Today I am really excited to share a few tips and tricks about brush hand lettering, which is one of my favorite creative outlets. I am not a professional letterer by any stretch of the imagination, but I have spent some time over the past years learning and practicing my techniques. I have really enjoyed my time hand lettering, and I hope you will all give it a try too.
Supplies needed for brush hand lettering:
- Canson Pro Layout Marker Paper
- Strathmore Watercolor Paper
- Spectrum Noir Aqua Watercolor Markers
- Round Paint Brush
- Plastic Bag
The first thing you need to make your own brush script or brush hand lettering project is either a round paint brush and ink (or watercolors or paint) OR a brush tip marker. Today, I am going to be using the Spectrum Noir Aqua Watercolor markers, which have two tips – a brush-shaped felt tip and a fine tip. The brush tip is mostly what we will be using today, but the fine tip is great for adding in details or outlining your work.
That’s it. That’s the whole secret to creating your own beautiful brush lettering. When you are moving your pen up, the line should be thin, and when you are moving your pen down, the line should be thick.
- Position – Begin by holding your pen at an angle rather than holding it upright or perpendicular to the paper. If you push straight down through the tip of the marker, it will spread and get damaged. Holding your pen at an angle allows the tip to bend and flex so your thick strokes are created with the side of the marker instead of smashing down your nice sharp tip.
- Pressure – Light pressure equals thin strokes and heavy pressure equals thick strokes. For really thin upstrokes, your marker tip should be just barely kissing the paper as your hand moves by. Press down as you move into a downstroke to flex the marker tip down and create a thicker stroke.
Simple, right? The tricky part is learning how to accomplish that thick and thin look with a smooth stroke. One important tip is to move your entire arm instead of just your wrist. Grip the pen in your hand and then move your arm to create the strokes. This will help you get get a smoother line.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
The only way to learn brush hand lettering is to pick up a pen and get to work. And work and work and work. The more you practice, the more your hands and arms will get used to the motions, and the easier it will become.
Start by practicing some basic strokes like the waves I did above. Try o’s and l’s to practice the transition between your thick and thin strokes.
Finally, find a favorite letterer or two (or twenty) and try imitating their work. Examine how they form their letters, connect their words, and add in flourishes. Copying other’s work is a great way to practice, learn the process and find your own style. (Of course, do not present any copies as your own work – this is just for practice!)
I hope that overview gives you a good basic introduction to brush hand lettering and that you will enjoy practicing! Before I go, I wanted to share two more fun techniques you can try out with the Spectrum Noir Aqua markers in particular. First, you can easily get a pretty watercolor look by simply adding some water with a small round brush.
To create this watercolor look, start by lettering your word or phrase using the markers. Then simply go back over the lettering with a small round brush dipped in water. If you want, you can mix in other colors by first coloring the accent color onto a non-porous surface (I used a plastic bag), and then picking that color up with your brush.
Another great technique specific to this type of marker is to blend colors right on the marker tip! This is seriously fun, guys.
Start by coloring on your non-porous surface (plastic bag) with one color and then pick that color up on the tip of another marker. I found that it works best if you pick the darker color up with the lighter color marker.
For more watercolor fun, try this resist watercolor art project!