Ever read a quote somewhere that just resonated with you so much that you wanted to save it for a rainy day?
Have you ever wanted to give someone a thank you or an appreciation note and wanted to make it a little bit more special?
Maybe you’re taking a boring class and you want to spice your notes up a little to make things more engaging to look at (we’ve all been there).
Well, then you’re in luck, because these scenarios are precisely where Procreate Lettering tutorials shine! Within this guide, we will be going through the basics (and not-so-basic) of lettering and how YOU can use it to give your words some ✨ pizzaz ✨.
First things first, we will be going through some simple do’s and don’ts. As with everything, we need to lay out the simplest of foundations first so we can steadily build on top of it.
We’ll mix things up and start with the Don’ts first, shall we?
Don't # 1: Diving right in with no game plan
We know it’s very exciting to just sit down and doodle around till you get something beautiful, and it is! We get it, creating something awesome on a random whim begets bragging rights, but if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 😉 Especially when you’re just starting, it might be quite frustrating and eventually discouraging to keep making strokes and marks on your canvas only for it not to look anything like what you had in mind. It pays to be patient— trust the process!
Don't # 2: Being stiff
It’s okay to get anxious; you won’t make the perfect mark the first time around. The canvas and the brush won’t bite. Everyone makes mistakes; that’s what the undo function is for! If you find yourself stiffening up, unable to make smooth lines, then just take a moment and start again (unless it’s the style you’re going for). Patience is key.
Don't # 3: Scratchy lines
We’ve all seen them- the hallmarks of a budding artists are the beginner scratchy lines (or chicken scratches, as we call it). We recommend working on your smooth, flowy lines first and foremost because this will be the foundation for any and all lettering works you do in the future.
Do # 1: Sketch out a thumbnail
This ties in to our first bullet point in the "Don’ts" category. Before anything else, try to plan out your piece. What quote/words would you like to do? What vibe are you going for? What about the colors? Any additional elements? It pays to think of these things ahead— it saves tons of time down the road.
Do # 2: Use a pre-made guide and brushes
Things can get overwhelming, especially when you’re just starting out!
Thankfully, there are tons of Procreate lettering guides, these will help you develop muscle memory and make consistently shaped and spaced letters. Custom brushes are also readily available to help you get started. In fact, we have a special set for you: Freya’s Artistic Lettering Brush set
This set includes over 140 of the mostgorgeous and popular brush sets and it’s perfect for everyone, beginner to master alike. This set also includes bonuses like extra brushes, textures, and templates!
Do # 3: Draw with your shoulder
Yes, you read that right. Most beginner artists draw with their wrists, where your wrist is firmly planted on the canvas and only your fist is moving, which then results in chicken scratch lines and very limited movement. Some will draw with their elbow, where instead of the wrist, the elbow becomes the anchor point. This is a little better, but not the best.
The best practice is to draw with your shoulders to produce confident lines! One of the keys to lettering is smoothness and flow, so we recommend making marks with intention!
Do # 4 : Experiment!
Explore! Explore! Explore!
The only way you’ll find the style you truly get excited about is through experimenting! This applies to everything, even layers— play with layer settings and modes! Here’s an awesome How to Work with Layers guide for all your neat tips and tricks. Here are other guides talking about Alpha Lock and Clipping Mask, two very important methods to use.
So why Procreate?
Now that we’ve gone through the basics Do’s and Don’ts, we’ll be going over the two main features that will boost you on your path to mastering Lettering.
The first up is the Pressure Curve, this is where you customize how much “ink” comes out with how hard you press with your pen. You can find this under Action > Prefs > Pressure and Smoothing.
To make things simple, push the curve to the left, and you won’t need to press down as much to get the full range of your brush.
Push the curve to the right, and you’ll have to press very, very, hard to get anything to show up.
The next feature we’ll be looking at is the Streamline and Stabilization feature. You might have seen this on the Pressure and Smoothing panel, but we recommend adjusting this per brush instead. You will find this when you tap on a Brush > Stabilization.
This will be the bread and butter of your Lettering course. Most people think you need to have already perfect traditional handwriting to be able to make gorgeous calligraphy artworks, but that really couldn’t be more wrong! Anyone can do it, and this is how. With the help of Streamline and Stabilization, even the shakiest of lines will come out as smooth as it can be. Here's a shaky line with the sliders all the way down and the same line with it at 70%.
Play around with the sliders and see what works for you!
On to the good part…
It’s finally time for the nit and gritty, here are the terms you need to know and strokes you need to practice to master Lettering.
These are :
Entry stroke / Upstroke
Everything you write, and we mean everything, will revolve around these 8 key strokes so buckle down and be ready to do them over and over! There will be more variations of this as you dive deeper into Procreate Lettering courses, but they all build upon these.
As an additional tip, try to see the letters as individual strokes instead of full on shapes. This way, you’ll have an easier time breaking them down to their core stroke. Where others see an “a,” you need to see an upstroke, an oval, and finally, an underturn.
In contrast to the famous saying, practice does not make perfect. Rather, practice makes progress, so make sure to spend some time doing some exercise so you can make those awesome quotes and notes!
If you’re not quite sure where to start, here’s a free and easy-to-follow Gouache Lettering Tutorial that will definitely kickstart your creativity :
If you liked that one, feel free to try these ones too!
And don’t forget to check out this breathtaking Freya’s Artistic Lettering Brush set, a perfect tandem for any and all of your Procreate Lettering needs. Lots of brushes and lots of goodies in store for you.
We’d love to see what amazing creations you make! 💖