Tips & FAQs for Lefty LetteringLisa Funk @ 2021-10-05 09:40:53 -0700
Hello my lefty friends!
I get asked so often about lefty hand lettering. People wonder if they can even DO hand lettering as a lefty, and the answer is absolutely YES!
I may not be left handed myself, but I've spent a lot of time talking with letterers who are lefties (one of my team members here at Hand Lettered Design is a lefty) and I've put together some tips for how to hand letter with your left hand and some of the most frequently asked questions that lefties have about hand lettering (scroll down for my Lefty Lettering FAQ section!)
Ready to get started? I'll even try some lefty lettering myself!
Lefty Lettering Tip #1: Angle your Paper
If you are left handed and are practicing hand lettering, don't be afraid to angle your paper or workbook as MUCH as you need to. Place it however feels comfortable for you. I have had some lefty friends tell me that they angle their paper A TON while they do hand lettering. Try out some different angles and find what works best for you.
Lefty Lettering Tip #2: Angle your Pen
I always encourage anyone doing hand lettering, whether you are right or left handed, to hold your brush pen at a 45 degree angle. The reason this is the SAME no matter what hand you letter with is that all letters use a mix of push strokes and pull strokes: sometimes you push away from your hand and sometimes you pull towards your hand. Watch the above video to really see this in action: when you are a lefty, your strokes are at the same angle, just in a different direction. (This makes some letters easier for lefties and some easier for righties.)
Lefty Lettering Tip #3: Avoiding Smudging
One concern that I hear from lefties about hand lettering is that their ink gets smudged as they letter. So here are my tips for avoiding ink smudging for lefty hand lettering:
- Try using a guide sheet: place a sheet of paper under your hand as you letter (I love our tracing paper for this!) so it creates a barrier between the oils of your hand and the ink on your paper.
- Go SLOW. I recommend going slowly for ALL hand letterers but it can make a huge difference for lefties. Even milliseconds between your ink going on the paper and your hand touching that ink can allow it to dry significantly.
- Try different pens and paper. I've found that these Faber Castell Brush Pens seem to dry faster because of the type of ink they use. And a glossy paper will smear much more than a thicker paper where the ink can absorb more quickly. (Check out all the different papers in our shop here.)
- Try different pen grips. I know some lefties who hold their brush pen so that their hand doesn't touch the paper as much.
- This is a fun one: try lettering backwards! Write out your lettering first in pencil, and then when you trace over it using ink, do it backwards so your hand is moving over the unfinished part as you go. You can watch a cool example of one of my lefty friends on Instagram lettering this way here.
Lefty Lettering Tip #4: Shop Top Spiral
When I first started making hand lettering workbooks, I heard from my lefty friends that spiral notebooks with coils on the side are frustrating and that the side spiral was always getting in the way of their hand as they letter. I realized that having a TOP spiraled notebook could solve this issue, and from then on every single one of our workbooks has been available in both top and side spiral options:
You can shop all of our hand lettering workbooks for lefties here. Select "Top" binding when adding to cart.
If you're into journaling or are looking for blank hand lettering notebooks, we also sell blank top spiral notebooks in two cover designs! They have a large top spiral to fit your brush pen.
Click here to see both Top Spiral Notebook designs.
Are you ready to start lefty lettering? Here is a quick 30-second summary video of my tips for getting started with lefty hand lettering:
But what are some other questions that people have about left handed lettering? Let's dive into some of the lefty lettering questions that I get asked most frequently:
Lefty Hand Lettering FAQs
Can you do calligraphy/lettering if you are left-handed?
Yes, absolutely! I don’t believe you should ever let being left-handed hold you back. There may be some adjustments you have to make until you find what works best for you, but you are capable of creating beautiful lettering.
I only see videos of someone right handed showing how to use the workbooks. Will I be able to use it with my left hand or see someone using their left hand?
Of course! I have spent many years teaching all of my lefty friends to learn how to letter. Because of this I have learned all the best tips and tricks I’m excited to share with you. Watch the above video for a quick summary, and then head over to my post all about Lefty Hand Lettering Tips here.
I have also spent time teaching myself how to use my left hand so I can understand the motions you will be making so I can better help teach you. As an added bonus, I have a lefty on staff who has been doing lettering for several years who can answer any questions you may have.
What workbook should I get if I’m left-handed?
All of our workbooks come with the option to have the binding at the top. This is great because the spiral won’t get in your way when creating. Make sure to use the drop down box to change the binding option to “top” before adding it to your cart. You can shop all of our workbooks here.
What about smudging?
I use high-quality pen and paper products in my shop. That typically means very little smudging because the ink is fast drying and the paper is very absorbent. Not all pens and paper are created equally, so don’t be afraid to experiment and see if there is one you prefer. You should also be going slowly to make sure you have control over each stroke which will give the ink more time to dry.
If you are still worried about smudging you can always try using a guard sheet. Just slide it under the side of your hand and make sure it isn’t sticking to the paper. When moving it, avoid sliding it too quickly. I’ve found tracing paper works best for this.
Here's a tip from my lefty team member: she does something a little unexpected and letters backwards! "When I’m doing faux calligraphy I typically write my word out like normal, but then go back and thicken my downstrokes working from the end of the word to the beginning. This drastically reduces smudging since the previous letters are dry from going forward and I’m not directly in the new ink I’m putting down while adding the downstrokes!"
Do your video tutorials show how to do this left-handed also?
They will show you how to get started and they share tips that can be used no matter which hand you write with. If you would like more resources here are some great videos to show you exactly how to get started. I also have all of my videos and some from other lefty letterers on my Instagram page @handlettereddesign: just tap the "Lefty Tips" highlight bubble on my profile.
I was told I couldn’t do calligraphy/was kicked out of a class for being left-handed. Can I really do it?
I am so sorry that happened to you. I truly believe that being left-handed should not stop you from creating. Whatever creating looks like for you, including making beautiful letters. I want to share my love of lettering with you and I promise I have been able to help so many of my lefty friends feel confident in getting started. I have seen so many of you create beautiful lettering!
Do you know of any left-handed lettering artists I can follow?
I do have some lefty lettering friends, but I always encourage people to do a search and find someone whose style stands out to you. Instagram has a great search feature. I like using the terms "lefty letterers" or "left handed lettering" to bring them up.
I’m still struggling to get my strokes correct, what am I doing wrong?
First, remember it takes time and to give yourself grace. You are learning a new skill and we have to build up our muscle memory. It takes a little bit of practice to get the hang of it, no matter which hand you are using.
If you are still struggling I have a few things I would try. Readjust your posture to make sure you are supporting your arm. You want to use your whole arm and not just your hand and wrist while making your strokes. This will give you a steadier base to work with.
You can also try adjusting the angle of your paper. Sometimes how you write for lettering is different than just making a quick grocery list. Don’t be afraid to play around until you find what is comfortable for you. I’ve heard from my lefties that sometimes they angle their paper a lot.
Finally make sure to practice your drills and the main brush strokes often. This will also help with muscle memory and works as a great way to get warmed up.
Are you ready to try lefty hand lettering?
If I can do it, and I'm not left handed, I know all the lefties out there wanting to try hand lettering can do it! If you give it a try, be sure to reach out to me on Instagram at @handlettereddesign and show me how it's going. I love our social media family for supporting one another on our lettering journeys.
Xo 💙 Lisa