Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Hand Lettering 101

Hand Lettering is perhaps the easiest hardest thing any artist will try while art journaling. It is perhaps the most intimidating part of Bible Art Journaling, but before we even attempt to get started discussing hand lettering, we need to also discuss our intent for whatever lettering we are adding to our journals.

Are you enhancing God's Word or are you writing your own thoughts and emotions that are connected to the portion of Word  you  are journaling about? If your intent is to illustrate a portion of Gods Word that has spoken to you, are you illuminating a portion of the verse or are you illustrating one word? Are you writing about your own insights into a portion of God's Word? Are you praying? Are you praising ? All of these can influence how you will use hand lettering in your Bible Art Journaling.

There are no clear-cut rules when hand lettering while Bible Art Journaling. I can only show you what I do. The final outcome of your journaling will be what speaks to your heart. Again, Bible Art Journaling is an outpouring of what is in your heart to the page in your Bible. Hand lettering is one of those things that can take your Art from just making pretty pictures on the page to a heart felt communication between you and God.

Tomorrow, at our Bible Art Journaling Group in Danville, Illinois at the Danville Library from 2pm - 4pm, I will show you some short cuts to beautiful hand lettering. I was fortunate to have taken a course in calligraphy many years ago. It helped me develop my unique style of lettering. I am NOT a professional hand letterer.

 There are ways you can borrow from the experts to achieve a beautiful result. As you practice hand lettering basics you may become more comfortable with your own hand writing and be able to develop your own artistic style.


Stencils are an easy way to add interesting writing to your journal. Julie Creek of Creek Bank Creations has a stencil lettering set that is made to fit the margin of your journaling Bible. All you have to do is draw the letters lightly with pencil. Start with your first letter, then draw your last letter, then the second, then the next to the last and so forth. If you run out of room carefully erase and start again this time leaving more room. Now you are ready to go over your letters with gel pens or colored pencils.

You can also use stencils from WalMart or Hobby Lobby. The downside that these letter stencils is that They are larger than the margin in your Bible. You will have to decide if you want to draw over the scripture in your Bible or draw your illustrated word vertically. Both of these techniques can be a very nice effect if you plan your drawing carefully. You might want to draw one letter with your stencil and then carefully write the rest of the word or phrase in smaller letters just like the scribes did. This is called illumination.  Again remember there are no rules. I suggest that you do a practice sheet on computer paper and try your stenciled words first. Lay the drawn out words on your Bible page and try to get a feel of what the illuminated words will look like.

This method of drawing letters is really fun once you get the hang of it. The picture to the left is an example of blocked letter. You start with a few wavey lines. Then you draw your letters between the lines making sure that the top and the bottom of your letters fill the space between your lines. Then you color and shade your letters and finally erase your lines. What remains is a wavey group of words. This works very nicely within a banner or ribbon. Take your time. Practice if you need to on a separate piece of paper.

Banners - Containers

Banners are a simple way to bring emphasis to a word and not take up a lot of space. Banners are easy to draw. You can also draw squares, circles, triangles, outlines of houses, birds, just about anything you can think of. Color your shape in with colored pencil and write your word with a micron pen or gel pen. Banners serve to break up your page into sections. They also bring your eye to a central point of interest. Notice how the banner in my illustration serves as a bottom for the drawing and also brings your eye to the portion of scripture I am illustrating. I also highlighted my focal verse in the body of scripture.


Tracing is often an overlooked yet legitimate way to get beautifully art words into your Journal Bible. In this illustration, the word wisdom traced. I wanted the word to be the focus of my illustration. I found the word wisdom written in this beautiful font somewhere on Pinterest I think and absolutely loved it. So I printed it out and then carefully traced it into my Bible. Then I filled the letters in with my black micron and drew my illustrations around it. This is one of my favorite pages because not only is it one of my go-to verses but the word wisdom is so beautifully illustrated.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful. Those of you who attend my Bible Art Journaling Group were given an assignment to try out one of these methods of hand lettering before we meet again next Thursday. We have just three more times to meet before the break for the holidays. I have truly enjoyed hosting this group. Please sign up of the next semester of groups in January. We will probably meet in another location as I was able to reserve the room in the library for just 8 weeks. So, check with me about when and where.

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