Art Journal Letters: Write Between the Lines

I know, I know: we’re outside the lines artists, and proud of it. But in some instances, like art journaling, writing between the lines can help you move outside your comfort zone.

art journal page by joanne sharpe
Art journal lettering between the lines
by Joanne Sharpe.

Take lettering, for example. A lot of people (me included) either hate their handwriting or want to create a more interesting alphabet to use in their art journal.

Here are two ways to do that, each requiring that you write “between the lines.”

This first technique comes from Joanne Sharpe, art journaling and lettering expert extraordinaire. Joanne has spent years honing her lettering style, but you can use her technique to improve the look of your lettering in a jiffy.

1. Draw gently curving lines across your page horizontally, without crossing. Make the lines closer together in some places and farther apart in others.

2. Now, using pencil, lightly draw each letter of the words you want on your page, having each letter fit within the lines. Experiment with the width and style of the letters and using upper- and lowercase letters within each word.

3. Once you are satisfied with the shape and pacing of the letters, go over them with a marker. Consider making some of the letters thicker or different colors. This is just practice, so don’t be afraid to let your imagination take hold.

Technique No. 2 comes from Cloth Paper Scissors Editorial Director Jenn Mason, via the eMag Art Journaling Exposed vol 2. Building on her lessons from vol. 1, Jenn offers tips for creating unique letters using practice paper. The lined paper (like the ones you used back in grade school) can be downloaded from the eMag. In her video demonstration, Jenn shows how to draw letters and then manipulate the size and shape of parts of the letter to create an alphabet of your own.

art journaling page by erin leigh
A variation on writing between the lines in your art journal, by Erin Leigh as featured in Art Journaling Exposed, vol. 2.

Some of Jenn’s tips for discovering and using unique lettering styles include:

  • Following Instagram and Pinterest to find great typeography and lettering examples.
  • Starting an alphabet swap for with other art journaling friends. Ask everyone to make a handwritten alphabet and to send a copy by mail or email to all of the participants.
  • Making and keeping copies of lettering you’re especially proud of in an inspirational binder.

You can get more tips from Jenn and other art journaling experts in Art Journaling Exposed, vol. 2.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Week 3 segment of the Golden Giveaway Sweepstakes!


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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