Hello brush lettering beginners! How do you make your brush lettering pieces unique? You have mastered the technique of using the brush pen and you’re even able to write beautiful lettering with it. The next step now is to make your brush lettering unique and different from your usual pieces.
I started out just writing in straight lines. I would centralize the words then that’s it. That’s what beginners normally do. But how do you make your brush lettering unique? Here are 3 ways that I use to give my pieces a bit more oomph:
FORM A CURVE
Sketch some curves lightly on your paper so you can plan where to place your words. Keep the hierarchy in mind—the most important word should be biggest to create more impact. Write your words in a slight curve to make it more interesting. Make the curve a bit wide for easier readability. Steeper curves might be more difficult to write on and read.
Draw your guidelines either freehand or with a ruler. You can position all your words in the middle or stagger them slightly. The most important thing is to pack your words close enough so you don’t create big gaps that would be noticeable. Fill those negative spaces!
BOUNCE YOUR LETTERS
If you haven’t tried this before, it may seem tricky because you would need to create a balance even when the letters do not touch the baseline. Draw your straight lines first. These will serve as a guide so you will still have letters that touch the baseline. The first letter of the word should touch the line first, then try raising and lowering the next few letters. Stop every so often to check the balance. If your letters seem to be going up, lower the next letter.
Bouncing letters requires some getting used to, but it’s a fun way to make your usual brush lettering style into something different.
There are endless styles that can make your brush lettering even more unique, so I’ll make sure to compile a new set next time. Now it’s time to practice! Looking for brush pen recommendations? You can hop here to see my favourite pens.
I witnessed so much love during the Mother’s Day weekend workshops here in Singapore with Pentel and Tokyu Hands! This was the first time I’ve taught classes using my favourite Hybrid Dual Metallic pens. What I love about these pens is that the inks are rich and sparkly, and the colour turns out differently when one writes on either black or white paper.
For the workshops, I taught wreath illustrations to decorate envelopes. Participants got to choose from white, cream and black envelopes, but the black ones were a hit. The decorated envelopes were given to the amazing mothers along with a small note tucked inside.
There were so many kids! Everyone had a blast designing their envelopes with leaves and wreaths, and my heart was so full just from getting a peek at their love notes for their mothers.
After decorating the envelopes with the dual metallic pens, I taught a quick lesson on brush lettering using the Pentel brush sign pens. Here are photos from both Tokyu Hands in Jurong and Orchard. Enjoy!
I have a free download for all you hustlers out there. I haven’t done a desktop wallpaper freebie in a while, and I think it’s high time to give one away! It’s time to give our desktops a makeover and at the same time have a reminder in plain sight to slay the day. Oh, and eat and love too, of course.
Have you thought about taking online classes to learn lettering, calligraphy or any other creative skill? I’ve rounded up 4 of my favourite online creative classes that I’m sure will kickstart your journey on lettering or calligraphy!
I’m excited to let you guys know that Happy Hands Project has partnered with Skillshare to bring you 2 MONTHS OF FREE PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP! With a premium membership, you can stream more than 18,000 online classes on subjects like design, business, and tech. What I like most about Skillshare is that students are learning alongside more than 3 MILLION members who are as passionate as we are. Members can share their work, give each other feedback and share insights and learnings through group discussions. And I’m telling ya, it could be a pretty great experience.
Use the gift code HAPPYHANDS2 when you register to get 2 months of free premium membership.
I have taken some classes on Skillshare when I was starting out with modern calligraphy. Each class has a project to be completed at the end of the course which makes it exciting. You’d want to learn as much to be able to get that project done the right way.
After learning the basics of modern calligraphy, it’s time to make something digital out of them! Digitized calligraphy can be used in print and online in the form of logotypes, advertising, title treatments, printed stationery, and beyond. In this course Molly will walk you through four steps—sketching, flourishing, inking and finally, digitising.
The distinct Mary Kate style will be taught by her in this beginners’ class. In this 2-hour class, Mary Kate reveals the first steps of hand lettering and shares how to concept, design, and letter phrases for any use—a poster, magazine, t-shirt, or anything else you might imagine. There are very useful downloadable resources, too, which will help you in conceptualizing your very first lettering piece.
I’ve been following Martina’s lettering work for a few years now. This class is all about different lettering techniques and styles and is perfect for beginners or advanced students of lettering that want to expand their stylistic palette when drawing letters.
If you’re interested in any or all of these classes, it’s definitely worth it to check out Skillshare. Skillshare’s giving away a free trial to my lovely readers. Just sign up using my link, or use the code HAPPYHANDS2 and you’ll get 2 months of unlimited online classes for free. No commitments and you could cancel anytime.
I have attended a few creative workshops in the past 5 years, and they have been nothing but amazing. I tend to be picky and only attend classes that are of my interest, so that means it’s mostly calligraphy, and these classes have taught me so much more than what I can teach myself in a year.
I have taught myself creative or modern pointed pen calligraphy, but what really got me going was after I attended Maybelle Imasa‘s class here in Singapore. I’m all for self-study, but nothing beats an in-person workshop, based on my experience. Here, I have put together 6 reasons why going to an in-person workshop is good for you.
1 :: It speeds up the learning process
It took me 2 years to teach myself pointed pen calligraphy. If only there were workshops here in Singapore back in 2012, it would have taken me just a few months! I had Eleanor Winters’ Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy book for ages, and I could just follow the instructions if I allowed myself to learn from the book. But when she came here in 2014 and taught our class how to write the strokes, I had so much insight that I could not wait to get home to practice.
Same thing with Spencerian. This is a hand that I’ve been wanting to learn for years. I bought the Spencerian Workbooks by Platt Rogers Spencer. I’ve had it for a year and have only begun on the first workbook (it had 5). I could not even master the entrance strokes.
Last month, I attended a 2-day beginning Spencerian class with calligrapher Michael Ward. After the class plus weeks of practice, I can already write monoline Spencerian in lower case (while using his exemplar as a guide). It would have taken me years if I depended on my time management skills and the workbooks.
2 :: Someone points your mistakes (and commends you when you’re right!)
Eleanor slightly adjusted the nib on my plastic oblique holder during class. It has been angled wrong all along! During the classes I teach, we were able to address minor issues right away—scratchy nibs, ink blobs and usually the most challenging—connecting letters to form words.
You will be inspired and encouraged when your teacher tells you you’re doing something right, and it’s something you won’t forget that easily. The most effective teachers I’ve met were those who point out mistakes but were never patronizing nor condescending. I wouldn’t say everyone’s a snowflake, but it sure feels good when students receive a little encouragement.
3 :: You learn tips and tricks that you wouldn’t learn elsewhere
When the teacher is right there in front of you, you can just ask a question and receive instant feedback. It’s hard to judge your work when you’re alone. I remember a question I posed to Mike Ward during class. I showed him my uppercase B’s and asked, “these look right to me, but something’s off. Can you tell what it is?”, and he took my sheet and marked the first loop. It had to be a tad rounder.
Calligrapher Paul Antonio taught us the importance of good posture and a breathing technique to make writing easier. And I have applied it to the way I write.
4 :: You will find the value of practice
These teachers give lessons because they are experts in their own field. You will realise the hard work they’ve been through to get better in their craft. Nobody becomes an expert overnight, and after learning from these experts, I have found the value of practicing in order to refine my writing.
You can spend so much money going to different classes but without practice, you will never get better at it. It pays to flex those (hand and arm) muscles and put on paper what you’ve learned so that the workshop fees you’ve paid for truly is money well-spent.
5 :: Your passion will be ignited
Being around people in a creative environment is enough to super-charge your passion. Writing calligraphy, lettering, or even painting, can be a solitary activity. But spending hours or days with people who share the same passion as you will trigger a certain passion inside you. It is up to you to do something about it!
I love hearing the teacher’s creative journey—how they started and how long it took them to be where they currently are. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t all roses and sunshine, but hearing how they got better at their craft was enough to inspire everyone in the room to keep going.
Have you ever gone to a painting class and could not wait to get home and get your painting tools out? If you have, that’s exactly what I was talking about.
6 :: You make new friends
During those breaks during class, you’ll end up chatting with those around you. You’ll exchange Instagram handles, or plan the next art jam, or ask each other which class you’re going to next. Either way, you’ll get to know those like-minded individuals and you might just hit it off with one (or even two) of them!
So there you have it. I hope this year you’ll decide to go to a class and learn something new. The next blog post will all be about online workshops—and why they’re good for you, too—specially when in-person classes are out of the question. Let’s all keep on learning!
We had all sorts of colour gradients during last month’s brush lettering workshop. This is a more relaxed class (compared to pointed pen calligraphy, in my opinion), and a more colourful one for sure.
The latest brush lettering class was all freehand, where the students learned to write thin and thick strokes with my favourite brush pens. After that, writing words with watercolours and a water brush came next. I love the part in class when I show them how to make the colours blend naturally using watercolours, creating the ombre effect… and they fell in love with it instantly!
Each one has her own unique style and colour preference, and you’ll see that on the photos of their artworks below. The next brush lettering class is still in the works. If you’d like to get the first dibs, you may subscribe to the email newsletter on the right sidebar (no spam, just calligraphy and lettering news!).
A few weeks ago I made the ultimate calligraphy checklist available for download. Now it’s time to practice, so whip out your beginners’ tools because it’s time to start writing! Here’s another calligra-freebie—guidelines you can download for free and print so you can practice on your letter forms.
True story: I was teaching a workshop where the participant did not care about the guidelines on her practice sheets. I told her that for starters, making the base of the letters touch the baseline would make her writing legible and the sizes consistent. She replied nonchalantly, “I’m trying to bounce my lettering”. I insisted that she MUST follow the guidelines provided (nicely, of course). Let’s start by following the basic rules, people.
These free guidelines come in 2 sizes—A4 and letter. The x’s on the sides mark the x-height of the letter (which is the size of the lower case x) and the slants are based on Copperplate‘s 55° angle. It’s a challenge to keep your slants consistent, hence the slant guides. The best way to use these guidelines is to print them on your practice paper, or print one sheet and place tracing paper over it. Use paper clips to secure the sheets in place.
Is learning calligraphy one of your goals for 2018? No time to waste then, my friends. Download these guide sheets for free.
Send me the calligraphy guidelines, please!
Oh, and if you’re looking for a modern calligraphy exemplar, you can download one here.
It’s that time of the year again. January is a very important month for Happy Hands Project and myself because I will be celebrating three things—my birthday, the HHP blog anniversary, and my wedding anniversary!
This modern calligraphy starter kit was launched last December 2017 and has been available for sale in my Etsy shop. It took me months to finish designing everything—from the instructional booklet to the note cards to practice on. This kit has everything you need to get started in modern calligraphy. This is an absolute labour of love and I cannot wait to share a kit to ONE LUCKY WINNER.
Curious about what’s in the box? Each modern calligraphy starter kit includes the following awesome tools:
1 beginners’ booklet with premium practice paper and stroke-by-stroke instructions and a full alphabet examplar
instructional tips & techniques
1 A5 guidelines card
1 A5 drills card
1 wooden straight pen holder
1 Palomino Blackwing pencil (my favourite!)
2 pointed flexible nibs
1 pot of black ink
8 sheets of A5 tracing paper
1 screen printed tote from the in-person workshops
an assortment of decorative cards
blank kraft gift tags
personalized name tag
Good luck everyone! Let’s keep on spreading the love for calligraphy and all things handmade!
RULES: Absolutely no purchase necessary. This giveaway is open internationally. The giveaway starts on 23 January at 12am, and ends on 31 January at 12 am (Singapore time, UTC+8). One winner will be generated randomly through Rafflecopter. Should a winner fail to reply to the notification email within 48 hours, the prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be generated. Happy Hands Project will be paying for the shipping costs, but will not be responsible for any customs fees in the recipient’s country.
The first rule in learning pointed pen calligraphy is this: PRACTICE WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS. This blog post has a free download of the ultimate calligraphy supplies checklist, and I have listed the tools I used myself when I was starting out. Nobody taught me at first—I was at my wit’s end—and so I’m passing to you what I’ve learned so you wouldn’t be pulling your hair in frustration just like I did so many years ago.
Practicing with the right tools saved my (calligraphy) life.
See, 6 years ago, modern calligraphy wasn’t so popular yet. There were no workshops to go to, even online classes were zilch. I had no choice but to read blogs and scour Pinterest for any little tip I might find. I ordered some of the basic tools on top of the kit my husband got for me. It was from Paper and Ink Arts (circa 2012, before they updated their website!) and I had to wait more than 2 weeks to receive the items.
When I learned about the right tools for beginners, I was able to practice and make progress. I realised that having the right tools is the key to getting started. The paper, nib, ink and holder you choose need to work well together so you can concentrate on your letter forms.
Calligraphy beginners, let’s get started, shall we? I have prepared the ultimate checklist for calligraphy supplies, and it’ll be delivered straight to your inbox! Don’t forget to check your Bulk or Marketing folders just in case that’s where it ends up (ouch!). Here ya go!
I am beyond excited to announce that after months in the making, the Make Your Own Happy Hour Modern Calligraphy Starter Kit is finally ready!
I know there are a lot of you who are not in Singapore and have always wanted to come to the in-person workshops. Here’s the next best thing! The starter kit is similar to the kits given out during the Happy Hour workshops, though the booklets were downsized from A4 to A5 for more affordable shipping costs. You will receive the tools to get you started—2 flexible nibs, a pot of black ink, a wooden straight holder, my favourite Blackwing pencil, a writing booklet, instruction guide, and practice tips. The kit also includes a screen printed tote and an assortment of cards and kraft tags for you to show off your calligraphy skills.
I’ve spent months planning what goes into this box, and re-designing the booklets and instruction guides. I hope this will help kickstart your journey in pointed calligraphy. It also makes an awesome gift for that guy or gal who has always wanted to try their hand at modern calligraphy but did not know where to start.
Each kit is hand-assembled and peppered with a lot of love (from me, of course!) so I hope you’ll love this as much as I do.