Learn Brush Lettering in 4 Easy Steps
Oh boy, you are IN FOR IT! I’m so stoked that you’ve decided to start this amazing new hobby (and perhaps wanting to make it more!). This has been a passion of mine since I can remember, so…
Welcome to the addiction.
So where do you start? If you’re anything like me, I had no clue where to begin. I’ve created this post for just that reason. Hopefully you’ll find it helpful and valuable.
1. The Right Materials
Ah. This is a great place to start. Yup, you’ll need to buy some stufffffs. I think that is probably one of the biggest mistakes made by someone who is just starting out.. not getting the right materials! It is SO. IMPORTANT. If you do not have the right materials, you will seriously struggle and think that you just don’t have the skills.. Trust me. It took me a while to figure all that out.
When using brush pens, the paper isn’t a huge issue. However, it is when learning dip-pen calligraphy! If you are wanting some tips on Calligraphy Dip-Pen, click here.
There are the two things you are generally looking for when choosing paper: smooth and bleed-proof. Printer paper is fantastic for practicing on! I do, however, recommend getting some printer paper with a little better quality. I really like to use Premium papers.. they are much smoother and won’t bleed as much.
Another popular choice for practice is the Rhodia Dot Pad. It’s bullet journal-style, just full of dots (or you can buy it in a grid pattern) so it keeps your writing straight. It’s nice and smooth and even does well with dip-pen calligraphy!
For nicer projects, I would recommend something like Bristol paper over a opting for a classic cardstock. It’s thick like cardstock, but won’t bleed and is super smooth. Cardstock tends to soak up all the ink and will leave your edges fuzzy.
I also lovelovelovelove writing on watercolor paper. Any kind of watercolor paper is amazing, however, hot-pressed watercolor paper is actually a little smoother and does well with the brush pens. I do love the texture that these papers give the brush, so it all depends on what you want to accomplish.
Here are some of my paper favs:
HP Premium Paper - for practice
Rhodia Dot Pad - for practice
Studio Series Practice Pad - lined paper for practice
Bristol Pad - for projects
Hot Press Watercolor Paper - for projects
There are SO MANY options for brush pens. So many. So these are just my opinions are these are the pens that I have tried and love!
The main thing you want to look for in a brush pen is the flexibility and a sharper point. This will give you the freedom to manipulate the pen and give you deeper down strokes and finer up strokes. There are firmer brushes and more flexible ones as well. Both are wonderful and will give you different looks.
Some of my favorites when just starting out:
Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen - Hands-down, my FAVORITE beginner pen
2. Mastering the Technique
Test Your Brush Pen
Alright! Now the fun begins. You have your paper and your brush pens and you’re ready to get started.
Getting the hang of calligraphy is really basic, but it does takes a lot of practice. The first thing you need to practice is your pressure. When you press hard, your mark will go thick. When you lift up and draw very lightly, you will get a very fine line. Practice connecting the two lines while practicing the pressure. Alternate between heavy pressure and light pressure.
Learn the Basic Strokes
Now that you have the pressure down. you will implement it into your letters. As you draw the letters, the down stroke will ALWAYS be the heavier, thicker line. The up strokes will be the lighter, finer line.
The next thing, and definitely the MOST important thing will be your BASIC STROKES.
Calligraphy is NOT the same as cursive or handwriting. Every letter of the alphabet is made up of 9 basic strokes. This creates consistency and ease!
I have a whole article on basic strokes and how to use them here .. so make sure you read it!
Sketch It Out
Next is to put your practice into action!
Find a phrase you want to use with a font you like and sketch it out on paper. Don’t forget to put your own spin on things and make them creative!
This is where you will go over the pencil with your brush pen, implementing those pressure strokes. Really try to do your brush pen calligraphy in one go, rather than going back and thickening each line so you can get smooth, clean letters. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.. that means you are learning!
This is key when first starting out! You will need to take it super slow. Don’t worry, the speed will come with time and practice. Once you feel more and more comfortable with the pen and you really start getting your rhythm down, you’ll slowly see not only progression, but your speed will really improve. My best work is when I go a little faster, but just remember that I have the basics under my belt. You will get there too! It just takes lots of practice.
3. Practice Every. Single. Day
I seriously cannot stress this enough. You will get nowhere if you are not practicing. Aim to do a little calligraphy every day, and you’ll see your results fly!
Stay motivated by joining a calligraphy challenge (like this one!) and posting your work on social media. You could also conspire with a friend and send pictures back and forth. Be creative! You got this!
I would also HIGHLY recommend getting my FREE basics workbook! This will show you how to do all the basic strokes along with each letter, giving you tons of room to practice.
4. Get Inspired
Ok, there is seriously a fine line between getting inspired and getting overwhelmed. Don’t do it! There are SO MANY resources out there these days that it is super easy to become overwhelmed or not feel adequate enough. Find a FEW words or phrases that you’d like to try, and go to town. Don’t spend hours and hours looking for the right phrase like I did. Just pick one and go. Trussssst me.
However, if you have some time (you know.. while you’re going to the bathroom), check out some videos! Follow people that really inspire, uplift and teach you. You can use hashtags, or just search words in Pinterest or Instagram. My personal favorite inspiration is Instagram because of all the short videos you have access to. YouTube also has some great inspiration!
Want to improve your calligraphy even MORE?!
I just launched a new subscription box called BRUSHED BOX! Think of it like a calligraphy and watercolor class in a box.. delivered to your door!
Check out my website to find out more ♥
And as always, you can always get on my free VIP list where I’ll send you lots of freebies to help you with calligraphy, along with tips, tricks, and inspiration. I’d love it if you joined me!
What other things have helped you when starting out? I’d love to hear them!!