The following continues where this post left off as I finish this exploration of lettering for my blog series "The Artist's Hand."
Once you've gotten to the point where you can comfortably and quickly write out the alphabet in your regular handwriting, you have an excellent starting point for developing your own fonts. By beginning with your own handwriting (I call this your "Personal Baseline Alphabet" or "PBA"), you are already starting with structures that you know backwards and forwards. Now it's time to find your inner font.
To create simple line fonts, the things you can do to your PBA fall into a couple of categories: Alterations or Additions.
For example, you can make your letters extra straight and tall or conversely, make them short and fat. Or try making your letters extra-rounded. Alternately, try to create an extra-angular alphabet. Another idea is to alter the placement of the letters' midline. The dotted line on these children's lettering pads shows you where the midline normally falls. As an experiment, raise or lower the midline and see how it changes the look of the letters.
Another method of altering letters is to simply change the spacing. Note in my sample how cramming the letters together or spacing them out changes the mood the letters convey. Jumbling up the letters by using different heights and positioning creates a playful, energetic look.
Finally, you can also alter the case: write in all lowercase, all uppercase, or use a bit of both. Again, all these options for altering your PBA generally happen as you are writing out the letters so at first it may feel a bit awkward. If you develop something you like, practice it until it becomes more comfortable.
Additions are the second way of changing your PBA. These are embellishments to your letters that are most often added after you print out the letters.
Serifs are the little flourishes at the ends of letters. Try adding simple dots, stars, hearts, flowers, buttons, loops or dashes. Serifs, depending on how they are used, can make letters more playful or more formal. Another idea for additions is to include simple structures such as stitches, wiggles, dots, shadows, thick or thin lines and so on. Play attention to how each alteration and addition changes the emotion of your alphabet. If you figure out what makes the letters silly, girly, busy, or serious, you will be able to match your titles and small bits of journaling to the mood of your content.
I hope all my readers are exploring their handwriting with a little more confidence and a broader sense of adventure! As an extra little treat (it is my birthday month after all),
I'll mail out 4 copies (winners chosen at random) of the little pamphlet I wrote for my follow-up lettering class called "Find Your Inner Fancy Font." * Thank you for your comments; all pamphlets are spoken for. * Once I got students through the creation of simple line lettering, we would move on to block letters. The handout just served to provide a printed supplement to the things I demo'd in class.