Hand Lettering 2018

How to hand letter a New Year card

How to hand letter a New Year card |  by The Daily Atelier

Did you know that the tradition of New Year cards is different in France, where I come from, and in the United Kingdom, where I live now? It’s all about deadlines. In the UK, you send your cards in December, so you have until New Year’s Eve to wish everyone a Happy New Year. In France, you send your cards in January to celebrate the beginning of the year, so you have until 31 January to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

I am not very good at it. Let’s just say that each year I have every intention to write my cards in the UK time frame, but when December comes I feel overwhelmed by the workload and settle for the French time frame instead (OK, call it procrastination). Then, in January, I don’t know what to do because nobody around me is in the writing-cards mood so … I send just the bare-minimum-cannot-skip cards. I told you I was not very good at it. What can I do to improve? Maybe turn this into an art project?

So this project is about crafting your own card by hand drawing numbers (should we call it hand numbering?). I drew the figures 2018 to create this card in black and gold.




For this project, as in the drawing of a cat using just dots, I used very simple tools:

  • a graphite pencil

  • an eraser

  • a black fountain pen

  • a white pencil

  • a grey brush pen for the final details.



Step 1 – Sketching hand-lettered numbers with pencil

My first step was to draw a grid so that I knew exactly where to draw the numbers: I wanted them to be in the centre of the card, in four rectangles.

Then I drew the numbers with details. Yes, I mean details, because it involves studying a model and noticing where the thicker parts are, noticing that an 8 is made of two different parts that are not at all symmetrical, and lots of other details that are barely noticeable but that change the whole perception of the final work. I am not a hand letterer or a calligrapher by any means, but I admire this art (and science!) so much.

In the short video above, this runs from 00:00 to 01:27. It actually took me 11 minutes.


Step 2 – ink drawing the letters of the New Year Card

Then I drew the numbers with ink. I have to say that I tried different pens and added layer upon layer upon layer to achieve a really dark black.

In the short video above, this runs from 01:27 to 03:02. It actually took me 22 minutes.


Step 3 – add the finer details to the New Year Card

Finally, I added a few details:

  • I added a few, barely noticeable white accents with white pencil.

  • I added a darker shadow under the rectangles with my grey brush pen. I smudged the ink a little bit – but not too much.

All this gives a little more volume to the final work.


In the short video above, this runs from 03:02 to 04:06. It actually took me 7 minutes.


And voilà!

And voilà! I have a New Year Card ready to be sent! (Or maybe I’ll keep it because I am decidedly not good at sending cards. You never know.)

I hope you have enjoyed this post. As always, I do not pretend to be a teacher, a seasoned artist or an expert in anything. I am just a very motivated learner who finds a deep joy in regular art practice.

The finished drawing – Happy New Year! | Hand Lettering 2018, by The Daily Atelier


If you liked this post, you will almost certainly like some of these projects with ink. Enjoy!