How to: Typography for Templates

If it’s just a sentence or a single word then the typography in my paper cuts is usually done by hand.  I’m not the most artistic person ever when it comes to using a pencil but I have learnt a few tricks along the way that help me achieve what I want.


Typography can be pretty daunting when you don’t feel your normal handwriting is up to the task.

One quick way to get around the typography issue, if you want to hand draw the rest of the template, is to type out the words you want and print them so you can draw around them. Make sure you select fonts with the correct licence if you plan to sell your cuts or templates.

With people out there selecting the same fonts hand lettering will help you create unique templates, every design is then personal to you.

Transform Your Handwriting

So let’s look at how you can transform your own handwriting to make some great typography without having to buy anything special or spend a long time learning about the specific rules of typography. After all we are creating individual works of art, not perfect graphics.

Let’s start by writing out a word with a pencil. I have added guide lines to my paper as I’m very guilty of writing on a slant without them. You can use pre lined paper for this or you can draw guide lines on plain paper if you want larger line spacing.

Pretty boring normal writing but now we can start to build it up to look more interesting. Lets go back and add some more detail to the letters.

To be honest I picked a pretty boring word to start with but you can add little flicks to the tops of the L’s, extend the crossbar of the H , add a few swirls and bend a few of those straight lines. Already our boring word and shapeless handwriting is looking a little more decorative.

Now we can start to build up the letters by thickening some lines to make a faux calligraphy style.

Use your pencil to make the vertical strokes of the letters thicker and keep the horizontal lines thin, or vice versa. You can taper the thickness so it blends in easily. You may also decide to make all the lines thicker, so long as one set of lines is thicker than the other. Maybe have a play with making the horizontal lines thickest?

Once you are happy with the lines you can go around the outer edges of the letters with a fine liner pen and erase all the pencil marks. It does look pretty nifty like that or you can fill all the gaps in with pen after you have erased the pencil marks.

There are many other options to explore using this method, try making the lines vary in thickness through one stroke, extend lines more or even less. Add serifs or other shapes to terminate the letters. If you normally write with a round hand put some angles in and vice versa.
Once you have the typography for the template you want to create, scan the text (always save the original) and print a copy to start drawing the other details on.
If you want to feel particularly organised rather than doing single words and short sentences create a whole alphabet in upper and lower case. Then you can trace the letters as you need them.

Obviously none of this is joined for cutting so we can’t cut it yet (unless we added some anchors to cut in negative) but next time we will look at ways to decorate your typography to turn it into a cut-able template.

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