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.
So...you 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 wait...you 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 tracing....you 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!