6 Brush Pens For Lettering Beginners

Brush Pens For Beginners via Happy Hands Project

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 via Happy Hands Project

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 via Happy Hands Project

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 Touch via Happy Hands Project

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 via Happy Hands Project

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 Duo via Happy Hands Project

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 via Happy Hands Project

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.

Where to Buy in Singapore?

Tombow Dual Brush: Overjoyed | Pentel Touch: Tokyu Hands | Copic Ciao: Art Friend | Lyra Aqua Brush: Overjoyed | Pentel Aquash: Art Friend

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!

Freebie: Printable To-Do List

Free Printable To-Do List via Happy Hands Project

I was inspired to design this printable to-do list because I feel that writing down our goals for the day (or week) is better than typing it on our smart phone calendars. You can post it on your wall, and it’s easier to see. It makes the list more ‘real’, and it personally helped me manage my time better.

Free Printable To-Do List via Happy Hands Project

The past few months were filled with wedding invitation designs and calligraphy addressing, plus a few commission works here and there. I had to list my deadlines, and make sure I stick to them.

So here’s something to help us stop the procrastination and actually do something! Coz you know what? I love the feeling of ticking one task and proceeding to the next one. The feeling of satisfaction is priceless. I hope you like the freebie for the day!

Download the to-do list printable here.

LETTERING LOGO: LAMB CUPCAKERY

Lamb Cupcakery Logo via Happy Hands Project
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.
Lamb Cupcakery Logo via Happy Hands Project

 

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.

Lamb Cupcakery Logo via Happy Hands Project 

Lamb Cupcakery Logo via Happy Hands Project 

Do swing by Lamb Cupcakery for that sugar fix:
8A Marina Boulevard
#B2-61 Marina Bay Link Mall
Singapore 018984

All photos were taken from Lamb’s Facebook page.

FONT FANCY: MASTER OF BREAK

Girl Power Print via Happy Hands Project

This font right here is a gem. It’s quite rare to find a well-made font that’s actually free (for personal use, that is. But still), so I really have to share this one. If you want to design a quote or greeting card that needs a hand-lettered feel, Master of Break might be the font you’re looking for.

Contrary to the usual hand-lettered fonts out there, this is not very feminine. But add some girly colours and you’ll get a feminine feel instantly. Use it against a textured black background and you can have a masculine-looking piece. StereoType is the font foundry offering this awesome font, along with other great ones, so it’s worth dropping by their website.

Oh, and you can print the Girl Power artwork above and be reminded to unleash some yourself everyday!

 

USING WHITE GOUACHE IN CALLIGRAPHY

My first couple of years writing calligraphy, I was always on the look out for the richest, most opaque white ink out there. I discovered PH Martins Pen White, which was fortunately available here in Singapore. It was great, but I had to mix it with water every time I had to use it.

When I had to make custom coloured inks for a project, I decided to be adventurous enough and mix it myself using gouache and water. For those who haven’t tried it yet, gouache is a actually a water-based paint similar to watercolours. But unlike watercolours, it’s opaque and will give you richer, fuller shades. That’s when I started using white gouache instead of the pre-mixed Pen White, and since then a pot of white gouache has been a mainstay on my desk.

Here’s a video of me writing in real time — I’m a slooooow writer, but hey, that’s the beauty of calligraphy! It’s pretty close to channeling your inner zen.

I’m planning to upload more demo videos in my Vimeo chnnel, so stay tuned for that! Enjoy!

FREE PRINTABLE VALENTINE’S DAY CARD

Calligraphy Valentine Card via Happy Hands Project

Are you guys feelin’ the love? Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so I thought it’s not too late to post a printable just in case you’d like to give your special someone a card that’s as special as them! I’ve always liked this line from this classic ‘More Today Than Yesterday’ because for people in love, it’s always true, right?

You can print the PDF file on a 250 or 300gsm card and just cut along the border. Fold where it is indicated, or cut the card in half and you got yourself an A6 sized print that’s perfect in a C6 envelope.

Spread the love, and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

7 Hand-Lettering Books For learning and Inspiration

Handlettering Books via Happy Hands Project

I have this wish list of hand-lettering books that I’ve been meaning to share for some time now. I have quite a number of books on modern and copperplate calligraphy, but have not invested on as much lettering books as I can.

The good thing about books compared to seeking inspiration online, is that the motivation it gives is nothing fleeting. With numerous posts on lettering and art all over the internet, we tend to get lost in all this information overload that each ‘inspiration’ is trying to compete with another. Having a few select books on the shelf means you pick it up from time to time, read or browse, and get that feeling of enthusiasm every single time.

I already have a few of these by my tiny white desk, but I would like to tick every single book on my list. Hope these books inspire you to learn the art of hand-lettering!

1. Sharpie Art Workshop: Techniques and Ideas for Transforming Your World | Timothy Goodman

2. Little Book of Lettering | Emily Gregory

3. Sign Painters |  Faythe Levine & Sam Macon

4. The ABCs of Hand Lettering | Abbey Sy

5. In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist’s Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector | Jessica Hische

6. Drawing Type: An Introduction to Illustrating Letterforms | Alex Fowkes

7. Scripts: Elegant Lettering from Design’s Golden Age | Steven Heller  & Louise Fili

There you have it! Wish I have the financial capacity to purchase this lot in one go, but looks like I need to set priorities for now. Happy book shopping! Are there any awesome lettering books that I missed? Let me know in the comments below, and this hungry artist will appreciate it heaps.

A Travel-Themed Wedding in Phuket: Tom & Simone

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

It’s 2016 (woohoo!) and I’d like my first post of the year to be special. So here’s one special destination wedding I had the pleasure to work on last year – Tom and Simone’s big day in Phuket, Thailand.

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

It was a travel-themed wedding, so each table number featured the couple’s photos from different places. And not just that — either of them were holding a small chalkboard with a number on it! I thought it was a very cute idea.

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

I also did the calligraphy and lettering for the signs and stationery used at the venue. There were the menus for dinner, cocktails and cupcakes, photo booth sign, and wedding programme to name a few. My favourite has got to be the escort cards which weren’t cards at all, but little paper airplanes hanging in strings! The colour motif was grey and dusty blue, which were perfect for a classy beach wedding. I’m very happy for this sweet couple, and I’m pretty sure you’ll like the photos as much as I did. Scroll down to see more.

All photos used with consent from the couple.
Photography: Julian Abram Wainwright
Venue: Grand Villa Satis, Aleenta Phuket Resort

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

The Happy Hour Calligraphy Workshop at The Untitled Space

The last Beginners’ workshop of the year is worthy of its own blog post, because it marks the beginning of another year of learning and teaching this lovely craft. If I’m not mistaken, I started with the Happy Hour Workshops in March of 2014 with only 8 participants. At present, due to the demand, we have doubled that number and each class is still always fun and interesting, thanks to the diverse group that I get to teach every time.

Dec2015 Calligraphy-Workshop via Happy Hands Project

Last Saturday’s workshop was packed to the brim. We made good use of the ‘Make Your Own Happy Hour’ pads, and were treated to a lovely spread of pastries and artisan coffee. The Untitled Space studio was bathed in beautiful light at that time of the day, and I couldn’t be any happier! It makes for great photos, too.

Dec2015 Calligraphy-Workshop via Happy Hands Project

One thing I learned about teaching modern calligraphy is that each student has a certain difficulty to overcome, and it is through experience that I am able to address the issue. It feels great when after some drills and practice strokes, I could see the progress that each student makes.

Dec2015 Calligraphy-Workshop via Happy Hands Project

I will be back in January for a couple of Beginners’ classes, and Advanced classes will follow (crosses fingers). If you’re interested, leave your email address to subscribe to the newsletter. I cannot wait for a new round of workshops for the next year!

For artists and creatives looking for a venue for your workshops and exhibitions, I would highly recommend The Untitled Space. The photos speak for themselves, don’t you think?

All photos were taken by Jim Orca/The Untitled Space

Doing What You Love: Focusing on Goals Under Stress

Focus On Your Goals | Lettering via Happy Hands Project

For me this year, the peak season for wedding calligraphy started on the later part of the 3rd quarter. I was on my first trimester of pregnancy at the time, and I was feeling extra emotional and tired. After tucking my daughter to sleep, I couldn’t get myself to work some more. I thought, how will I get through the wedding season if I was tired all the time? I was worried, but sleep always got the better of me. I hit the sack a couple of hours earlier than usual.

Then I worry again the next day because of the work that has been piling up.

Calligraphy and lettering is something I do because I love doing it. I like writing, and drawing letters, ever since I was a little girl. So why is this whole thing, the thing I’m supposed to love, is stressing me out? Now that I’m well into my second trimester and down to my last calligraphy addressing project for the year, I’m feeling much better and excited for what the coming year has to bring. I was able to accomplish the invitation suites for December weddings (and even one for March!), delivered place cards right on time, and also had a few large-sized calligraphy done for some clients. Let me share with you some of the things that kept me motivated — and sane — during the time when the work load was almost too much to handle.

FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS
I was able to do this by listing my goals down on paper. Seeing it on my wall makes it more ‘real’, and I was able to focus on my priorities instead of procrastinating and doing less important things. Focus on your daily or weekly goals and stick to it.

TAKE BREAKS
So yes, it’s important to get work done, but you’re headed for burn out if you don’t take a breather once in a while. There was a 250-word poem that I had to rewrite 3 times because of some silly mistakes I’ve made and it was frustrating! There was one evening when everything seemed to go wrong. I knocked my ink over, the envelope drying rack tumbled, and my hand was shaky. Why not take a break? Making watercolour washes on my pad relaxes me, and scribbling with my brush pens calms me down. Trust me, it works. By the time I got back to writing, it was so much better.

CHECK YOUR WORK
I’m lucky to have a husband who designs as well, and was willing to give his creative input into my work. Having another pair of eyes look through your finished work is better because he/she may see things differently than you do. Having someone else proofread is also a good idea. However, some of us would prefer to do things on our own and if this is the case, carefully check your work before sending it out. It saves time because you don’t have to do things over again, and you’ll have happy clients all the way.

ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS
I had to give up some calligraphy workshops during this period. As much as I love to teach this craft, and I get emails asking when my next class would be, I knew I couldn’t handle it. Take a step back and see how your work load is, and learn to say no if you simply cannot handle any more. Your clients will thank you because you’ll be able to churn out better work.

REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE
When work gets too much for you to handle, pause and ask yourself why you’re working so hard for this anyway. I pick up my pen and dip it in ink and get lost in pointed pen bliss because it makes me happy. I’m passionate about this craft, and I want to share the beauty of calligraphy. What makes you do what you do? Think about it, and it’ll put a smile on your lips. Now check your daily goals and focus on them because believe me, it feels pretty good to get some work done.

Good luck and enjoy the ride!