Lettering isn't easy, but sometimes knowing what to do (and not to do) can make all the difference! Here are 5 tips on getting better at brush lettering.
1- Go Slow
This is probably the most important tip of all. Going too fast can not only make your lettering look sloppy, it also damages brush pens and cramps your hand. Even if you see videos of people lettering on Instagram or YouTube going faster than you, go at a speed that feels comfortable! Most videos of lettering are sped up, some up to 20 times the original speed, to keep viewers engaged and most of these artists are going really slow in real time.
Look for videos on YouTube that are labeled "Real Time Lettering" or "Practice With Me", as these are likely to be in the speed you want.
Below are some great videos for real time lettering practice!
2- Choose the Right Paper
The right paper for brush lettering is so important! When choosing a paper, make sure it is super smooth so you don't fray your brush pens, as well as uncoated (not glossy). If in doubt about choosing paper, here are a few of my favourites:
Rhodia Dot Pad - Brush pens glide right over the surface of this paper, plus dots make it easy to keep your lettering straight!
HP Premium 32 LaserJet - This is the only printer paper I would recommend for lettering. It is affordable and super smooth.
Strathmore Bristol Paper - This is as good as it gets! A great paper for finished projects due to its thickness.
Whatever you do, stay clear of regular printer paper, watercolour paper and cardstock, which all will fray your brush pens and make lettering harder.
3- Keep it Simple
You've probably seen the elaborate flourishes and rainbow blends of advanced lettering artists on Instagram or Pinterest, but when it comes to starting brush lettering, simple is best. Learn the alphabet and start with writing quotes in a simple style, using different colours for visual appeal. Once you feel confident in your lettering technique, try an easy blending technique like easy watercolour lettering. If you really want to make your lettering pop, try adding 3D shadows for dimension.
When it comes to adding flourishes, the best way to learn is my watching and, most importantly, PRACTICING! Here are a few helpful videos on eleboarting your letters:
4- Learn Something New
Sometimes the cause of not improving in lettering is simply being bored. I totally get it when people don't want to fill out worksheet after worksheet of drills just to improve. And honestly, at the beginning it doesn't even feel like an improvement sometimes.
So what can you do?
Even if your lettering isn't perfect, learning a fun new technique is a great way to get out of a creative rut. Have fun, create something, and chances are you don't even notice you're practicing lettering! Make a card, try blending, get some new supplies, anything that will help you enjoy lettering again.
Below are some fun techniques that will help improve your lettering while you have fun:
Okay, this one might seem obvious, but practice is such an important part of lettering that I had to mention it here. Practice won't make perfect, but it will make progress, and progress is what you want as a lettering beginner.
As I mentioned above, practicing lettering doesn't just mean doing a ton of drills. There are so many creative ways to work on lettering techniques! Try making hand lettered cards, write out journal headers or grocery lists in calligraphy, add some brush lettering to your calendar or letter your favourite quotes or bible verses.
Whatever you do, try to practice some form of lettering every day. It's not as hard as it sounds! Once you make it a habit, brush lettering will be your go-to form of writing and doodling and you'll want to letter on everything!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post! I hoped it inspired you to keep going in your lettering journey. So pick up a brush pen and get lettering!