Hand Lettering 101: Quote Layout

Hey everyone! Welcome back to another blog post. Today I’m going to be talking all about the layout of your pieces!

When hand lettering, layout is so very important when working with longer quotes, signage, cards, or really anything! It’s the layout of your work that brings balance to the overall piece, and makes it aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Before we start, make sure you’re using the RIGHT paper! Here is some of my favorite watercolor paper linked!

When talking about layout, the most crucial step is determining the ‘weight’ of the words in your quote, on your sign, or in your project. By ‘weight’ I simply mean the effect they have to the overall feeling or meaning. This is all personal preference and will be different for everyone, even if doing the same quote. I would split my words into three different categories: minimal weight, medium weight, heavy weight.

Words of minimal weight would include words such as ‘the’, ‘a’, or ‘and’. These words simply don’t carry much value and shouldn’t be the statement in your work, but rather contribute little and not catch the attention of your audience. Words carrying minimal weight are much easier to distinguish than the next two categories.

Words of medium and heavy weight are totally dependent upon how you read the quote, and how you want to portray the meaning to your audience. For example, if writing the quote “I will always love you”, I would personally put the heavy emphasis on ‘always’, but many might prefer to place that heavy emphasis on ‘love.’ Deciding which words carry the heaviest weight and the least weight, you’re left with your medium weight words. This process of elimination is how I typically decide the layout of my work.

Once you have determined the weight of each word in your quote, you must now choose your fonts and sizes. I don’t typically define a word’s font by its weight, but you are more than welcome to do it that way! Meaning that all heavy-words are a bold, serif font, and medium-weight words are all cursive. I lean more on the size in direct correlation with the weight of the word. The heavier the weight of the word, the bigger it will be on paper. Simple as that!

Now that you have your words assigned to specific fonts and sizes, you can begin to sketch your layout! This is one of my least favorite parts, but it’s necessary when writing long quotes.

PRO TIP: use embellishments, such as banners or circles to add to the piece, while also hiding and keeping ‘light’ weight words small!

When sketching your layout, make sure to consider the fonts you want to use. I always stick to around three per piece: a bold font, a simple-tall font, and brush calligraphy. I’ll sometimes add more, or even just use one or two fonts. Totally dependent on how I’m feeling and how I feel the quote would look its best.

Finally, now that you have your piece all sketched out and you’re liking the way it looks, it’s time to erase the lines and add COLOR!

I always make sure to erase most of the pencil from the piece before I go in with color. Certain dark colors will completely hide the pencil marks, but the pencil will totally show through on others. After all of the previous work before this point, it just isn’t worth not liking my quote due to some visible pencil marks that throw it off. If it makes you nervous to erase it all at once, do small sections at a time!

When you start to add color, you must decide on what supplies/mediums you want to use!

I tend to stick to water colors and my good ole’ Karin Markers. They just provide my desired result and I’m comfortable using them.

TIP: If you have a brush calligraphy font, try to use brush pens. This sounds obvious, but I’ve tried to use watercolors, colored pencils, gouache, and many other supplies to get the same result and it just never gives me the clean, beautiful strokes of a brush pen.

Now that you have your materials picked out, it’s time to choose your colors. My previous blog post talks about color theory, and I think that would be so beneficial to read! Go check that out here!

FINALLY! Your quote is DONE. With these thorough steps, you can create gorgeous works of art that you can hang up in your room or sell to your close friends!

Happy creating friends!

As always, thank you for reading and feel free to contact me with any questions, ideas, or concerns you have!

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