Image source – Pixabay

The design world has seen a boom in the use of bounce lettering in recent years. Creatives are pouncing on this new design style and incorporating it into almost everything. Starting from home decor, product packaging, to even advertisements, the use of this dynamic style seems to provide visual interest. It is aesthetically appealing compared to traditional calligraphy forms. This is because the letters seem to be full of life and bounce around within the constraints of the word. They also consciously break typography rules. This article will provide you with the requisite information on how to do bounce lettering and master this style to enrich your creative skills further.

What does bounce lettering mean?

The very name of this typography style is suggestive of what it entails. Bounce lettering chucks away the traditional idea of writing letters in a straight line and imbibes the idea of bouncing by changing the letter positioning in the word. It attracts viewers since it is fun, characterful, and quite silly at times, something most people can relate to. The most relieving part is the non-requirement of any special tools or pens to master this skill. Simply using any tool that might be at your disposal can help you master this style.

Things that you need

As has been mentioned above, no special tools are required to master the art of bounce lettering. All you need is a brush pen and you are set to go.

Bounce Lettering: Typography with character

While traditional hand lettering looks aesthetic and clean with its even spaces and proportions, they can soon tend to become boring. To add a bit of spark to the typeface the use of a writing style that imbibes character and interest is more than welcome.

This is where bounce lettering comes in. By making use of different sized letters and positioning them at different heights, it imparts a sense of playfulness and fun to the typeface. Moreover, the letters themselves get slightly transformed owing to their extension into the descenders or ascenders.

While entire sentences can be written using this styling technique, it is advised that bounce lettering is used to write individual words. You risk the loss of legibility and structure if the entire sentence is written in bounce text.

Two important things to maintain to create the perfect bounce

  • Letter Positioning- The positioning of the letters in your bounce text is very important owing to the simple fact that this style of writing bounces on the typography’s baseline. By positioning the letters a little lower at times, or a little higher at times, the illusion of bounce can be created. However, it is important to note that the first letter and the last letter in the word needs to be positioned on a similar level. Otherwise, you risk the final text looking crooked. The best way to achieve this is by filling up the white space in between the first and the last letter. Alternate the positioning of each letter in between and maintain a proper balance between the lower letters and the upper letters.
  • Letter Design- The letter design also plays an important role in creating a bounce effect. By simply, changing the letter’s basic shape, the illusion of bounce can be further enhanced. Adding flourishes to the letters or incorporating downstrokes to the descenders are a great way to achieve this. The sweeping lines even make the letters that remain static on the baseline seem to move or bounce.

Letters and their anatomy

Bounce lettering is a style that breaks the traditional rules of typography. However, before you start breaking them, you need to first be very well acquainted with what these rules are. The foremost thing that is taught to you while exploring the art of lettering is the anatomy of letters. While it is a topic that needs to be dealt with in detail, in this article of how to do bounce lettering, a quick refresher course would do.

Letter anatomy has four basic parts. These include:

  • Baseline- This line is the line that supports the bottom of all letters in typography, thereby essentially creating a base for the different letter parts.
  • X-height- The topmost point of each letter’s main body is known as the X-height. It is important that every single letter in typography has the same x-height to maintain a consistent and clean appearance.
  • Ascender Line- Certain letters like ‘h’, ‘t’, ‘f’, ‘d’, and ‘l’ have an additional arm that tends to rise above the x-height. These extra arms, also known as the ascender, reaches what is known as the ascender line.
  • Descender Line- Certain letters like ‘y’, ‘g’, ‘p’, and ‘j’ have an additional arm that tends to reach under the baseline. These extra arms, also known as the descenders, reaches what is known as the descender line.

Breaking the rules

Now that you understand what the rules of lettering are, it is time that you learn to break them to create bounce lettering. To master how to do bounce lettering you need to ensure that each letter sits slightly lower or slightly higher than the baseline. However, all the letters essentially have the same x-height, despite their position being on different baselines. This fluctuation in position, while maintaining the word size creates the effect of a uniform bounce.

Maintaining Balance

The next important thing is to maintain the correct balance while creating bounce lettering. While there is no steadfast rule that dictates how to do bounce lettering, maintaining an average weight helps control balance and aesthetics. Determine this by drawing a straight line through the middle of your text. If excess letters seem to dip above this line or dip below this line, it means that the balance is off. The bounce lettering is, therefore, not well-balanced.

Maintain the perfect balance by keeping an eye on the two letters that precede your next stroke. If you have positioned the letters before, a bit above the baseline, make sure that the next two go a little below, thereby balancing the whole type out. This will require spontaneous improvisations and, of course, practice to make your results perfect.

Best tips to practice the art of bounce lettering

Practice makes a man/woman perfect and it is no different in your quest to learn how to do bounce lettering. There will be times you fail and feel frustrated, but this should not deter you from trying out new combinations and enhancing your skills to achieve the perfect bounce. The following tricks might help you better this practicing phase and master the art of how to do bounce lettering.

  • Put Letters on a Line- To maintain the perfect balance, a great technique is to draw a straight line and using this line as your word’s central point. This way you will be able to keep a vigilant eye on the letter positioning and balance and thereby achieve the perfect bounce.
  • Dipping and Reaching- Bounce letters are all about drama. That is what you should try to achieve while practicing it. If any of your letters have an upstroke, try letting the ascender reach high, or if it has a downstroke, let it dip below dramatically. By doing this you ensure that your final text achieves extra bounce and therefore, the requisite playfulness that you need. Furthermore, you get the added benefit of connecting curve letters by implementing this technique.
  • Exaggerating the Bounce- Since you are practicing, you can take the leeway of exaggerating the bounce by taking bigger and bolder strokes. This will help you get a feel of how to do bounce lettering and how the style works. Subtlety at this stage will prohibit you from playing with the balance and shape of the letters.
  • Drama Is the Key- Bounce lettering bases itself on the precipice of drama, and therefore, uninhibition is a key element that needs adherence while trying to master this style. Adding swooshes or flair in your touches while drawing the letters or enhancing their loops will allow you to gain better control over this style. After all bounce lettering is all about playing around and having fun.
  • Offsetting Double Letters- A tricky part while creating bounce lettering is dealing with double letters. If they are kept too close and care is not taken the entire bounce of the word can become compromised. The best way to deal with this is by offsetting them by starting either the first letter slightly higher and then proceeding with the second letter slightly below. Going the opposite direction is also a great approach, by starting low and proceeding with the second letter a bit higher.
  • Weight Should Be the Least of Your Worries- Handling a brush pen is quite tricky if you are new to it. Therefore, to rid yourself of the double pain of having to maintain both balance and weight, it is best if you start with a felt-tip or ball-point pen. Once you become accustomed to the upstrokes and downstrokes required to create bounce lettering, you can proceed with learning how to manage the first while including the added task of maintaining line-weight.

Pre-drawings and Sketches- Pre-drawings and sketches are exactly what practicing means. However, focus should also be on trying out different combinations. Checking which letter compliments which letter the most in a bounce lettering format, is another area that needs exploring. This will help you achieve greater confidence while trying out this type-form.