Brush Lettering 101 – A Simple Guide To Get You Started

Do you binge-watch eye candy lettering videos on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest? Welcome to the club, bro! There is something so mesmerizing about these videos. Watching letters become a piece of graceful art is so satisfying. You may think this beautiful hobby is out of your reach but let me tell you, it is not valid. Anyone can master it.  Brush lettering is extremely easy to pick up. You just need three things – A pen, paper, and some practice. Trust me, in no time; you will make breathtaking modern calligraphy just like those videos. So why late? Let’s get you started. Hand lettering is also another form of lettering with which we can create beautiful art pieces. Want to know more about it? Check out our article – Hand Lettering 101 – A Simple Guide To Get You Started. But first, what is brush lettering?

What is brush lettering?

There are many types of calligraphy, and brush lettering is one among them. However, unlike the typical calligraphy where we need a pointed nib and ink, we use a brush pen (or sometimes a simple paintbrush) in brush lettering. The tip of the brush pen responds to varying pressure levels. You can achieve the thick and thin signature strokes of modern calligraphy.

Difference Between Brush Lettering And Calligraphy

Both calligraphy and brush lettering are different styles of writing letters artistically. However, brush lettering is different from calligraphy in many ways. We use a traditional dip pen that can create beautiful letterforms. These pens are a bit tricky to master. Traditional calligraphy also follows stringent guidelines regarding consistency, the slant of the letters, and spacing.  While brush lettering, on the other side has a bit more flexibility and room for creativity. You can use a brush pen, paintbrush, or even a simple marker to create the letterforms. Brush lettering is easier to learn and control when compared to the traditional dip pen (used for calligraphy). What I love the most in brush lettering is that we get more freedom. We can opt for a more bouncy look where we don’t have to rest all the letters in the same line and don’t need to space out uniformly.

A Three-Step Guide To Get You Started With Brush Lettering As A Beginner

If you love brush lettering but couldn’t keep it in practice due to various factors, this article is especially for you. Here is a four-step simple guide to get you started with brush lettering. 

Step 1: Choose Your Tools

The essential tools we need to start brush lettering are pens and paper.

Brush Lettering Pens

As a beginner, to practice the basic brush lettering techniques, we don’t need a ton of fancy inks and pens. Just one pen will come a long way! I have used several pens, but the two I recommend for newbies, in particular, are the Tombow Dual Brush Pens and Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens. Both of these have nylon tips that are flexible and solid, giving you oodles of control. Here is my complete review of the Tomboy Dual Brush Pens. But if you are looking for something loose and faster, try Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Pentel Pocket Brush pen looks stunning on the page with its vibrant black ink. If you are using thick paper, then try Pentel’s Aquash Water Brushes. These are an extremely versatile choice as you can use both inks and watercolors and blend seamlessly. For these brushes, you can use any watercolor palette; I use Prang Watercolor Palette.

Best Paper For Brush Lettering

Even though you can use any paper for brush lettering, experts suggest using the best quality ones. When your paper is smooth, you can glide your pen more easily across the surface. This allows you to achieve a more precise and cleaner look. A paper with a rough texture might snag your pens and shorten their lifespan. The following are the types of paper I recommend the most for beginners.
  • HP Laser Jet Paper is smooth and offers the ideal surface for brush lettering, unlike inkjet paper which contains tiny fibers that can snag your pen. The paper is inexpensive, making it an excellent choice for those who want to learn brush lettering.
  • Rhodia Paper Pads are one of my favorites. They not only have the best quality paper but also come in four styles – plain, lined, dotted, and grid. These marks act as guidelines for lettering, so they are beneficial for beginners. 

Step 2: Practice The Basic Strokes.

Since we have gathered all the necessary tools for brush lettering, let start practicing. Start with the basic strokes – entrance or exit upstroke, downstroke, under turn, overturn, ligature, ascender, descender, oval curve, etc. Take your time while practicing these basic strokes. It is better to be slow and accurate than quick and messy, agree?

Step 3: Start Lettering

Once you have mastered the above basic strokes, it is now time to combine them to create letterforms. While there are no specific hard and fast rules for creating the letterforms, there are a couple of principles that might help point you in the right direction.  Make sure you draw the guidelines before actually brushing any letters. They help you make sure that your letterforms are consistent. Guidelines create a visual framework to work with. I recommend you draw a layout using a pencil to get a clear view of how your piece looks like after completion. Make sure you have given enough room for each word.  Remember, your piece may not look good on the first attempt, but you will get better eventually. Don’t get disappointed! Here are a few Brush Lettering pieces to get you inspired!   

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