I’ve taken on the challenge of learning Brush Lettering. I am definitely not an expert in Lettering, but I’d like to share a few resources that are helping me out tremendously.
What is Brush Lettering?
First of all, it is not handwriting. You can have awful handwriting and learn how to Brush Letter. It is more of an art form than a handwriting technique. Also, it’s not calligraphy which has uniform rules and styles. And it’s not a font either. Fonts are what you see me typing on this page and made for websites, browsers, etc. to read.
Brush Lettering is much more whimsical in style. There are practice sheets and books dedicated to Brush Lettering, but the style you come up with is all your own. There are many different ways to Brush Letter and create words on a page and not all the rules have to be followed. Brush Lettering is much more fun, in my opinion.
Learning Brush Lettering
I started out learning by doing some of the challenges. One of the best ones that I know of is from The Happy Ever Crafter and the #showmeyourdrills challenge which you can find on Facebook and Instagram. She also created the #showmeyourletter challenge which you can use if you buy her workbooks. The drills are absolutely free with videos and downloads available on her website. I am still in the learning stages, but social media has bloomed with all kinds of tutorials and free guides to learn. Skillshare (get 3 months for just 99 cents) also offers classes for newbies and experienced letterers.
Brush Lettering Books & Workbooks
I really enjoy Peggy Dean’s book: The Ultimate Brush Lettering Guide: A Complete Step-by-Step Creative Workbook to Jump Start Modern Calligraphy Skills. The book contains the basics skills you need, but also dives in further to all the letters and instructs you on how to practice those letters. It also contains practice sheets you can copy. I would’ve preferred the practice sheets to be something I could download, but you can definitely make photocopies and use these over and over again.
As I mentioned above, The Happy Ever Crafter also has workbooks and videos online that go with the books that really help you learn these skills. Another good idea is to just search on instagram for hand lettering, brush lettering, drills, and so forth. This will bring you to a lot of other resources for practice. Seems like everyday on Instagram another challenge is going on. Find one that fits your level from beginner to experienced.
Basic Brush Lettering Pens and Markers
I’ve learned from experience that I need a good marker. I’m also a lefty, so I needed a good marker that I could hold and that wouldn’t shred or feel awkward in my hand. So far, the one that came recommended by most and I love is the Tombow Fudenosuke Pens. It comes in a 2 pack – one hard and one soft. I prefer the soft pen, but others have told me they like the hard one. But they write so well! I really love them and I’m not just saying that.
I started off with the Tombow Brush Pens, but found them hard to use. I’m saving them for when I’m more skilled and then trying them out. They just are hard to control and make really big strokes, so it’s hard to see if you are forming the letters correctly. The Fudenosuke pens have a definite thin and thick line, where the brush pens are harder to see the difference. Also, the Brush pens are much more pricey and tend to shred. I haven’t had that problem with the Fudenosuke. But this also comes down to what paper you use.
Brush Lettering Paper Recommendations
Here are a few types of paper that are recommended for Brush Lettering. Some of these I haven’t tried, but come recommended from the “experts”.
Rhodia Dot Pads – Uses dots instead of lines and won’t ruin your pens. The cover is easy to pull back and has a stiff back cover for writing and sketching. It’s also easy to tear out because it’s perforated at the top.
Canson Marker Paper – Won’t shred your markers or bleed through which protects your pen tips. Easy to write or draw in as the top folds over.
Canson Watercolor or Strathmore Watercolor Paper – If you are using water brushes, use paper specific to watercolors. I’m not experienced in this but do your research on how to use water pens. It’s a different set of tools that are needed!
Tracing Paper – You can use this over your workbooks and it won’t ruin your pens.
My Overall Recommendation – Summary
- Commit to a lettering challenge that focuses on the basic strokes (not letters, strokes!) like the #showmeyourdrills which is 30 days.
- Join an online community either on Instagram or Facebook.
- Don’t buy a bunch of pens yet. Instead invest in the Tombow Fudenosuke Pen or a similar pen and a good pad of paper, like Rhodia Dot Pads or simply just use tracing paper. You can invest in more supplies once you are sure you are going to stick with brush lettering.
- Don’t get overwhelmed by how good everyone else is. Everyone struggles when they start out. Over time, you’ll get better.
- Follow me on Instagram (I promise to follow you back. I am not one of those people that follows you and then unfollows you when you follow me. That’s a rant for another day!)
- After you finish the 30 days, find a resource such as #showmeyourletters and commit to that for further practice.
- If you have the financial ability, join an online class such as the ones on Skillshare.