21 Easy Ways to Embellish Hand Lettering


How do you turn plain-looking lettering into something interesting and eye-catching?

With embellishments, of course!

There are so many ways to add extra detail to enhance your lettering, and they don’t have to be hard or time-consuming.

Here’s a list of 21 hand lettering embellishments, techniques, and ideas to make your work stand out!

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1. Offset outline

An offset outline gives lettering a cute, playful look.

Just draw your initial letters and add an outline slightly off to the side of each letter.

offset outline lettering example

To make it easier for yourself, you could outline the letters on tracing paper and shift it to the side, then retrace the entire design.

Or if you’re doing it in Procreate, you can draw the outline on a separate layer and move it to the side.

2. Inner letter shading

This technique adds dimension to the inside of letters.

It’s so easy to do but the effect is impressive!

To do the shading, you’ll need a pen with a fine tip so the lines are kept light.

A set of drawing pens like these Tombow Mono drawing pens will give you a nice range of tip sizes.

inner letter shading example

3. Drop shadows

You can’t go wrong with a classic drop shadow in a light color!

Light gray is a great color to use for shadows, or you can use a lighter version of whatever color you used for the letters.

The picture below shows you how to add a shadow to lettering.

how to add a lettering drop shadow

Just remember to add shadows opposite of where the imaginary light source is positioned.

If the light source is at the bottom left, add shadows to the upper right sides of the letters. If the light is at the top right, add shadows to the lower left of all the letters.

Once you learn how to do shadows, you can pick a preferred placement and stick with that.

For example, I always draw shadows to the lower right because that’s what I’m used to.

Here’s another post I wrote about lettering shadows that includes eight more shadow ideas.

4. Bubble outline & shadow

This bubble outline technique is so fun and easy to do.

It immediately makes lettering stand out and looks almost like a sticker!

All you need to do is outline the lettering and add a shadow.

bubble outline & shadow lettering technique

5. Highlights

You’ll need a white pen for highlights. I like Sakura gel pens or Uniball Signo gel pens.

To add highlights, imagine a light source and add white marks where the light would hit the letters first.

For example, if the light source is at the top left, then add highlights to the top left of the letters.

how to add lettering highlights

6. Line shadows

Line shadows are just like adding drop shadows – except they’re simpler!

Just draw a line wherever the shadow would go.

To change it up, you could also draw multiple shadow lines instead of one single line.

how to draw line shadow lettering example

7. Inlines

Inlines are a quick and easy way to add interest to letters. There are a couple ways to do it.

The easiest way is to use a white pen to add a white line over the letters.

You can add inlines over the thickest areas only, or over the entire letter.

lettering inline examples

8. Color gradient

Break out some colored markers and do a little blending!

Lettering with a smooth color gradient looks so impressive, and it’s not hard to do.

You’ll need at least two colors that blend together well: a light color and a dark color.

color gradient lettering example

You could also use a blender pen or water to blend colors together.

9. Inner dots

Dots are a super easy way to enhance lettering. Try adding a sprinkling of dots inside the letters.

You can also add a dot line inside letters, similar to an inline.

(I often like to combine the two – draw an inline and add a couple dots at the end!)

inner dots lettering example

10. Stars

Stars are a common and easy detail to add around lettering. They can fill in little empty spaces, too!

Sprinkling stars and dots around lettering gives it a sparkly look.

There are also different ways you can draw stars for different looks.

how to draw stars - lettering examples

As with any embellishment, think about whether or not it goes well with the words before adding it.

11. Arrows

Arrows are a fun and interesting addition to a lettering design.

You can use them to point the viewer’s eye to a certain area, or you could make them a bigger part of the piece and use them to frame a word.

Here are some arrow drawing ideas:

simple arrow drawing ideas

12. Angled line shadows

These are like line shadows, but with more energy!

Draw shadow lines as usual, then add short, angled lines coming from them.

Try to keep the angle of the lines consistent so it doesn’t look too messy.

how to draw angled line shadows

13. Stripes

Stripes are another easy detail to draw inside letters.

Draw straight, evenly spaced lines, or curve them slightly to make it look like they’re wrapped around the letter. (Think candy cane stripes!)

You could get creative and do a plaid pattern inside/over your letters, too.

striped lettering ideas

14. Stippling

Stippling just means adding lots (and lots) of dots.

It looks best when you fade a heavy concentration of dots out to a light concentration of dots.

There are lots of ways you can use stippling to enhance letters. Here are a few:

  • Shadows
  • Inside letters
  • Around lettering

Below are examples of each.

stippling lettering examples

Adding so many dots can be very time-consuming, but the finished result looks so good that it’s worth it!

15. Symmetrical flourish

There are lots of ways to use flourishes in lettering, but this is one of the simplest.

Symmetrical flourishes are fun to draw because you can get really creative with the swirls and curled lines.

Try adding one to the top and bottom of a lettering piece to give it an elegant, framed look.

symmetrical flourish drawing ideas

When drawing flourishes, work on keeping the curves and swirls smooth so they appear more flowing.

Below is an example of how I’ve used symmetrical flourishes to frame my lettering (old piece from 2019).

hand lettered Bible verse in pencil

16. Splashes

“Splashes” are just those teardrop-shaped marks that are so handy to use in lettering designs.

They’re great for framing words or filling in empty space.

The key to getting these splashes to look right is to make sure they’re curved in some direction.

You’ll also want to draw them so the ends point to some central area.

teardrop splash drawing ideas

I often like to add a dot or two when I draw these splashes.

17. Banners

Banners and ribbons really elevate a lettering piece.

They can be complicated or they can be simple.

Use them to break up lines of text, frame words, and fill in space.

If you’ve never drawn them before, start simple! Once you’ve mastered the basics you can try more complex ribbons.

simple banner drawing ideas

Banners are also a great addition to your bullet journal!

18. Rays

Another idea for framing your lettering is to draw rays.

Add some rays at the top and bottom of a design or use them around a word to bring attention to it.

rays drawing examples

19. Leaves

Like stars, leaves are another easy doodle to add around or inside letters.

You could draw individual leaves or leaf branches and use them anywhere you need to fill in space or add some interest.

easy leaf drawing ideas

20. Emphasis marks

Emphasis marks can look different, but they’re basically just lines coming out from your word/design.

Once again, draw them around an imaginary central area so they look neater.

emphasis mark drawing ideas

(Here’s a tip: if a word is off-center, you can help hide it by adding emphasis marks to one end.)

21. Outline

A simple outline around letters is an easy way to make them look more interesting. Use a contrasting color if you want to make it stand out.

Draw the outline right around the letter or leave some space in between – it’s up to you!

outline lettering ideas

Which of these ideas will you try? Let me know in the comments below!

And save this post for the next time you need to add something to your lettering ⬇️

easy ways to embellish lettering

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