Bounce Lettering Tutorial

11 June 2024


"Bounce lettering" or "bouncing" is a technique that gives the alphabet a rhythmic and lively impression by stretching or shifting parts of the letters up, down, left, or right. This technique does not have specific rules for which parts to move; it largely depends on the artist's or writer's preference. This tutorial introduces a common method for drawing bounce lettering.


What you will need

Drawing Bounce Lettering


When drawing cursive letters, they are typically aligned to the baseline, as shown in the example on the left. In bounce lettering, however, variation is added to parts of the letters, as shown in the example on the right.



For instance, consider the letters "ha." In the example on the right, the downstrokes in the second half of the letter are lower than the baseline, creating a lively effect. The lengths of the strokes from the baseline differ between "h" and "a," adding to the dynamic appearance.



The balance and size of preceding and succeeding letters influence the strength of the bounce. For example, in the word "happy," the "h" has a significant bounce, the "a" is moderately bounced, and the "p" has a descender, so the "a" is less pronounced. This balance allows for expressive, dynamic lettering that goes beyond what standard computer fonts can achieve.


Where to Bounce?


Bounce lettering involves shifting or stretching parts of the letters. To illustrate this, three sample patterns are provided for comparison.


First, draw a baseline on the paper with a pencil, then write "smile" aligning it with the baseline. Place a piece of tracing paper over the smile you have written here. As you trace the letters, bounce any parts that look like they can be bounced.

Pattern 1

- The first letter "s" is lowered from the baseline to create a loop.
- The first downstroke of the "m" is lowered from the baseline, while the second half follows the baseline.
- The fourth letter, "l," is also bounced down from the baseline.

This pattern creates some bounce but lacks overall movement.

Pattern 2

- All letters except the last one are downstrokes that bounce down from the baseline.

This pattern has consistent movement, but the bounce lacks variation in strength.

Pattern 3

- The first letter "s" is drawn in a loop, lowering it from the baseline.
- The final downstroke of the second "m" is bounced.
- The fourth letter "l" is bounced down from the baseline.

In this pattern, the "i" and "e" are aligned to the baseline, creating a bounce with varying strengths. This alternating pattern adds dynamic movement to the lettering.


Practicing with Other Words


With an understanding of bounce lettering, practice with various words. Using A4 paper, draw the letters aligned to the baseline on the left side. Examples include "tulips," "cake," "always," "birthday," "flowers," and "smile." Copy these examples if desired.



Next, draw the bouncing letters in the space on the right. Use tracing paper for repeated practice. Identify parts of the letters that can be lowered from the baseline and try extending strokes or slightly changing shapes.



Tips for Practicing


Tulips: Extend tall letters (t and l) far beyond the baseline, and give the "u" a more modest bounce. Draw the loop part of the "s" lower to keep the movement even.


Cake: Make the downstrokes of all the letters bounce slightly. Reduce bounciness by focusing on "c" and "k."


Always: Bounce "l," "w," and "s" more. The first "a" should be bounced sparingly to balance with the "a" before "y," which is rarely bounced.


Birthday: Bounce the "b" by drawing the loop below the baseline. Balance "r," "h," and "d" similarly, and subtly lower the "a."


Flowers: With "f" having a descender, bounce "l," "w," and "r" down from the baseline. The "s" can be slightly lower for better shape.


Smile: Boldly bounce the last downstroke of "s," "m," and "l." Lower the final "e" slightly for a balanced look.


This tutorial introduces the expressive technique of bounce lettering. By adding rhythm to the letters, wonderful effects can be achieved. Experiment with this technique to create lively and dynamic lettering.


Thanks to our friends at Tombow for this project, originally published at: