Thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes

I decided to randomly explore some videos and blog posts on hand lettering to have a better idea of the open resources available on the topic.

Image by Child at Heart

The huge majority of the videos and blog posts on how to learn hand lettering mentioned that we must make downstrokes thick and upstrokes thin. This is ridiculous, I thought. I can make the strokes as thick or thin as I want!

Not convinced of the veracity of this information, I decided to contact one of the lettering designers who, in my opinion, makes the most beautiful hand lettering strokes. Even though Argoos Letters’ hand lettering upstrokes are thinner than his downstrokes, his hand lettering style is unique and gorgeous!

Screenshot 2017-10-13 17.58.02.png
Beautiful example of Argoos Letters’ hand lettering style

And his Instagram feed is carefully designed:


This was his advice on how to learn hand lettering:

Argoos Letters‘ answer to my message “Hi, I am new to hand lettering. What practice sheets, tutorials, and websites/Instagram accounts do you recommend?”

Indeed, Argoos Letters, I do not want to “‘clone’ somebody else’s handwriting”. Bingo! Now I know what to do: avoid practice sheets and learn how hand lettering works.

And how does hand lettering work?

Well, there are basic strokes that must be learned: downstrokes, upstrokes, c-strokes, and o-strokes. Elizabeth, from the Destination Decoration YouTube channel, explains how to make these strokes:

Jennifer Coyle also explains the basic strokes but uses technical vocabulary:

I love watching this short Instagram video showing basic upstrokes and downstrokes:


Great lessons! Now, it is my turn. I decided to start with brush lettering, so I tried all the brushes I had at home to identify my favourite:


I had more control of the strokes with the small Crayola marker, but I really enjoyed the smooth feeling of the Winsor & Newton brush (green) on the paper.

I was not very patient that day for making upstrokes and downstrokes, and I found it extremely hard to do c-strokes and o-strokes. I was disappointed. For some reason, I thought hand lettering was going to be the easiest and most fun part of my day. It wasn’t! Hand lettering is hard!

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I expressed my disappointment through this “artwork”

I had some fun, though, with the letters “l” and “u”, as you can see here:

If the video above does not work on your screen, click here.

Lessons of the day:

  • Practice makes perfect; there is no short way.
  • I need to be more patient; there is no need to rush.
  • I want to find a way to make the process of learning hand lettering less arduous.

Follow my hand lettering practice on Instagram!

5 thoughts on “Thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes

  1. This is really neat. I love that you reached out to someone online and that they responded to you. I am also enjoying learning more about hand lettering. I have always found typography and related concepts interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked your blog post, it is so interesting,I love to learn hand lettering,But I was not aware that in learning hand lettering there are basic strokes. By your blog post i came to know about it,and by end of your learning project i will also learn hand lettering in perfect way,I will look forward for your next blog post


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