Calligraphy & Brush Lettering

New hobby alert!

But like really, I’m obsessed.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve always been a doodler, and I’ve always been a lover of notebooks, and pens, and all things stationary. I’ve also started bullet journaling and “enhancing” my daily planner as much as I can with different “fonts.”

Brush script and calligraphy sort of seemed like the next step in terms of “things that I can do that have to do with stationary” because I felt like it fit right into what I was already doing. In combination with the planner bits, and the doodling, calligraphy and brush script seemed to fall comfortably into both of those hobbies.

It’s been a pretty big fad online, especially within the people I follow on Instagram, because I follow a lot of sticker shops and artists on Instagram.

In my family, aside from my dad (who was an illustrator, and could pretty much replicate any sort of script by hand) I was always the one with the good handwriting. I still naturally write in cursive in my daily life. I loved learning d’nealian in elementary school, which was that sort of pre-cursive handwriting. And I remember in 3rd grade I went to London on vacation, and skipped like a week of school. During that week we were starting our cursive unit in class, and I was told to start it in London. I finished the whole thing. Like… the whole workbook. To be fair, it was a long flight.

Anyways, just looking at how my hobbies have progressed, and my past, it just happened to be something I knew I’d enjoy.

Sergio and I always joke that when we get into something, we become obsessed. Which is obvious on this blog because you’d be quite well off if you count the times I’ve used “obsessed” on this blog so far. But we go all in when we start getting into something – hours of research, lots of back and forth discussions, lots of purchasing of things, lots of video watching.

So when I decided that I wanted to learn to do brush script and calligraphy, I watched quite a few videos and then went searching on Etsy for practice sheets. I also googled something along the lines of “best calligraphy brush pens” and found handful and pretty much immediately ordered them online.

Fun fact, most of them are Japanese. So I had actually a few of them already in my dad’s stash of art materials.

When it comes to pens, I bought a few sets of the Tombow Dual Brush pens, in the pastel set and the gray tones set. I bought the grays first because they were neutral enough for me to practice with, while still being able to see the strokes I was doing and make sure I was getting the shapes of the letters right. Light gray was the one I used most – it was easy to see where the pressure of the pen meeting the paper was hard enough, or where to connect lines and such when practicing certain letters.

I also picked up a few of these smaller brush pens, like the Tombow Fudenosuke pens (the set I bought came with 3 more firm and 3 soft nibbed pens), and the Pilot Fude brush pens. The Pilot pen is the smallest pen, with the finest point. I prefer the more firm tipped Tombow Fudenosuke pens because I feel like I have more control when it comes to applying pressure.

These pens were all purchased specifically off of recommendation from Gladys on Instagram. She posts almost daily (although she’s pregnant right now so her posts have slowed down for obvious reasons) and has really beautiful work on her page. I highly recommend following her, just for inspiration for style and composition when it comes to your own brush lettering.

Pilot Fude (beige pen) / Tombow Fudenosuke Soft (green pen)

After getting the pens in the mail, I downloaded the practice sheets I bought on Etsy, so I could have some sort of daily practice before I really get into forming words, and sentences, and doing pieces of brush lettering for different projects around the house.

I bought 3 different sets. I bought the beginner and intermediate sets from InkMeThis, and then I bought the Beginner Workbook from Lyssarts. Both shops have great resources for anybody trying to teach themselves brush lettering. I’ve got some of InkMeThis’ calligraphy sets in my cart as well so I can start advancing to more traditional calligraphy rather than modern brush script.

I have yet to purchase a legit calligraphy pen because I want to get better at what I already know and then proceed from there. Sort of like setting up “milestones” and only going on to the next thing once I’ve achieved a certain level. You know?

Once I finished both workbooks, I found a notebook and designated it to be my “practice” notebook. Somewhere I can go to daily and just fiddle around with lettering so I don’t lose what I have, and build on what I can do.

The notebook is a random Lilly Pulitzer one I got online a while back (from a website I won’t link because they have TERRIBLE customer service, and it’s not worth the pretty notebooks), and the pages aren’t anything enormously special so I decided it made the perfect practice place.

Depending on my mood I’ll practice quotes, or lyrics, or like the pictures above, I’ll practice random names (I go into my Facebook friends list), because it’s a great way to practice pretty much any and all letter combinations.

If I see something on Instagram that I particularly like, I’ll save it in my “collection” of lettering photos, using Instagram’s built in flagging/cataloging system and then go back and try to recreate the lettering or style of font. Instagram really has been the best resource because people not only post photos of what they’ve done, frequently they’ll also post videos so I can also see their techniques. It’s been a really great way for somebody that’s a visual learner, like I am, to practice and learn on their own.

I store all my pens in this mug Kate gave me because it just seemed apropos with the lettering. Plus it sits quite cutely on my desk and fits my pens perfectly 🙂

Have any of you started any new hobbies? Or have any of you started brush lettering or calligraphy? I’d love to know what you’ve been up to, hobby wise, or if you have any tips for brush lettering! Let me know in the comments below!


5 thoughts

  1. Really helpful post! I’ve been getting into brush lettering and calligraphy too. So far I go back and forth between using fine tipped markers to actual brushes for water color calligraphy. This post gives me so many ideas for pens to buy in the furture! Really enjoyed it!

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