Lettering Tips

Tips for lettering informal & freehand script

Most valuable tips I learned in my Ken Barber workshop I took:
(Ken also works at the type foundry  House Industries.)

— vector pulleys should never need to be slanted; should always be on the exact x/y axis, either horiztonal or vertical.

— where to you add the weight to your strokes? on the downstrokes.

— best practice for a well constructed vertex is totally funky and not at all how it looks (See Below)

Also Keep in mind:
— unevenness of handwriting helps with readability and visual interest (where often digital fonts, which can’t anticipate the unending partnering of letter combos, is often very ‘even’ in terms of shape and x-height, which often creates boring, undymanic word shapes.)

— Ideally use minimum number of vector points.
the more you have, the more you have to try to wrangle to even out curves (See below).

— Your drawing should be as tight, clean and impeccable as possible in order to get clean vector (and minimize clean up work)

Stage 1: Drawing/Design 


Draw FRAME, then add FORM then add WEIGHT/MODIFY

Find a typographic reference, then customize like this:


Search for visual resources on various foundries like these.

handwriting ductus







Note that all bezier curve points are perfectly straight!

As above, create separate SHAPES in layers then later use the PATHFINDER tool to join them.


Keep it Simple: limit the number of points in a shape.

Placement: place points at the outermost edges of the shape.
There are copious resources about best practices for using bezier curve points in typography like here and here.

>>> >> Hold down the option key to contain bezier points to right angles.

Construction of vertexes/ intersections:

Build overlapping outlines to ensure much easier editing process: