There are so many papers, pens and brushes that you can use for lettering. Today I want to share with you the lettering supplies that I have been using and that I really like. Plus, at the end of the post I want to give you a few tips, that I have either learned from some of the great artists that I introduced in the article Learn lettering – Inspirations, teachers, resources or that I learned by myself. So let’s dive right in and let me show you all my favorite lettering supplies.
The most important characteristic of the paper that you can use for lettering is that they have a smooth surface. A smooth surface is important for the tips of most brush pens. If you use rough paper the tip of the pen will fray more quickly. I have mostly been using three types of papers: tracing paper (for brush pen markers), laser printer paper (for brush pen markers) and normal copy paper (for brushes with ink). Here is the list of the papers that I have found here in Colombia and that I have been using:
- ImpresionArte Tracing Paper (42 gms)
- ImpresionArte Opalina (90 gms)
- ImpresionArte Opalina (180 gms)
- Facia Opalina (120 gms)
- Icopel Opalina (180 gms)
- Office Depot Papel Premium bond
But the papers you can find here in Colombia, are not the same brands that most lettering teachers suggest. So even though I haven’t been able to test the following papers, here is also a list of papers that many letterers recommend:
- Rhodia Notepads
- Rhodia Grid Pad
- Rhodia Dot Pad
- Strathmore Tracing Paper
- HP Premium Choice Laserjet Paper
Pencils and eraser
I love the pencils of Faber-Castell, but that is because I have been using them for a really long time. I believe that the most important fact with pencils is, that they are soft and therefore easier to erase. Usually, I use HB or 2B pencils. The erasers are important too, because there are some that smear more than others. So here is the list of my favorite pencils and erasers:
- Faber-Castell Grip Pencil 2B
- Faber-Castell Grip Pencil HB
- Faber-Castell Eraser (white)
- Tombow Mono Non PVC Eraser
- Tombow Sand Eraser
Brush pens with ink
Here are my brush pens with a tank for ink or with ink cartridges. I have two brush pens that came with ink and the other two which are actually my favorites, came with an empty tank and I filled them with black ink. This is the list of my brush pens with ink as you can see them in the photo from top to bottom.
- Pentel Arts Aquash Pigment Ink Brush,
- Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen,
- Derwent Water Brush No 2 Medium with Pelikan Black Ink
- Derwent Water Brush No 1 Medium with Pelikan Black Ink
Water brush pens
The Derwent Water Brush Pens that I mentioned above also work great if you fill them with water instead of ink and just use them like a brush with either watercolors or ink. I got the Derwent Brush Pens, because they were cheaper than the Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush Pens. So even if I don’t have the Aquash Water Brush Pens, I think that either one is good choice. The water brush pens that I bought recently are called Koi Water Brush Pens. In the photo you can see three sizes. I used liquid water color in this photo. I will write about my watercolors a little later. I think, that of the three water brush pens below the two I like best are the medium round No. 6 and the small round No. 2. The large one (round No. 8) for me is already really big, but can be a nice choice if you are a beginner. So here is the list of the three water brush pens from top to bottom:
The brushes that I have are from brands that I found here in an art supplies store. I am going to give you the list of my brushes and I am happy with them, but I think there are more high quality brushes. Olivia from RandomOlive, who is a very talented and experienced brush letterer, named the brush set Loew Cornell Soft Comfort Round Brush Set as some of her favorite products.
Brush pens with big tips
The brush pens that I believe are probably the most famous ones are the Tombow Dual Brush Pens, which is the pen in the centre in this photo. They are super nice and come in many gorgeous colors. But I also like the Visaquarelle Brush Pens from BiC a lot as well as the Tiger Brush Pen with a big tip. There are many more (e.g. from Crayola or Faber-Castell), but those are the three brush pens with big tips that I own and enjoy working with. I really like the Visaquarelle Brush Pens. If you are looking for a nice alternative to the Tombow Dual Brush Pens, I recommend the Visaquarelle Brush Pens. Here is the list of my big tip brush pens from top to bottom.
- BiC KiDS Visaquarelle Brush Felt Pens
- Tombow Dual Brush Pen, Black or Tombow Dual Brush Pens, Set 96 Colors
- Tiger Brush Pen with big tip (I haven’t been able to find a link for the pen, only for the general store)
Brush pens with small tips
The most famous brush pen with a small tip is probably the Tombow Fudenosuke. You can get it with a soft and a hard tip. My two favorite pens in this group are the the Tombow Fudenosuke with the hard tip and the Tiger Brush Pen with the small tip. I love writing with both of them. I believe that the harder tips are in general easier for beginners, because the thin lines are more consistent even if you haven’t yet figured out how to adjust the pressure while writing to achieve the thin upstrokes. When the tip is really soft, there is more possibility for inconsistency in the thick and thin lines. There are of course more pens with small tips, like the Pentel Fude Touch or the Zebra Disposable Brush Pen – Super Fine, which you can try, but since I don’t own any of those I do not have any experience in using them. Here is the list of brush pens with small tips that I own and like:
- Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens black or Faber-Castel Pitt Artist Brush Pens (24 Pack)
- Tiger Brush Pen with small tip (I haven’t been able to find a link for the pen, only for the general store)
- Tombow Fude Brush Pen, Fudenosuke, Soft
- Tombow Fude Brush Pen, Fudenosuke, Hard
On Instagram I have seen many people lettering with the Supertip markers from Crayola. I couldn’t find them here at first, so I got the Dual Tip Markers from Faber-Castell. Now I have them both, the Crayola Supertip Markers and the Dual Tip Markers from Faber-Castell. In general, I have the feeling that it is easier to achieve the thin upstrokes and the thick downstrokes with the lighter colors, but other than that I found both markers very similar.
My favorite watercolors are the liquid watercolors. I love that they are already mixed, have a beautiful vibrancy and are just as they are ready to use. The watercolors that many letterers recommend are the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus Fine Art Watercolor Bottles. I haven’t tried those, but the ones I found here in the crafts store are amazing. They are called ROSETA ecolín and they come in so many shades. I also love the Reeves watercolors in tubes as well as the Kuretake Color Set. I also have the Faber-Castell Watercolor paint set with 24 colors and one set of very simple watercolors from the dollar store. For lettering the basic watercolors work just fine. Olivia from RandomOlive for example, who letters with brushes and watercolor, recommends the Loew Cornell Art Watercolors, which are not very expensive. Me for example, I also like to make watercolor illustrations or drawings, so I like colors that make me happy for both purposes; lettering and drawing. So I think which watercolors to buy and which you might like best is really a question of purpose and taste. For both purposes; lettering and drawing this is my list of favorite products:
- Roseta Ecolín Acuarela Líquida Transparente
- Reeves 12-Pack Water Color Tube Set, 10ml
- Kuretake MC2036V Gansai Tambi 36 Color Set
More recommendations for lettering supplies
As always, this is not a complete list of lettering supplies. It is a list of supplies that I have tested and that I love. There are many more products to discover in pens, papers and watercolors. A great page to find examples and products is Jetpens. You can check out the blog article Guide to Choosing a Brush Pen for Calligraphy or the article Guide to Choosing an Eraser. I also recommend checking out the article Hand lettering resources by Amanda on amandaarneill.com, the article Beginner Supplies for Brush Calligraphy by Sharisse on piecescalligraphy.co or the list of supplies by Kelly on kellycreates.ca.
Some general tips for lettering beginners
There are a many things that I learned from lettering teachers and many things that I learned by trial and error. But when you start lettering, the things that I thought were most helpful to know are these:
- The bigger the tip (brush, pen or marker) the bigger the letter and vice versa (e.g. start with a round 8 or 6 brush and the Tombow Dual Brush Pen and then go smaller).
- It’s easier to start writing letters big and then go smaller with time. And by big I mean like an upper-case letter should be as big as a tomato or mandarin (using for example a round 8 or 6 brush), and the lower-case letters like half a mandarin.
- Start by writing single words.
- When you feel comfortable writing single words, start phrases of three or maximum five words.
- Make sheets with collections of letter forms that you like, so you can go back and check various ways to write the same letter and find out which one you like for yourself.
- Lettering is a question of practice. It might look shaky in the beginning but the important part to know is, that you will get better with time and that anyone can do it.
I really hope that you enjoyed this article on lettering supplies. You are as always very welcome to add your thoughts or recommendations via Discuss below this post. If you have any questions you are also welcome to write me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like the two previous articles Learn lettering – Inspirations, teachers, resources and Lettering and terms associated with lettering. Have a wonderful day!