Creative Lettering for Art Journals

Updated on January 8, 2018
theraggededge profile image

I've been creating since I was a child. My hobbies include watercolor, drawing, art journaling, painting rocks, sewing & crochet.

Adding lettering to an art journal page or scrapbook layout is often one of the last stages. Sometimes we are so pleased with the page that we are fearful of spoiling it by adding the actual journaling or whatever words you were planning.

There are many ways to add lettering – from simply handwriting your text or by using some other means to get words onto the page. Here are some of the techniques I use.

© This page was created by TheRaggedEdge. All rights reserved.

Doodle letters

The lettering in the image above right looks difficult, but it is really quite straightforward. Using a fine liner pen, draw a standard uppercase A. It needs to be quite large, say an inch tall at least. If you like, you can curve the sides a little. Draw more lines close to the first. Have some lines broken. Add curlicues at the ends of the lines. Draw some short lines at the base of the A 'legs'. Fill some of the spaces with tiny doodles -- zig-zags, 'UUUU's and little circles are good. Use a marker or fine paint brush and watercolor to some parts of the A. Repeat for the rest of the alphabet. Tip: draw your lines quickly, rather than cautiously to avoid wobbles. Practice makes perfect!

Embellish your handwriting and decorate the guidelines with line and color.
Embellish your handwriting and decorate the guidelines with line and color. | Source

Hand Lettering - Your Own Handwriting

Many of us dislike our own handwriting, especially as nowadays we seem to use keyboards much more than our penmanship. However, your handwriting is part of who you are and it is a worthwhile thing to use it as the basis of your journal lettering. It is surprising how much you can improve the appearance of your handwriting with a little highlighting and embellishment. If it really is awful, then you could always change it.

The trick to a good-looking journal page is to leave a space or spaces for adding your writing. In the space draw some wavy guidelines with a black pen. Use a pencil if you prefer – you can either go over it with black pen or you can erase them completely. When you write, make your letters go from the top to the bottom guideline as shown in the picture. Also mix up upper case and lowercase as this gives the lettering an odd, quirky look that is particularly appealing on an art page.

Embellish the lettering by filling in the closed loops with color, thicken parts of the letters. Use a white pen or a metallic gel pen to highlight where imaginary light might be touching the letters. You could also use a light gray marker to add a little shadow to the opposite edge of the letters. Suddenly your handwriting has more substance about it.

Marker pens are magic for art journaling.
Marker pens are magic for art journaling. | Source
Marker pen, writing with a brush tip.
Marker pen, writing with a brush tip. | Source

Hand lettering - Marker Pens

Marker pens with a chisel tip are wonderful tools for creating eye-catching letters. The secret is to hold the marker so that the chisel tip never turns. In that way, you can create almost calligraphy-style thick and thin lines. Embellish with white dots, mini-doodles and shadow. Many journalers and scrapbookers swear by Copic markers, and it is indeed worthwhile having a black Copic Original or Sketch pen. However, if you don't want to spend $5 on a marker, there are many others out there that will do the job. Look for double-ended markers – some have a chisel tip and a brush tip. A brush tip can form gorgeous Chinese-type letters but it takes a little practise – it's almost like painting your writing. A bullet tip is also good – try holding the pen at different angles to see what effects you can achieve with your lettering.

Dymo font.
Dymo font. | Source
Journal page using Betsy Flanagan font, printed, cut out and glued.
Journal page using Betsy Flanagan font, printed, cut out and glued. | Source

Printed Lettering - Creative Fonts

You have lots of fonts built into whatever word processor you use on your computer. It's good fun to type out an interesting word or phrase and try it out with all your fonts. Make the word huge, say 24 point, and print it out on plain printer paper. Cut it out and paste it in your journal.

My favorite is Dymo Font Inverse. It's really great in black and white, when printed out it looks just like the labels from the old Dymo machines. Get it free right here: Dymo Fonts. You can see it here in the image, "Some days I think I have given birth to monsters." (You know those times when your kids seem almost alien!).

Another favorite is Betsy Flanagan. You may well have this one already but if not, you can download it here: Betsy Flanagan. You can cut out individual letters or keep the words intact and shade between the letters as I have done on the page to the right.

Alphabet rubber stamps are good for headings or as main page elements.
Alphabet rubber stamps are good for headings or as main page elements. | Source

Printed Lettering - Rubber Alphabet Stamps

If you are an art journaler or scrapbooker, then you are probably already familiar with rubber stamps. There is a huge choice of alphabet stamps available in various configurations of mounted, unmounted, cling, foam, acrylic and even digital stamps that are printed out ready for coloring.

It's worthwhile having one or two alphabet stamping sets around for when the rubber stamping mood comes upon you. I only have two sets. One is wood mounted and the other is unmounted. The image shows the wood mounted one, which has been highlighted and shadowed. A little charcoal around the left side and bottom of the print gives each letter a 3-D look.

Simple stencil lettering.
Simple stencil lettering. | Source

Stencil Lettering

Stencil lettering is another good choice if you are not confident using your own writing but still want to be able to color and embellish your lettering. There is a huge variety to choose from. Check out your local craft store or visit an online retailer. Stencils can be used in many ways – you can simply trace around the letters as I have done here – this is a stencil I found in the kids' craft box. I made the letters lean in a drunken sort of way to create a little more interest. You can use a stencil brush and paint, or, if you just want letter forms on your page, rather than coherent sentences, then use an ink spray. This last technique is really good for creating backgrounds.

Quirky, drawn lettering.
Quirky, drawn lettering. | Source
Experimental collaged strips.
Experimental collaged strips. | Source

Collage Lettering

Collage lettering can be applied in two ways. The first is quite straightforward where you just cut or tear words from a printed source, such as a magazine. The second technique is where you add your own handwritten text to strips of paper and then collage them to the page. The advantage of this, besides the fact that it looks cool, is that it enables you to experiment without committing to the page; if you make a mistake, you simply start on another strip of paper, rather than having to salvage the page somehow.

© 2012 Bev G

I wish you could hand-write a note...

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      7 years ago from Wales, UK

      @Natashalh - the secret is to just have fun with it. It's just paper/card/board anyway; you can always start over. Would love to see it when you finish!

    • Natashalh profile image


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      I followed the link from marker painting and here I am! I really like these letters and the marker painting idea. I am in no way confident I can come close to recreating this, but I'm going to try. I have some craft fairs coming up and I need a sign for my 'store.' I would much rather have something hand-done than just another computer print out!

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      7 years ago from Wales, UK

      And I cost you money! It's just lovely to have someone say they are inspired by something I wrote!

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judi Brown 

      7 years ago from UK

      Doing this tomorrow evening in the art journal I bought after reading another of your fab hubs. You are an inspiration.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      7 years ago from Wales, UK

      Thank you, Natalie, Kartika and GoodLady. Your comments are very much appreciated.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      7 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Such a lot of fun. Your fault I just spent half an hours messing about with letters, loved it. And it's getting pinned so I wont lose it next time I want to play with calligraphy. Thanks.

    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 

      7 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      I love this! This has great tips for lettering for journals - I always love to read art journal tips!

    • NatalieSack profile image


      7 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      I liked this very much and have already downloaded Dymo Font Inverse. Thanks for the creative boost!

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      7 years ago from Wales, UK

      Thank you, Lynn. My handwriting is... let's say 'variable', but it's definitely possible to make a silk purse from a sow's ear, as they say.

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 

      7 years ago

      ooooooo you are so right about one's own handwriting. I just finally like mine after appreciating finding my ancestors. It's such a personal thing. Great hub. Love all your funky styles. I too am a font junky.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)