Hand Lettering for Beginners
Words are powerful. They can provide comfort, hope and encouragement. The power of words is what makes hand lettering such a satisfying art form. It enables you to visually capture the essence of a word or phrase. While drawing and painting have been a part of my life ever since I can remember, recently I have fallen in love with the art of lettering. Lettering is simply “the art of drawing letters.” Hand lettering can be done with watercolor, pen, marker etc.
If you are interested in exploring this beautiful art form, or if you are a beginner, this post will get you set for all you will need to get started and provide you with the resources needed to begin on the right track.
Hand Lettering for Beginners
When I first started learning the art of lettering, I was a bit overwhelmed. Once I began to put the pen to the paper I quickly realized that it was a lot harder than it looked. I would watch IG or YouTube tutorials and wonder how I was ever going to get my lettering to look like that! But little by little, as I practiced, and gained muscle memory, it got easier and I was able to create the lettering that I desired. So where do you start? I would say one of the most important things to start with are the right tools.
My Favorite Tools
- The Tombow Fudenosuke is a great brush pen to use when beginning your lettering journey. These pens come in both a hard and soft tip. I prefer the soft tip because it provides more flexibility.
- My absolute favorite brush pen is the Tombow Dual Brush Pen. These pens come in 96 shades. Each pen has a fine hard tip at one end to create fine points, and a soft brush tip at the other end to create beautiful thick brush strokes. These brush pens are also great for blending.
- Another great brush pen to try is the Sakura Koi Watercolor Brush Pen. It is similar to the Tombow brush pen but has a shorter tip.
- The Pentel Sign Pen with Brush Tip is another good pen to start with and has a flexible semi-hard tip.
- When using the pens that I listed above, I highly recommend using Rhodia paper pads. The pads come in various sizes and the sheets come in the form of lines, grids, or dots to help you keep your lettering straight and even. I personally prefer the dot pads. Not only does the smooth texture of this paper make lettering easier, it also enables you to extend the life of your pens. When I first started lettering, I practiced on thicker paper similar to card stock. Yet, I began to notice that the tips of my brush pens were fraying quickly, which made it harder to get crisp pen lines. Once I started using the Rhodia pad I saw a huge difference in the longevity of my pens. Cardstock is great to use on final pieces, but when practicing, or beginning a lettering piece, I reccomend using Rhodia paper.
- A cheaper option is just plain old copy paper. It won’t be as smooth as the Rhodia pads, but it will work fine and is more affordable.
- Apart from pens and paper, pencils are a very helpful tool when determining the layout of your lettering. Sketching out your lettering design using a pencil on tracing paper or copy paper is very beneficial. You can use any pencil you prefer, but the main pencils I use are the Palomino Blackwings and Staedtler mechanical pencils.
- The Tombow Mono Sand Eraser is great to use for ink mistakes. The eraser is rough and can remove ink that other erasers cannot.
- Another eraser you can use for pencil marks is the affordable Paper Mate Black Pearl Eraser.
- The Huion Light Box has been a lifesaver for me and saves me so much time! You can use the lightbox to trace your lettering onto numerous types of paper. Below is a photo of a lettering piece I started on Rhodia paper and then traced onto cardstock using the light box.
My Favorite Online Resources
There are many free resources available for you to practice your lettering. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Sharisse of Pieces Calligraphy has a great reference guide available that I used when I started out. For this particular guidesheet, I recommend using the Tombow Fudenosuke. This worksheet will help you with the basic strokes and letterforms. It may seem tedious, but learning the basics is key to growing in your hand lettering skills. Practice makes progress!
- Dawn of Dawn Nicole Designs has a ton of free resources on her blog that will get you set when starting out as a beginner. When learning brush lettering and using the Tombow Dual Brush Pen, I recommend downloading her Brush Calligraphy Practice Worksheets.
Now that hand lettering is growing more and more in popularity, there are also a good amount of online courses available.
- Amanda Arneill offers a variety of online courses depending on your level and interest. For more information you can visit her website HERE.
- Liss of Lissletters also offers several online classes. You can find her website HERE.
If you need an extra push to help encourage and motivate you with your lettering, head on over to Instagram or Facebook and join in on some of the lettering challenges that are offered. When I first started lettering, I joined in on the #HandletteredABC’s 26-day alphabet challenge, and I am extremely grateful that I did. Each day I was able to post on IG a letter of the alphabet that I had practiced. After completing the challenge, I could already see a dramatic improvement in my lettering.
Final piece of advice
My final piece of advice as you begin your lettering journey is to have fun. Enjoy the process! Lettering like all art forms takes time to master, so stick with it. Don’t compare yourself with those further along on the journey. You’ll get better with practice.
Be sure to follow my lettering journey on Instagram!