It’s easy to feel insecure about the steadiness of your hand when it comes to lettering. It feels like there’s so much pressure to get things right when you’re sketching and inking your project. Whether you’re just starting out, or you simply want to improve the steadiness of your hand, there are several things you can do to get cleaner lines.
I struggled with having clean lines and a steady hand when I first began lettering. Looking back now, most often it was because I didn’t give myself enough time for my lettering. I wanted to arrive at the finished product as soon as possible.
Don’t treat lettering like a sprint; it’s a marathon. Give yourself enough time to do the lettering piece well, and get comfortable. Relax your shoulders, take a deep breath, put on some music, and be patient with it. This is essential if you want arrive at a hand-lettering piece with clean lines.
Don’t treat lettering like a sprint; it’s a marathon. Give yourself enough time to do the lettering piece well, and get comfortable.
— Dane Gonzalez (@HeyImDane) June 5, 2015
Push Straight Lines
Based of the natural motion of our hands, we can take advantage of certain aspects to maximize the steadiness of our hands. We can usually get clean, straight lines by locking our wrist and pushing them forward. This way is easier for most people because their hand has more leverage by taking advantage of the movement of the whole arm. This makes it far less likely for your line to go off in the wrong direction.
In order to get the best out of pushing straight lines, have a firm grasp on your lettering utensil and lock your wrist. You don’t need to have a tightly clenched fist and stiff wrist. However, make sure that your wrist and hand aren’t loose.
Pull Curved Lines
In addition to pushing straight lines, pulling curved lines works best based on the curvature of our hand. Our hands naturally curve towards the inside of our forearm when pulling it towards us. So, why not take advantage of this? Pulling curved lines will not only feel natural, but will also yield smoother lines, and overall better results.
Find Your Personal Stroke Length
Related to the idea of getting comfortable, is finding the ideal stroke length that works for you. What I mean by stroke length is how long you draw a line before stopping and lifting your utensil.
Ideally, the less you interrupt a stroke, the smoother your line work will be – The less you interrupt a straight line, the straighter it will look; the less you interrupt a curved line, the smoother it will look. However, your personal level of comfort when it comes to drawing long, steady lines can’t be overlooked.
I have found this to be a personal question that needs to be asked. Knowing the answer to this comes from practice and self-awareness. Examine whether you feel more comfortable drawing longer strokes, shorter strokes, or somewhere in between. Understanding what feels natural and comfortable to you is key to achieving your smoothest lines.
For me, even though I can arrive at very smooth long lines, it doesn’t feel natural to me. I prefer shorter, choppier strokes. I’ve found that when I use my finer-tipped Micron pens, along with making my natural strokes, I often arrive at much cleaner lines.
Just find what best works for you and have patience.
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