Typeface design education from Cooper Union
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Script Lettering Stylebook
with Ken Barber

Script letters come in all forms and flavors, giving them an unparalleled versatility that’s indispensable to lettering artists. Yet, the dizzying array of script styles can be confusing, and their curvy shapes can make them challenging to draw. This comprehensive 10-week course distills the broad spectrum of script into an accessible stylebook of essential varieties that novices and experienced letterers can use to craft well-made attention-getting cursive lettering with confidence and flair.

We’ll begin with the foundational Roundhand Script, a traditional formal style that is at the heart of much of today’s popular lettering. By deconstructing its parts, you’ll gain a firm understanding of the letters’ basic components and construction. In addition to examining techniques for producing balanced letterforms and layouts, we’ll also review frequent pitfalls so you’re equipped with practical strategies to avoid common mistakes.

Building on these basic principles, you’ll then learn detailed methods for amplifying letterforms with elaborate eye-catching embellishments. We’ll cover the basics of Flourished Script’s decorative strokes, combining them to create intricate and alluring configurations.

Next, we’ll investigate ways to transform conventional script into more powerful and expressive forms. The simple yet sturdy Display Script is a go-to style for logotypes, brand messaging, and packaging.

Finally, we’ll look at Spencerian Lettering and Italian Hand, a pair of wildly ornamented script siblings that have a commanding presence. Their unique profiles are composed of bold strokes contrasted by razor-thin hairlines making for exceptionally voluptuous and lavish forms.

With the help of instructive presentations, live lettering demonstrations, informative handouts, useful diagrams, valuable skill-building exercises, insightful Q&A sessions, and critical one-on-one evaluations, you’ll develop a hands-on approach to producing a range of engaging script lettering in a variety of styles in your personal and professional work.

Required Materials

  • No.2 pencils (conventional or mechanical)
  • pencil sharpener (if applicable)
  • erasers (conventional and kneaded)
  • pad of tracing paper (9″×12″ pad is recommended)
  • pad of quadrille 4×4 grid/graph paper (9″×12″ pad, 4 squares per inch is recommended)
  • 12 inch ruler
  • Sharpie® Fine and Extra Fine markers
  • a reliable internet connection, computer or device and the Zoom and Slack apps
  • white-out correction fluid pen
  • Optional: a copy of House Industries Lettering Manual
  • Optional: digital tablet with a drawing app if you prefer to draw onscreen
  • Optional: computer with licensed vector drawing software

This class meets on 10 consecutive Wednesday evenings except November 22 will be skipped.

Students are also encouraged to reference The Universal Penman by George Bickham, and Script Lettering for Artists by Tommy Thompson. Reprinted by Dover Books, both titles are usually affordable and easy to acquire.

Please note that this class is a compilation of my Script Lettering, Flourished Lettering, Spencerian Lettering, and Advanced Script Lettering workshops.

Although students are welcome to use vectorizing software and other digital drawing applications, workshop instruction will focus on conventional drawing techniques.

Enrollment is limited to 14 students to allow for class time for feedback. Please join our mailing list to get updates and reminders about upcoming events and workshops.

A link will be sent to enrolled students about 1 or 2 days before the first session with a recurring Zoom meeting link and an invitation to a Slack group.

Registration is now closed

Wed, October 4 – Wed, December 13, 2023

Number of sessions: 10

Where: Online

About Ken Barber

Ken Barber
Ken Barber is a letterer, type designer, author, and instructor. He blames Don Martin comics, Santa Cruz skateboard graphics, and speed metal logos for his obsession with letterforms. For over 25 years, Ken has produced distinctive logos for global brands and created award-winning fonts. His work is part of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. Ken is the type director and studio letterer at House Industries. Author of three books, his award-winning Lettering Manual was released in 2020.