Brilliant Script Tattoo Fonts
Picking a script tattoo font is one of the most fun parts about getting it. There are literally thousands to choose from, and if you combine them, you can create some stunning effects. The art has been in practice for millennia—as long as writing has been around. The art of calligraphy and lettering continues to evolve today, with the advent of digital art making it easy to preview fonts and the improvements to spray paint allowing easy access to colored graffiti. And yes, graffiti is technically calligraphy. We’re going to cover the basic types of script tattoo fonts, what they symbolize, and how you can start learning to draw them.
Types of Fonts
In our previous article, we talked about different types of fonts and even separated them into two different categories: Serif and Sans-Serif. We’re going into far more detail today. Historically speaking, Serif fonts vastly outnumber Sans-Serif. They were eloquent and allowed scribes to create interesting little details. The serifs could also hide the exact angle of the calligraphy brush—which varied from artist to artist—as well as any instances where the ink suddenly dried. Serif fonts kept manuscripts copied by multiple scribes uniform, even though each person had their own way of holding the pen. This brings us to our first font.
Roman Square Capitals
This is essentially the Times New Roman of…well, Rome. Despite its age, it has withstood the test of time, and their uniform spacing, alignment, and presentation influenced how the world learns writing. When we receive writing textbooks, the rules of character placement are the same ones that the Romans taught and learned. These fonts are best used when you want a font to look dignified.
Uncial Script Tattoo Font
These round shapes and carefree pen removals are the signature of the Greek alphabet, which was less precise than the Roman one and certainly not used as often. These curved lines will often have people thinking of Lord of the Rings—the font is very similar to what you see on the covers of the books, in any kind of writing in the film, and it even vaguely resembles the writing on the One Ring (although Sanskrit matches a little better). It has a legendary and magical feel to it, and was designed specifically for things like art and tattoos.
Gothic Script Tattoo Font
Now we’re talking. This is the font that everyone who has taken an Art class in high school is familiar with. The letters vary depending on the artist, but they always follow these rules: Solid, bold lines; Large, square-like capitals; Decorated with extra lines or dots; Uses negative space to carry a form. While it might look complicated, it’s pretty simple and fun to create your own gothic font, once you have all the basics down. Gothic fonts are associated—somehow—with both religious texts and horror. It was the script most often used for the Bible and for fairy tales in ancient England. Most illuminations—those large, fancy capital letters—are made with a Gothic font.
Finally, some curves! This script tattoo font was made to be written with a thinner pen, which allows for more flexible movement. Its unique calligraphy draws from cursive to make a beautiful and legible script. With the correct presentation, this font can appear very retro—but if your artist forgoes that, it will simply look cute. This isn’t the curliest font in the books, but it is one that tattoo artists are likely to know.
That’s basically all of the fonts that you can expect your tattoo artist to know. ‘What?!’ you might ask, ‘But there are thousands and thousands of fonts!’ Well, the thing is, when artists learn calligraphy, they memorize certain sets of letters, as you will see below. Once they know these basic fonts, they are free to create their own. The skill of the artist varies, but you can request these fonts and have them show up looking exactly as you want them with ease from the artist. All font variables stem from the ones above, so an artist can easily add some extra curls, bubble letters, or fancy linework according to your needs.
Learning to Draw Script Tattoo Fonts
Calligraphy and Lettering are arts that require their own degree. They’re also some of the most profitable arts, with professional designers having no trouble getting work making custom logos, fonts, and poster pieces. Despite this, it is very easy to teach someone calligraphy. How? Well, there are a simple set of rules, and after that, everything is muscle memory! You can purchase a pen at any craft store for about $10. It should come with inks already. You can get a more traditional dip pen for cheaper, but the inks will cost you upwards of $20 and it is not recommended for beginners. There are even special pens for left handed people, which come in handy when you are memorizing the basic strokes.
First, the one rule you must not disobey: do not push the pen. Imagine you are sweeping a floor. You can sweep one way or the other, but if you push it like a mop, you’re not getting anywhere. If the pen ever resists when you are using it, pick it up and try again. The easiest way to pull is to start your strokes at the top and pull down. You can move the paper (or skin) as often as you want so that you are always pulling. If you push, you run the risk of having the ink splatter or ruining the pen. Got that? Good. On to the next step.
There are only seven strokes in calligraphy. Seven. For all of these fonts. The first is a horizontal stroke, the second is straight down, the third is a curve that ends on the left, the fourth is a line that goes from top left to bottom right, the fifth is a small dot, the sixth is a line that goes from bottom left to top right, and the last one is a small downwards line. Memorize these, and you can do any font you want!
Next, find an alphabet you want to learn. In example, you could type ‘Gothic Alphabet’ into Google and get a nice template. Print it out and begin memorizing it. The height of the capital and lowercase letters, the different ways that curves, serifs and decorations are handled…each font has its own character. It might take you a hundred tries before you perfectly master a single letter. If you devote two hours out of your day for six weeks, you can master the art. You won’t know the science of it, and you’ll be missing some major information, but that is something you can seek on your own.
Whether you are choosing a font or learning it, remember to use a reference at all times. When you go to get a tattoo script font, if it’s not a basic font, go ahead and print it out for your artist to see. This makes things easier for everyone. Since most fonts are fast to draw, the artist should be able to provide you with a sample sketch very quickly. Just remember to check your grammar and spelling!
If you enjoyed this article, feel free to check out the other articles on InkDoneRight. We have in depth tattoo meanings, image galleries, and even interviews. As always, thanks for reading!