When I was about 14, I remember doodling in a notebook during a choir practice. One of the tenors leaned over to me and said “Wow, you should design fonts.” I smiled, thanked him, and kept doodling whatever I was doodling.
Years later, I now know that what I was “doodling” is actually called lettering. Lettering is a form of art that basically means drawing letters instead of writing letters. I spent a lot more time doodling letters and words than I ever spent doodling people, places, or things. My chemistry notebook from my Junior Year of High School has some really pretty lettering of words like “barium” and “molecules”.
It wasn’t until I graduated from college that I started investing in more “advanced” markers, pens, and tools for lettering. One of my favorite things about lettering is the fact that there is SO much you can do with inexpensive tools. Grab a pencil or ballpoint pen and you can start right away. However, if you’re ready to experiment with new lettering tools, I’ve got a list of favorites for you to start with and most of them are under $15.
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- Tracing Paper – Good paper is always my first recommendation. Using printer paper can shred the tips of your markers, so it’s important to use smooth paper. Tracing paper is an inexpensive way to go!
- Marker Paper – Marker paper is a step up from tracing paper. When I’m just practicing, I love to use one of these two types of papers.
- Crayola SuperTips – These are the perfect place to start if you love the look of brush lettering. The tips of these markers offer great angles for downstrokes and upstrokes.
- Tombow Fudenosukes – These come in both soft and hard tip. They’re a great place to start for brush lettering.
- Tombow Dual Tips – These are my personal favorites. I love the larger brush tips and the variety of colors. The non-brush end is a nice round marker tip. It’s labeled as “fine” but it’s somewhere between a Sharpie and a fine point Sharpie. I think it’s the perfect size.
- Micron Pens – I love having a set of these in a variety of sizes. These are fun for a variety of lettering styles and for embellishments and floral frames around your letters.
- A Round Brush and a basic watercolor set – I learned that it was easier to manipulate the style of my brush lettering with an actual brush. Once I found my groove with a brush and watercolors (you can practice with these on watercolor paper or printer paper), I was better at using the brush tip markers.
One of the best things you can do is to just become familiar with how the markers and pens work and what kind of strokes you like. Seriously – just have fun. Once you’re more familiar with the tools, then it’s time to start with tutorials and finding your style.
I’m working on a whole series of Lettering Love posts. Comment below and let me know what you’d like to learn next!