Modified Old English A-Z

Lettering Hints

Tips for better pen usage

The beauty of broadpen lettering is the contrast between the broad strokes and the hairlines.

You are lettering a black line around the white space. Always be aware of the white spaces while lettering that they are not too cramped or too wide.

If you are using a dip pen, make sure the nib is clean and the retainer is adjusted for the ink and paper that you are using. Some inks letter better with the tip of the retainer is close to the nib while other inks like more space between the tip of the retainer and the nib.

If the ink is too thick, add some distilled water. If the ink is too thin, you can add some thickener. If you don’t know what kind of thickener to add, just let it evaporate a little.

When lettering, watch the nib to:

  • Keep correct pen angle to get the hairlines – for Modified Old English the pen is at a 45º angle for most of the strokes – only when the pen is held at the correct angle will you get a hairline
  • Make sure to get the full pen width on all wide strokes
  • Stay in the guidelines
  • Make sure stoke is vertical
  • Make sure nib is clean and not picking up paper debris



Download uppercase practice sheet Download lowercase practice sheet

Things to remember

Your best lettering happens when your hand is relaxed and your shoulders are not hunched. Stop and stretch when you feel your shoulder muscles tensing up. If you have a death grip on the pen, try holding something in your other hand.

After learning a style – practice on papers that you want to work on. Each type of paper feels a little different and reacts to the ink differently.

Work for consistency with even white spaces and letters evenly spaced.

An excellent way to get better is to letter sayings for friends or relatives. When working for someone else, you work harder. if all you do is practice, your mind doesn’t concentrate as well as when you do it for someone else.

When proofing your work – start at the end and proof from end to beginning