Hand Lettering 101.0 : Introduction + Supplies

Hi! If you’re interested in hand lettering, then you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to teach you everything I know about hand lettering, starting from supplies. Now I am no expert at all, but I want to share the knowledge I have from attending workshops, reading blogs, and hours spent on Youtube and Skillshare. Hand lettering is growing in popularity nowadays because of that handmade aspect that most of us have lost in touch with because of the advent of technology and social media, where anything is accessible with a push of a button or two. It also has that organic appeal that you just can’t get with digital works. It’s also a very portable and flexible art which you can use for weddings, home decor, or even handmade stationery. Personally I use this skill to pimp out my planner or writing sweet little notes for people. I use hand lettering as an umbrella term for actual hand lettering, brush lettering, and calligraphy, although their actual definitions slightly differ. Hand lettering is the art of drawing beautiful letters, whereas calligraphy is the art of writing letters. (Edit: If that still confuses you, try this fabulous video to see how hand lettering is different from calligraphy) Brush lettering then sort of falls under calligraphy, except a different writing instrument is used.

Speaking of instruments, there are so many writing instruments available for your perusal, no matter which  of the three you want to try your hand in.

HAND LETTERING

hand lettering styles
Hand Lettering – pencil, eraser, fineliner: sakura pigma micron, unipin, artline

For this series though I’m going to give tips mostly on hand lettering and brush lettering, though I’ll touch up on calligraphy when I can.

 BRUSH LETTERING

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Water brush filled with black and sepia india ink (although the sepia can’t be seen)

Click here to see brush lettering with the use of an actual brush and watercolor paints.

CALLIGRAPHY

calligraphy
Hiro 41, india ink

 Hopefully the above three examples helped you differentiate the three more easily.

When it comes to cost, hand lettering is definitely the cheapest as you probably have all the writing instruments you already need: an eraser, a pencil, a ruler (optional), and a fineliner (a marker with a very small tip). The paper you use can be your everyday notebooks or short bond paper.

With brush lettering, you can either use a brushpen or a real brush and paints. If using brushpens, one really good one is usually enough for you to practice on with thicker paper. If you’re anything like me though, you hoard a lot of pens. A LOT.

IMG_6468
I told you it was a lot. From TOP L-R: water bucket for “art water” (Divisoria); watercolor palette (NBS); hand lettering ledger beneath (NBS); notebooks: Sunday Paper (online), Notebook of Infinite Patience (@swirlsandstrokesph); Typography Sketchbooks (Amazon) and 100gsm paper beneath (NBS); MIDDLE ROW L-R: Marvy Uchida LePlume 2 in yellow, blue, red (NBS); Dong-A gold poster paint (NBS); Speedball india ink in black (Deovir); Vallejo india ink in sepia (Hey Kessy); Windsor and Newton calligraphy ink in blue-black (from a workshop); Skyists 00 red sable paintbrush (Craft Carrot); nibs: (L-R) Tachikawa G (workshop), Hiro 41 crown nib (Craft Central, Hey Kessy), Hiro 40 blue pumpkin nib (Craft Central, Hey Kessy), Hunt 101 (workshop); eraser (NBS); BOTTOM ROW L-R: NBS Brush pen (brand got erased, maroon body); Artline caligrahypen 0.4 (NBS); Unipin fineliner (NBS); Artline fineliner (NBS); Pilot G-Tec 0.4 (NBS); Uniball Signo gel pen in white (NBS); Cheap water brush filled with india ink (Deovir); Generic Chinese brush pen (a friend); ZIG Wink of Stella in Grey/Silver (@swirlsandstrokesph); Zig Kuretake Cocoiro Letterpen kiwi body with mint green ink (@swirlsandstrokes); Muji mechanical pencil (Muji); ruler (NBS); Speedball straight and oblique nib holders (workshop but Hey Kessy carries them)

Here’s a sample sheet if you want to see how each pen writes:

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1. NBS Brush pen i don’t know what brand this is from, but it’s maroon with a black cap. It doesn’t make very thin hairlines, but I like using it for “juicy” or thicker script styles or for doing retro-esque styles. PHP: ~26-28 PHP @NBS. You can’t go cheaper than that.

cover 2IMG_6524

2. Generic Chinese brush pen – Personally found this pen a pain in my ass, it won’t make the strokes I wanted it to make! Maybe it’s because it was intended for a different style of calligraphy?

3. Marvy Uchida Permanent LePlume 2 – these water based markers are felt tipped and don’t make super fine hairlines, but these are the pens I first used to practice with. It really helped me figure out how to hold the brush pen to get the thick lines I want. PRICE: 99 PHP @ NBSIMG_6529IMG_6473

4. Zig Cocoiro Letterpen – this “brush” pen doesn’t really have brush fibers, and the tip is actually quite hard, but I really like how it writes. It’s good for smaller letters because the contrast is much more obvious. This is my favorite pen so far, and it makes really good hairlines! The picture below is from a collab I did with an orgmate. The lettering below is a post processed lettering done from the Zig Cocoiro LP. PRICE: 220 for 1 body and 1 ink @swirlsandstrokesph
cover

5. Uniball Signo white gel pen – for faking calligraphy in dark papers, this white gel pen isn’t as cheap as other gel pen colors at 120 pesos, but before I get my white ink and black notebook, this would do. Also great for practicing fake calligraphy.IMG_6469

6. Zig Wink of Stella – sparrrrkllyyy.  I really like this ink because it has a natural shading, and it sparkles! I also like how fluid the ink is and how thin it can write. I find that it can be hard to see though, both on light and dark paper. I also like the softness of the brush itself. PRICE: 220 PHP
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7. Marvy Uchida Le Plume – this is alcohol-ink based (think of Copics) which means they’re sort of pastel and translucent instead of opaque, so it’s great for layering, not great if you don’t write with one fluid stroke as the “seams” are more visible. Price: ~ 105 PHPIMG_6530

8. Various fineliners – I’m used to using Unipin because it’s what’s most available to me, but they say Artline is also a very good brand. Sakura Micron are the best once I’ve tried out of all three, though. I use these fineliners for hand lettering.

9. Waterbrush – I’ve seen it being used as a brush for watercolor where they put just water inside for on the go painting, but I also saw that you can fill it with ink itself like a real brush pen! 

10. Sakura pigma brush – I don’t know if it’s because of heavy use or improper pen position, but it frayed on me after only a few days of use. Fozzy had the same problem.

Out of all three, calligraphy is something I have a lot to learn from still, but I have 4 nibs! What are nibs, you ask? Well for dip pen calligraphy, you use a special pen holder and flexible nibs to get the script style you like. In dip pen calligraphy, inks are used. Personally, I have india ink and calligraphy ink, and have yet to try walnut ink, however I have tried using watercolor and thinned poster paint with great success. The nibs I have currently are Tachikawa G nib, Hiro 40, Hiro 41, and Hunt 101. I only recently found out how to use the latter 3, so I’ll do a separate blogpost on those when I get the hang of it. For beginners, G nibs are the way to go! For nibs and nib holders, I suggest going to these stores:

  • @inkmanuscriptart
  • @swirlsandstrokesph
  • @createcraftsph
  • craftcarrot.com
  • craft central
  • hey kessy also stocks on nibs.
  • I’ve only tried ordering from craft carrot, swirlsandstrokes, and hey kessy, but I think i’ll give the others a try soon.

(Watch out for a hand lettering/brush lettering directory I’m putting up soon!)
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Here’s a really great in depth article from jetpens if you want to get down to the nitty gritty technical stuff: http://www.jetpens.com/blog/guide-to-choosing-a-brush-pen-for-calligraphy/pt/621.

PAPER

Mostly a hit and miss depending on what kind of pen you’re using. For those who like loose paper, I use 90 or 100gsm paper, it holds up really well for calligraphy work too.

For those like me who prefer to have all your sketches and works in one place, notebooks are the way to go. I use Sunday Paper notebooks because of the quality of their paper and the student friendly price (180 for a really good blank notebook!!). If you have more cash to spare, you can try Rhodia pads since they hold even fountain pen inks really well. I’ve also heard Blue Feather notebooks work really well. Tip: The smoother the paper, the better as it bleeds less, or not at all. Just don’t let yourself be caught by the NBS people caressing their notebooks. I may or may not be guilty of this.

That concludes our first post for the series! Wow, that’s a lot. Don’t be overwhelmed though! Watch out for a directory of suppliers I plan on making and releasing soon, to help everyone out. Less headaches = more art.

Any tools you suggest I try? Did I miss anything? What tools do YOU use for your lettering? :) I know that it’s quite a lot of information to take in, so if you have any questions, or if you want me to try a particular writing instrument etc., please go ahead and shoot a comment below or on our Facebook page or my personal Instagram account!

*This post is NOT sponsored. Any brands you see here are bought based on what was available/peer suggestions. All opinions and supplies are my own.

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9 thoughts on “Hand Lettering 101.0 : Introduction + Supplies

  1. Pingback: Handlettering 101.1: CALLIGRAPHY SUPPLY DIRECTORY | T + S: Twine and Sunshine

  2. Hello! This is an awesome and informative read! May I know the branch of NBS where you purchased the foldout/folding watercolor palette? I can’t find one in Ortigas and Makati branches. Thank you! :)

  3. Thank you for this introduction. Im really interested in learning hand lettering as well as calligraphy but I have yet to buy supplies. Thanks for all the suggestions! Please keep the tutorials coming! xo

    1. Hi Deil! Yay, please update me on your progress, I’d love to see what you do! :) Goodluck with your journey and thanks for visiting us at Twine + Sunshine ☼

      (We also have a facebook page which we update more frequently if you’re interested: http://facebook.com/twine.sunshine)

      Have a great day! ☼

  4. Pingback: Calligraphy, Brush Pens, Nibs etc. Supplies Directory for Manila, Philippines - T+S | Twine + Sunshine

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