These are some of the things I wish I knew before learning brush lettering. Hopefully they will save you some time, money and heartache!
As with any new hobby I start, I always dive in head first without doing much research. Learning brush lettering and hand lettering was no exception for me. I went out, bought some expensive brush pens and just went for it. Sure, if you want to learn, diving right in is a great start, but make sure you do a bit of research first.
Not everything listed here is a bad or expensive thing I wish I knew before learning brush lettering, but there are a few tips here that are definitely worth the read. Not only will you save some money, but you’ll save yourself the heart ache of ruining expensive supplies!
Don’t buy pricey pens to learn with!
Maybe it’s a no brainer, but for me this was a hard concept to grasp. When you are first starting to learn brush lettering, you may not realize just how hard you will be on those sensitive brush pen tips. I completely demolished a primary set of Tombow Dual Tip Brush Pens within a week of trying to learn. Instead, start learning the basic composition of letters and fauxlligraphy. Then move on to brush lettering.
Read Next: Intro to Brush Lettering
Crayola Markers are your best friend.
Once you know the basics, try using a basic Crayola marker. Most people have these lying around in their supplies already and if you don’t, you can buy a pack of these super cheap. Plus, they are Crayolas! They are made to take a beating. The Super tips are my favorite because when I was learning brush lettering, I put a ton of pressure on my tips. Those Super Tips sure can bounce back after being smushed!
View this post on Instagram
I actually had some time for myself today which was so nice! I did some #watercolorlettering (see my previous post) and then did a little practicing with all of my pens. I can’t believe I’ve forgotten how fun a regular crayola marker can be!! If you are just starting to learn brush calligraphy start with some crayola super tips. They’re cheap and come in some fun colors too!! Swipe 👉🏻 to see my sped up abc’s! . . . . #brushlettering #brushletteringvideo #crayolasupertips #crayolacalligraphy #crayolalettering #handlettering #letteringabcs #letteringvideo #handletteringvideo #strengthinletters
The type of paper used matters
This one did me in! For a WHOLE YEAR, I would use my brush pens on plain printer paper, on sketch pad paper, on any type of paper. I could not for the life of me figure out why my brush pen tips would fray after only a few uses. That is when I made the painful discovery that even if a paper feels smooth to the touch, it can still wreak havoc on your pen tips. Once a tip starts fraying, you no longer get those crisp lines and thin upstrokes.
Read Also: The Best Paper for Brush Lettering
If you are starting out and printing off practice sheets, make sure you use a very smooth printer paper. I personally use this type. I will also place tracing paper over printed practice sheets. Not only is tracing paper smooth, but it’s also cheap and you can continue to use practice pages over and over again. This is especially handy when you have a practice book you bought to help you learn.
Some marker paper is also thin enough to use as tracing paper. You may need a light pad to help see what’s under the marker paper. I seriously LOVE mine and use it all the time. Especially when I am making multiple versions of the same piece. I also use it when I am weeding vinyl cut from my Silhouette–dual purpose!
It’s not just handwriting
When someone says “Oh you have such pretty handwriting” I cringe. I most certainly do not have pretty handwriting when I am just jotting something down. But I’m not mad at those people because before I started I thought the same exact thing of hand letterers. Turns out, there is a difference between normal handwriting, hand lettering and brush lettering.
Lettering does take some skill believe it or not. You could be born with the worst handwriting on earth, but if you want to learn brush lettering or any other type of lettering, you still can do it. It’s all about practice, practice, practice and gaining that muscle memory. Soon you’ll have the basics down and you’ll start adding personality to develop your own style. No handwriting skills needed.
It’s an expensive hobby
Boy is it! For me, I get so excited when I find a new lettering product to try. It’s funny because when someone asks me why I have so many markers, I look at them like they are crazy! They aren’t just markers and they certainly aren’t just for coloring! Each marker gives me joy, and brings out my inner creativity.
One of my favorite and more inexpensive ways I get my hands on new tools for different lettering techniques is subscribing to The Inky Box. It’s a monthly subscription box for lettering artists and those wanting to get started. It’s a great way to try out new pens and tools without buying a whole pack. Check it out here.
It may be one heck of an expensive hobby, but in the long run, lettering is cheaper than therapy–right??? It helps me when I start to feel anxious, or when I get stuck in my head.
View this post on Instagram
Oh how true it is!! I’ve been feeling extremely anxious all day long for whatever reason so I finally just decided to step away from my computer and letter. I found this #letteringconfessions challenge with @ensigninsights @howtohandletter and thought today’s prompt was perfect. Lettering is definitely my therapy, although at this point with all of the supplies I’ve acquired I’m not sure I can say it’s cheaper than therapy 😜 . . . ✒️ @tombowusa fudenosuke 🗒 @rhodiapads . . . #handlettering #brushlettering #brushcalligraphy #moderncalligraphy #tombowfudenosukehard #tombowfudenosuke #rhodiapad #letteringtherapy #handletterer #letteringdaily #brushletteringpractice #letteringlove
I had no idea I would fall in love with all things lettering
What started as a pure curiosity in an emerging trend, has turned into a full-blown obsession for me. There’s so many different styles of lettering–watercolor, brush, hand, sign, and dip pen calligraphy–and I want to learn them all!
There is also a huge lettering community on Instagram that is full of people ready to encourage you and cheer you on, myself included! If you need inspiration, or just want to find a few like-minded letterers, join in a monthly lettering challenge. There are tons of them floating around with each day giving you a new prompt. Do them all or just a few and soon you’ll be able to see all of the progress you are making!
So even though there were a few things I wished I knew before I started lettering, it’s still a fun creative outlet. It has most certainly become a passion of mine, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me!
You may also enjoy:
- Favorite Brush Lettering Supplies
- How to Fake Brush Lettering
- How to Digitize Hand Lettering with Illustrator