There’s just something authentic, nostalgic, and beautiful about hand painted signs. It’s one of those artsy designs that get me into a creative mood quite easily. I’ve even had to create a few of my own hand drawn or hand painted signs before and found out very quickly that my handwriting is atrocious when it comes to signage. This got me to thinking: what if there are hand drawn fonts out there that can easily fool people into thinking a sign was handwritten?
Sure enough, I found plenty of hand drawn fonts for reproducing hand painted signs, without using your hands. You just need a font or two with characters that look a bit scrawled, possibly wobbly, and – even better – ones that include alternates to really give each letter a more unique look. After all, when I write by hand, none of my A’s look exactly alike.
Another point to note: most hand painted signs include a variety of hand drawn styles of text, such as in the photo above. So when choosing a font for your hand painted look, you might actually want to look for complementary pairs of fonts or a font family that has different styles.
In the list below, I included both free and premium fonts so that you can find one within your or your client’s budget. And I tried to include a wide variety of styles while remaining within the hand painted signs look. Most are somewhat new, but I couldn’t resist throwing in a couple oldies but goodies because, well, a classic is a classic no matter how old it is!
The nice thing about premium fonts is the amazing support they usually have as well as the large character sets that are included. Most premium font families come with characters needed for multiple languages and often also several decorative extras and alternates. The cost is usually dependent on how many styles you want as well as what type of license you need, making it easy to customize both the font and the price for your budget.
What I love about the Duffy font family is that the handwritten look is so distinguished. It reminds me of the type of handwriting I wish I’d had when I was in school. It’s easy to read and comes in four different styles for only $99. The package comes with desktop and web licensing/formats.
Designed by Hannes von Döhren, the Goodlife font family is a collection of 6 different handdrawn styles, plus a set of handdrawn extras like arrows and swirls. And this font will truly make a sign look hand painted with several versions of each letter for that truly unique handwriting look. Available with desktop and web licensing, each style costs $30, except for the extras set, which is $25.
While only two styles – light and regular – are available, the Blog Script font is excellent for producing a handpainted sign look. The letters are cursive style and truly look as if someone painted or wrote by hand. Both styles are $39 and come with tons of licensing freedom: desktop, web, server, app, and ebook.
The Mulberry Script font includes a variety of beautiful ligatures, alternates, extras, and even ornaments, such as leaves and flowers. Available either by individual styles, priced between $8 and $27, or two different packages. The Pro version comes with everything for $58, and the $39 collection comes with just a basic set of alternates. Licensing includes desktop, web, server, app, and ebook.
What really caught my attention with the Dakota font family is that all styles very much look like they are either painted or written with an old-fashioned quill and ink. Plus, this font has 30 different styles available with different licensing options as well. Prices for packages start at $9.95, with most at $49.95 and up, depending on licensing for web, desktop, mobile, etc.
The Meroe font is another one that really looks like it would be found on handpainted signs. This one has the actual brush strokes! This one has been around awhile – since 2012 – but it is so perfect for achieving the painted look that I couldn’t resist including it. Prices start at $79 for individual styles (regular or bold) and licensing (all types available).
Originally designed by LisaBeth Weber in 1999, the ITC Weber Hand font family was recently updated. The four different typefaces all have a handwritten look but still has a very neat look to it. On a sign, it could definitely look handpainted. Each of the styles start at $35, depending on the licenses purchased (web, desktop, and more).
The textured lines on the Sugarplum font are what make it look like it was handpainted onto a rough wooden sign by someone who has studied calligraphy. Designed by Crystal Kluge in 2012, this font has a very fanciful, whimsical feel. Unfortunately, it is only available for desktop at this time, but pricing is quite reasonable with two different styles starting at $29 each or packages starting at $49.
For those looking for cheaper fonts or fonts for personal use, the following are some of the newer and better ones I came across. Keep in mind, though, that character sets are often limited, errors may occur, and some “free” fonts may still require a donation. However, a few below do allow commercial use completely for free. And other designers ask for a request for commercial use, which may require a fee less than the cost of a premium font.
The Akila font was designed by Venkatesh Pampana based on the handwriting of an actual person: Akila Ananthanarayanan. The font is, of course, very limited because it is free. But for personal use, short titles, decorative art, etc, this font would be a fun one to use for a handpainted look.
Quite the interesting font, Sprayer is completely free for both personal and commercial use due its public domain status. While this font would not work well for body copy, it could be an interesting title font or for use on artsy projects. The crazy, haphazard style of this handpainted font can really add a unique touch to a project. Just beware of the “d” as it is very light and barely noticeable.
The Palitoon font is a top notch, handdrawn font, one that is hard to believe it falls under SIL Open Font License. It is easy to read, but has the handwritten element necessary for the look of handpainted signs. Another amazing aspect to this fun yet stylish font is that it can be used for multiple languages and comes with plenty of symbols, accents, and punctuation.
Available as Freeware for non-commercial work (contact the designer for commercial use), the Webcomic Whore font is definitely worth sharing. The letters look so much like those found on handpainted signs, such as the crude “No Trespassing” signs you might see on a country road. It comes with two sets of uppercase letters to really make text look like handwritten with only the “i” available in lowercase. Numbers, punctuation, and extra accents are also available.
So this one isn’t completely free, but the designer only asks for a $10 donation for personal use and asks for designers to contact for commercial use. Grave Danger has the look of handpainted “Danger” or “Turn Back Now” signs like you might see in a horror film or at a Halloween haunted house. While the characters are limited with only uppercase letters, numbers, and basic punctuation, it’s a great font for titles or for the text in your Halloween invitations.
The Undo35 has a very original look akin to watercolor paint, so it would be perfect for a watercolor design project that needs a handpainted touch. The set is limited to uppercase, lowercase, numerals, and basic punctuation. But it’s free for commercial use with only a few caveats, so be sure to read through the short legal text found in the download.
True to its name, the Almond Milk font looks like a kid used spilled drops of milk and her fingers to trace letters on the top of a table (something I did often as a child). Interestingly, though, the inspiration came from Aztec letters. The font is free for personal use only, so be sure to contact the designer to request commercial use if needed.
Definitely more of a graffiti type font, California Designs has the scrawling yet stylistic look found on the sides of buildings. The character set is limited but the font would be great for titles or short text such as on invitations or works of art. The designer requests a $10 donation for personal use and to contact for commercial use of any kind.
Hand Painted Signs are Unique
What impressed me when looking for fonts that look like hand painted signs was the wide variety of original styles out there, which makes it much easier to create an original design. The hand drawn fonts look has become quite popular, so make yours stand out – either with your own personal touch, such as a mixture of fonts, or a font that has a new look to it.
What are your thoughts on using fonts for hand painted signs? Be sure to share if you know of any fonts better than the ones I found above!