Hand Lettering: Underline Flourishes & Free Practice Sheets

One of the easiest ways to take your hand lettering to the next level is by learning to flourish! There are many different ways to do it, including the various descender letter flourishes we looked at last week. Some flourishes stand alone as artistic embellishments, while others are actually part of the letters themselves. Today, we’re going to learn one of my favorite techniques; something I like to call underline flourishing, because the flourish acts like an underline below the word you’re writing. Take a look…

Hand Lettering: Flourishing and Practice Sheets

The Basic Flourish

Before we look at how this works with specific letters, let’s look at the basic shape of the flourish itself.  You simply loop your pen up and over your existing line, then extend it out to the side. Here are two different directions it can take.


Hand Lettering Underline Flourishes & Free Practice Sheets

Going Forward

First, let’s look at how this works when the flourish loops up and over to the right. This works especially well with letters like “j,” “g,” and “y.”

Hand Lettering Underline Flourishes & Free Practice Sheets

After you’ve done your final downstroke of the letter, simply loop your pen up and continue the line out to the right as long as you like before picking up your pen. I tend to finish off the line with an upward curl. {If none of this makes sense, you might want to start out with my basic lettering tutorial first!}

Hand Lettering Underline Flourishes & Free Practice SheetsHere’s a look at this flourish used within a few basic words. You’ll notice that while I continued the underline all the way to the end of the word, “good,” I cut it short in the word, “joy,” stopping under the “o” to allow for the loop of the “y.” In the word, “your,” I chose to extend the line out even further past the end of the word. Flourishing isn’t an exact science, it’s an art form, so it’s up to you as the designer to choose what looks best to you when you’re lettering a particular word or phrase. Play around with several different ways and see what you like!

Hand Lettering Underline Flourishes & Free Practice Sheets

Going Backward

This same technique creates an entirely different effect when you switch the direction of the loop and carry the line out to the left instead! Now, instead of underlining the letters ahead of it, this flourish doubles back and underlines what came before. Some of the letters I often use for this are “n,” “m,” “r,” and “h.” You can try it with any letters you like…it’s all about what styles you like! You’ll get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

Hand Lettering Underline Flourishes & Free Practice Sheets

This time, after you’ve completed the final downstroke of your letter, you’ll loop your pen up and to the right, then bring the line back down and to the left, as shown below.

This flourish is a nice touch at the end of a word as an elegant way to finish it off. In the word, “fun,” I let the line travel back under the “u,” before stopping because of the downward loop of the “f.”

Hand Lettering Underline Flourishes & Free Practice Sheets

However, just as with the forward underline, you get to determine just how far your line will extend. It all depends on the letters in the word and the look you want to achieve.  Take a look at the examples below. In the word, “won,” underlined the entire word, while in “pin,” I couldn’t because of the “p.” When I wrote, “run,” I actually brought the line all the way back up to the starting point of the “r” and connected it to make the word look like one continuous line! Since I needed to cross the “t” in “ton,” I just kept my line going and turned the underline into a crossbar. Finally, for the word, “in,” I extended well past the beginning of the word and formed a little decorative spiral.

Flourish practice

While this is a beautiful finish for a word, it doesn’t have to be limited to just a final letter! You can do this flourish right in the middle of a word too! Take a look:Hand Lettering Underline Flourishes & Free Practice Sheets

Here’s how the same flourish looks like at different places within a word.

Hand Lettering Underline Flourishes & Free Practice Sheets

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules for when and how to use these flourishing techniques; just play around as you sketch out your phrases and see what seems to work best with the particular combination of letters you have.

Combining Flourishes

Once you get comfortable with the basic idea of these underline flourishes, it’s fun to try putting them together within a phrase. When I wrote the phrase, “good times,” I used a forward underline flourish on the “g,” and a backward one on the “m.” To make the phrase look cohesive, the first flourish also doubles as the crossbar of the “t” in “times.”  Try writing this phrase a few times; it’s a great one for practicing!

Hand Lettering Underline Flourishes & Free Practice Sheets

If you’re ready to get really fancy, here’s one more phrase to practice. This time, the flourish for my “y” actually becomes both the crossbar of the “t” as well as the loop in the “h” of “the.” I wrote “ou’re” first, as well as the stem of the “t,” then went back to write the y. After I crossed the “t” with my flourish, I looped it up to become part of the “h.” Sometimes to make a flourish like this work, you have to write some of the letters out of order!

Hand Lettering Underline Flourishes & Free Practice Sheets

Feel free to add some shadows and highlights, along with a little bit of color too! Either way, you’ve got a fabulous work of art that will seriously impress your friends!

Hand Lettering Underline Flourishes & Free Practice Sheets

Ready to practice? Click here to download this free practice sheet!

Trace my flourishes, then use the empty space to write your own! Be sure to check out all my other practice sheets as well, including script and print brush alphabets and more flourishes!

Flourish Practice Pages

I would love to see your progress! Upload pictures of your practice or projects and share them with us in the One Artsy Mama & Friends Facebook group. See you there!

Hand Lettering: Underline Flourishing and Free Practice Sheets

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  1. Thank you! Flourishes make the writing so fancy and pretty! I love your practice sheets…keep ’em coming!

  2. Thank you!! I have a question, where should I outline? When I do it, it doesn’t seem to look right.

    1. The sheets are created using the Apple Pencil in the Procreate App on my iPad Pro. However, they’re the perfect size for using with a Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen, my all-time fave! You can also use a Pentel Sign Pen with Brush Tip.

  3. Is there a computerized font in this style available for purchase? It’s beautiful and I’d love to have it for my Silhouette and monogramming machines. Thanks.

  4. I am so glad I came across your site! It has such beautiful tips and descriptions to make it seem doable for me to pick up as a hobby. This is coming from a person who can’t draw a straight line if my life depended on it!

    Thank you for sharing information:)

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