Hand Lettering Flourishes: Crossing Your T’s

One of the easiest ways to add flair to your hand lettered designs is with flourishes. Previously, we’ve looked at some flourishes that work well on letters with descenders, as well as some flourish styles that underline parts of a word. {Be sure to check those out if you haven’t already.} Today, we’re going to take a look at how to take your “t”s to the next level with crossbar flourishes!

More often than not, when you’re lettering a phrase there’s at least one “t” involved. At the most basic level, a “t” is a tall downstroke with a horizontal crossbar. But it can be so much more than that!

There’s really just one rule to follow when it comes to stylizing a crossbar: Make sure the ends of your line curl in opposite directions, never the same way. Here’s why. If both ends curl down, your “t” looks like it’s frowning or ought to be an umbrella. If both ends curl up, you have a cactus.


Instead, you want to get in the habit of making a wavy line where the ends balance each other out. Try writing a few of these lines to get your pen moving. Now, let’s look at how they work to form our “t.”

Variation #1: The Swoosh

This crossbar starts by moving the pen downward, then curving up and out to the right. At the very end, curl your line slightly downward before picking up your pen. This will give you an effect similar to a rounded checkmark or the familiar “swoosh.”

Variation #2: Looping Swoosh

This is similar to our first flourish, but rather than starting with a simple curve, we’re going to add a loop right at the beginning. Start your line above and to the left of the body of your “t.” As your pen moves down, create a loop similar to the letter “e.” Continue your swoosh as before and finish with a slight downturn.


Variation #3: The Tilde

I took five years of Spanish in school, so I got very good at drawing the tilde, the small curving line that goes above the letter “n” in certain Spanish words. That’s the muscle memory I use when forming this particular flourish. It begins by starting to the left of the body of your “t” and moving your pen up and around to the right. At the end of the line, you’ll move your pen up and to the left to balance out the first curve. This is basically just the opposite of Variation #1.


Variation #4: Looping Tilde

This flourish is identical to the one we just learned, except that before picking up your pen, you’re going to add a quick little loop to the end of the line. Make sure it stays relatively small and points to the left so that no one mistakes it for a letter “e.”

Once you’ve mastered these basic ways to draw the crossbar, there are countless ways to individualize it. Every time you cross a “t,” you get to play around with the length of the line as well as the angle at which the lines cross. Take a look at the examples below. All of these “t”s use Variation 1, but they look completely different. You can keep your crossbar short, or you can extend the line as long as you like on either side of the body of the letter. You can keep the line relatively straight or play around with the angle until you get a look you like.


The other letters in your word and design will play a role in helping you to decide what type of flourish to use. Sometimes other letters may get in the way of a long line, or the position of other words may prevent you from using a particular angle or loop. Play around with your options and you’ll start to get a feel for what looks best where. There’s no right or wrong, it’s all about style, so find yours!

To get you started, grab this free practice page and print it out. Then, use your favorite brush pen {I recommend the Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Tip} to trace my letters and form your own!


Download the Practice Page Here.

Before you go, don’t miss out on my other Hand Lettering posts, including these free practice sheets:

Brush Alphabet: Lowercase Script

Brush Alphabet: Uppercase Script

Brush Alphabet: Lowercase Print

Brush Alphabet: Uppercase Print

Descender Flourishes

Underline Flourishes

Basic Brush Lettering

Also, be sure to join our Facebook group One Artsy Mama & Friends, where you can ask questions and share your latest projects and progress! See you there.

Hand Lettering: Flourishes and Practice Page

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