Hand lettering: where to start

I’m going to be honest here. When I decided to take up hand lettering, I felt overwhelmed. I had no idea on how to start or what equipment I should use. Looking at work by other artists, I wondered how they did it so well and would I be anywhere as good. With practice, some research and a little bit of confidence, I was able to learn the art of lettering fairly quickly. I’m going to share with you how I got started and what I used.

Lettering Blogs & Books

Lettering blogs and books are a great why to learn from other artists and are usually packed with great techniques, handy tips, ideas and practice sheets. This is how I got started!

These resources teach you how to do simple strokes, getting that thick and thin look, form letters correctly and put together complete sentences with some creative flair. Some blogs also offer fun challenges which are a great way to practice daily, helping to build up muscle memory. I found Dawn Nicole Designs, Every-Tuesday and Kelly Sugar Crafts very useful and enjoyed their easy to use practice sheets which are fun to do.

I also picked up Hand & Brush Lettering by Katja Hass which is a great wee book which explains the technical side of lettering as well as how to achieve various creative styles. There are many good books out there, so check them out and see what suits you.

Pens & Pencils

To get started in hand lettering you don’t need to spend a fortune on pens. You can start practicing your lettering with any kind of pen which you may have to hand, such as a Sharpie!

A pencil always comes in handy if you want to plan out your lettering first before inking it up, especially if you’re not confident yet to do your lettering with just a pen.

For brush lettering, Tombow Fudenosuke pens are great for beginners to practice those thin upstrokes and bold downstrokes. These were the first pens which I used and they are still my favourite.

I then added a Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen to my collection. It offers a thick brush tip for brush lettering and a fine tip for more precise work or thinner strokes.


It’s important to use really smooth paper so that your pens don’t fray and will last longer. You could use lettering or marker pads but high quality premium papers sold in packs can work well too. Just make sure the paper is smooth.

If you don’t have any smooth paper, tracing paper also works well. I prefer to use it for doing practice sheets – it saves me having to print them out more than once.

A Light Box

If you can, get yourself a light box. It’s very useful for doing practice sheets when you don’t have tracing paper and for when you don’t want to rub out any pencil lines from your artwork. I picked a slim A4 light box which doesn’t take up too much room – great when travelling about.

Braw Stuff

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