Gold Foil Hack - Feat. Tombow Mono Liquid Glue

Hey y'all! So, today I have a fun project for you! As lots of you know, I have an Etsy Shop where I sell hand-foiled gold prints. S O   M A N Y blog readers have asked me to do a tutorial on perfect foiling (I'm thinking of doing an online class on it? Would you like that? Comment below!), but until that time, there is a way you can foil without spending like $300+ in equipment and supplies! Cause yeah, that's {my} reality of perfect foiling. 

What is this magical hack, you ask? 


But not just any glue! The glue I'm using in this tutorial is perfect for applying foil, but not all glues are equal. To my knowledge, you can't ask a cheap Elmer's Glue to do the same thing as you're asking this glue to do. However, I haven't used any other brands, so you'll have to experiment or research what other brands would work with this method.

What is this glue? I've really built it up, so it better deliver, amirite?

It's the Tombow Mono Multi Liquid Glue (I have mine in the XL Size)

Disclaimer: I'm not sponsored by Tombow USA, but I am a Brand Ambassador, which means I get cool Tombow products in the mail each month to blog about! 

Ok, now that you know about the glue, let's get into the tutorial...because, I actually made something!

Here are the products I used:


In this tutorial, I made two 5x7 decorative prints in two different 'styles.' To begin, I anchored down both my kraft paper and watercolor paper with some washi tape that will be easy to remove when I am ready. The reason for doing this is so my paper doesn't warp when I apply water and wet ink to it. 

I'm going to be working on the Kraft Paper print first. I decided to do a floral theme. I chose the colors Green (245), Red (845), and a Golden Yellow (026). I'm scribbling some ink from each of these pens onto my blending palette.

After that step is complete, I'm going to spray the palette with clean water, so I can begin using the ink as watercolor. I didn't get a great photo of it, so that step is not included here, but here is another tutorial where I used this technique.

Now, I'm gonna get to paintin'!

My painting style here was very loose. When painting the flowers, I did some in all red, and some in a mixture of the yellow and red. There is really no formula here, except to paint blobs that kind of resemble flowers. <<< yeah, I know! Easier said than done.

Once that has dried completely, grab your glue! I am using the 'precision' or the 'pen tip' end of this glue so I can draw fine lines of glue where I want my foil to appear. In the second tutorial, we'll explore the other side! 

Draw on your glue wherever your heart tells you to! Now, wait for it to dry. And by dry, I mean, until it's 'clear.'

As you can see here, the glue is slowly turning from white to clear. When all the glue is clear, it will become VERY tacky and that's when you know it's ready for the foil. 

You can also clearly see that I couldn't wait for all my glue to turn clear (which is a mistake). But, anyway, when you're ready, gently lay your foil on top of the glued areas, and press down with your finger, gently but firmly burnishing the foil onto the glue. Once burnished to your liking, gently peel the foil up. 

And this is what I got once I had applied foil to all the glued areas! Yay!

I displayed this little print on top of my shipping supply cabinet. What do you think?
I like it...but not as much as I like this next print!

I began by laying down my colors onto the blending palette. I used, from top to bottom, a Pink (815), an Orange (Number Not Available), and the yellow and red from the first tutorial. I took a large, flat paintbrush, and began brushing the color on in horizontal stripes, as seen below!

I left two spaces where I wanted my gold foil brush strokes to appear.

Next, I grabbed my glue! I'm using the 'broad tip' here because I want to apply quite a bit more glue than in the previous print.  

I applied my glue pretty liberally, then used an old paintbrush (you don't want to ruin a nice brush here!) to flatten out the glue. In hindsight, I should have applied quite a bit'll see why in a bit!

After waiting for my glue to go from white and liquidus to clear and tacky, I applied my foil and burnished it with my fingers. Once I had done that, I pulled the foil up. Now, I wish I had applied more glue because I wanted a more solid appearance of foil. To remedy this, I added just a little bit more on top of the existing foil and tried again. 

This is the finished product! I wish I had gone back and added yet even MORE glue, but I do like the way this turned out!

I hung this print on my newly-painted peg board and I really love the little pop of color it adds! I haven't yet re-stocked my peg board, so it looks a little bare here. If you'd like to see a blog post about the peg boards I use in my studio, let me know! I'd love to show you some organizational tips...especially since peg boards are SUCH an affordable option!

Ok, y'all! That's it for today! Let me know what you thought about this tutorial in the comments below, and OH YEAH!! 

Negative Space Letter Pt. 2 (Masking + Watercolor)

WOO-HOO we're back again with another Negative Space Lettering tutorial! This one isn't focused so much on lettering, but I think you'll like it just the same! If you missed my first Negative Space Post, you can catch it here. 

Today's blog post uses several techniques I've previously talked about on the, throughout the post, watch out for links to previous blog posts that will help answer any additional questions you may have about the techniques I'm using today! 

Let's jump in, shall we? 

Here's what I used: 
Mixed Media or Watercolor Paper
1 Sheet of Kraft Paper or scrap paper (optional)
Masking Fluid or Masking Pen
Paint palette or container for Masking Fluid
Blending Palette (I used this one, but a paper baggie or plastic surface works too)
A water sprayer or spritzer
1 Paint Brush You Don't Mind Ruining Forever :-/
1 Paint Brush You Actually Like Using :)
A pencil
A White Gel Pen (Optional)
Tombow Dual Brush Pens in your favorite color family

For this technique, I began by lightly sketching out a simple design. In this case, I chose a heart with a scripted 'Love' inside. Feel free to do whatever works best for you, but my intention was to cover every bit of pencil with masking fluid, so I don't have to worry about erasing later. (If that doesn't make sense to you yet, it will as we move through the tutorial!)

Next up is masking fluid! 

Ok, let's talk about this first. Despite having seen masking fluid being used countless times on Instagram or in YouTube art tutorials, I have only used it for the first time this week. There's a few things you should  know before you dive in:

1. Masking fluid ain't necessarily least, this kind isn't. This brand sells for $15 at Hobby Lobby. I'm sure I could have gotten it cheaper on Amazon, but I have no patience. There are also other forms and brands of masking fluid that I'm sure are much more affordable, but once again...I wasn't patient! I wanted it right then and there at the store.

2. It will ruin your brush, so choose one you don't love, and deem that brush your 'masking fluid brush forever and ever amen.'

3. It dries FAST, so go in with a plan and work quickly. 

With all that in mind, I went ahead and applied my masking fluid on top of my pencil sketch. 

While my masking fluid is drying on my paper, I picked the colors I wanted to use for the next step! Since I'll be doing some watercolor with these Tombow Dual Brush Pens, I chose colors in the same family, because we want them to blend well together!

For more tips about watercoloring with Tombows, you can check out these blog posts: 
Unique + Gorgeous Lettered Art

Tombow Techniques: DIY Summertime Watercolor Wall Art

Brush Lettering + Watercolor Floral Art

And UGH, my camera was out of focus for the next step, but take my word for it: I scribbled a bit of each color down onto my blending palette in no particular order or pattern. 

Next, as you can kind of see below (lol), I took a tiny water spritzer and sprayed the palette a couple of times until all the ink had mixed with some water. The Kraft paper below the palette is simply to protect my workspace, and not a necessity at all :)

Once my palette was wet with the water and ink combination, I took a round brush and began picking up the color from the palette, and laying it onto the blank areas of my design. 

This is the fun part about masking fluid! You can be as messy as you want to be, and it doesn't matter: your design will come out (mostly) clean everywhere you put your masking fluid!

Once you've applied all your color, you must wait until your paint or ink is completely dry before you attempt to peel off the masking fluid....I know, the temptation is so real! Trust me! I made the mistake of pulling the fluid up too early and the wet parts of the paper were completely ripped up along with the fluid. Not worth it. 

When my design was ready, I simply used my thumb to rub up a piece of the tacky fluid. From there, I peeled it off slowly, and my gorgeous negative space design was revealed! I finished by cleaning up the design with an eraser, getting rid of the remaining pencil marks that were hidden beneath the masking fluid. 

For my second design, I repeated the same beginning steps:
1. Lightly sketch
2. Cover in masking fluid
3. Wait to dry

For the next step, I wanted to use the leftover ink and water mixture on my palette, and I added to it a bit before spritzing it with water!

Before the next step, I double-checked to make sure my masking fluid had dried completely! When I was sure it had, I quickly flipped over my palette and pressed it down onto the paper. I did sort of a dabbing motion to spread the color around.

For a much more detailed explanation of this technique (except using a plastic baggie), check out this blog post:
The Hefty Hack How To

Oops! More blurry photos! Sorrrryyyyyy :(

When I felt like I couldn't get anymore color from my palette, I grabbed a clean paint brush and laid down the remaining bits of ink on the paper to fill in any blank spots around the masking. I did this until my little design eye was happy! 

Ok... once again, we must wait until our ink or paint has COMPLETELY DRIED!!! Ahhhh, the AGONY! 

But it'll be worth it FOR SURE.

Ok! So my finished design didn't quite come out as clean as I hoped it would...but that's where our handy-dandy gel pen comes in to save the day!

If you want to take the time to clean up your edges with a gel pen, go for it! However, I only needed to cover up a few spots where my masking fluid wasn't completely smooth and even. 

Ta-da! It's done! What do you think?

Ok y'all, that's it for this week's blog post! I had a lot of fun with this one, and as always, I hope you'll explore your own instincts and personal style if yy;'ou decide to give this tutorial a try! Tag me on Instagram and show me your designs if you do :) OR leave me a comment below and tell me which color family you would choose: greens, blues, reds, violets? I love seeing how each artist puts their own spin on things!

Negative Space Lettering feat. Tombow Mono Drawing Pencils Pt. 1

Hey guys! Today, I'm going to show you how to create really unique and fun "negative space" lettering! When I received my set of Tombow Mono Drawing Pencils (linked below in the supply list!), I was inspired to create something more "elaborate" than my normal lettering. And that is when I came up with this fun and easy technique! Once you learn this simple technique, you will want to make hand-drawn thank you notes, framed pieces of art, and personalized gifts for friends....I have no doubt that you will love this! 

Let's begin!

After cracking open my brand new set of pencils (that come with eraser and sharpener...two very important tools), I chose the lead 'weight' I wanted for this project that requires a little bit of drawing!

I chose the 5B weight because it's a softer and thicker lead. I figured the softer lead would be easiest to erase and the thicker pencil strokes would be best for this technique. 

But before I can put my pencil to work, I need to break out my dual brush pen. Any color will work for this next step, but I chose black because it's always closest at hand!

On the tracing paper, I used the thick nib of my brush pen to write a fancy, scripty 'B.' I chose the letter 'B' because it represents my last name. You can choose whatever letter(s) you want! I have also done this technique with the word 'YAY' that I turned into a gold foil print. You can check it out here.

My 'B' wasn't thick enough for my taste, so I 'double-lined' it, which is a fancy way of saying 'I went back over it with my brush pen to thicken the lines!' ha

Now, after your ink has dried to the touch (you don't want to smear black ink I have definitely done in the past), flip your tracing paper over.

Now use your pencil to trace the outline of your fancy letter or word. You can't see my pencil marks very well, but they are there! DON'T be shy with how hard you trace. You want your pencil lead to show up for this next step...

And this is the part where choosing a thick, soft lead really comes in handy...

Next, you want to grab your cardstock (or whatever paper you're using!), and flip your tracing sheet back over to the 'right side.' Position your letter or word over the center of the paper (or where you intend your final result to be.

With quite a bit of pressure, use the edge of your bone folder to transfer the lead on the back of the tracing paper onto your paper. If you don't have a bone folder, any plastic or metal object with a dull edge will work for this. Remember, apply quite a bit of pressure!

This is how your transfer should turn out! You can totally skip this step if you can free hand the outline of a fancy letter or word...I couldn't, and that's why this step was a lifesaver for me!

Next, I re-traced my outline with my pencil. Once again, this step can be skipped if your lead transfer comes out more clearly than mine did.

Now, let's start drawing!

I chose to add floral embellishments because that's what comes most naturally to me. However, you could add all kinds of elements with this technique: geometric, swirly, you name it!

Once my drawing was complete, I picked up my Fudenosuke Soft Nib to outline my floral embellishments. For this technique, you ONLY outline your embellishments. No part of the original 'B' outline should be touched or traced over!

I like using the brush pen for this technique, because I can get thin lines, but can slightly vary how thick the lines are, which adds a little character. For a more 'streamlined' look, you could use a Micron Pen. Now let's erase our lines!

Ok, so it looks pretty good, but my 'B' isn't popping enough for me...I'm going to go back in and add some more details around the edges of my B.

That's better! can you spot the differences? LOL

Alright, so that's IT! All together, this technique took me MAYBE 20 minutes. As soon as you decide on what your motif will be, you will fly right through this!!! Especially after your first couple of designs. 

Let me know what you think of this tutorial by leaving me a comment below! This technique is Pt. 1 of 3 awesome 'negative space' techniques I'll be demonstrating using my new Mono Drawing Pencils! I can't wait to show you what else you can do with these quality tools!

And P.S.: National Handwriting Day is coming this MONDAY, January 23rd! Show some love for your handwriting and rock it on Instagram, using the hashtag #handwrittenwithtombow for a chance to be featured on their Insta feed! You can post your pics starting now, until Monday night!

1 Brush Pen, 3 Lettering Styles: Medium-to-Advanced Brush Lettering Tutorial

Hey y'all! This week, I want to talk a little about digging myself out of a lettering rut. For at least a month now, I've been feeling very unsatisfied and bored with my lettering style! I haven't looked forward to sitting down to letter or create new pieces for my shop, because I am starting to feel like a one-trick pony. I always reach for the same pens, time and time again, and I always go through the same motions in creating my letters. 

Enough! It's time for a change, guys. If I can't update or expand upon my style, I can't really consider myself a lettering artist. Having range is extremely important to me, so range is what you're gonna get in this blog post!

At first, I thought I would get some new, different pens to change things up. But, after a little thought on this topic, I came to the conclusion that I don't want or need to buy new tools to explore different styles. I can create different styles with just ONE pen....the same pen I reach for almost every single day: the Fudenosuke Soft Nib. 

My big epiphany of the week was discovering three varied styles I can create pretty easily with the same pen, simply using a different range of motion for each. These three styles are SUPER simple, and probably very recognizable to you already. But, in case you aren't sure how to change up your lettering, I'll show you some of the tricks I've been using. Let's get started! 

1. Bouncy Script Lettering

For Bouncy Script Lettering, I like to imagine a bouncing ball, upside down!

The best way to think about it is: alternate between big and small letters! 
It's also helpful to draw the bouncing ball pattern beneath your letters as a guideline. This technique definitely requires some practice, as it's not our 'natural' inclination when lettering. I invite you to explore this technique and see how you can put your personal spin on it! 

The possibilities of variation with this technique are endless! Here is my real-life portrayal of the Bouncy Script Lettering Technique!

2. Fancy Script Lettering 

For this technique, I simply elongate the 'connector' of each letter to create a more 'traditionally calligraphic' feel. Here's what I mean in a little photo (because I know that wasn't a very helpful explanation LOL): 

The technique also leaves room for variation, depending on how drastically you elongate your connectors! This technique would be lovely for lettering invitations, adding a little fanciness to an envelope, or lettering a poem. 

3. Tall & Skinny Script Lettering

This third and final technique is the one that comes easiest to me! For this technique, I visualize this: 

Whenever I want to letter in this style, I will sometimes warm-up by making that pointy-squiggly line with my brush pen. Essentially, I want to imitate that kind of movement with my pen as I am lettering. However, if visualizing that kind of motion isn't quite working for you, think about smushing your letters up close together and then stretching them out! When you get the hang of it, this technique is so much fun! And, you can move really fast :) 

Alright! It's as simple as that! 

It's kind of crazy how different shapes and motions can inspire different lettering styles. What are some of your tricks for changing things up when you fall into a lettering rut? Tell me in the comments below!

2016 Shop Small Holiday Gift Guide

With Christmas just a little over three weeks away, we are in the final countdown! If you're like me, you wait until December to start shopping, because getting it together any earlier than that makes too much sense and would make life too easy. I have to make it hard on myself. 

And, if you're like me in more ways than one, you want to support as much local and small business as possible! I have always been aware that I should #shopsmall and #buylocal, but in my first year as an Etsy Seller....I've never been more convicted! When you support an Etsy Seller or an artist at a local boutique or store front in your town, you're helping an actual human being. That's not something you can say about hitting the aisles of Target or browsing Macy's....though I love both of those big box stores, I want to bring attention to some special Etsy Sellers and Artsy Friends I've met through my hand-lettering journey!

Here are a few of the artists I am making a point to support this Christmas! 

For your coloring-obsessed friend...or in my case, grandmother!

Stuff Southern Women Say: A Coloring Book of Southernisms and Southern Charm: Adult Coloring Book

('s only $ can order one for every Southern lady in your life!)

My Mamaw LOVES to color in adult coloring books, and I know she's not the only one! I have lots of friends who like to Netflix-and-Color (including yours truly, if I have the time), and even more Southern gal pals that would love this book if for nothing more than the sayings inside! 

You may remember that I gave another one of Angie's coloring books away in my 10K Giveaway... well, stay tuned, because I'll be giving a copy of this coloring book away in the new year...

Order your very own coloring book for yourself, or to give as a gift by clicking here!

For your state-proud, floral-loving friend...

A State Sign from Lovely Retro Renos

PLEASE NOTE: You MUST order by December 10th if you want to receive your pieces in time for the holidays...but you can get free shipping until then!

Of course, y'all know I love my Kentucky stuff. Kentucky everything all the time. But even I know Kentucky isn't the only state worth celebrating! In addition to the Bluegrass State, I've left pieces of my heart in New York, and now, Illlinois! I want to order signs for those places too and create the most beautiful gallery wall ever!

Photo from Lovely Retro Reno's Etsy Shop

Photo from Lovely Retro Reno's Etsy Shop

I mean, how precious is this Illinois sign? 

Stephanie, owner and maker behind this adorable shop, also creates drink coasters, unique picture frames, and some other wooden goodies! Definitely give her shop a look!

For the friend that likes to sip and/or celebrate in style!

The 'Cup of Cheer' 17 Oz. Stemless Wine Glass by Pretty in Ink Shop

You can ask Andrea, the owner and maker behind this adorable shop...the first time I laid eyes on this "Cup of Cheer" glass, I commented on the photo and said "I think I need this," and had ordered it less than a week later! I just couldn't pass this one up!

Photo from Pretty in Ink Shop

I threw a splash of my husband's Kentucky Bourbon into my cup of cheer, but I've been enjoying it for wine more than anything! However, if you or your friends and family don't enjoy worries! I'm confident ANY drink will be more cheerful in this cup!

Pretty in Ink Shop also have a ton of other adorable drink-ware options that I think you'll just love for the holiday are a few of my favorites: 
This White Camper Mug...
And this 'Elf' inspired coffee or tea mug!

Andrea is the best, and has also shared a coupon code with me to pass on to my readers!
Get 15% off your purchase of $5 or more with code "OHWHATFUN"! Click here to view her shop!

I'll be giving away one of these cheerful glasses in my New Years giveaway as's going to be a good one, guys!

For the friend or loved one missing someone special this Christmas...

This gorgeous sign by CaytiedidDesigns

This time of year can sting for those that have just lost a loved one or are spending their first Christmas without a special friend or relative. I know this pain from personal experience. While no gift could ever replace the empty place in your heart, a thoughtful sentiment like this one is a lovely reminder to celebrate in honor of those you miss so much! I absolutely adore this print by my insta-friend Caytie!

And for the friend with the catchphrase.....

A custom Gold Foil Print by yours truly...

Please note: I'm taking and filling orders until Friday, December 16th, to help increase likelihood all packages arrive in time for Christmas! Any orders placed on or after the 16th will be shipped Monday, the 19th, and I make no below for a coupon code!

Did you really think I could resist plugging myself? No. But, mostly because this is a brand new listing in my shop! Available in 5x7 or 8x10 sizing, I want to hand-letter your favorite quote, Bible Verse, song lyrics, or catchphrase and immortalize it in sparkly gold foil! But, you don't have to limit yourself to a custom print if it ain't your thang right now....This code is for my readers only: use 'KILEYCHRISTMAS' at checkout for free shipping on any item in my shop, now until December 16th!

I also have these brand new prints available, which are a collaboration with my mom, the talented photographer behind January June Photography! They're not your average print...I highly suggest grabbing one of these for your friend with the cute kitchen or the coziest living room!

Ok guys...that's it! I hope you've marked at least one item off your shopping list from this gift guide! Feel free to comment your favorite Etsy Shop or small online boutique and share the #shopsmall love! Heck, even tag your own Etsy Shop...I did it, and you can too!

Fifty Ways to Drawn An "I" - Brush Lettering Practice + A Free Worksheet

Ok guys, I hope you had an AWESOME Thanksgiving (if you celebrate!). I certainly did....and can you believe Christmas (if you celebrate) is officially just around the corner?

Good thing I have holiday excitement to distract me from the letter 'I.' This was a tough one, guys! I kind of suspected I would have a hard time with this letter, but who knew how boring 'I' really is? Well, now I guess we all do! ha.

I hope you enjoy this week's worksheet! I'll be back next week with the fabulous letter 'J!'

To print your 'I' Worksheet out, simply click here. Right click, save, print, then trace away!

Print the 'A' Worksheet Here
Print the 'B' Worksheet Here
Print the 'C' Worksheet Here
Print the 'D' Worksheet Here
Print the 'E' Worksheet Here
Print the 'F' Worksheet Here
Print the 'G' Worksheet Here
Print the 'H' Worksheet Here

I'm having an awesome Black Friday weekend sale over at my shop! Go check it out if you want some amazing free shipping, and add-ins for certain purchases!

Fifty Ways to Drawn An "H" - Brush Lettering Practice + A Free Worksheet

Hey y'all and Happy THANKSGIVING WEEK! This is one of my favorite times of the year. I'm taking a week off of 'business stuff' to spend time with my family anddddd to get some rest before the holiday madness in my shop (hopefully) begins. But, I didn't forget about y'all! I have the next installment of the 50 Ways Series ready to go for you! Enjoy!

Come back on Friday to see 50 Ways to Letter 'I'!

Note: The worksheet is no longer in PDF Form! A lot of y'all want to use your worksheets in Procreate for iPad lettering practice. Because of this, the worksheets are now JPEGs (photos), which are compatible with uploading into Procreate! They can be downloaded and printed the exact same way :) I promise! 

To print your 'H' Worksheet out, simply click here. Right click, save, print, then trace away!

Print the 'A' Worksheet Here
Print the 'B' Worksheet Here
Print the 'C' Worksheet Here
Print the 'D' Worksheet Here
Print the 'E' Worksheet Here
Print the 'F' Worksheet Here
Print the 'G' Worksheet Here

Sidenote! I'm going to have an awesome Black Friday Weekend sale over at my Etsy Shop! If you're looking for a few unique Christmas gifts, you may want to check it out!
HINT: There will be free shipping on all orders over $15 ... and one more surprise! Check my shop Instagram for details this week!

Fifty Ways to Draw A "G" - Brush Lettering Practice + A Free Worksheet

Hey everyone! I hope you have had a great week! Today, I am back with the next installment of the 50 Ways series!

Turns out that 'G' is a lot of fun!! Here are 50 'G's, straight from my brain! I hope you enjoy tracing them as much as I have. These worksheets have helped me to steady my hand just as much as anything else.

Note: The worksheet is no longer in PDF Form! A lot of y'all want to use your worksheets in Procreate for iPad lettering practice. Because of this, the worksheets are now JPEGs (photos), which are compatible with uploading into Procreate! They can be downloaded and printed the exact same way :) I promise! 

To print your 'G' Worksheet out, simply click here. Right click, save, print, then trace away!

Print the 'A' Worksheet Here
Print the 'B' Worksheet Here
Print the 'C' Worksheet Here
Print the 'D' Worksheet Here
Print the 'E' Worksheet Here
Print the 'F' Worksheet Here

Sidenote! I'm going to have an awesome Black Friday Weekend sale over at my Etsy Shop! If you're looking for a few unique Christmas gifts, you may want to check it out!
HINT: There will be free shipping on all orders over $15 ... and one more surprise! Check my shop Instagram for details next week!

Unique + Gorgeous Lettered Art with the Tombow Advanced Lettering Set

Hey guys! Today, I'm sharing a little motivational print I created for myself using quite a few of the amazing lettering tools found in the Tombow Advanced Lettering Set, as well as some lettering tools I had in my studio. 

This piece of art is totally different than my usual style, but as I've recently discovered how much I love using Kraft Paper in my lettering, I couldn't help myself!

The inspiration for this came from a recent Instagram post I made. I loved the composition of the quote so much, I wanted to recreate it for a 5x7 print to hang in my studio. 

DISCLAIMER: I used my iPhone to photograph today's post (and completed the project on my packaging table) because my big camera battery wasn't charged. Totally my mistake!

Ok, let's dive in!
Here's what you'll need... 

From the Lettering Set: 
3 Colored Dual Brush Pens (in shades 373, 815, and 685)
Mono Pencil for Sketching
Mono Eraser (love that thing)
Mono Twin Permanent Marker
Fudenosuke Hard Nib Brush Pen

(If you don't have the lettering set, all of these items are available for individual sale, and linked above)

From my personal hoard (ahem, collection) of lettering tools: 
White Gel Pen
Kraft Paper, trimmed down to 5x7 size
Water Brush (I use this one)
A blending palette (you can use a plastic sandwich baggie also)

Let's DO IT. 

First, I'll need my blending palette, Dual Brush Pens, and Water Brush. 

I started by simply scribbling some ink onto my blending palette, in three sections, as pictured above. I put my pink shade at the top, furthest away from my teal, because those two colors don't mix too well. Placing the purply-magenta shade in the middle (a shade that mixes well with both colors) is a good "buffer" between the two. 

Next, I squeezed a few water droplets from my water brush onto the ink. No rhyme or reason here! Be wary of adding too much water in the beginning, or your ink will immediately puddle up and turn into a grody purple-brown. You can always add more later!

Here, I'm mixing the top and bottom colors into the middle color with my water brush to create a gorgeous unicorn-esque shade in a league of its own!

After some more mixing (and adding a little more water), I've got a beautiful pinky-purple shade (with a touch of blue) at the top, and a dustier purple-blue shade at the bottom. Now, the magic happens when we apply it to our kraft paper!

I swirled my watercolor mixture onto the Kraft Paper to create an oval shape. I was not careful with it AT ALL. That's the fun of creating a watercolor background. The messier and more 'organic,' the better. 

But what I love about using Kraft Paper for this project is the unique and timeless look it creates. The brown of the kraft paper mutes and dulls the colors in just the perfect amount. It truly transforms how the colors appear on the paper, and I just love the final result. 

Ok, I guess the sun came out at this point because the pictures from here on out are going to be SUPA BRIGHT! Put on your shades. :-D

When I was happy with my watercolor background, I snapped this photo, then blasted my Kraft Paper with a hairdryer so I could move on quickly to the next step. Some minor warping of the paper occurred, so I suggest taping your paper down BEFORE applying the watercolor, and not me ;) 

Here, you can see the finished result once the watercolor has dried. Aren't those colors awesome? I'm ready now to begin sketching my quote.

Be warned: the pencil lead is just BARELY visible on the Kraft Paper. But, then again, that's probably a good thing when it comes time to erase your pencil!

As you can see (or not see), I decided to erase my pencil sketch and freehand my quote with my brush pen. This was an impulse decision on my part, and not something I would recommend. I am not sure why I do the things I do! 

Also, this is me telling you NOT to use your brand new, nice, good, perfect brush pens on rough paper. The reason I'm doing it here is because I've collected about 10 Fude Pens in the past year, and therefore, have a couple of pens that I "reserve" for lettering on surfaces that might damage my delicate brush nibs. However, I've also found that the Fudenosuke Pens are not nearly as delicate as the Dual Brush Pens, so proceed with caution! And don't say I didn't warn you! 

I talk about having some pens 'on reserve' for this type of project a lot, and I highly recommend having a few extra at your disposal. It's worth it to expand your lettering potential and opportunities! 

Here is my finished quote! I could have definitely left it at this, and called it a day, but I wanted to make it pop. Let's add the highlights.

Using a white gel pen, I added highlights to each of my words. I love the effect of this on the Kraft Paper. It totally changes the feel of the piece, and helps the quote to pop off the page!

To finish my piece, I went over any of the 'questionable' areas of my lettering with the larger tip on my permanent marker. I found that it really helped to define the thickness of my downstrokes. The best part is, if I want to correct my thin upstrokes, I could use the fine-tip side of this marker for just that! I love this pen. 

Alright, it's complete! I will so enjoy looking at this little reminder every day when I make a bazillion big and small business decisions (insert forehead sweat emoji).

I'll be back on Friday with the next installment of my 50 Ways to Letter Series! If you've missed A-F, you better catch up! I have some free tracing sheets available, linked at the bottom of my latest post, which you can find here.

Peace out!

50 Ways to Draw An "F" - Brush Lettering Practice + A Free Worksheet

Hey y'all! 

Moving forward with the 50 Ways Series, we have the letter 'F!' 

The Letter 'F' was less of a challenge than 'C,' my toughest one yet, but more of a challenge than 'E' for sure. It's just one of those letters that can easily begin to look weird and unrecognizable if you try to get too fancy with it! I hope I kept all of my 'Fs' recognizable, but I can't promise that they're all 'cute.' LOL there are certainly a few I wouldn't use, myself! 

I have absolutely been blown away by the reception of these worksheets! Since adding in the free worksheet, I've had so many kind comments and e-mails from lettering artists that have really found these helpful! It truly means the world to me to create something that another artist finds useful! If you post a photo or video of yourself using them, please tag me! I love to see the worksheets (and your lettering) in action!

To print your 'F' Worksheet out, simply click here. Right click, save, print, then trace away!

Print the 'A' Worksheet Here
Print the 'B' Worksheet Here
Print the 'C' Worksheet Here
Print the 'D' Worksheet Here
Print the 'E' Worksheet Here



50 Ways to Draw An '"E" - Brush Lettering Practice + Free Worksheet

Hey y'all! It's Friday! We made it through another week! 

I am still in Lexington, KY for the Peppermints and Pearls Christmas Market, but I didn't forget about my promise to blog twice a week, so I've pre-prepared the next installment of the 50 Ways Series for you all to enjoy.....this week, we conquered the letter 'E!'

Gosh, guys, this one was too easy. I think it's because there is more than one recognizable way to write an uppercase 'E.' For starters, there's the 'print' and 'cursive' versions which are totally different. The cursive 'E' leaves a LOT of room for really creative flourishes and fun stuff. The regular 'E' is pretty cut and dried, but it is fun to add pretty lines, curves, and swirls to make it a little more exciting! Here's what I came up with! 

To print your 'E' Worksheet out, simply click here. Right click, save, print, then trace away!

Print the 'A' Worksheet Here
Print the 'B' Worksheet Here
Print the 'C' Worksheet Here
Print the 'D' Worksheet Here

50 Ways to Draw A "D" - Brush Lettering Practice + Free Worksheet

Hello, and happy Tuesday!

I'm headed back to Kentucky to sell my prints and greeting cards at the Peppermints and Pearls Christmas Market in Lexington! In between making prints and preparing for four days away from my business, I have loved sitting down to relax with my iPad Pro and coming up with the next few installments of the 50 Ways Series! 

The Letter 'D' was an absolutely blast! I found it somewhat easy to create fifty D's, but it wasn't nearly as easy-breezy as creating my 50 E's, which you'll see on Friday! 

As for today, I hope you enjoy this Free Worksheet for you to use in practicing some creative D's of your own with your brush pen! I've also added the links for A, B, and C! 

To print your 'D' worksheet out, simply click here. 
Right click, save, print, then trace away!

Print the 'A' Worksheet Here
Print the 'B' Worksheet Here
Print the 'C' Worksheet Here

50 Ways to Draw A "C" - Brush Lettering Practice + Free Worksheet

Hey everyone! The super quick blog post is going up on a Tuesday (had to) because I couldn't wait to share this with you! 'This' being my third installment of the '50 Ways Series,' presenting the incredibly tough letter 'C.' I had to get seriously creative with some of these!

As you'll know from last Friday's post, I have been addicted to lettering on my iPad Pro! But, as I said, I never want to abandon my brush pens or get too out of practice with my lettering 'in real life.' So, you can imagine my excitement when I discovered this perfect solution. 

Unlike the previous two installments of this series (Check out 'A' here, and 'B' here), I am not sketching my C's out in pencil first. Last night, I sat down for a date with my iPad, and began lettering my C's in Procreate. As I mentioned last week, the iPad gets my creative juices flowing SO quickly. Within about 20 minutes, I had 50 very unique letter C's, in all shapes and sizes. And, thanks to Procreate, my letters were virtually perfect. In an effort not to let my pens get too lonely, I decided to create a worksheet for myself, printed it, and began tracing them with my favorite pen ever. 

I had such success with this method of practice, that I wanted to share my worksheet with you!

To print yours out, simply click here. Right click, save, print, then trace away!

I've also updated the blog posts for letters 'A' and 'B' to include worksheets, but for now, you can download them the same way by clicking here for 'A' and here for 'B.'

Ok! Like I said, this post is super quick! I'll be back on Friday for another tutorial, and next week, I'll have 50 Ways to Letter 'D,' complete with a worksheet! Can't wait :) See you then!

iPad Pro First Impressions: Digitizing, Streamlining, & a Free Printable

iPad Pro First Impressions

Hey y'all! This week, I wanted to talk about a product I'm sure you've seen everywhere by now! Since the iPad Pro was released, and with it, the Procreate app and Apple Pencil, many hand-lettering artists I follow (and admire) have given their brush pens a break, in exchange for this awesome piece of technology. And I've just been drooling over it all.

I've been pining after the iPad Pro for months and months. But, I was super hesitant to make the purchase because money doesn't grow on trees and I've become Frugal Frieda in the last few years. Also, buying the iPad felt like such an indulgent expense, especially with the holidays coming up! However, I knew this purchase could be for the betterment of my business, so I did it. And I've been the proud owner of an iPad Pro for a week. 

Yes, one week. Not nearly long enough to have learned the ins and outs of Procreate, but long enough for me to know that my first impression is: GOOGLY-EYED LOVE.


Digitizing. Digitizing! DIGITIZING! This product has totally streamlined my lettering process. As much as I love hand-lettering with a real brush pen, I was getting very bored and frustrated with the rigorous digitization process. 

For me, digitizing my hand-lettered pieces in Illustrator was not only time consuming, but unrewarding. Though my digitized lettering always looks good, it is nowhere near as clean and crisp as I want it to be. This is a huge deal, considering I make and sell digitized hand-lettered products. I could always spend more time at my computer, obsessing over every corner and curve, working on it until it's absolutely perfect, but there are not enough hours in the day when I am the CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of this ship. 

I don't have to give up coffee to save my lettering. Ok, so I'm being a tiny bit dramatic, but if you ever saw me letter in person, you'd know I have a mild case of the caffeine shakes pretty much 24/7. That's actually why I quit recording hand-lettering videos! But, how does using the iPad fix this? The magical 'streamline' feature. I learned about it months ago from watching this Instagram Video:

I mean, her caption says it all! This incredible feature totally evens out every line and curve. There is no need for touching up or correcting. It. Is. AWESOME. 

The possibilities are endless. I've planned to expand the line of products I sell since the beginning. Now, with with this amazing tablet, I have the exact tools I need to begin creating more of the artwork I enjoy... like custom portraits, house illustrations, logos, etc. Yes, I could have (and have) done all of those things the Old-Fashioned way, but it will always go back to streamlining for me. Not to mention, I have saved I-Don't-Know-How-Much paper. 

My creative juices are FA-LOWING. Changing it up was just what I needed to rejuvenate my lettering.  As with anything, doing the same repetitive tasks (aka: digitizing) over again can get stale. This stale feeling has seeped over into all areas of my business, because my business revolves around lettering and digitizing. But, for the last week, I've been on creative FIRE while using my new toy. Printables, greeting cards, custom's like I've been touched by the Creativity Angel. 

My favorite aspect of the iPad pro is the ability to work directly on top of images. Previously, I had to hold up some tracing paper to my computer screen and roughly sketch out the area where I wanted my lettering to go. Then, after finishing the lettering on paper, I had to scan it into the computer, then spend at least half an hour digitizing it. Lettering directly on top of images is not a convenience that every hand-letterer needs, but I happen to be collaborating on a line of hand-lettered photographs with January June Photography. The amount of time Procreate has saved me in this respect is already invaluable. The photos above are some I have done just for fun before bed. All together, they may have taken me half an hour! 

Buuuuttttt.....Mixed Feelings.....

As much as I love my new baby, and I do not regret a single penny I spent on it, I still have some mild reservations...mostly, about letting myself get too attached. 

I never want to stop using a real pen! In the past week, I have not picked up my brush pen but once. Before the iPad, I had a few brush pens in every room in our apartment, because I was constantly using them! I can easily see myself slipping into Apple Pencil Dependency and I do not want that to happen. Obviously, that's something I control...not the iPad, but you know! TECHNOLOGY! IT'S SO COOL AND AMAZING AND ADDICTIVE!

I still need to use Illustrator. Though this is technically a 'downfall' of Procreate, I am thankful there are still a few things it can't do for me. For one, the resolution isn't perfect. I have found that I still need to transfer the work I've created in Procreate to Illustrator in order to fix up the resolution. I use the Image Trace (Sketched Art) Feature to digitally trace my piece. But, thanks to Procreate and it's amazing-ness, I don't have to do any smoothing or correcting once the image is traced. It looks almost EXACTLY like what I created in Procreate. 

Now for a FREE Thing I made on the iPad!

Right click and save image or read below for download/printing instructions!

Right click and save image or read below for download/printing instructions!

The leaves are really starting to change here in Southern Illinois, so I wanted to do an Autumn Printable for y'all! This golden color is my absolute favorite for this time of year, and I turned my 'streamline' setting all the way down so it could have a more hand-written feel! Who needs perfect all the time? It's certainly nice, but it isn't realistic. 

I printed mine as a 5x7 and it's sitting right beside me in a sweet little gold frame. If you print yours and hang it anywhere, make sure to tag me @kileyinkentucky AND my new Etsy Shop Account (that hasn't formally been announced yet) @shopkileyinkentucky (both on Instagram). I would love to repost any pictures you all take with this cute print! 

Simply right click and save the photo above, or click here for a hi-res download! Then, print just as you would anything else. I didn't put my watermark on this piece, so please be respectful when sharing, and give credit where it's due!

Ok, if this seemed a bit scattered, that's because it was! Ha! Today has been crazy. Some cyber hackers took Etsy down for a few hours, and I had a mild panic attack, as I was in the middle of confirming some custom designs with 3 different clients. But, all is well now! I will be back next week with another hand-lettering tutorial! I think I'm going to show y'all my semi-solution for when I have those caffeine shakes I was talking about.... 

Let me know what you think in the comments below or hit me with an e-mail! I love to hear from you all every week! Have a fabulous weekend!

Tombow Techniques: Autumn Inspired Lettering

Yay! It's FALL! I couldn't be happier....even if it's still in the 80's four days a week, I've fully committed to Autumn from the way I dress (already broke out the distressed black denim and ankle booties) to the way I LETTER!

I mean, you only get to do Fall-Inspired Lettering once a might as well do it up big. 

In this post, I have 2 variations of lettering techniques that you can use to (pumpkin) spice up your lettering to give it that seasonal feel. 

Let's jump in!

1. Spooky Branch Lettering

Such a great title, right?! 

This technique features the Fudenosuke Twin Tip Brush Pen. This pen has two brush pen tips on either side, one in black, and one in gray! See how perfectly it works for this technique, and just imagine how many other cool effects you could create with the two shades paired together. 

Tree branches happen to be one of my favorite things to doodle. I love the organic shape of them, and how you really can't go wrong. No two tree branches look exactly alike, and they are NEVER 'perfect.' If you're not experienced with tree branches, I suggest your first step of this process to be practicing some tree branches. 

Eek! It's so hard to capture pencil marks in a photo, but here are my practice sketches of tree branches. I start with a long straight line down the center. This line can go vertically or horizontally, depending on which direction your branch is going. It can also curve! There are seriously NO RULES! Next, start drawing a few lines 'branching' out from either side of your original line. Lastly, add lines to THOSE lines. So on and so forth. 

Now, we're ready to outline our branches with the black tip of the Fudenosuke Twin Tip.

Tree branches always have lots of bumps and uneven spots. Change up the amount of pressure you apply on both your downstrokes AND upstrokes to create this uneven look. it really adds to the spooky, realistic feel of these branches.

Next, let's flip our pen to the other side and add shadowing to our branches with the gray side of the Twin Tip.

I always add my shadows to the left side...I don't know why! Feel free to experiment with how you place your shadows. Also, EXTRA POINTS if it's not perfect! Seriously, imperfection just adds to this technique. That's why I love it so much!

Now that we've practiced our branches, let's apply them to some letters. 

I chose to practice with this A. If you follow my 'flow' chart (LOL), you'll see that I have my plain, brush-lettered A first. Next, I add a few curved, uneven lines branching out from the lines in my A. The way I decide where these will go is to follow the natural line of my A, exactly the way I drew it. Lastly, add some extra lines to your branches. The look is complete. Well, almost!

Don't forget to add your shadows with the gray side of the Twin Tip! In my Instagram photo above, you can see that I added some EXTRA branches just using the gray side. This gives it a little extra dimension and interest. I didn't do it here, but it looks amazing! The choice is in your hands! 

Just to show you how it looks with another word, here is 'spooky' using this spooky effect! I love it! What do you think?

2. Blending, Two Ways!

You'll probably already be familiar with these blending techniques because they are widely used amongst us letterers, beginner or advanced. But, I wanted to show them to you again, using fall colors. Because, well, Fall colors just make everything better!

For the first variation on blending, you'll need a blending palette. I'm using this one, but a plastic baggie or another plastic surface works great as well. In this first blending tutorial, I'll only be using the red and yellow shades. In the next one, I'll use all four!

Also, I'm kicking myself, wondering WHY I didn't write down the shades I'm using. These colors are at home...I'm writing this from Panera! I'll update when I get a chance :) 

I began by scribbling my red shade onto the blending palette. 

P.S. Do you know how hard it was for me to get this pic of my hand? LOL real hard.

P.S. Do you know how hard it was for me to get this pic of my hand? LOL real hard.

Then, I take the yellow brush tip to the red ink, and swirl it around, making sure the tip of the yellow marker is somewhat 'stained' with the red color. (Don't worry---it doesn't really stain)

After you've blended those inks, start writing! The red ink mixed with the yellow ink creates a beautiful orange that will fade back to yellow, once the red ink fades. I probably should have gotten a little more red on my marker to make my fade last longer, but oh well!

Ok, so that's great, but it doesn't have a lot of excitement to it, does it? And it certainly doesn't look anything like the lettering in my Instagram photo from above. 

Let's jump into the second variation of blending. 

Directly on top of the blended lettering I just did, I took my orange brush pen, and shaded 3/4 of the way down my letters, as seen above. Then, I took the red marker, and shaded over that, about 1/2 way down my letters, also seen above. Looks a bit like candy corn, right? 

Next, to blend those colors together, I go back over everything with my yellow marker until the colors have all mixed together to create a beautiful fall ombre. 

To add even more interest to this, I took my brown dual brush pen, and made little dots at the top of each letter, then blended them out with the yellow.

I'm sure you'll do a much better job of blending than I did! :-D I think the brown detail really makes it look like Autumn leaves, which I just luuuurrrvvveee.

BONUS POINTS if you add in some shadows with your brush pen! it looks sort of comic-booky! I like it!

Now, put your new tree-branch drawing to the test and apply it as a cool wreath around your quote, like I did for Instagram! That really pulls it all together, and you will majorly impress all your friends. They'll never imagine it's actually pretty simple!

Ok, guys, that's all I've got for this week! I'll be back next with something new! I'm taking suggestions, so if there's something you would like to see me do a tutorial on, just hit me up or leave a comment below!

Imperfect Office Tour

Happy FriYAY, everyone! This week, I finally got enough free time to straighten up my office and take some (slightly fuzzy) photos of my happy place. 

As some of you know, my husband and I recently moved into our first little 'home' together. When we were apartment hunting, a big deciding factor was having an extra bedroom that could be used as an office space for me. The day we toured this specific apartment, I entered this second bedroom, took in all the natural light--the gorgeous blank canvas of this spacious room, and I knew it would be just the spot for my business to grow. Read (or skip) to the end to find out why I'm calling this the 'Imperfect' Office Tour.

Since I began lettering, I have slowly been collecting decorative items for my 'future home office.' I think I always knew, from the moment I sold my first commission, that hand-lettering and graphic design would become my job...just a matter of 'when,' really. Needless to say, thanks to living in New York City, I had the odds and ends covered! What I didn't have covered was furniture. 

Yes, I'm watching 'The Office' while photographing and writing about my office. It seemed fitting!

Yes, I'm watching 'The Office' while photographing and writing about my office. It seemed fitting!

A few weeks prior to moving in, I began collecting used furniture and painting it white. The desk you see here came from my in-laws. It was red before I painted it! You may also notice that it is sitting on stilts ;) That's because the PERFECT chair I found at TJ Maxx was just a little too tall for the desk. Thanks to my husband for the quick fix....maybe one day I will invest in a new desk. For now, I'm content to spend the extra money on supplies for my growing business!

This dresser had been in my childhood home since I can remember! It was originally brown--and still really nice-looking, but I painted it white, and spray-painted the hardware a gorgeous rose gold to better suit my tastes. This dresser is so functional! Each drawer holds a different set of supplies. 

Top Drawer: Shipping Supplies (mailers, cellophane bags, information cards, labels)
Second Drawer: The two papers I use most....Heavy-weight cardstock and copy paper.
Third Drawer: All the other papers I have :-D Watercolor, Bristol, Tracing Paper, Etc
Fourth/Bottom Drawer: Odds and Ends used for props....full to the brim!

My favorite part of my office: peg boards! Peg boards are seriously the most affordable storage solution, like, EVER! I HATE putting holes in the wall, so my husband hung these up with Command Strips (honestly, this is just an advertisement for how legit Command Strips are), and I began decorating my peg boards to be both functional, and nice to look at. 

Ignore the fuzz; focus on the stuff.

The things I use the most are always right at arm's reach!

Why do I have two computers set up? The MacBook is my main computer, and I use a VGA Adapter to double my screen space. By connecting my laptop to the larger HP Monitor, I can drag documents, programs, tabs, etc between the screens, allowing me to stream lots of Netflix while working in Illustrator (hehe, but REALLY). In all seriousness, having the larger screen is a GIFT when working on detailed pieces in Illustrator, or editing photos. In the next year, I want to upgrade my MacBook to an iMac so I can have twice the storage and screen space! 

It isn't perfect by any means, but it is MINE and I'm in lurve.

So, as I mentioned, this is a really spacious room! My office area takes up less than half of the room! The other half is a joint music area for my husband and me.

We haven't gotten around to hanging these prints on the wall, but they will be a lovely addition above my keyboard. This full-sized keyboard has been with me since Freshman year of college when it took up an unreasonable amount of space in my tiny dorm room :) 

That door to the left of the piano leads into a huge closet. My husband and I both use that closet for is dark and not very exciting....otherwise I would show it to you! But, it holds more of my art supplies, lots of art books, and all the important things I need to keep organized for tax season!

Lastly, we have my work table! This table folds out into a really large surface that I use when printing, foiling, and packaging my Etsy orders! This table is also where I take photos and videos for Instagram. The natural light that comes in from the window is unbelievable! 

Now that the official tour is over, I want to share about why I called this the 'Imperfect' Office Tour.

First of all, I'm a Pinterest junkie, so I'm definitely not knocking Pinterest. But, before having my own office, I had pinned so many perfect, pristine office images that were so unrealistic for my budget and for my actual office needs. But, actually moving into my own office, and setting it up to be functional and inspirational, has taught me that my perfect office may indeed never exist! I mean, my desk is on stilts and my peg boards are hanging by command strips. More than anything, I just want to say that I'm perfectly happy with my imperfect office because it reminds me to keep it real, stay grounded, and not let my 'vision' get in the way of my reality. In the future, I'll continue to grow my office, grow my supplies, grow my technology...but for now, I have everything I need, and I feel so lucky!

Do you have a home office, or are you still in the dreaming phase? I would love to see photos of your home office! Share them with me on Instagram by tagging me

Road Map DIY Feat. Tombow Mono Permanent Adhesive

Hey everyone! This week I have a non-lettering related DIY for ya, and I REALLY love how it turned out! 

Having recently gotten married and moved into my first home with my husband, I guess you could say I'm 'nesting.' I am super into decorating our little apartment and personalizing it to our style, and my husband isn't shy about it either. We are both so happy to have our own place, having ONLY lived with parents or multiple roommates our entire lives!

Although we have both collected a lot of artwork over the years (and I have a very large inventory of gold foil prints in my office), we still have a lot of blank space on our walls, waiting to be filled with the perfect piece. 

When decorating, we have both looked for a 'theme' that fits us perfectly. So far, we've settled on the theme of the places we have lived previously. My husband and I both grew up in a small town in Central Kentucky. We lived in New York City together for a couple of years, and now we are in Southern Illinois. Three VERY different places, with their own unique styles. So, how do we mesh them together cohesively? 

So far, we have only a few location-specific pieces in our home. They are all humongous poster-sized framed pieces of art that represent both Kentucky and New York. Our next step in representing our "homes" is with this DIY!

For this project, you'll need:

  • Road Atlas or Map (I got mine at Wal-Mart, but Barnes and Noble has an excellent selection)
  • 1 White Foam Sheet (34 cents at the Wal-Mart!)
  • 1 Piece of Cardstock, cut to framing size. Mine is 8x10
  • Ruler
  • Pencil (I used this one)
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive! (I used this one....I'll talk about why in just a second!)

The first step is to pick out the map pages you'll be using in your DIY. This will be different for everyone, I'm sure! 

Also, when choosing my Atlas, I chose based on the color scheme of the map. Some maps were very basic, black and white maps. But, I liked the colors of this one! Very stereotypical 'road map' colors. LOL THE THINGS I THINK ABOUT.

Next, I sketched out a rough guideline on my cardstock. I want all my elements to be focused within this square! 

After that, I cut out three foam pieces and placed them evenly within the guideline. 

Why foam pieces? I've been watching too many scrapbooking and card-making YouTube Videos! Foam pieces are often used in card-making when the maker wants to add dimension. In this case, I want my map pieces to pop off the page a bit, so I'm placing some foam pieces behind them to bring them off the page! Foam pieces are super cheap and easy to find at any store with a craft section. 

Now, I'm ready to figure out the map situation. I stuck my pencil through the center (kind of, I eye-balled it) of this foam piece, then stuck the hole over the location I want to be in the center of my map piece. In this case, I placed my hole over Carbondale, so it can be centered. I then traced around the foam piece in pencil, and cut out the square. 

I repeated that process for all three locations. I had to get creative with the middle piece, NYC, because it was so awkwardly placed on the map! I wanted each piece to be the same size and shape, but sadly, I couldn't achieve that if I wanted to highlight New York! Oh looked okay in the end!

Now it's time to adhere my map pieces to the foam pieces. For this step, I'm using the Mono Permanent Adhesive. I LOVE THIS.  When Tombow sent me this tool, I felt like all my secret card-making dreams had come true! I see so many card-makers use this type of tool in their art, and I have always thought "well that looks SUPER EASY and NOT MESSY!" 

What I love most about this tool is that it is a One and Done kind of deal! It works just like a white-out runner, but is ten times easier to use. It applies a super sticky adhesive, similar to a thin tape, with a little applied pressure. One of the trademarks of this product is that it applies adhesive as soon as you lay it on your surface. No guesswork involved! Another aspect of this product I love is that it is not fussy! Glue and tape can be very delicate and messy to work with...this adhesive runner makes the whole process simple as pie!

You can barely see where the adhesive has been applied there on the foam piece. 

(Sorry guys---this is a weird angle! I thought I got a better photo of this.)

(Sorry guys---this is a weird angle! I thought I got a better photo of this.)

Next, I knew I wanted to add a 'sentiment' to my project. Instead of the usual "Home is where I'm with you" (which is true), I wanted to be different, and maybe more dramatic LOL, and decided on "I would be lost without you." I typed the message out in a couple of varying sizes in a font I liked for the map-theme. I printed them out to see which would fit best!

Once I decided on a size, of course, I had to foil it! I just can't help myself. Plus, the black was a little dull! It needed some sparkle!

Once I had my sentiment foiled and cut, I want to give it dimension with more foam pieces. I want my sentiment to pop up even further than the map pieces, so I'm doubling up on foam! I cut out 6 of the same sized foam pieces, and will use the adhesive to stack the pairs together, creating twice the lift. 

Even though these pieces of foam were small and delicate, the adhesive runner made this process SO stinkin' easy!

Now that I've got everything positioned, it is time to erase all my pencil lines, and adhere all the elements to the cardstock! Then, I'll be DONE and ready to frame this baby!

I haven't decided just where I'm going to hang this one. I haven't actually shown it to my husband either...but I think he will love it! What do you think? 

For now, it looks great in my little office. 

I hope you have enjoyed a change of pace this week! I certainly did. I'll be back next week with another hand-lettering tutorial!

My Must-Have Beginner Lettering Supplies

Fair Warning: This post won't contain a single lettering tool (aside from the pencil, of course). Chances are, if you are like me when I was first starting out, I had run out and purchased more than enough writing utensils to open my own store. But for all the brush pens, Microns, Neon Sharpies, Gelly Rolls, and expensive colored pencils I bought, I had neglected some of the most important lettering supplies. 

That's what I'm going to cover in this post: the supplies we somehow forget about in all the new excitement!

As you well know if you've attempted hand-lettering for even half an hour...there's a lot more that goes into it than having a brush pen and paper. There's style, composition, getting lines straight, knowing just when and where to add this or that flourish...the list goes on and on. 

Let's explore some items that might help you if you're a beginner and you want to do this thing right!

My number one...without a doubt:

1. A Good Pencil.

Here, I've pictured my 3 Go To pencil choices. 

The first one is a Tombow Mono Pencil that is absolutely amazing for drawing or attempting really decorative hand-lettering. I highly recommend this one if you are into more advanced and fanciful styles of lettering. (Don't know what I mean by that? Click here) 

The second pencil pictured is a good ol' Number 2 Pencil. This one is included simply because I happen to have a lot of them on hand! You can't go wrong with this one...just make sure to sketch or write lightly for easier erasing later on. 

The third pencil is a mechanical pencil. I happen to prefer this pencil over the rest. The lead is extremely thin and, therefore, always has a fairly fine point. This lead in particular---I don't know if all mechanical pencil leads are like this---doesn't appear very dark on paper, making it SO easy to erase. 

Even though I consider myself an 'advanced' lettering artist, I still start each piece with a pencil sketch. And, because I am human, I need to do at least three sketches before I settle on a composition or style I want to move forward with. Pencils are my most important lettering supply! 

2. An Even Better Eraser. have your amazing, perfectly perfect, fits just right pencil, you've sketched your design, and you're ready to trace over it with a super gorgeous Periwinkle Dual Brush Pen....but can see those pencil lines through that gorgeous periwinkle? But you NEED your sketch to go by! What ever will you do? 

(I'm a little dramatic)

Don't worry---the eraser I use (pictured above) can literally erase THROUGH ink. It is a miracle. You don't have to erase your sketch or use a light pad for can save paper, save electricity, and save your sanity by leaving your pencil sketch right where it is, tracing over it with your desired brush pen, and simply erasing your pencil lines with THE BEST ERASER EVER.

3. Tracing Paper

I've been preaching the good news of tracing paper for close to a year now. Tracing paper TOTALLY changed the way I letter. I highly, highly recommend using tracing paper for muscle memory exercises. Let's say you are doodling in front of the TV and all of a sudden you write a letter or a word that just blows your mind...and you think, 'wow, if only I wrote my 'a' like that all the time.' Well....with a little muscle memory practice, you absolutely can. Use tracing paper to continually trace over any of your favorite letters or words until your muscles have memorized the movement. I swear by this practice!

4. A Ruler

You probably already have one of these, and that is AWESOME! When I began lettering, I realized how awful I was with symmetry and straight lines. That hasn't changed. I will never have an eye for symmetry or straight lines, which is why I keep a ruler close to my desk at all times. The best part is, this one is cute, and I don't mind having it displayed ;)

5. Fancy Paper

I used to purchase a ton of sketch books for my lettering. But, as time went on, I saw how worn the tips of my brush pens were from the rough texture of the paper I was buying. It is no secret that a super-smooth paper can do wonders for the lifespan of your delicate brush pens....but, what paper should you use when gifting someone a piece of your beautiful lettering? Or, let's raise the stakes a little higher: what paper should you use when SELLING a piece of your beautiful lettering. 

I use a super-smooth, heavy-weight card stock (purchased at any art supply store) that comes in a huge ream of 250 sheets. The smooth texture of the paper will work wonderfully with your brush pens AND the hefty weight of the card stock makes it a really high-quality paper to gift or sell. This paper, in particular, is a very clean, bright white, which also photographs beautifully. It's a tad more expensive than a sketch book, but it lasts a LOT longer and is much a much more high-quality choice. 

5. A Guillotine Cutter or Other Paper Trimmer

Because I buy the 'fancy' paper, I want to make sure I get the most out of it! A lot of times, you'll find me cutting my 8.5x11 sheets in half to get double-duty out of them. Also, if I'm giving or selling a piece, I want to give/sell it in a standard framing size. Having a paper trimmer with a ruler and guidelines makes it super simple to cut my paper down to a standard 8x10 size or a 5x7. I highly recommend picking one up if you like creating pieces of all sizes, don't have an eye for symmetry and straight lines, and don't trust yourself with a pair of scissors! (Me.)

6. Bonus: A 'Fancy' Pencil Pouch

This is totally a bonus because, obvi, it's not a necessity! Especially the 'fancy' part. I'm lucky because my brother works at Fossil, and he knows just what to get me with his discounts! At first, I was going to use this pouch for non-lettering supplies, but I decided to throw some of my most-used tools inside (the aforementioned eraser and pencils, a few Microns, and my favorite Fudenosuke Brush Pens) before going on vacation this Summer, and I was so glad I did. Since then, I keep this pouch with me (along with a little notebook) just in case creativity strikes and I need to take a moment with my brush pen. 

7. A Lettering Reference or Resource Tool

Pinterest is great and all, but there's something about physically turning the pages of a book that really inspires my creativity. My husband got me this book for Christmas last year, and I love it. I use it two or three times a week when I want to get a look at something unique. Cristina is SUCH a talented artist, and this workbook is built for anyone that wants to dig into their own lettering talents. 

However, this book, in particular, isn't a must-have. Any kind of book filled with any type of art that draws you in (I also have a few adult coloring books that inspire me) is perfect for giving your inspiration the boost it needs! 

k, folks! That's all she wrote! (Of the good stuff anyway).

I hope you found an item in here you can't believe you've been lettering without! What are some of your favorite lettering supplies and must-haves for any skill level? Tell me in the comments below...there might be something I've been missing all my life!


My Favorite Brush Pen + Best Brush Pen for Beginners

If you have been following me on Instagram since the beginning of my lettering career (about a year now), you'll know that I started out using exclusively Dual Brush Pens by Tombow. I had heard wonderful things about the DBPs and they were available at the art store closest to my work at the time! It was FATE! A few months into using my collection of Dual Brush Pens, I decided to venture further into Tombow's amazing inventory, and ordered the Fudenosuke Brush Pens. 

And then everything changed!

From the first moment I used the Fudenosuke Pens, I could visibly see the change in my lettering style. All of a sudden, it was like I actually HAD a style---something I had been working on since the beginning...and let's be honest, am still working on! Now, I'm not saying magic will happen for every single person that uses the Fude pens, but I can't recommend them enough to beginners. I wish I had known about these pens from the get-go!

1. The pens, themselves, are a normal size

The regular size is great for the hands of a beginner! A lot of other brush pens are longer, taller, thicker...just 'different' in general. When you’re first starting out, it's nice to have a familiar-feeling tool in your hand. Once you master your first brush pen, you're ready to explore more advanced and fancy brush pens!

2. The Fude Pens come in two distinct variations: Hard Nib and Soft Nib

They may not look that much different, but the way they FEEL on paper could not be more different. Basically, the hard nib is not nearly as flexible as the soft nib. Therefore, they create drastically different strokes (in my eyes). Here is an example:

You can visibly see the hard nib gives a much thinner stroke than the soft nib. The three strokes on the left side display the thickness of the strokes at different levels of pressure (maximum pressure, medium pressure, no pressure). For a beginner, playing around with these two nibs and they way they react to pressure would be SUCH amazing practice. 

3. These pens make your calligraphy look LEGIT

And when I say legit, I really mean that your calligraphy could easily look like 'pointed pen' if you want it to! I love using the Fude Hard Nib to create the look of a pointed pen in my daily practice. The soft nib won't give you that "thin, fragile, delicate" stroke, but it is worlds different from a Dual Brush Pen in thickness and has it's own unique stroke! I favor the soft nib in daily practice, but they are both amazing!

Shameless Advertisement: pick up this print here.

Shameless Advertisement: pick up this print here.

This is an example of a 'pointed pen' inspired style I did with the Fude Soft Nib. Obviously, the original piece was digitized for my shop, but WOW, I just love it...and speaking of digitizing...

4. They digitize BEAUTIFULLY!

I digitize 85% of the pieces I do for my print shop. And there is a reason I use the Fude Pens for my Etsy prints...they write so beautifully, and the digitize even better! I barely have to do any editing!

All in all, I cannot recommend these pens enough. Beginners and experienced letterers, alike, you NEED to get your hands on one of these (literally)! I am obsessed, and I know you will be too!