Want to make creations as awesome as this one?

A presentation on lettering: What it is and how it's different from calligraphy or typography.


e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e a a a a a a a a a a a a a a

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u

m m m m m m m m m m m m b b b b b b b b b b b b b b





from caligraphy or typography




What it is and how it differs





We can define calligraphy as "the art of writing letters." When we talk about calligraphy, we're talking about the set of techniques that characterize an individual's writing.



Typography can be defined as "the art of designing letters." We can define typography as a set of alphanumeric characters that have a number of characteristics in common.



Lettering “is the art of drawing letters”. You don't need perfect calligraphy to be able to get started with the technique, but it does help to be familiar with what the shape of each letter should be.



The technique of calligraphy is more related to the way you write, and the final result is usually done in one or very few strokes. This technique requires precise strokes, steady hands, and many hours of practice before you can master it.

All of its characters have been designed according to the same style guidelines, to be later included digitally in a file with TrueType / OpenType extension to add them to our typographic catalog. This allows us to use them on computers in our writings, designs, or compositions, without having to design them again and again.

Lettering, since it is drawn, has a more artistic value, where harmony and composition have a lot of importance.


Lettering has existed since man began writing, although it has recently gained more popularity among graphic designers and artists. This technique can also be called Labeling and we could define it as “the art of drawing letters”.

Lettering was at its peak in the 30-60s and was highly visible within the American Googie aesthetic.

What is


Today it's easy to find examples of Lettering from the canopies of the bars, to blackboards with the menu of the day, to any other promotional place. Thanks to creativity and publicity, lettering has become a discipline.


When we do lettering or labeling,

of drawing than writing

Ivan Castro

The abcs of lettering

we get closer to the act





Types of


Hand Lettering

Chalk Lettering

Brush Lettering

Hand Lettering groups together all lettering drawings that are not included under the other two styles (Chalk and Brush Lettering).
With this technique, you can mix different styles and fonts. Straight and robust capital letters are used along with more curved letters, and sometimes we can find typographies that mimic this style.

Chalk Lettering is the type of labeling drawn with chalk on a blackboard. We can use black paper to help us practice this type of lettering by replacing the chalk with pastel, white, or metallic ink marker.

Brush lettering is the type of lettering that is closest to calligraphy. This technique achieves fairly long, curved strokes. As its name indicates, it is done with brushes. For Brush Lettering, we can use watercolors, acrylic paints, or any other type of ink.

In the Brush Lettering we have only two types of strokes: Upward strokes and downward strokes. Upward strokes should be made without just resting the brush to achieve a very fine stroke. Downward strokes are made in the opposite way, firmly supporting the brush to create a thicker stroke.



If you want to learn calligraphy techniques with a brush from Ivan Castro take a look at his two Domestika courses: Calligraphy and Rock'n'Roll and Film Lettering.
Here's an introductory video.

"It's a good
time for

Hand Lettering

A professor of Calligraphy, Lettering and Typography for 12 years, he has taught video tutorials at Domestika. Vinyl covers, theater posters, books or shop windows are some of the canvases where Ivan Castro displays his retro-pop style.





Tools and

To get started with Lettering

Choosing a paper that can withstand all of our corrections can be decisive in developing our Lettering creativity.

Ruler and

quality paper

Brush Pens, also called brush-tipped pens are one of the most popular tools among Lettering fans.

Brush pens y


Very few Lettering professionals are able to start drawing perfect letters with a pen without previously going through a first phase of pencil sketching.

Pencils or

mechnical pencils

Many of the materials you'll need to get started in the art of Lettering you likely already have at home.


for mistakes

A wide variety of models and brands are available. These brushes are synthetic versions of traditional Japanese brushes.

A natural or synthetic hair Brush Pen will always be a better choice than a felt brush, as these work well at first but can be easily damaged over time.

We must take into account not only the weight, but also the gloss and porosity of the paper. A very porous paper can lead to more ink being absorbed, ruin our work when we move on to going over it with a pen.

This will allow us to correct errors and work the final form.

In addition, this first step will help us pay more attention to the shape we give to letters.






Iván Castro has been a professor of letteting, calligraphy and typography for years. He has made vinyl covers, theater posters, books, and storefronts of venues.



Martina Flor is a letterer and designer who operates from her own lettering studio in Argentina. Her manual brings back the techniques of the beginnings of handcrafted drawing of letters.






In Brush Lettering, you should hold the brush a little higher than you would hold a normal pen for writing. The brush should have a 45 degree over on the paper.


So, perhaps before you try a brush or calligraphic pen, you can try drawing Lettering compositions with tools you already feel comfortable with (such as a pencil or pencil).


If we press hard, the line will be thick, and if we press lightly, the line will be fine.


We will choose some characteristics that will be part of the final composition, like how many words we put in each of the lines or the format of the text… We will always look for the result to have harmony and artistic value.


As we have indicated above, practice makes the difference. The Internet is filled with examples of Lettering you can use.

The way we hold the brush is key to make the strokes beautiful and skillfull.

1. Watch your posture

Whether with a brush or a calligraphic pen, it is important to practice the pressure we exert when writing.

3. Practice different stroke pressures

We can try to copy phrases that we like stroke by stroke in order to improve our technique.

5. Copy phrases you like

Before you start any technique it is important that you feel comfortable with the tools to practice it.

2. Familiarize yourself with the tools

Before we start drawing a sentence or text, it is important that we make a first draft to help us prepare.

4. Make a first draft

Tips to Get Started

with Lettering

Whether you're starting in this field or just an admirer of calligraphy, don't miss the work of the following calligraphers and lettering artists you should know.


You should know


Jessica Hische

A designer and illustrator specializing in lettering, she is known – in addition to her work for different relevant brands – for her infographic ‘Should I Work for Free?’ and her book ‘In Progress’. Jessica Hische has worked for clients such as Wes Anderson, Dave Eggers, Penguin Books, The New York Times, Tiffany & Co., OXFAM, American Express, Victoria’s Secret, Nike and Samsung. She grew up in Pennsylvania and studied art. In 2006, she graduated and got work as a freelance artist for a small Philadelphia studio, where she helped design books and reaffirmed her passion for illustration. She later worked with Louise Fili. After two years working for her, she decided to start her project alone. Since then she has worked as an illustrator and typography designer. She has a collaborative study and workshop with Erik Marinovich: "I love what I do to earn a living and I work as hard as I can to help others find a way to do what they love."

Martina Flor

Founder of Letter Collections, she combines her talent as a designer and illustrator when drawing letters. She was born in Buenos Aires and studied in Spain and the Netherlands. Now, based in Berlin, her work focuses on typography, lettering and illustration. When she is not working on any commercial assignment, she uses her time to prepare presentations of her personal projects. She conducts lettering workshops as well as lectures at various universities. She has traveled around the world to present her work through conferences and workshops to help other designers develop their skill set and improve their work process.

Iván Castro

He is one of the Spanish designers who, in just a few years, has become a name to follow within lettering and calligraphy. Ivan is a powerhouse in this strange and hypnotic art that is designing letters and hand-labeling. After working in several design studies, Ivan Castro established himself in September 2010 as a freelance artist, and he combines his design and calligraphy work with teaching in several schools, such as Elisava, BAU, Escola Massana and Visions. He is also passionate about the tropical cocktail bars. The letters that Ivan Castro use have a fresh style that he knows how to apply to packaging, brands or publications. Ivan is the evidence that handmade art has returned. Beyond what is a trend or fashion, we know with certainty that it is a reality. Pure lettering to see and enjoy.

Keith Adams

(1954 – Swindon, England) studied Chinese B.A., Oxford in 1976, M.A., Oxford in 1984 and studies with Fellows of the Society of Scribes & Illuminators (SSI) in 1975 John Shyvers & Ann Hechle, 1978 John Shyvers, 1981 John *Shyvers and 1982 David Howells. He has been a freelance calligrapher and professor of calligraphy at EINA since 1985. He has taught in other design schools such as ESDi, Elisava, Escola d’Art de Terrassa, La Massana, among others. He has also taught more than 100 monographic courses in England, Belgium, France, Spain, etc.

Calligraphy (from the Greek καλλιγραφία [kaligraphy]) is the art of writing by hand, a practice that amazes anyone who is watching its execution and that leaves breathless those who admire the finished work. Even if it seems like a skill only intended for a few, as every art has its tricks and techniques and can be learned.



Thank you!

Thank you!