bounce around at different heights within a word. It's actually easier than you think to do, and it will take your lettering to the next level. Plus, once you learn it, you don't have to worry as much about keeping your lettering perfectly straight. Ready to give it a try? Let's get started!


Everybody has something that gets them through the day. We all have responsibilities to carry out and work to do, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. When we clock out, whether it's at 5 p.m. or a totally different time, we get to have our own "happy hour." We get to be off duty and to unwind doing whatever we like best. I'd like to say I look forward to doing really exciting, adventurous things, but I can't. What I want to do more than anything else is take a nap. Being a mom to two preteen boys is exhausting, and writing a book is, too. So is maintaining a website and social media and keeping the house in order and doing all the other things I do every day. I'm just plain tired. Give me a pillow, a blanket and my cat and I'm good to go. Walk away and don't let anyone say "mama" for at least sixty minutes. That's what I call a happy hour. What about you?


In the previous chapter, we talked about several guidelines that are in place when we write: Ascender height, descender height, cap height, x-height and the baseline. Typically, we form our letters within these guides, but when it comes to bounce lettering, everything changes. We have to let our ascenders go higher, our descenders go lower, and forget about keeping a consistent baseline. Take a look.

Once you understand that the trick to bounce lettering is forgetting about the constraints for where the high and low points of your letters go, it's a piece of cake, right? Well, not necessarily. For some artists, that's all they need to know, and they're off to their sketch pad to get started. If that's you, you can stop reading now and go play with your markers in the practice space. But if you're like me, you might still have an unanswered question, "HOW do I break the rules in a way that looks good?"

In other words, for me, it wasn't enough just to know that I could write my letters any place I wanted. When I tried, it looked willy-nilly and strange because I didn't have any method to my madness. Essentially, I needed rules for how to break the rules. Does that make sense? If you're in that boat, here are a few of the ways I tend to position my letters.

First, I've found that for letters that end with a downstroke, like "h," "l," "m," "n," "r" and "t," it feels and looks natural to extend that downstroke past the baseline before heading back up to form the next letter. These will become the lower points in your word.

For letters with multiple x-height lines, vary the heights instead of making them all the same! For example, "m" and "w" take on a whole new look when written this way.

Balance out the rest of your word, making your remaining letters larger, higher, etc. Sometimes the best way to decide where a letter goes is by looking at what's right next to it. Play around with different ways to write your letters that break the normal constraints for where it should go.

Make sense? No two artists create their bounce lettering in exactly the same way, and as funny as it seems to say, "there are no absolute rules other than to break the rules." As you practice, you'll start to develop a feel for how this works and it'll come more naturally to you. You'll get used to extending certain letters and shortening others. In the meantime, take some time to play around in the practice space with a few different words. Write them straight, then try adding some bounce and see what happens. If you get stuck, drawing a wavy line as your baseline and lettering on that can sometimes help.

Once you're ready, move on to illustrating our quote on the border page. My sample design uses a combination of Minimalist Print and Faux Calligraphy with bounce in the words "naptime," and "happy hour." To help balance the design visually, I also added a short horizontal line on either side of the centerline of text. Later in the book, we'll learn how to use all kinds of other embellishments, including more straight line techniques. Feel free to copy my design exactly or to put your own spin on it as you create your finished quote.



Mastering Basic Composition

One of the questions I'm asked on a regular basis is, "What's the trick to creating a great design?" You can master a million different fonts and embellishments, but you'll still struggle with lettering if you don't know how to make those different elements work well together. While all lettering artists have their own styles, there are some basic things most of us do when we design something. In this workshop, we're going to look at some simple tips and tricks to help you lay out a quote in a way that's visually appealing, and then we'll practice together.


Have you ever been walking across the floor barefoot and accidentally stepped on a LEGO? Since you and I are friends, I wish only the best for you, which means I hope your answer is a vehement no. If you have, though, you'll know it causes excruciating pain that I would only wish on a worst enemy. Like Monday. Mondays are just plain rude. I mean, there we all are, having fun and enjoying the weekend, and then who shows up? Monday morning. It knocks with the sound of an alarm going off and we have to do all kinds of things we don't want to do ... starting with getting out of bed. There's lunch packing and child wrangling and working, plus we know there are five whole days before we get a weekend again. I'm sorry, Monday, I know it might sound cruel, but so are you. There's a LEGO over here with your name on it.


Deciding on the composition for a quote can feel very overwhelming because it involves making a lot of different decisions! You're choosing how many fonts to use and which ones will best suit what you're lettering. You're also deciding on what, if any, colors to use, what embellishments and flourishes to add, and what size and shape you want your finished design to be. Plus, you'll need to think about how and where to divide your quote into separate lines. In this chapter, we're going to talk through a few of those basic decisions to help get you started.


Identify the essentials.

For me, the first step in coming up with a composition is to identify which of the words in a quote are most important and which ones are just filler. The important ones are what you'll want to emphasize by choosing a size and font that will stand out, while the others can be smaller and simpler so that they don't detract from the essential parts of the design. For example, in this quote, I'm going to choose to emphasize "Dear Monday," and "LEGO." I personally feel that of the fonts we've covered so far, Faux Calligraphy packs more of a visual punch, so I'll use that for these important words.


Excerpted from "Hand Lettering for Laughter Gorgeous Art With A Hilarious Twist"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Amy Latta.
Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Nice I's Writing in Faux Calligraphy,
Carpe Diem Tomorrow Minimalist Print Font,
My Happy Hour Putting Bounce in Your Lettering,
Mondays and LEGOs Mastering Basic Composition,
Unsubscribing from Adulthood Fancy Florals,
Strength for My Wi-Fi A No-Paint Watercolor Technique,
Social Vegetarians Advanced Composition,
Making Reservations Fabulous Flourishes,
What's Inappropriate? Highlighted Letters Font,
Retail Therapy Variations on a Banner,
This House Is Dirty Accenting the Small Words,
Because, Coffee Creating Coffee Doodles,
Not a Morning Person Double Trace Font,
Dr. Seuss and Coffee Flourishing the Ascenders,
Returning Mondays Crossing Your "T"s,
It's Too People-y Flourishing the Descenders,
Clubs and Bacon Straight Line Embellishments,
Try My Cereal Stretched Script Font,
Mom Knows Best Drawing Magnolias,
My Good Pajama Pants The Chalkboard Effect,
Single Socks Simple Brush Technique,
Who Wants Kale? Working with Wreaths,
Let Us Eat Cake Filler Flourishes,
Cruel and Unfair Punishment All Mixed Up Font,
My Personal Style Finding Your Own Style,
I'd Rather Siesta Than Fiesta Creating Cacti,
Fractured Motivation Adding Color in Your Words,
Can't Reach That Bujo Borders and Line Designs,
Grown-Up Lunchables Drawing Your Favorite Foods,
The Best Five Minutes Creating Shaped Designs,
Missing Memory Advanced Wreaths,
I'm a Runner Simple Stippling,
Dirt, Poop or Chocolate? All Filled In Font,
Getting Taller Swirls and Hearts Font,
A Girl's Best Friend Gems and Geometric Shapes,
Like a Million Bucks Creating Corner Embellishments,
Succ It Up Sketching Succulents,
Fridge Squats Learning to Draw Lights,
Clean Eating Drawing Tasty Treats,
Sleep Hurts Creating Your Own Font,
Project Ideas,
About the Author,

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