Hand Lettering in your Passion Planner

Hand lettering is everywhere. You can see it when you walk into Starbucks in the morning or peruse your favorite Michael’s aisle. There are always new classes and practice sheets popping up if you know where to look. Don’t be intimidated by social media and the beauty of hand lettering. You don’t have to spend long hours practicing and focus the art (unless of course, you want to elevate your lettering!) to enjoy a pretty handwritten layout in your planner.

The best part about our Passion Planners is that they are our own! Unless you’re making a daily effort to learn to hand letter long-term, don’t spend countless hours watching videos just to feel like you can put a Tombow to the paper. Today, I took a faux calligraphy class and used ONLY the fine tip brush. It was at my local art store (support your community!) and it actually helped me gain some confidence and stop holding back with my lettering.

Plan with Me | Week of August 12 – August 18

[NOT affiliate links – just helpful!]
Planner: Sunday Start Passion Planner Eco Classic


Hand Lettering – What you NEED to Know

Okay, so maybe I jumped the gun a little. There is one thing my instructor did say today that stuck with me: you can do whatever you prefer but there are some rules you need to follow to keep it in the faux calligraphy category. The main rule that is essential to remember is to keep your downstrokes thick and your upstrokes thin.

I struggled a bit with translating this technique in my spread this week, but that’s the beauty of it. Even in spots that may not have been able to be thickened, I was able to add extra lines by going back over the letters and to emulate that hand lettering look. Of course, if I had chosen to do a larger piece of lettering, this would be much easier. Just remember: upstrokes are thin, downstrokes are thick. Keep this in mind and the next few sections will have you feeling 10 times more confident about a pen only layout.

Another part of using hand lettering in your Passion Planner is having the right tools! You don’t have to drop cash to get fancy Tombows – but if you’d like to, don’t hesitate. The fine point of these pens was honestly completely unused for me before today. I spent that class completely surprised at how amazing this whole OTHER side of the brush pen felt when I was writing. It’s a thick stroke, yes – so compact users may struggle. However, if you don’t have Tombows or just aren’t a fan – use ANYTHING! No, seriously. Anything you’d like will benefit from these tips. Use a ballpoint pen, your favorite colored pencils, shoot – even crayons if that’s your thing. Okay, maybe crayons would be hard in the daily columns, but there is always the space of infinite possibility.

Hand Letter with your own writing and start with pencil!

Hopefully, you still learned cursive in school. I think I saw something about how it’s not being taught anymore but I will find that out when the time comes for me to help my child practice or I guess – teach them! Anyway, if you know cursive writing – you can hand letter. Isn’t that amazing? You have already learned the skills you need to hand letter your heart out. Granted, most of us may not use it as much anymore but the skills are still there. Muscle memory is a huge part of learning to hand letter like the pros and this is no different.

Before you tackle your weekly spread with your markers – use a pencil. Write lightly and just use your own cursive to write headers like I did. It will help you keep consistency through your days and help give you a starting point when you go back with your markers. I received the pencil and eraser that I used in an Artsnacks box, but you can use just a trusty old No. 2 or Bic to do a “first draft” in a way. If you don’t like something, erase it. There are two things you’ll want to remember though. First, don’t press too hard or your paper will have indents from your pencil! Secondly, don’t be too critical and try to make it perfect. After all, the pencil is just a guideline.

Now that the pencil is down – get to lettering!

You have your “rough draft” once you have your pencil in there. Now, don’t stress! This part isn’t as hard as you imagine it to be. In fact, it should be much easier with that pencil there. There are a few things you’ll want to remember when you start getting that marker on the paper. Art is yours! Mistakes are natural when you’re learning. If you’re just trying some lettering out for the first time, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Follow your guide and take rests! Since your guide is there, you do NOT have to have a continuous stroke like we were graded on with cursive. Take a break and relax your hand in the middle of the word… no one is going to mark you down. It can also help you get a fluid curve or better pivot on a letter when you’re writing too. Take the break!

Now, this part you’ll notice in the video. If you’re looking to use a lighter colored marker or even a fine line pen, you may want to erase the pencil. I gave my pink marker a little test on a separate piece of paper to see if the pencil would show through the pink if I just drew right on top. Some markers may not have this issue and will erase the pencil ink underneath the marker or ink. So, it took me awhile to learn that putting some Tombow colors on top of pencil WILL make them darker. The pencil just doesn’t erase!

So, I erased each day of the word ‘wedding’ as I went, so that way I could get a nice pink on there without it being muddled by the pencil. I approached it one by one so it wasn’t too hard for me to visualize where my “draft” was before I erased it. Also, you don’t have to erase it completely, you can just make it barely there and you won’t see it through the light colors.

Add lines & boxes to keep it looking sleek

As I have definitely said in my previous blog posts [EC kits and Functional Planning], I really prefer to make each day stand on its own – even if it’s exactly the same as the others. The best way to do this with a simple spread is to draw boxes. Of course, I have a terribly shaky hand so trying to do this on my own always gets very unruly. I swear by CLEAR plastic rulers. You can still see your planner through the ruler to help with lining up and the plastic helps with keeping the marker off the ruler.

Don’t forget to wipe off the side after you use a dark color and switch to a lighter color. I was quite confused when my pink marker suddenly turned black and it took me a moment to realize it was picking it up from the ruler. Most of these clear rulers are found anywhere, but I really love having just the 6″ (ahh american!) ruler so it’s easily maneuvered over my spread. It’s even better that the Passion Planner has an hourly format, which makes it easier to break up your sections. I am not much of an hourly planner, as you’ve probably noticed, but I do love the opportunities that all these lines set up for consistency and easy to read sections in my planner.

Lastly, the most important tie-in when it comes to hand lettering. Go back on your first marker headers and just thicken up those downstrokes. Like I mentioned, I struggled in this spread but it helped so much just going back over once to round out some wobbly lines and not so thick downstrokes. Plus. the Passion Planner just soaks up the marker ink – no bleed even with a second overlay! Now, you may bleed if you go a few times though. So, don’t overdo it if you’re worried about next/last week’s layout.

See? Not all it seemed to be, huh?

So, hopefully now you’re a little less fearful to just GO FOR IT with hand lettering. You really don’t have to be an instagram lettering hero to have beautiful spreads in your Passion Planner – you just have to know a little cursive. Happy lettering and live vividly, yo!