One very common question I get is how do you learn lettering on a budget. I get it. It’s a hobby, and with #allthethings getting in your face on Instagram and Pinterest, it’s easy to think you need all that.

The truth is lettering can be an inexpensive hobby. You just need 5 things — and #4 and #5 won’t cost you a cent.

learn lettering on a budget

(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click through and purchase something, I make a small commission — but you still pay the same amount! I only put affiliate links on items I use and love.)

1. Writing Tools

Obviously, you need some form of writing implement. But let me put this out there: You do not need a Tombow Dual Brush Pen.

Yes, it’s vastly popular and practically a cult favourite. I like mine too.

But as a beginner, you do not need to spend $4 on a pen you’re likely to kill while learning the basics. There are cheaper options.

Borrow a Crayola from a younger family member. Check your stationery drawer — you may just have a brush tip pen in there! I started with a Stained by Sharpie marker I found in mine.

Related: Best Calligraphy Pens for Beginners in Brush Lettering

Alternatively, scrounge up some watercolours and a small round paintbrush. You may have some leftover from art class, or maybe someone in your family does!

If you want to try your hand at pointed pen lettering, don’t splurge on a handcrafted nib holder, 20 nibs and many ink colours. Get something inexpensive (like this straight holder or this oblique one), a couple of nibs, then head to Daiso for some real cheap Sumi Ink!

There’s no need to splurge on a brand new hobby! You can learn and practice lettering without a roomful of supplies.

2. Decent Paper

The second thing you need is paper — duh. We need to put down our ink and paint somewhere, right?

But you can’t use any old paper. Get smooth paper — like this HP ream or some Rhodia pads.

Smooth paper helps your brush pens last longer before they fray. With pointed pen, smooth paper has less tooth for your nib to catch on, and your ink is more likely to stay in place, giving you clean lines, instead of feathering and fuzzing out the edge of your lines.

Related: Is Your Poor Paper Choice Killing Your Brush Pens?

3. Guidesheets

Besides your basic supplies, you also need some guidance. I started by lettering on grid paper and it was one huge mess. That’s where guide sheets, practice sheets and exemplars help tons.

Creating my own blank practice sheets really upped my lettering game because it forced me to be consistent in my letter size and slant — things that we usually ignore when writing!

Need something to practice on?
Get the free blank practice sheets and a basic strokes exemplar here!


Sidenote: Need a bit more help with that? I’ve got something fun (and free!) coming up to refresh your lettering ABCs next week, so stay tuned for that!

4 & 5. Discipline & Patience

Yes, I listed values as part of this post. Rebel-teenager-me would be appalled. But it is true though.

As a kid, I hated learning Mandarin. I had assessment books. My aunt tutored me. And I flunked 98% of my tests. Sitting down to learn all those words and practice them was boring. I wanted to play MapleStory.

With lettering, you have your supplies. You have the Internet (and by extension, me!) as your guide. But if you don’t sit down to learn and practice… You’re not going to improve miraculously overnight!

It takes discipline to carve out a dedicated time to practice, and patience to see your skills slowly improve, but it is so worth it! Keep your Day 1 of lettering piece, because — believe me — you’ll be amazed when  you look back at it 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, down the road.

Related: No Time For Lettering? Make Some!

Need something to practice on?
Get the free blank practice sheets and a basic strokes exemplar here!


Remember, if you need a bit more help with that, there’s something fun (and free!) coming up to refresh your lettering ABCs next week~