Hand lettering can often be confused with typography and calligraphy, and understandably so. I’ve written a few blog posts about typography but it’s my absolute favorite design topic! With the help of my friends over at Canva, an easy way to put together designs on the web, they’ve put together a massive compilation of the best hand letting designs sourced from various handcrafting artists and calligraphers all over the world. We are going to take a look at 15 of them.

The differences between the hand lettering, calligraphy and typography are slight, yet important. Calligraphy is writing with a single pass to create written art, hand lettering is a composition created with drawn letters, and typography uses prefabricated and designed letters.

Essentially, hand lettering is the illustration of letters that come together to create a single, unified piece. If you were to take each letter out separately to create an alphabet, it would be quite the mishmash.

To better understand hand lettering, let’s take a look at 40 beautiful examples paired with expert tips.

Incorporate Illustrations


This hand-lettered piece includes an illustration of a skull and arrows as the center focal point. The skull is incorporated really nicely, and the curves of the lettering mimics the curves of the skull. The inclusion of the words ‘through hell’ in the skull adds in a nice contrast and breaks up the composition.

Make Everything Unified


Elaborate and intricate wisps connect the scripty letters to one another in this piece. This acts to unify everything into a singular, unified composition. The heavier weight of the letters allows the phrase to stand out and not be too overwhelmed by the curls, yet it isn’t so heavy that they feel disconnected.

Break The Norm

3This piece is unique in a number of ways. The background is a bobbing bottle of moonshine in a body of water, and the text surrounds it entirely. Instead of shrinking the text so it could stretch the entire span of any negative space, the designer stacked it where necessary. It adds an extra element of detail and fun, but is still easy to read.

Utilize Hand-Lettering in Logos


This logo incorporates stunning hand-lettering. It curves nicely around the illustration, and the letters themselves have true character. The intricate lettering pairs nicely with the simple accent typeface, and is just detailed enough to complement the detailed illustration.

Hand-Letter Multiple Elements


This invitation poster takes hand-lettering over the top. It looks incredibly vintage and old-timey, and that’s not only because of the color palette, but because each element has been drawn by hand. If you look closely, each letterform differs slightly from the next, and that gives this piece a wonderfully traditional and handcrafted feel.

Take Risks


This piece is a unique approach to hand-lettering. Actual bubble gum was used to create this image, and was carefully stretched and pulled to create the perfect look. Getting hands-on with this project really put it over the top, and it stands out against more traditional attempts.

Create A Scene


This hand-lettered phrase sits comfortably inside an illustration of a heart. The illustration is portrayed quite literally, as you can see different characteristics of Dublin written and drawn in different areas of the heart. Setting up the composition this way makes it feel unified and actually serve a purpose. It’s not purely for decor.

Add In Dimension


At first glance, this hand-lettering can look a little flat. It’s beautiful, sure, with all of the thick curves and waves of the letters. But what sets it apart is the incredibly subtle dimension tucked into some of the letters. Where each letter overlaps, or a stroke of color overlaps, there is a slight shadow. This makes the letters pop and look more three-dimensional, versus strictly 2-d had the shadows not been included.

Be Informational


Hand-lettering can merge with infographics in a fairly seamless way, as it does in this poster. Infographics are simply a way of illustrating information, and that is done using hand-lettering in this example. Different cities and elements are depicted, and it the hand-lettering adds a unique character that may be felt in the Islands.

Incorporate Other Elements10

This example is unique, because it isn’t all simply illustrated type. Images of flowers and other plants are incorporated and layered over the letters. This merges the elements together and adds in depth. The contrast between the white of the lettering and the red and green of the vegetation is fresh, and the softness of the letters works well with the femininity of the flowers.

Keep It Simple

This hand-lettered creation is very simple, but very beautiful. It isn’t overwhelmed with color, and there is just the right amount of ornamentation. The texture within the letters is subtle, yet greatly needed. It provides a break from the stark contrast of what would have been solid black on white.

Stretch Your Creative Muscles


This piece is a ton of fun. Not only are there a number of illustrations to look at, but each element has been hand created. The style definitely relays a sense of summer, and the way the poster is presented gives off a carefree, chill vibe.

Have A Purpose Behind Your Design


The intricately detailed letters in this phrase are beautiful and transfixing. So much care went into each and every one – even the incredibly thin ones, and it is truly mind boggling. What makes it even more mind boggling, though, is that this piece was created with purpose. The detailing in the letters is actually hops and barley used in brewing beer, and it makes perfect sense due to the quote.

Utilize Photography


The bright pop of the pink donut against the yellow plate gives this piece a fun personality. What sets it over the top is the carefully crafted lettering around it. Each group of letters is styled differently, and only contributes to the fun in this poster. If the lettering were more understated, it would be lost against the bright photo.

Have A Sense Of Humor


The quote on this piece is humorous, but so is the imagery. You don’t typically see a graphically interpreted piece of sushi in advertising, so it’s a nice thing to see. The lettering appears to be very simple and personal, which makes the message feel like it was written just for you – even if you don’t want to hear it.

If you want to check out the rest of the 40 examples, click here.

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