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 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.
Tokyu Hands at Westgate Mall had its share of Pentel brush lettering workshops last August. Organised by my friends at Pentel Singapore, we had 2 afternoons of short classes for brush lettering beginners. Similar to the classes we’ve done at Tokyu Hands at Orchard Central, we used the ever-so-colourful Pentel Fude brush pens.
It was my first time visiting Tokyu Hands at Westgate Mall, and the shop is quite huge. This time around, we had a lot of families coming for the 40-minute crash courses. There were quite a lot of kids this time, which made the classes all the more fun. Kids love to experiment and are very eager to learn and they don’t overthink the process—we can always learn from them, don’t you think?
What I love about the Pentel fude brush pens is that it’s very easy to use. Kids had a lot of fun exploring the vast array of colours. It was also quite easy for the young ones to follow the alphabet guides provided—mostly because they get to choose what colour of pen to use. The more colourful it is, the more fun they have!
Here are more photos from the event—feel free to share online if you’re in them! We’ll be back for a third instalment of brush lettering workshops with Pentel, this time at Tokyu Hands at Suntec City Mall. See you guys on 11-12 November! Click here for the schedule and sign-up details.
More photos from the event can be found on Pentel’s Facebook page. All photos courtesy of Pentel Singapore.
Two afternoons. Brush lettering with some of my favourite brush pens. Happy place. Happy people. Well, that’s the best description I can come up with as I recall the brush lettering weekend I had with my friends from Pentel Singapore at Tokyu Hands Orchard Road.
Saying it was a busy weekend would be an understatement. Pentel arranged 30-minute brush lettering workshops for free, and we had about 80 attendees in all workshops! I met 80 wonderful people who want to learn brush lettering! I think that makes the event so awesome.
During the classes, we used the Pentel Fude brush sign pen. This pen is one of my absolute favourites, and is perfect for beginners. It has a durable felt tip which gives good control, so the user can easily create thick and thin strokes that are essential in cursive brush lettering. At the end of each class, the attendees get one free pen in their choice of colour.
Way to go, Pentel! There were a lot of people asking about future events like this because the classes sold out so fast the first time. I’d love to have another go at this (it was that fun), so like the Pentel and HHP Facebook pages for future updates.
Thanks to Pentel Singapore, Tokyu Hands, and to everyone who dropped by to take the class or just say hi!
Have you always wanted to try hand lettering but have no idea where to start? Or are you trying your hand at it (no pun intended) but it’s not getting any better? I’ve heard so many say that they can’t do lettering or calligraphy because they have bad handwriting. My answer? That’s not true at all! If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut (believe me I know how it feels, I’ve been there), here are 8 tips and tricks to get your lettering mojo back. The bonus? You will get better at it!
1 :: Use the right tools
For the lettering wizard, any tool can be used to make beautiful letters. For a beginner, it’s not that easy. Try different tools and see what works best for you. What’s important is that you’re comfortable with it, and it brings out the effect that you’d like to have. Do you fancy having some thick and thin strokes in fluid script? Try a few brush pens and see which one brings out your lettering best. Do you want to draw each letter? Get yourself an HB pencil and a fine felt-tipped pen for inking. Make sure the paper you’re using does not make the ink on your pens feather and blot.
The tools for a beginner need not be expensive, nor should it be a lot. Stick to a basic set, and follow the next 7 tips.
2 :: Start small
This can apply to your collection of beginner’s tools, but I’m actually referring to the actual piece you will create. A few years back, I give A5 sized cards during the workshops I have. The participants are usually all beginners, hence, they found the A5 card too big! I cut it in half to A6, and everyone was more comfortable. A huge art piece would be intimidating, and the task would be daunting. Start with a small piece of artwork and trust me, it’ll be easier.
3 :: Use guidelines and sketch your piece
Pro lettering artists and calligraphers can create pieces without guidelines and pencil sketches. They can slant their letters consistently, and can compose their lettering perfectly without sketching it out first. Well, as a beginner, you can’t do that. If you feel that you can wing it without the use of a pencil, stop yourself and pick that pencil up. Lightly sketch the words and see how you can compose it to make it look cohesive. Your piece should look like one unit, not a group of individual words.
4 :: Focus on one style, then slowly diversify
Blackletter, italic, and a modern script style. They’re all so cool to look at, you can’t decide which one to try first! So you’ll put them all together in one lettering piece. I’d say nope—that ain’t gonna work. As a beginner, try one lettering style first (in my case, a hand-drawn cursive), then when you’re used to it, slowly try another style. When I got used to cursive lettering with a Sakura Micron, I then proceeded to learning how to use brush pens. Be patient! It’s better to master a style or two than be a jack of all trades and a master of none.
5 :: Slow down
Lettering, either with a brush pen, a ballpoint, or a pencil, is a therapeutic activity. It’s a great stress-reliever. My point is, lettering shouldn’t be rushed—it’s meant to be a slow process. When composing your art piece, sketch slowly. Study the composition and make improvements. If something looks odd, start over. Don’t try to make some quick fixes to balance the mistake out (this however, works, albeit rarely).
Are you practicing your letter forms? Fill your lined pages with drills. Write slowly.
Most beginners, myself included, thought that the faster we swish our pens, the better the flourish will be. A flourish is the swirly stroke you see in the beginning or end of a word, and it’s used to add character to your lettering. It also makes your composition look cohesive. I’ve learned that flourishes that were done with a slow, steady hand have better results than quick flicks.
So relax and slow down, and your lettering will be better. Which leads me to the next tip.
6 :: Breathe
I’ve taught quite a number of modern calligraphy and lettering classes and the participants all have one thing in common—they hold their breath when writing. Seriously. Are you guilty of this, too? Here’s a trick that will help your relax—breathe in during an upstroke, and slowly breathe out on the downstroke. Sounds like yoga for the hands, eh?
7 :: Pick a style, and call it your own
As a beginner, you will be bombarded with different styles of lettering and calligraphy on social media. That’s fine! As beginners, you need all the inspiration you can get. After a while, however, it’s best to stick to one style that you’re most comfortable with. The one that you think is the prettiest. One that makes you proud, and would want to improve. Stick to it, and make it better.
8 :: Observe, study, practice
Ok, so I kind of cheated because the last tip is actually made up of 3 little tips. But these 3 words need to be done together. Look around you for signages and artworks and try to detect what makes them look good. How are the words written? How is the piece composed? Study your letter forms. Memorise how each letter looks like so your lettering will be consistent.
Last but certainly not the least, practice. We all gotta start somewhere. First attempts at lettering and composition will always be terrible, unless you were born with magical writing skills. Keep on practicing, and it will definitely get better, I promise!
So there you have it! Do you have any other tips on how to get better at lettering? Let us know in the comments!
I had my first watercolour brush lettering workshop here in Singapore! There were new and familiar faces in the class, and I’m so happy to say I had a blast sharing freehand brush lettering with such a creative bunch. It was a morning filled with lots of colour and laughter (and cake and blueberry pie).
Let’s Letter Together: Freehand Brush Lettering is a class that celebrates individuality and personal style. There are no strict letter forms to be followed, as long as the words are legible, strokes and slants are consistent. Hey, freehand doesn’t mean indecipherable writing after all—it’s bold and artistic, but easy to read.
After practicing with the basics, we moved on to writing words, then composing a piece and finally, ombre lettering! I demonstrated 2 ways to create those beautifully-blended colours in brush lettering. Putting all the basic lessons together to create a final piece is always the best part of any HHP workshop.
Brush lettering sure wasn’t easy when I first started out. I was too familiar with modern calligraphy using the pointed pen, and shifting to a different writing tool threw me off kilter. Brush lettering takes time and lots of patience, and that’s the same word of advice I give to anyone who’s just starting out. I’m extremely happy to have been able to share in this class the tips and tricks I learned along the way. Seeing these awesome ladies and gents gain confidence with a brush made me feel like a proud mama.
So guys, I’m planning for the next workshops for the next few months. I’m thinking of having another brush lettering class. Who’s with me? Let me know in the comments below!
Instagram has been an important part of my journey in calligraphy and lettering. I’d say I’m quite a visual person — I get inspired by the things I see. The lettering and calligraphy community on Insta is like one big happy family, and when one is stuck in a rut, there’s always someone out there who’s ready to help. I’ve personally met some really inspiring people over there (if you’re reading this, hi!) and it was awesome.
For those of you looking for inspiration on social media, look no further. Here, I’ve compiled 8 up-and-coming lettering artists from different parts of the globe to inspire the handlettering lover in you!
Are you just starting to hand-letter using a brush pen? Or are you interested in creating brush lettering pieces but don’t know where to start? Well, I’ve been there. About 3 years ago I wanted to hand-letter using a brush but was totally lost. I tried using a small brush and some paint but found it extremely tough.
After some research, I stumbled upon the first ever brush pen in my collection — the Tombow Dual Brush. Oh, I didn’t traipse into brush lettering wonderland right then, but it was a good start. For beginners in brush lettering, let me share with you 6 brush pens that you can start with. My advise is try 1 or 2 of these and practice, practice, practice. You’ll get better I promise!
Kuretake Fudebiyori Pocket Color Brush Pens
I love this pen. If I will be asked to bring just one tool for lettering, this is what I will most likely bring. This nifty brush pen has the perfect bristles for lettering and will give you a good variation of thick and thin strokes. I say it’s perfect because there are brush pens that are either too soft or too stiff, but the Kuretake pen has just the right flexibility.
Tombow Dual Brush Pen
Aah, the pen that started it all. For me, at least. The Tombow dual brush has a great tip and is slightly softer than the Kuretake. As the name suggests, each pen has a brush tip on one end and a fine tip on the opposite end. Some letterers use this pen for blending with other colours and they work great. The ink colours are a little less saturated and will not be so vibrant especially when used on coated paper, but I don’t mind this one bit because these are really great for practice and these pens have served me well during my learning journey in brush lettering.
Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen
The Pentel Touch has a small brush tip, and is pretty stiff. It’s great for writing small letters and is easy to use. It won’t give you drastic line variations like the first 2 pens mentioned above because if its small brush tip but if you want to practice writing small letters and strokes, this works great. It’s a small pen that can fit in your pocket, and has bright colours to choose from.
Copic Ciao Marker
Honestly? The Copic Ciao marker is on this list mainly because of its availability here in Singapore — Art Friend has a bazillion colours of the Copic Ciao that it’s so difficult to walk away with just one. It has a thick body which gives the writer a good grip. The brush tip is on one end and a broad edge tip is on the other end. It has great colours as well, and is refillable! That’s awesome, don’t you think?
Lyra Aqua Brush Duo
This pen is very much similar to the Tombow with a slightly smaller brush tip. This will give you good line variation, and it also has 2 tips — one with a brush and another with a fine tip. Here’s the first time I tried it, and I fell in love with it instantly! It’s very comfortable to write with and I highly recommend this for beginners.
Pentel Aquash Waterbrush
Now this one’s different from the rest, and slightly more challenging to use than the rest of the pens on this list. The water brush from Pentel is super convenient to use, has lettering-friendly bristles, and is lightweight. This practically replaces your jar of water when doing watercolour lettering or painting because the water will be in the pen itself, and you just give the pen a little squeeze to make the water come out. Talk about convenience! The Aquash also has a variety of brush sizes, and my favourite is the fine tip. It gives me a lot of flexibility and lets me blend colours nicely so obviously, that one’s my absolute favourite.
Unfortunately I haven’t seen the Kuretake Fudebiyori pen in any of the shops here in Singapore, but Overjoyed has several kinds worth checking out as well.
So there you have it, 6 brush pens that beginners in lettering can try. I know I’ve left out some pens that are really popular to letterers, but I guess some of those pens don’t really work for me. Do you have a favourite brush pen? Lemme know in the comments!
I always love doing lettering for company logos, and this hand-lettered logo for Lamb Cupcakery here in Singapore is one of those. Lamb was moving to a new location at the time, and will be having a branding overhaul. It included the logo, storefront signage, in-store signages, and menu.
I designed a few versions, some with foliage and florals, some with flourishes and swirls. Finally, we settled on a pretty yet uncomplicated brush lettering style that’s as delicious-looking as the cupcakes they make. I mean, seriously, don’t these little babies look so scrumptious? My heavily pregnant self is craving for some right now.
Do swing by Lamb Cupcakery for that sugar fix:
8A Marina Boulevard
#B2-61 Marina Bay Link Mall