Brush Calligraphy and Lettering FAQs. Answers to the questions I’m most frequently asked about Brush Calligraphy!
Brush Calligraphy and Lettering FAQs
I compiled and answered all the questions I’m most frequently asked about Brush Calligraphy and Lettering into one handy page!
Before we get into the FAQs, I want to share something with you. The first time I tried Brush Calligraphy it was so hard, I didn’t try again for months. Once I did try again, I committed to practice. Practice is the only thing separating you from “meh” brush calligraphy and “wow” brush calligraphy…so keep at it and don’t give up!
What brush pen do you recommend for beginners?
The Tombow Fudenosuke hands-down. Here’s why it is the number one brush pen I recommend to beginners.
What other brush pens/supplies do you recommend?
What paper should I use?
Using the proper paper keeps your brush tips in great condition so look for ultra smooth paper designed for use with brush pens and markers. My favorites are:
- Rhodia Dot Pad
- Canson Marker Paper
- Copic X-Press It Paper
- Watercolor Paper: Hot Press is smoother than Cold Press so opt for hot press!
Do I need to have pretty handwriting to be good at Brush Calligraphy and Lettering?
No! Mine is actually pretty awful. Lettering is a form of drawing. So, sure you need some natural drawing talent, but if you have the passion and you’re willing to show up each day and practice, you’ll make a ton of progress.
How should I hold my pen?
You can really hold your pen however it is comfortable for you, but one thing you need to do is hold it at a roughly 45-degree angle.
I’m having trouble getting my downstrokes thick enough. Any tips?
If you’re holding your pen at the 45-degree angle, then chances are you’re not pushing down hard enough. The pens are made for it, so don’t worry that you’ll break it. For the thin upstrokes, your pen tip should just barely “kiss the paper” and for the downstrokes, push down hard! Do you see how much my tip bends in the pic below?
Any tips for lefties?
I’m a lefty myself so I love seeing other lefties overcome the myth that lefties don’t make good letterers!
- Practice. Practice. Practice. We lefties often need to work harder at lettering and calligraphy, but it can be done! The more you practice, the more natural it starts to feel. It gets easier and your work continually improves. I keep all my old sketchbooks so I can look back and see all the progress I’ve made over the years.
- Learn the rules. But it’s ok to break them and do what works for you. This is especially true of how you hold the pencil/marker/paintbrush (with the exception of needing to work from a roughly 45-degree angle for brush calligraphy).
- Use a guard sheet. This is simply placing a scrap paper under your hand to keep from smearing your work.
My brush pen tips are fraying! What gives?
Frayed tips are usually a result of one of two things (or a combo of both):
- You’re not holding your pen at the 45-degree angle.
- The paper you’re using is too rough for the brush pens soft nibs, so try some of the brush pen friendly paper I recommended earlier in this post!
Where can I find free Brush Calligraphy and Lettering practice sheets?
I offer a TON of them here on my site. Check out the practice sheet archives for all kinds of free practice sheets.
I keep seeing people doing Brush Calligraphy on the iPad. Can you tell me how that works?
I didn’t like lettering digitally until the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil came out. Check out this post to learn all about doing Brush Calligraphy + Lettering on the iPad Pro.
Did you go to school to learn hand-lettering?
Like most hand lettering artists, I’m largely self-taught. In design school, one of my typography instructors said I really had a knack for choosing and mixing type, and I just fell in love with typography. So I started buying books on hand-lettering and practicing…and practicing a lot. You can find a list of my favorite books here.
If you want to know more about the 5 Ways Design School Changed my Life, you can read all about that here.
What’s the best way to get better at lettering?
Practice makes progress! The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
- Join my monthly 30 Day Art + Lettering Challenges.
- Check out my Hand Lettering 101 Page for tips on shading, blending, adding style and more.
- Get 76 pages of practice, instruction and 3 video lessons in my Brush Calligraphy Guide + Workbook (Instant Download eBook).
- But, First Lettering: 365 Days of Lettering Prompts. Want to practice but not sure what to letter when you sit down? That’s the whole reason I created this year-long set of prompts!
- Check out my online lettering class: Constellation Lettering.
I want to learn Brush Calligraphy and Modern Calligraphy (with a Pointed Pen). Which should I learn first?
Modern Calligraphy with a pointed pen didn’t click for me until after I’d mastered Brush Calligraphy, so based on personal experience, I recommend learning Brush Calligraphy first and then moving on to Modern Calligraphy.
Did I miss any of your Brush Calligraphy and Lettering FAQS? Leave me a question in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer it!