Yep, brush lettering can be learnt on a budget — if you can stay on it! Earlier in this series*, I mentioned how easy it is to get carried away by #allthethings on social media, when the truth is you don’t really need much for lettering. Want to know exactly what you need? Read on!
1. Writing Tools
Obviously, you need some form of writing implement. But let me put this out there: You do not need to splurge on Akashiya pens — or even just Tombow Dual Brush Pens.
Yes, they are vastly popular. Tombow is a cult favourite. I like mine too. But as a beginner, you do not need to spend upwards of $4 on a pen you’re likely to kill while learning the basics. There are cheaper options.
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! 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?
Yes, you should use smooth paper. It helps your brush pens last longer before they fray. Plus your paint is less likely to feather all over. But you don’t need to splurge on Rhodia pads.
Muji and Campus both have loose leaf papers that are really smooth and friendly. Printer paper can also be brush pen friendly — I use PaperOne Digital 100gsm paper, but many other artists recommend this HP Laserjet 32lb paper.
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 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! But you don’t have to go to the trouble — keep reading to the end ’cause I’ve gotcha!
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.
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that lettering can truly be an inexpensive hobby! If you’re ready to take the plunge, I’ve just the thing for you — the totally free 14-day Brush Basics Booster Challenge!
Want to know more about the basic strokes before you sign up? Head over to Part 3 of the Lettering for Beginners series: the 9 ‘Secrets’ to Learning Brush Calligraphy You Need to Know!