Creating Contrasting Lettering with Kari McKnight Holbrook

Mixed-media artist Kari McKnight Holbrook is a lettering maven.  Not only will you be inspired by the beautiful lettered art in her November Lettering Lesson, you’ll learn a whole lot, too. This lesson will show you how to combine contrasting styles of lettering, and get you started playing with letters in lots of different ways. Kari introduces and explains lettering terms that will help you understand various styles of lettering, and she shows you how to use that information to design your lettering art. Kerning, line weight, leading, x-height . . . all the things that will help you add style and flair to your hand lettering and make your letters uniquely you. Do you want the lettering to be fanciful, or should it be bold? Why not combine the two? Kari will show you how to do that.

Creating Contrasting Lettering by Kari McKnight Holbrook

One of the things Kari suggests is auditioning different styles of hand lettering. Change the feel of your art by changing the way you write the words: fancy, casual, funky . . .

Add personality and style to your letters with simple changes.

There are tons of options, and Kari has a great “tool” for trying them—deli paper! Genius! Like Kari, I used the word “beautiful” to try this technique.  It was fun to see how many different lettering styles I could come up with to fill the space.

I tried six fonts, but I could have easily have kept going! I wrote each of the “YOUs” while holding the paper in place over the page where I’d already written the rest of the word “beautiful.” This technique lets you try out a variety of hand lettering styles without having to commit to one style right away. Great idea! It also lets you see which contrasting styles work well together . . . and which don’t.

Deli paper makes it easy to see which lettering style will give you the look you’re going for.

I decided to try out some hand lettering on a painted piece from my blog post inspired by Gina Lee Kim’s video: Fun With Watercolor: Resist Techniques. I liked the star-like specks and immediately decided to letter “Wish upon a Star.” It gives the painting a whole different look. By combining two different fonts in two sizes, I put the emphasis where I wanted it.

A simple hand-lettered word or phrase can bring new life to simple painting.

Learn how to combine different styles and fonts, and take your hand lettering to new heights. Enjoy.


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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