by: Kristin Nohe

Remember when you were in elementary school, poised with a pencil in hand, learning to draw letters and spell words? There may have been some stumbling, shaky hands, and illegible letters. When writing on the iPad with your finger, sometimes it feels like we’ve gone back to the days of fumbling hands trying to make letterforms and words. But now with the Bamboo Stylus fineline, it’s easier than ever to write by hand on the iPad, and improve your handwriting as well.

When you first start writing on the iPad, your handwriting may look different from your normal pen and paper writing. It’s a whole different set of circumstances and tools. But with a little practice, it can be as natural and as legible as when you write on paper.

Bamboo Paper is a great option for practicing and improving your handwriting on the iPad. You can use a separate notebook in Bamboo Paper just for your handwriting practice.


Getting Started: Picking Pen and Paper

A helpful tool for practicing writing in Bamboo Paper is the ability to choose your paper type. I’ve selected the grid option in the Thinker notebook pack. Grids give you the ability to not only have horizontal guides to manage line `, but also have guides that run vertically so you can better measure letter and word spacing. By using the grid format instead of lines, you can also determine yourself how tall you would like to make your letters. This also gives you the ability to mix different sizes of lettering on one page. With standard lines, you are often confined to a line width.


Loosen Up Your Hand

It’s helpful to play around a bit and loosen up your hand. I’ve chosen the fine tip pen, but with the largest nib size. It is easier to start with thicker lines, as it is easier to connect the strokes of each letter this way.

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For loosening up, practice making forms across the page. I’ve drawn an assortment of circles, loops, and lines. The easiest way to do this without wobbly lines is to try to control the speed at which you make the forms. For these, I’ve kept a constant speed, but didn’t draw too slow. The slower you draw, the shakier the lines will be. I’ve also concentrated on using my shoulder to form the strokes instead of my wrist. Using your shoulder helps to make clean curves, as opposed to your wrist which makes sharper motions. It also helps if you zoom in a little bit on the page, as you get better control over where you place the Bamboo Stylus fineline.


Uppercase and Lowercase

For the first set of handwriting we will be practicing, we will start with traditional uppercase letters. Uppercase is the most legible form of writing and will give you a good grasp of the Bamboo Stylus fineline before moving onto lowercase and cursive.

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In this instance, I’m using the medium size of the brush marker pen. Larger letters call for larger brush sizes to be most legible. I’m also calculating approximately how many grid blocks each letter is drawn in. In this case, my letters are approximately 8 grid squares high, and between 3-4 grid squares wide depending on the letter.

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The red guides show which areas to start the stroke for the letters. In letters where the first stroke of the letter ends where the second stroke begins, it is helpful to not pick up the stylus to start the second stroke. Picking up the Bamboo Stylus fineline can sometimes make the second stroke misalign, not connecting the two strokes. This is because often when using a stylus, people are not comfortable with it yet, causing them to shift their hand position.

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This is also a good opportunity to zoom in on your letters! At first it may seem counter-intuitive to write so large, but it definitely helps with aligning and forming strokes. Another tip is to use the stylus preferences to set the Bamboo Stylus fineline button to ‘undo.’ So if you make a mistake, just press the button to quickly erase your mistake without having to choose the eraser tool and clean the stroke.

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When moving on to lowercase letters use the same brush and size as the uppercase. In typefaces, the ‘x-height’ is the area that consists of the body of the letter. This does not include any ascenders and descenders. Here I’ve kept the x-height at 4 grid squares high, which is half the size of the uppercase letters.

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After you’ve got the lowercase down, start practicing making words. This is the fun part! A common pangram, or a phrase that contains all 26 letters of the alphabet, is “The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog!” Another fun thing to practice is writing quotes and phrases by famous people.

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You’ll notice I also started to practice my cursive writing in my own style. It’s exciting to come up with and practice different lettering techniques. Handwriting can open a world of excitement in lettering and typography. Some artists and designer make entire careers out of using their handwriting to beautify the world.

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Explore what you feel comfortable with. Try using all of the different brushes in Bamboo Paper. Add some color. Once you’ve gotten the hang of your new Bamboo Stylus fineline, I can guarantee you’ll love using your iPad to not only take notes, but also to journal, draw, and express yourself.


The Bamboo Stylus fineline is available at Target.

Kristin Nohe spent her childhood obsessively filling sketchbooks in Bel Air, Maryland. Her first job after graduatingwith a BFA in Illustration was designing seasonal products for Target for 4 years. She is now a freelancer designer. Follow her on Instagram for the virtual sketchbook on her life.

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