6 Hand Lettering Tips for Creating Your Own Greeting Cards

Today’s post is brought to you by my friend Jenn.  Jenn lives in Philly and blogs at not only one, but two blogs – Hello Brio (about productivity, design inspiration, and the creative process) and Jnnfrcyl (about funky cute illustrations and lettering).  Not only that, but she went to a concert with me the first night she met me, so that makes her pretty gosh darn awesome.

I asked her if she would like to do a post about lettering on cards.  I’ve been making cards for a while now, but you’ll find that I don’t write too much on the front of the cards – I look for an embellishment, pretty paper, or sticker to take over the center piece, but hopefully after this tutorial you’ll start to see more lettering happen – because it’s really frickin pretty.  Take it away, Jenn –


When working on any hand lettering project, it’s important to follow a few basic rules when it comes to laying out your letters and phrases. Whether you’re creating individual cards for friends or designing cards for your online shop, follow these quick typography and layout tips to help you achieve a beautiful end product.


Work on your layout on scrap paper

If you have a long or complex quote or phrase that you’d like to put on your card, you’ll want to write it out a few times on a separate piece of scrap paper. This will allow you to find aesthetic balance, size your words appropriately, and choose which words will have the most emphasis.

Start by writing it out in plain handwriting, then rearranging it again and again placing emphasis on different words. Keep working on it and develop it further until you have a sketch that you like the best.


Make conscious margin decisions

Lettering looks awesome if it has a lot of room to breathe, or if it’s bleeding to the edge of the page. But anywhere too close to the edge and it can look like a mistake or an afterthought. When you’re laying out your phrase or quote, decide if you want the words to stay within a strict boundary or if you’re going to want one or more words to look like they’re falling off the edge of the card.


Keep lettering styles to a minimum

In your own artistic repertoire, you may have several lettering styles under your belt. If you have 5, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use all five. In my experience, a lettering design can translate to a more successful, cohesive design if it’s restricted to one or two distinct styles.


Choose lettering styles that mirror the emotion

So while it’s a good idea to choose lettering styles that are different in style (sans serif, serif, blocky, script, calligraphy, etc), it will work best if your lettering pairs have a similar feel. These choices will work best to capture the mood of the greeting card if they mirror the overall emotion of the card.

This may go without saying, but fun, whimsical lettering works best with cheery messages, and more strict lettering works best with serious messages.

However, there are always ways to use more strict lettering in a fun way, by constraining it to a fun shape or making the letters fit within each other in a new way.

Keep it legible

No matter what, when you’re hand lettering a greeting card or any message, the main goal is still to communicate a message. Keep your lettering legible and work to develop your design within the constraints of typography. Letter forms are flexible, but only to a point. You don’t want your good intent to be skewed by the recipient trying to decipher your beautifully lettered greeting card.


Keep the coloring simple

Much like you want to keep the lettering styles to a minimum, you will also want to stay within one color palette. Not sure where to start? Drop your favorite color hex code into this Color Calculator and pull a few recommended colors from there.


Bonus tip: Limit yourself and be more creative

A fun exercise is limiting yourself in order to come up with more creative designs. Try using one pen. One lettering style. One color, etc. It’s interesting what you can create with such limitations put on yourself, and often the result can be very elegant.


Jenn CoyleJennifer Coyle is a letterer, illustrator, designer and blogger. You can usually find her posting silly hand lettered phrases on Instagram, running, or playing the ukulele. Or, she’s on the hunt for the best burrito in Philadelphia. For more tips, follow her lettering blog.




WITCH HatToday’s WITCH number is 17.

quick thank you notes

I admit it, I didn’t make this card, nor is it really a card.  I actually received this card – yay for thoughtful friends.

I let my friend borrow one of my outfits for an evening of Indian dancing fun and when sh returned it there was a beautifully decorated notecard on the top of it.  I love how simple it is, I love that it involves twine, and I love that there are little details on it (like the gold dots) that make it pop.  Oh, I also love that there’s a giftcard for gelato inside of it.  What a cute way to deliver a giftcard, right?  I’m going to have to remember this next time I want to gift somebody a quick thank you.

a quick thank you card a quick thank you card2

What are some ways you’ve received a thank you note that you were excited about?  Was there anything special about it?

WITCH HatToday’s WITCH number is 44.

two cards for two cool ladies

Today I wanted to share with you two sets of greeting cards that I made towards the beginning of the month for two pretty awesome ladies. It’s definitely been a very card-heavy week, but I’ll be getting back to other content soon, I promise. Even I get sick of greeting cards. Weird, right?

Anyway. The first one was for a friend’s sister’s birthday. There are some pieces of paper in my collection that I think about on a weekly basis – goodness I wish I had a use for this. This is one of those sheets of paper. It’s pink and has cupcakes on it, and who doesn’t love cupcakes?

happy birthday card set

My favorite part about these cards is the way the “happy birthday” fits right intio the cupcake grid (it worked out that way on all of them).

The second one was for Miranda from The Good Groupie. She went on a little bit of a blogging break, but she’s back! And I’m super happy to have her back. One day hopefully I’ll get the chance to meet her in person. For this card I used her blog theme colors. Her card said ROCK STAR on it in big letters, but I thought in the shop it would have more success with YOU ARE AWESOME on it. We’ll see if that turns out to be true. Also, clearly I took this picture before I had made up my mind about what to do on it, so I superimposed the text over it. Almost looks real, right? (Eh, humor me please.)

you are awesome card set

I love that both of these cards are just the right size to write a thoughtful, meaningful message, but not overwhelming enough that you think goodness gracious, how could I ever fill that up. Both of these cards will be available in the shop on November 1 if you’re interested.

WITCH HatToday’s WITCH number is 5.

a card for a new holiday

As I mentioned earlier this week, I got the chance to make my friend Lisa a card for the new holiday she invented this month.  It’s called “A book, a blanket, a day without work” – it kind of sounds like jingle when you say it.  I am so excited to be sharing this card with you today because it’s one of my favorites that I’ve made in a long time.  I had to wait to make sure that she actually received the card before I blogged about it though, and I confirmed last night at the October Philadelphia Blogger Meet-up that she had.  (More to come on that later this week.)

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make this card shaped like a book, because how else would you be allowed to read a card on this holiday?  I guess I could have made it a blanket, but shockingly enough, I don’t own a sewing machine just yet.

I used a pretty sturdy cardboard for the book covers, found some really pretty ribbon to put in as a bookmark (if I do say so myself), and I made sure to line the inside with patterned paper before putting the pages inside.  Check it out.

Card for Lisa Card for Lisa2

The hardest part of this card was gluing the inside patterned paper in and the pages.  I glued it in as one big sheet, but that means that it kept wrinkling and pulling when I opened and closed the book.  I started out using double-sided tape and then realized that was creating a hot mess of texture so I completely covered the thing in glue.  That seems to have done the trick, but I still think there was a different way that I could have gotten better results.

My favorite part of this card is the spine actually, I like the way the dark green contrasts the light green.

Have you invented any holidays that you need cards for?  Always up for a challenge over here.

WITCH HatToday’s WITCH number is 60.