The Beginner’s Guide to Brush Lettering

June 7, 2018

This post is everything you need to know to get started with brush lettering. Now I’ve said this many times before but the best way to get better at brush lettering is to practice every day. But how can you practice if you don’t know where to start? Well, my dear, that’s why I’m here.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. I only recommend products I use and love!

Here, I will lay out the steps I took to start and get better at brush lettering. I truly believe that hand lettering will give the vast majority (if not everyone) instant gratification when it comes to seeing progress. There were times when I saw myself master a skill within a day which really encouraged me to keep working at it. I don’t know about you but I am much more likely to not get bored or annoyed with something I try if I can see my improvement.

Busting Brush Lettering Myths

Isn’t calligraphy expensive? no.

Don’t you have to have good handwriting? no.

It’ll take years to get good at it? NO!

Find out why these things aren’t true here!

Supplies

If you’re a true newbie I would recommend starting out with the Tombow Fudenosuke or the Pentel Fude Pens.

If you’re a beginner but not a total beginner, I would invest in the Tombow Dual Brush Pens.

You’ll also need a pencil for sketching, a good eraser, and a sketchbook.

For a more comprehensive list of supplies check out my guide to the best hand lettering supplies for beginners.

The Ultimate Guide to Brush lettering - supplies, tips, and process
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Practice

Now that you have a few markers to get started with its time for DRILLS! Before you can create any letters you have to know how to control your pen.

Practice making thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes with your marker.

You don’t want to hold your pen like a normal pen and use the tip. It’ll make it much harder to get crisp lines with different thickness. I usually hold my marker at around a 45-degree angle so that I’m using the side of the nib more than the tip.

To get thin upstrokes make sure you’re barely putting any pressure on your pen and that’s it’s only just touching the paper.

thin upstroke!

To get the thick downstrokes pressure on your pen so that as much of the nib is touching the paper as possible.

thick downstrokes!

Once you’ve gotten the hang of controlling the pressure and thickness of your strokes it’s time to start combining up and down strokes. The best way to do this is to make “U”s and loops!

drills!

Now it’s time to start creating letters! When I was first learning, I would just rewrite each letter over and over and over again. I would take up an entire page with just the same letter!

The Final Product

  • First, you have to find some heavy duty paper that would ruin your markers – this is my personal favorite – it’s thick so it doesn’t wear down easily and it is a dream to blend on!
  • Next step is picking your colors. If you plan on blending I would choose a lighter color as your base and then add a darker color!
  • I like to sketch out my design in pencil so I can figure out the spacing of the words, centering, and details like that – I’m no good at eyeballing it so I definitely need to be able to erase and erase again after that before I get the letters where they need to be! Also, make sure that you’re sketch is as light as possible!
  • Then I go over my sketch with my markers! After everything is dry (about 15 minutes should be good) I erase any stray pencil markers. Be as light as you can when erasing to avoid tearing the paper. Even if you’re using thick, high-quality paper, going over the same spot multiple with wet markers and then erasing aggressively can cause your paper to tear. Not a cute look!
  • Time for details! The first thing I do is add a shadow with a gray brush pen. Make sure the marker you choose isn’t too dark! I add the shadow by drawing a line on the right side of each of my strokes. If you want something bolder you can outline the entire piece with a black micron pen making the line heavier on the right side of your strokes. The next thing I like to do is add highlights with a white, opaque pen. This is my favorite part of the entire process and I just think it adds so much more depth and dimension to the piece!
  • Finito! Now you can either hang your piece up, sell it, digitize it, or give it to a friend for the low price of free!

 

Still have questions? Feel free to leave a comment or send me a quick email! I would love to hear from you!

 

 

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