Do you always get confused by the difference between calligraphy, hand-lettering, and typography?
Then do not worry. You are not alone.
Often all three terms are used in place of each other, which creates confusion. You may come across various definitions for these terms given by calligraphers, type designers, and lettering artists.
Here in this article, I will share my simplified definitions of these terms with visual examples. It will help you to understand and remember the difference quickly.
Calligraphy is the art of beautiful writing. Specific calligraphic writing instrument like a flat or chisel nib marker or a dip pen and ink is used to write the letters.
Thick and thin lines are created in one single stroke. The upstrokes are thin, and the downstrokes are thick.
While doing calligraphy, a set of rules have to be followed, like pen angle, pen pressure, guidelines, type of paper to be used, etc.
The art of calligraphy developed in many parts of the world, with differing styles and tools used. These can be classified as:
Western calligraphy evolved from the 10th century and is still the most accepted form of calligraphy. A flat or round tip pen or brush, water-based ink, and high-quality paper are a few tools used for doing calligraphy.
It encompasses the calligraphy styles of China, Japan, and Korea.
The Four Treasures or the Four Friends of Chinese Calligraphy
Indian, Nepalese, and Tibetan calligraphy falls under this category. Calligraphy was done using a reed pen (an instrument made by cutting and shaping a single length of bamboo).
Arabic calligraphy, also known as "Islamic calligraphy," plays a significant role in Islamic culture. The best example is engravings and writings on the walls of a mosque.
Hand-Lettering is the art of drawing letters as opposed to calligraphy, in which they are written in a continuous stroke using a particular writing tool.
Letters are created either:
By hand on a non-digital medium like paper
By a stylus in a digital program
It is possible to create a unique style for each project with this technique. A variety of mediums, such as pens, paints, ink, chalk, and several others are used to create a hand-lettered piece of design.
A few hand-letterers use “faux calligraphy” in their work, while some create more decorative and flourished letters.
Hand-lettering gives you maximum freedom to explore your creative side. The letters drawn can be from simple plain block letters to decorative alphabets with intricate patterns.
Other forms of drawing also follow a few sets of principles like readability, balance, composition, etc.
Typography is the art of using letters. It comprises typefaces and fonts.
For example, every 's' in this post is the same as all the other 's.' In typography, designers mainly focus on creating a type in which the formation of letters remains the same irrespective of the layout.
Type designers create typography that you or graphic designers can use in the form of downloadable font files. Hence, typography can be defined as the appearance, arrangement, and style of printed text.
It is not the specific style of creating letters or words but how they appear together in a system. The letter formations remain the same irrespective of the layout.
For example, Times New Roman and all the other fonts you download to create a printed text.
Typography finds its use in a wide range of graphic designing projects, such as brochure and logo design, invitations, book publishing, memos, visiting cards, book cover, etc.
Designing software like Illustrator or Photoshop
Here I have provided the most straightforward definitions of calligraphy, hand-lettering, and typography. I hope you find this post helpful, and by now, you have a better understanding of the difference between all these terms.
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