Friday, November 4, 2016

Scripture Writing 101 ~ a tutorial

Scripture Writing, hand lettering tutorial, Scripture journaling tutorial

Early last week I wrote a post of a little of the backstory of how I started doing Scripture Writing and how it ended up being a regular feature here on the blog. If you haven't read that one yet, you might want to click over and read it first before finishing today's post...because this one is a tutorial and will be rather long. Don't worry, I'll wait right here until you get back!

Today I am going to share some more about how God impresses upon my heart which verses I should focus on, illustrate, and memorize, and then give you a practical how-to in case you feel called to try it yourself.

The terminology of Scripture Writing is not new. Many faithful Christians have been encouraging others for years to write out passages of Scripture. There are many great reasons to write out God's Word: for memorization, for seeing it in your own handwriting, for taking time each day to focus on a particular passage. If you are wanting a plan to choose Scriptures for you to simply write out several verses every day, there are many options. Probably my two favorite are Heidi over at The Busy Mom and Shannon over at Sweet Blessings. I've used both of their writing plans in the past to encourage me when I didn't have a particular focus for my daily Bible reading. 

The thing was, while they both got me writing out Scripture, they weren't passages that the Holy Spirit had given to me, but rather to them, for encouragement. I felt like God wanted more from me. I've never been afraid to underline passage in my Bible as God spoke to me  through them, but as I shared in the Backstory post last week, I'm not what you think of as a Bible Journal-er. I needed something that God could use to mold me, while still leaving room for my creative side to have an outlet. What I call Scripture Writing today is the result. I could have termed it Bible Illustrating, but them you might think of pictures, and that isn't quite right.  I probably could have termed it Hand-lettered Scriptures, but that seemed a bit long, so I just stuck with the more common phrase of Scripture Writing when I made a label to flag them all on the blog. I wanted to make it easier for those of you who are encouraged by them to be able to find them, thus the label. I'm not the most tech-savvy blogger, nor do I want to be, but I have learning a thing or two over the years. 

Scripture Writing, hand lettering tutorial, Scripture journaling tutorial

How does this all work out in real life? 


While I am reading at home, I usually keep a colored pencil on my nightstand that I use to mark passages that stand out to me in my daily reading. Occasionally I read in the mornings, but more often it is at night. I prefer to read at night to refocus my thoughts after a long day of work, homeschooling, or whatever else God had for me. It puts my mind upon God and His Word before I sleep, and it calms my soul. If you know anything about Jewish culture and practices, you'll remember that they begin their day with evening, and then morning, just like Genesis 1. Evening then morning, that means I'm beginning my new day with God  when I read before bed. You should pick whatever time works best for you for reading your Bible each day! Just make sure you read it!

Some people read through the Bible in a year. That can be a good plan, especially if you are a fairly new Christian. It can also be a time of refreshing if you feel worn or unsure. I have read through mine several times over the years (maybe six or seven?) but I usually take 18 months to two years to do it. Other people read through their Bibles in the Chronological order that the Scriptures were written. I've done that too. Some people just read their Bible to wherever it falls open that day. That one hasn't worked as well for me, but maybe it does for you. What is working right now is to read all the way through one book of the Bible at a time, and then ask God if I should move on to the next one, read that book again, or go to a different one. 

When I'm at church, I keep a lined journal in my Bible bag and write notes in it from that day's message. Sometimes it's just a record of the Scriptures we read, and sometimes it's several pages of notes. If a verse strikes me from that day's passage, I will usually start writing it on the left hand page of my journal while I continue to take notes on the right-hand page. That is why sometimes, if you look closely, you can see there is something written on the back of the Scripture passage I post.

At home I have a blank sketch book I use to write our Scriptures. Soon you will see some of those posting up on the blog. I highly suggest starting with lined paper! It makes it much easier for your words to march in straight rows!

Scripture Writing, hand lettering tutorial, Scripture journaling tutorial

Another thing I want to mention is that I don't always use the same translation of the Bible. You might have been wondering, so I thought I'd let you know. My very favorite translation has always been the 1984 NIV, but since you cannot purchase that anymore :( and I wanted a Bible for church that was a little less work than the one I had been primarily using for more than 20 years, I used some of my Birthday money a couple years ago to purchase an ESV. It is a single column format which I like, but as I've gotten older, the type is kind of small, especially for looking back and forth between the text and my journal/ sketchbook, so I found a large print NKJV that I use most of the time now.

The Tutorial

My favorite pens to use are the Pigma Micron pens by Sakura. They are permanent, quick drying, and fade resistant. They keep their points for a long time, and they come in six sizes and multiple colors. My most used sizes are 08 and 05. Black is a staple, but I also like colors. I have had the same pens for over a year, use then a LOT, and am just now needing to think about replacing a couple of my favorites. The best places I've found to get them locally are Hobby Lobby (with my coupons of course!) and United Art and Education (also with a coupon or on teacher appreciation days.)

I have used other pens, and if I needed to pick a second or third choice they would be G2 by Pilot or Signo by Uni-ball because they seem to be the fastest drying of the gel pens. Use whatever you have on hand, then decide if you want to invest a few dollars into a couple of Micron pens.

For the tutorial I chose a passage I have already posted to the blog, but chose to re-write it in what has become my favorite lettering style and show you the steps below. It is Ephesians 4:32. This time I am using the NKJV. Originally I used the ESV, and more than one kind of letters. Whatever I do changes and is refined over time, so if you want to compare this one to the original, I have both shown at the end of the post.

Underneath each of the collages I will list the numbered steps. If you still have questions, please leave a comment and I'll post my response so everyone can see it.

Scripture Writing, hand lettering tutorial, Scripture journaling tutorial

1- once you know which passage of Scripture you want to write, choose a pen.

2- begin with the upright letters and the outlines of the circle letters (further down I'll explain how to choose a font if you want one!) work left to right on each line

3- working that same line right to left, I add punctuation, the uprights in any circle letters, and double-check my spelling! I also make sure I crossed all of my T's.

4- move through the verse line by line. I do one line at a time, and one step at a time because it gives me time to meditate on the passage, memorize it, and pray through it asking God why He wants it to be important to me today, this week, or this year.

One of the reasons most of the verses I hand-letter are fairly short is because I like it when they fit one one page. If you want to write longer passages... keep reading, there will be a hint for that further down!

Scripture Writing, hand lettering tutorial, Scripture journaling tutorial

This is what it looks like when step one is finished. If not finishing each letter as you go drives you batty, feel free to do it all in your order. This is simply a tutorial showing you how I do it, and hopefully sharing some of what God is teaching me through it all.

Scripture Writing, hand lettering tutorial, Scripture journaling tutorial

1-the next time through I start at the top and work across each line and down until I have finished the tops and bottoms of all of my letters. See where the point of my pen is in #1? That show you how far I am down the page. For this tutorial I used an 8.5x11" piece of white cardstock so you can see each step better.

2- I have adapted a font I found into what I normally use today. I try to always put a heart over the i in Christ, as a reminder to myself of His great love towards me. I also like this adapted font because every t reminds me of the cross and what Christ gave up there to save me.

3- recently I have been using more than one color in some of my  Scripture Writing passages to emphasize specific words... or maybe just because I love colors, either one works. :)  Soon you will see more of these multi-colored passages on the blog, as I schedule out a few weeks at a time to make sure they're up for you to read every Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday morning.
If I'm going to add an emphasis color, I fill in those words first, then I go back and fill the others with the outline color (which today is black.)

4- a first look at the completed verse. I'm still struggling to find a set of numbers I love to use for the very references. At first I wasn't always putting a verse reference with the text, but then when I got them ready to post, I realized how having the reference with the verse, and not just somewhere on the page in my journal would be really helpful. So now I put it every time.

This is what it looked like before I filled in any of the letters. This would be step two, and you can see step three below as I am adding in the colors.

Scripture Writing, hand lettering tutorial, Scripture journaling tutorial

Let's pause here for some additional thoughts:

1- on the left the ESV, on the right the NKJV, they are similar, but not the same, and thus I realized that maybe it is ok to begin my Scripture Writing wherever in the passage God focuses me. Sometime it is two or three verses, sometimes it is only part of one verse. Occasionally it is the theme of the chapter. (Like the Hebrews 7 post) Remember that the original text did not come with chapter and verse designations, those were added to make it easier for us all to get the the same portion of Scripture when we were talking about God's Word or listening to a sermon.

2-my 1984 NIV that also has Ephesians 4:32 marked (more than once!) If anyone knows of an unused good condition copy of the 1984 NIV, please let me know... I might be interested.

3- you can search on the web for free chalkboard fonts, or free fonts, and download some to look at. Maybe you want to do Scripture Writing but think how I do it is too difficult, maybe you'd like to start with just using a calligraphy marker - that's ok too! I have several free fonts I've saved over the pst two years and occasionally I use a different one for something else, like a birthday card. Hand-lettering is a great skill to develop!

If you want to use regular printer paper instead of a journal, you can always make yourself a lined page to put underneath so you can march your words in a straighter line. This would work well if you want to give a passage as a gift to your friend.

4- if God is impressing longer passages of Scripture on your heart, you might want to consider getting a wide ruled composition notebook to use instead of a smaller journal. Remember that this is between you and God. None else needs to see it if you don't feel like sharing it. Most of you probably are not going to post your writings to a blog on a regular basis - but if you do - let me know, I'll come see them and be encouraged too!

Scripture Writing, hand lettering tutorial, Scripture journaling tutorial

Here I am filling in the black letters after I've done the rose and blue emphasis words. This is step 3.

Just a few more thought before you scroll down and see the completed verse.

Scripture Writing, hand lettering tutorial, Scripture journaling tutorial

1- this is the first time I wrote out Ephesians 4:32, back in March of this year. Our pastor was teaching from Ephesians that day. I think God laid this particular portion of the Scripture on my heart that day because I had been mad a lot, and short-tempered with my family for a while. That is not what God calls us to, He calls us to be loving, kind, and forgiving. As I was writing out this portion of Scripture, and meditating on what it was calling me to do, God was breaking my hard heart into a million pieces so He could remake it to be more like Christ. God used His Word, via this letter of Paul's to the church at Ephesus to present to me the Gospel all over again. This verse, and its impact on my life had a direct correlation to my sharing Scripture with all of you here on the blog. I figured if I needed to hear it again, you might be impacted by it too.

As I continue with Scripture Writing, one thing God has impressed upon me recently is that almost every chapter in the New Testament has a verse that specifically gives the Gospel message. So whatever verse He gives you, focus on it!

2- here is a day when I was a little more joyful and a little less teary-eyed in church. This is how most of the rest of my journal looks, sermon notes on the right, passages on the left.

3- remember when I said I've recently added in multiple colors all in the same passage? This is one of those. God moved my heart to write it just like it appeared in my Bible, with Christ's words in red letters.

4- sometimes I need to write out a longer passage, and I might make some of the text in a simpler font so more fits on the page. Thus, with this passage from Galatians I did some creative squishing of text sizes.

Scripture Writing, hand lettering tutorial, Scripture journaling tutorial

Here it is, all finished.  Thank you for sticking around until the end! 

Later this month I will write another post with more things I have learned along the what to do when you misspell a word, or mess up a letter. In the meantime, I would like to bless one of you with this copy of Ephesians 4:32 I wrote out for this tutorial post. In order to do that, I've decided to make it easy, if you'd like to be in the drawing, just leave a comment below with a verse reference that God has been impressing upon your heart. Anyone who comments by November the 19th, 2016 will be entered in the drawing.

If this post blessed you, would you please consider sharing it? Thanks!

Come back tomorrow, it will be Saturday, so there will be another verse.  :)


  1. Carol, This is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing this and taking the time to make the tutorial. I know it was time consuming. Recently, my daughter has been working on an article based on Ruth: All that you say to me I will do. Ruth 3:5 One of her choices for additional verses is Philippians 2:14 - something I need reminded of - Do everything without complaining or arguing.
    Thank you, again. You inspire me to be more bold with my scripture writing. - Lori

  2. It's so neat to see how you do this! You do such beautiful writing and coloring! I also like to read my Bible at night. It helps me get some peace so I can sleep.

  3. Thank you for sharing such a detailed and inspiring tutorial! I might have to try it with some of the Scripture passages God impresses on me in a special way. One interesting passage I read a couple weeks ago has really stuck with me. It's in Ezra 3 - verse 3 says that "despite their fear of the peoples around them," Israel rebuilt the altar of the Lord on its foundations and offered sacrifices. And then in verse 11 the people gave a mighty shout of praise because the temple of the Lord was laid on its foundations. It struck me because the people were legitimately scared of being attacked by the hostile peoples around them, but they were obedient and worshiped God ANYWAY.

    1. Kym,
      That section of Scripture (Ezra and Nehemiah) has always been a challenging one for me. It tells about the Israelites rebuilding the wall with one hand and holding their swords in the others because they expected to be attacked at any time. That they could praise God as they were rebuilding and trust Him to help them is amazing, I want to have faith like that!

  4. Carol, I was sure I had commented on this post already... but I dunno what happened. I don't know that I will ever do this kind of work. though I love knowing how it is done. I love knowing WHY a scripture has been impressed upon a heart, and knowing why writing/drawing scripture is important you just helps me know you better. :)