I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately like “where do I start” and “what supplies should I use?” These are all very good questions. If you’re anything like me, you want to dive right in and start lettering all of the words in the english dictionary. WRONG!!! Don’t be like me. LOL!!! I can say that because I typically dive head first into any and all things. My brain does NOT work well with compartmentalization. It runs full speed ahead. I’m also one of those people who want to be good at EVERYTHING, so my lettering journey has been full of misses. Don’t fret…my aim is to prevent you from making all of the mistakes that I did to ensure that you don’t get discouraged during your journey.
Let me destroy a myth that you may be having. All hand lettering artists started off as learners; just like you and I. They did NOT start off lettering as beautifully as they do now. They had hits and some misses, but I’m willing to bet more misses than hits in the early stages of their lettering journeys.
First things first – why do you want to learn to letter? Is it because you think it’s pretty? I get it – I think lettering is beautiful!!! Do you want to enhance your handwriting skills? Do you have a project coming up that adding some awesome lettering to will make it POP?!?! If your answer to any of these questions was – YES!!! This post will put your mind at ease…hopefully 🙂 I’m going to share with you some tips and essential supplies you will need that I’m willing to bet will prove to be extremely beneficial!!!
- Learning to letter is a process. Like anything else in life, no one starts off as an AMAZING letterer. It just doesn’t work that way. Learning to letter is a process just like the one used when you learned to write all of those years ago. Everyone crawls before they walk. Don’t rush it! You will get there!
- Get the right supplies. This is extremely important. In a previous post, I mentioned that you use different pens for different projects (size, mediums, etc.). Paper is extremely important when using brush pens. The tips of brush pens are very delicate. The fibers of the tips can fray very easily if you are not using the right type of paper. The paper you should be using is good quality, heavy weight paper. I would also suggest that you start with pencil. This way you are practicing you’re not wasting your money on pens. Believe me, you want to protect your investment. Brush pens are not cheap!!!
- Start with drills! This is important. I didn’t start off with drills. Like I told you before, my mind does not work that way. I dove in head first thinking “my handwriting is already pretty…so this will be easy.” WRONG!!! To date, I am still learning. I think what may have stunted my progression was the fact that I didn’t start doing drills until months later. I know…I know…drills suck, but they are extremely important. If you follow hand lettering artists on Instagram or subscribe to their blogs, they may mention this term you’ve probably never heard called “muscle memory.” The truth of the matter is that lettering is very different from handwriting. Lettering is like art. You are making deliberate movements from the muscles in your wrists…then your fingers to form letters. The more your practice, the more your muscle memory builds up to form those pretty letters. Letters are built up from drills. Drills help with muscle memory. Once you get the drills down, you will be ready to move on to the alphabet.
- Once you have mastered drills (although you should never stop practicing drills), move on to the alphabet. There are a ton of hand lettering websites that offer free alphabets (50 ways to letter A – Z) worksheets.
- Start lettering words. Connecting letters is one of the hardest parts of lettering. I think it may be because you start practicing individual letters and with that (especially with most free worksheets), they don’t teach you how to connect your letters.
- I think the last tip would be “don’t compare yourself to other letterers.” This is a big one. Everyone’s journey is different. Becky may have been lettering way longer than you have…so in all honesty, her lettering should look “better” than yours. It can be very hard to find the time to perfect a hobby. We all have lives, some of us have spouses and children; so finding the time to letter may not be on the top of your long list of priorities. That’s okay!!! I don’t always have the time to letter daily and I’m not going to beat myself up about it…neither should you 🙂
Now on to the fun stuff! Those supplies. As a beginner, I strongly encourage you to start with the following:
- pencil (Any pencil will do, but I use these Staedlter 2HB pencils. Buy it here.) When I purchased them, they came in blue…now they’re black.
- regular lined paper (Any lined paper will do.) I’m sure this is paper I’ve had since college…it will work for lettering practice purposes. I promise 🙂
- Tombow Fudenosuke Hard Tip (Buy it here.)
- HP Premium Choice Laser Jet Paper (use this paper to print off worksheets) (Buy it here.) I lettered “start here” on this bright paper. It’s extremely smooth and not rough on your brush pen tips.
Because I have encouraged you to start with drills, I have created this worksheet just for you! Click here for a free drills worksheet!
I hope this post helps you to get started on your lettering journey!