This is the third and final installment of my series discussing three fundamental type styles. (Check out the other two posts on serif and sans-serif type.) Mastering these three basic styles will enable you to letter almost anything!
In order to draw script lettering, you must study some calligraphy. Script lettering is based on calligraphy, but don't get the two confused! You'll recall from this post that calligraphy is writing, and lettering is drawing.
Calligraphers pretty much get one shot to write the letters. They are able to go back and refine minor details, but for the most part they have to get it close to perfect on the first pass. That's why they practice over and over and over — to create that muscle memory so it's easier to write beautiful letters on the first try.
On the other hand, letterers redraw and refine script pieces (like all lettering pieces) until they are satisfied. So you start with some basic calligraphy, then polish it until you achieve the script look that you set out to create.
Calligraphers use special writing utensils that cause the thicks and thins found in script type. Letterers can either use those calligraphic tools as a guide or use a regular pencil/pen and draw in the thicks and thins later in the refinement stage.
There are a few general realms of script:
- Formal or calligraphic script is very elegant and has plenty of flourishes. The down strokes are generally thicker due to the type of pen that is used in calligraphy.
- Casual script is, like it sounds, not as formal and more along the lines of just really pretty handwriting.
- Brush script is also casual and gets its name from the tool used: either a brush pen or an actual paint brush. Using a brush or brush pen will also give you the thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes associated with calligraphy.
- Monoline script has an even stroke weight throughout all of the letters — there are no thicks and thins.
Flourishes are where the beauty of script lettering shines. A flourish is essentially a character with flair. These decorative swashes are sometimes connected to the letters. Other times, flourishes can form a composition around the letters. In the calligraphic script I made for this post, you can see examples of both.
Ligatures can also be incorporated to form interesting script lettering compositions. I'll dive deeper into ligatures in another post, but they're basically unique connections between letters where the same stroke does double duty. There is a subtle one in the image above (the tittle, or little dot, of the i connects to the crossbar of the t).
And there you have it! We've covered the three underlying styles of nearly all types of lettering. Knowing the structures and forms of these three styles will allow you to draw almost anything. You can't simply churn out beautiful lettering...you have to learn the basics first.