The hand lettering images shown here are from a 1942 sign painting book called Simplified Show Card Writing by C.R. Havighorst. These are great examples if you want to learn hand lettering. When I was younger, I looked for sign painting books in numerous libraries, but they were almost impossible to find. Most of the examples I found back then were in the old Speedball Pen booklets.
If you examine the search bar in each of these three screen grabs, you can get an idea of how to search the Internet effectively for help on learning how to hand letter. Add extra words to the search such as “practice” or “techniques” for more focused results.
Try adding “How to...” to your search to help narrow your results. Besides hand lettering, you can find great information on about any topic or software tool, such as “Photoshop perspective crop”.
Google search entry: “sign painting forum”
Google search entry: “sign painting practice strokes”

Today’s tools for learning

By Mike Jackson

Posted on Monday, August 26th, 2019

When you’re learning to hand letter, there’s not much of a replacement for watching a skilled craftsperson lay down perfect strokes with a lettering quill. Back in the early ‘80s and continuing through the ‘90s, you could do just that at one of the many Letterheads meetings. A couple of the meetings, like those in Denver and Boise, filled entire convention centers for inspired sign makers of all ages and levels of experience!

On the bookshelves behind me are hundreds of old sign painting, calligraphy, wagon and coach striping and showcard books. Many of them show the basic strokes necessary to hand letter signs. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out about those old books until after I learned to hand letter.

While I was learning to letter, I got instruction and help from a couple of good sign painters in Oklahoma City. Other than the trade magazines, there weren’t a lot of options for learning these skills unless you lived in a large city and were part of the union’s journeyman training.


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Mike Jackson

Mike and Darla Jackson operate Golden Era Studios in Jackson, Wyoming, and do a variety of sign-related projects. Mike’s website is www.goldenstudios.com. His email address is golden@goldenstudios.com. You can see more of Mike’s photos at www.tetonimages.com and www.goldenstudios.com.