How to Create a Hand Lettered Logos (When Your Handwriting Sucks)
BY BIG CAT CREATIVE
Hey there DIY designers!
I pride myself on being a creative person. I love to do anything creative, including drawing. Now, I will say I’m probably better at drawing than the general population, I’ve never been great, but I’d say that I’m pretty good. But my handwriting. is. terrible. If you’re anything like me, you know the struggle. Like when you’re a part of a group project and your team says “oh you’re the artist you must have the best handwriting” and then proceed to hand you the big scary black marker, and you go on to screw up the group project with writing that looks like a 6 year olds art piece. Or when someone looks over your shoulder and says “how can you be so good at drawing and your handwriting looks like that”.
Honestly, I have no idea why I wasn't blessed with beautiful handwriting, and I don’t really care because I type everything these days anyway... But how about when it comes to hand lettering logos? I think hand lettering logos is always the best way to go for a few reasons:
It’s completely personalised and no one will ever have the same thing
It’s a little bit more time consuming, but free (no font fees)!
You don’t have to worry about licensing restrictions (this is a big one!)
You can adjust everything yourself and aren’t tied to what the font has to offer.
Fonts go in and out of style (I’m sure types of hand lettering does too) but at least with hand lettering not everyone will suddenly be using that font. I see fonts come and go in waves. One minute everyone is using them, and the next they are out of fashion and outdated (probably because everyone was using them).
So then, how do we create beautiful hand lettering if our hand lettering sucks?
Good question. I’m going to show you how I do it, it’s definitely not the conventional artistic way, but us messy-hand-writers have to be considered!
Firstly, I consider who and what I’m designing this logo for, and I do my usual messy sketches in my notepad. I want to make sure I have an idea of what style of hand lettering would suit this logo. I can’t really teach good design style, so I’m leaving this step up to you. Are you going for a soft, formal hand lettering? Or a rough, brushy lettering? Your choice!
Then I usually head over to a font website (like DaFont) and I go to the category that best suits my need for this logo. For my example today, I chose Script > Handwritten. I then type in what I will be hand lettering and click Submit.
Now I scroll down and look for inspiration. Much like you would look for a font that would look good in your logo, I look for a style of writing I like, I get inspiration from this and I also study different ways letters connect and the different styles of letters. I'm definitely not saying you should directly copy one of these fonts, as it basically defeats the purpose of doing this whole exercise. If you want to do that, then save your time a just download the font.
Then (warning, terrible handwriting ahead) I try my crack at it. I admit, I didn’t try very hard at this as I wanted to show the transformation, but you can quite obviously tell it’s not natural to me (that says "big cat creative", if you were wondering...).
At this stage, this is not even close to suitable to use for a logo. But the magic happens soon!
You can scan this to your computer, or take a photo of it with your phone (that’s what I do) and then AirDrop or email it to your computer. Once you have it on your computer, you will want to open a new document in Illustrator and copy the photo there.
I then use the Brush tool, somewhere between 1-2pt (whatever is easiest for you to see, we will change it later) and I start tracing over my text with the Brush.
Once you’ve gone over the whole piece of text, you can delete the image from the background.
It still looks bad, I know. But we’re going to get to work on it! Select the lines and use the Direct Select tool and the Smooth tool to move points around and smooth out the lines. This is the most time consuming part of the process, but if you do it a few times you get really fast at it! I usually zoom in and inspect each letter and use these techniques (direct select tool to move points and smooth tool to smooth lines), then look at the word as a whole and see what needs to be moved around, made bigger/smaller, adjusted.
Now I’ve ended up with something like this, which looks remarkably better than what I drew!
You could stop here, but I like to refine my hand lettering further. There’s a lot of different things you can do. Because it’s set as a line, you can adjust it in so many different ways.
You can try increasing and adjusting the stroke settings:
Or you can experiment with the type of brush by opening the Brush Library :
Use the arrow buttons to explore the different brushes:
Another technique I sometimes like to do is manually edit the width of the lines to give it more of a handwritten feel.
To do this, you should first make a copy of your logo/writing, and paste it somewhere off screen. We will be changing it to an outlined shape, rather than lines, so it’s good to have a backup version of your lined logo incase you want to go back and change something.
Select the one you want to work on and click Object > Path > Outline Stroke
You’ll see that your writing has now changed from lines to and outlined shape.
From here I zoom right in and I use the Direct Select tool again to move the different points around. Then I usually go back in with the Smooth Tool.
I keep doing this to each letter until I’m happy with the variation of width, and I end up with something like this:
A before and after... not bad!
So, that's my method of creating handwritten logos. I do this all the time to give my clients something unique. I know it seems like a long process, but once you get the hang of it, it's really quick! If you can spare the time, I definitely think that it's worth the extra effort!
Do you have any other techniques that you use to hand letter with bad handwriting? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!