The Best Markers, Pens, and Tools for Hand Lettering
You don’t need to break the bank on hand lettering supplies to get you going. The important thing is to invest in versatile and tried-and-tested tools that can help you improve your art — and here they are.
Pencils and PensThe most fundamental hand lettering tool you must have is a pencil. If you’re just starting out, you can use just about any drawing pencil available in your local stationery or art store. When you branch out, study a guide reference for pencils. Lead in pencils can either be soft or hard. Most calligraphers use a lighter pencil at first (these are pencils with harder lead), and then switch to a darker pencil (softer lead) once the design takes shape. Pens, on the other hand, are available in larger varieties. Some artists prefer using pens with fine point ink while others choose thick brush pens. It’s all about figuring out which pen works for your art. But for starters, you can invest in a good set of fine tip pens. The small tips are perfect for little details, and the compact sizes excellent for filling in letters. Perhaps the most popular type of pens for hand lettering are brush pens. They’re practically a different category on their own. In many cases, brush pens are the “secret” behind beautiful script. They are an important lettering tool, especially if you want to master writing calligraphy and Japanese characters. Once you find the perfect brush pen for your medium, it can be more than enough supply to help you create outstanding art. And though it takes a fair bit of practice and control to be a brush pen master; you don’t have to be a professional calligrapher to make use of its benefits. When shopping for pens and pencils for lettering, you have to pay attention to the following:
- Accuracy – The pens require precision and smooth application. This feature is imperative if you’re coloring or writing within lines as you need a pen that won’t move around.
- Tips – The pen’s fine tips often provide a precise outline. If the pen can switch between thin and thick lines, then it’s more ideal. But if you need to choose between the two, always choose fine tips.
- Color – The colors need to be vibrant even if you choose dark ones. Black pens shouldn’t look watered down when used on paper.
- Smooth and Sleek – The pen must provide a smooth application. When used, it shouldn’t leave blotches or clumps on the paper’s surface.
Recommended Pens and Pencils for Hand Lettering:Five Sharpie Art Exercises to help improve your lettering!)
PaperLike pens and pencils, the paper you use for hand lettering affects the overall feel and appearance of your art. Paper for hand-lettered art is a pretty huge category, and every sheet works in a different way. Obviously, a regular sketchbook is a must-have if you dabble in hand lettering, doodling or drawing. If you’re starting out, tracing paper is also an excellent tool to have around since it has a smooth surface to practice on without draining the ink of the pen all at once. If you’re a beginner or just playing around with strokes and swirls, you can use regular print paper. Otherwise, choose from the list below.
Recommended Paper for Hand Lettering:
Regular Copy PaperYou can always, always find regular copy paper in both amateur and professional workstations. Regular print papers are, indeed, the best paper to use, especially when practicing hand lettering using a pencil. The paper is thick enough to withstand pen strokes and thin enough to see through it well. (A word of caution: If you’re working with a brush pen, avoid using print or copy paper. Though it may feel deceptively smooth to the touch, majority of print papers are not considered as smooth sheets of paper. If you look closely, you’ll see numerous tiny fibers that can do extreme damage to your brush pens.)
Bonus Tips: Make the Most Out of Your Hand Lettering ToolsWith these hand lettering tools, it’ll be easier for you to practice your craft. But more than the supplies, it’s important that you establish a process so you can master hand lettering. Below are some professional tips on how you can further improve hand lettering with your chosen tools:
Start with a simple warm-up.Take 5 to 15 minutes of your time to warm-up your creative cells and hands. With a ruler, make straight lines on paper. From simple straight lines, create angled ones, then move to more complex shapes and figures. Keep the shapes identical and, if possible, evenly spaced. Lines and shapes are the fundamentals of letters and characters so practicing them over and over again is a good habit. The warm-up will help you master spacing and pen control. Also, this is a sensible way to familiarize yourself with new tools like pens and pencils to see how they feel and work.
Practice all the time.Choose a word, preferably a short one, and write/draw it in as many ways as you possibly can. Fill an entire piece of paper of your chosen word. The key is for you not to think about it too hard. Don’t mind if what you’ve drawn is unappealing or too simple. The goal of your practice is to come up with something new and see how far you can push your design process. Don’t get frustrated if you think the output is ugly because, most of the time, something will pop out of the “mess” that will help or inspire you to create something beautiful and organic.
Take advantage of free hand lettering stuff online.There are a lot of generous artists and designers online that you can learn from. Most have their own websites or social media platforms you can check every now and then to see upcoming trends about hand lettering. More often than not, they also offer free samples or exercises to help other dabblers like you. Download these free exercises and use them for your warm-ups. If you have something to share and offer to other designers, you may do so on your own blog or social media channel. This give-and-take process not just helps you become a better artist, but also support the niche you’re a part of to become a better industry.
Invest in the hand lettering tools you need.If you want to do hand lettering professionally, you must spend your time and resources to build a brand. Be smart on what tools and supplies you must own. Buy those that you really need to make a project – especially if it’s a commissioned one – a success. Most hand lettering tools are not that expensive, so you can splurge on the ones that can make your art better. To avoid wasting money, make sure to read the reviews of other designers about the product. It’s impractical to buy everything so you can see which works best and otherwise, so leaning on the advice of the experts in your field helps. Also, pay attention to holiday sales or special discounts from different online stores. As with any form of art, it’s smart to know what’s already on the market and see what works and what doesn’t. This is a clever approach to see which style or concept works best for your art. By reading, researching and trying hand lettering tools, you can make an informed decision on what to get when shopping for new design supplies. With the list provided above, we’re positive that you’ll find the right tools to make your hand-lettered art stand out from the rest.
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