If you've been lettering a little while now and are ready to take your hand lettering from basic to really beautiful, learning flourishing is the next step for you.
Flourishing is what gives your finished hand-lettered quotes or words that polished look. It allows you to design layouts and fill in white space so you create a composed layout for your final hand lettered design.
I've talked before about the most important tool for hand lettering, and today I want to tell you about the most important tool for flourishing: and that's using a guide or baseline!
When you see flowy, bouncy, beautifully arranged lettering, it's so easy to think that it just came out of someone's head that way. Maybe you think that it's a magical skill that people either have or they don't and that's just not the case!
There is a rhyme and a reason to it and it begins with a baseline and guides. Even if someone "thinks" they just start with a blank page, in their mind there is likely still a baseline and or/some guidelines that are guiding their layout even if they don't realize it.
Watch the video below to see examples of lettering and flourishing NOT using a guideline and then using a guide.
So you can see that starting with a baseline will actually help to create a well-balanced design. This is GOOD NEWS! This is way less scary than staring at a blank page!
Below you can see an example of not using a baseline and then using a baseline & focusing on filling in white space.
Even if you have your letters going up and down off of that baseline, you have a line that can help them all balance out. Even if you have a curved line, it still gives you an anchor point.
You can also think about guides as a way to contain your word so you can fill in the white space. Here are a couple of examples of how I drew a (very imperfect) rectangle and oval and used them as guides to fill in the white space:
Here is a challenge if you have 5 minutes today: I want you to grab a pencil and paper and draw a baseline to start out a design with just one word. Try moving the exit strokes up and letters up and down but keep that baseline as the anchor point that you come back to.
Then, draw a curved line and try using that as your "baseline" as you go up and down but still keep that as your anchor point.
You can use a dot pad like this one that we sell in our shop to draw no-stress straight guidelines. Or, below are some blank baselines you can refer to or practice with if you want!
Again, don't worry about it being perfect. Just try starting with a baseline and see what happens. If you get that down, try drawing lots of different shapes ("s" curves, etc) of baselines and follow them as a guide. (Like you can see in the sample baselines above).
The key to turning you into a flourishing master is laying the foundation one step at a time.
If you're ready to practice even more flourishing with me, I go step-by-step through what letters and parts of each letter to add flourishing to in my workbook The Guide to Flourishing.
I absolutely loved creating this workbook. It includes 26 pages of letter-specific flourishing practice - that's a page for each letter of the alphabet! You'll learn everything you need to know about laying out a beautiful hand lettered sign or quote. And the book comes with one of my favorite brush pens AND a video tutorial, so you can get started with me right away.
I love helping you create with our workbooks and seeing your practice on social media! You can always find me at @handlettereddesign.
Xo 💙 Lisa