Let me share with you a short story of my experience learning brush lettering. Okay, so when I first started brush lettering I have to be honest it wasn’t easy. For one, I am a heavy-handed writer so that was challenging trying to learn how to gain pen control. I can tell you one thing brush lettering teaches you to be “graceful” when your writing. What I mean by that is patience, mercy, and time. But, its like any task or new thing you try we might not all get it on the first go around, but when we keep trying over and over again and start to see improvement. We then learn to master something that was once unknown and now it comes naturally for us to do. I like to compare it to riding a bike for instance. If you fall down once, you get right back up!
So I want to ease your mind and let you know although it starts off as a challenge it gets better over time. Just remember to show yourself “grace” and “mercy” during the process because you’re going to need it in order to go through the process. “Grow through what you go through!” one of my favorite quotes. Find more daily affirmations or quotes on my Pinterest board.
Let’s get right into it! I want to give you some FAQs about brush lettering where I give you also the do’s or don’ts. The information I provide you hear is based on knowledge that was self-taught and also information that I also learned by the inspiring hand lettering community.
Q. What brush pens do you recommend for beginners?
A. Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen soft or hard tip. Why? Very easy at hand, similar to holding your everyday office pen. Highly recommended for learning pen control, especially for heavy-handed writers like myself.
Q. What is pen control? Why is it so important?
A. Pen control simply means having complete control of your pen. This is very important when learning brush lettering and comes easy with practicing your basic brush strokes. Basic brush strokes are your drills for learning the basic of hand lettering.
Q. How should I hold my pen?
A. The most common rule for holding brush pens is 45 degree angle. Whatever is comfortable for you to grip or use will work in my opinion. I actually hold my Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens the same way I write. However, when I use Tombow Dual Brush Pens I use the common rule because the brush tips of the Tombow Dual Brush pens are a lot thicker and bigger. Sometimes you have to lead with your arm instead of your wrist.
Q. What does it mean to lead with your arm vs your wrist while brush lettering?
A. This is all dependent to the type of brush pen you are using on whether or not you will use your arm while brush lettering vs your wrist. I also believe it’s quite helpful in my case and it also maybe in yours. Here are some examples below of both techniques:
Q. What other brush pens do you recommend?
A. Pentel Fude Touch is also a very popular brush lettering tool used by beginners. Some what similar to Tombow Fudenosuke (Hard tip) because it has a firm small brush tip.
Zebra Super Fine Disposable Pen is also another one of my favorites. It as well has a slight firm brush tip.
Zebra Medium Brush Pen if you are looking for something to use with a not so small strokes this would be your brush pen choice.
Tombow Fudenosuke Twin tip another great brush pen option. It comes with uni-tips one end of the brush pen is black and the opposite end is grey. This becomes very handy as well not only for practicing brush lettering, but also if you want to outline or give your lettering more definition. I will explain more about this in another post.
Tombow Dual Brush Pens is another popular lettering community favorite. These pens you can by them individually or in sets. They are delicate so you have to be very cautious how or when you use them. Because you can use these pens for many techniques brush lettering, blending, outlining, watercolor and more.
Please check visit my post on All-time favorite lettering goods on how each brush pen writes on paper.
Q. What paper do you use for brush pens?
A. The paper you choose is so important for your brush lettering. Why? Because its a life saver for your brush pens. Remember when I mentioned your brush tips are fragile. This is the main reason why choosing the right type of paper or using the right paper for brush lettering. I recommend use a list of my favorites noted below:
More information on paper, Canson XL Marker paper, Rhodia Dot/Grid Pad, and HP Premium Laser Jet Paper can be found here.
Q. Why are my brush tips fraying? Are they ruined?
A. It’s either the paper you are using I don’t advise you to use any other paper than the one’s I have mentioned above. For example, HP Premium Laser Jet paper is totally different from your copy printer paper. The textures are both different, copy paper is more rough and you can easily tear the fibers from your brush tips, especially your Tombow Dual Brush pens. It was a lesson learned many of times, I wish took the advice when it was given. HP Premium Laser Jet paper is smoother it reminds of a non gloss finish of a photo. It’s really just that smooth and safe to use for your brush pens.
Yes, your brush tips are more than likely ruined if they are fraying. You will notice they are while you are lettering if the ink from your brush pen is looking edgy or rough while lettering. They also maybe fading away or seem like the ink is running out of them. But don’t throw them away (Tombow Dual Brush Tip)! You can still use them even though the soft tip end is ruined. The fine tip end you can also use for lettering.
See a picture example of what a frayed brush pen tip looks like here.
Q. What are basic lettering strokes? Drills?
A. Basic lettering strokes are your drills for learning or practicing brush lettering. There are some very common strokes you should become familiar with while learning brush lettering. Here are some examples of each below:
Entrance stroke – Entrance stroke is the stroke which begins or enters into a letter. You start by placing the tip of your brush pen at the baseline with no pressure. Hold your pen at 45 degree angle, relax your hand and slowly use your wrist to more your brush pen in a slight curve direction. End stroke at the waistline.
Up stroke – Up stroke, you start by placing the tip of your brush pen at the baseline with no pressure. Holding your pen at the right angle, 45 degree and stroke your pen in a straight upward position using your wrist (relax your hand, no pressure).
Down stroke – Down stroke start is exactly what it states, stroking your brush pen downward. Holding your pen in a relax hand position (45 degree angle). Stroke your brush pen downward, you need to apply pressure while going down (thick line).
Overturn stroke – Overturn stroke is an upside down “U” stroke. Its starting from the baseline stroking your brush pen upward, no pressure (thin hairline) in a U flipped over (like the St. Louis arch), applying pressure to the baseline. The overturn stork is most commonly used for the letters, m and n.
Underturn stroke – Understurn stroke is a “U” shape stroke. As you stroke your brush pen down, apply pressure going downward, but before you touch the baseline you slightly lift up for no pressure and back up thin stroke (hairline). It’s similar to transitioning to an entrance stroke. The underturn stroke is most commonly used for the letters, a, i, u, and w. You can also use it for the letters d and t.
Oval stroke – Oval stroke is a circular stroke that forms many letters. You stroke your brush pen like writing the letter “o’ down in a circular position. You go from applying pressure and around up to no pressure. You are going from thin to thick. Your hand may be shaky at first, but continue to practice so you can become familiar when or when not to apply pressure.
More video tutorials available for Love Letter Club members.
Download my FREE Brush Lettering Drills worksheet
Recommend using the Tombow Fudenosuke Brush pen or Zebra Super Fine Tip Brush ben for the lettering drills worksheet.
Q: When did you start lettering? Who inspired you?
A: I started my lettering journey January 2016. What inspired me to start learning about this beautiful craft is the lettering community on Instagram. There are so many wonderful lettering or calligraphy artist who are also self-taught learners. Here are a few that have inspired me: Hand Lettered ABCs @handletteredabcs | Dawn Nicole @bydawnnicole | Shelly @lettersbyshell I’m sure you are probably already following their accounts. If not, you should they are very well-known in the hand lettering community.
Q: What’s the best advice you can give for beginners?
A: I can sum up your brush lettering adventure with these three quotes:
Practice makes progress.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can.
These three have taught me so much wisdom about brush lettering. If you can apply all these while learning then you will do very well in your lettering journey.
I hope I have answered all your FAQs about learning brush lettering. If you have any additional questions, please comment below and I will address your answers.
Looking for more guidance and information about brush lettering. Join Love Letter Club, get FREE Lowercase Lettering practice worksheets, video tutorials, motivational quotes to print, practice worksheets, wallpaper techs and more.