The Primary Basics: Typography and Hand Lettering


I must admit that I was not ready for todays blog post. I wanted to write about the anatomy of type, have a full page illustration on it, my own diagram - it all sounded great in my head, until I began to put my pencil to paper. All that I wanted to share with you, can not be executed in the time I allotted myself. Instead, I have decided to share with you the very basics and I have a free gift for you that can be downloaded for your use as you get started in your journey to hand lettering. I am showing up today, to give you the very primary basics before we even enter the anatomy of type. We can call this the primary basics to typography and hand-lettering.

Before I start let me share a story with you:

Remember when we were in elementary school, learning how to write? We were given these really large lined papers, and sometimes the paper had dotted lines that created our alphabets. We were supposed to trace those lines and report back to the teacher and show our squiggly had writing skills. Tracing those dotted lines allowed us to build muscle memory while practicing our hand writing. Over time we learned to create words, phrases and so fourth.

Todays we are covering the base lines that are encountered when practicing hand lettering. You can think of these lines as guides, and while I am providing a template for you, feel free to learn how to create your own so that you are not limited by tools.

Here's are some questions to think of:

Do you know what your letters sit on? A base Line. Do You know what the X-Height is? The Cap Height? Is the Ascender above or below the CapHeight? Where does the descender fit in all of this?

While our elementary lined paper kept it basic with three lines, one of them being dotted lines, we are covering six lines.

Ascender: An upward vertical stroke found on the part of lowercase letters that extends above the typeface’s x-height.

Cap Height: A line marking the height of uppercase letters within a font.

x-Height: The height of lowercase letters reach based on height of lowercase x; does not include ascenders or descenders.

Mean Line: Imaginary line running along the top of non-ascending, lowercase letters. The mean-line falls at the top of many lowercase letters such as “e,” “g” and “y

Base Line: The invisible line where all characters sit.

Descender: The invisible line marking the lowest point of the descenders within a font.

That's it for our lesson today! Download the free page template so you can get started on practicing your lettering.

Have more questions? Subscribe and send your questions to me about the anatomy of type. I look forward to hearing from you.