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A few thoughts for my lettering practices

— An article about: - Practice - Process

Like any skill, the only way to get better at lettering is practice. Here are a few thoughts I try to keep in mind when practicing, so I make the most of each session.

Plan, do, review.

Time is limited, so I find having a purpose for the session super important. Both a topic to practice and a plan to practice it. Having them both planned out before the session is even better. It avoids losing precious minutes to “Hmm… what should I work on today? this? or maybe this? that perhaps?”.

Equally important is reviewing what happened at the end. It gives a nice boost to see what went well (high five!). But it’s also a time look at what still needs work (Rome wasn’t built in one day) and gather new topics to could use for the next practice.

Slow down

This one I struggle with a lot. Drawing nice letters takes time. It goes better with practice, but it’ll still take some time to pay the proper attention to details. Instagram & Youtube are full of accelerated videos making it feel that I’m never going fast enough. Not to mention some added pressure from having only so much time available to do it. But in the end, it’s practice time, and rushing through it won’t bring many results.

It’s more important to go at the right pace. If I’m trying to improve exploring different layouts by creating quick thumbnails, better be fast. But if I need to work on making my strokes more consistent, it might be best to slow down a bit. The right pace.

Draw with intention

Making quick half-thought through strokes on paper might turn into the letters I was hoping for… With a lot of luck. It’s not super repeatable and it doesn’t build up skills much anyways.

A much better option is to decide where to put the stroke and try and put it as best as I can. With this, I have a way to assess whether it went right or not, and think of ways to improve if it didn’t. I find it even more helpful to try to see the mark on paper before making it. It gives the pen(cil) a clear path to follow.

Rehearse the movement

It’s practice. Not every movement needs to mark a stroke on paper. Especially if the movement feels a bit unnatural, there’s no shame in rehearsing before putting the pen down. Drawing in the air a cm or so over the paper to get a feel for it before going for it. Or doing practice strokes on a separate sheet of paper.

Don’t think, just do

All the steps above involve thinking, that’s true. But once the pen is on paper, there’s only one thing to focus on: making that mark. It’s practice, and it’s OK to make mistakes. Wondering whether it’s the right one for ages will only delay making it and waste time. Thinking of if I’m making it well enough just heightens the chances of interrupting the movement or making it shake. Both have their time, but not while making the mark.