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Hand-Lettering Essentials: What's in My Pencil Case

Now I know what you're thinking. "How in the heck are you supposed to pick just a handful of utensils to take on-the-go?" Anyone? No, just me? Ok. Well if you get into hand-lettering at all, you will quickly find the enormously wide array of options out there and will therefore ask the question above. Out of all of the options, how am I supposed to pick just a few? Well, darling, that's what I am here for. Just consider me your art supply guru, ok?

I am notorious for bringing at least 2 hand-lettering utensils with me everywhere I go. Sometimes it's more than that. When I travel, I have 1 clutch and 1 pencil case full of utensils and at least 3 different types of notebooks/pads with me in my carry on. I'm eyeing a travel watercolor set on Amazon right now. When I shop in different cities, I Google ahead of time to find local art shops and stationary stores. I research new pens, markers, brush pens, pencils, and paint brushes constantly to find new things to add to my studio. Lettering and art is what I love to do, so I spend my time and money on it. A lot of it. All of this to say, I am at least a tiny bit qualified to give any budding letterers out there a few tips!

I've been lettering for about 4 1/2 years now, and I have been through so many trial and error situations. So let me help you out by giving you at least a few things you should keep in your pencil case to letter something beautiful at any time. Click the pictures for a link to buy!

1.) Tombow Fudenosuke Hard Tip Brush Pen

Whew, that's a mouthful isn't it? The fudenosuke brush pens from Tombow are some of my all time favorites. They come in hard and soft tip (usually sold as a set) and now colors as well! Firm nib, easy to control. Good for small lettering.

2.) Pentel Fude Touch

Also one of my all time faves (maybe even #1). These have a little bit more of a flexible nib, and not as easy to control as a fudenosuke. Very smooth gliding and manipulation. Good for small lettering.

3.) A Sharpie

Pick a size, any size. I tend to keep the ultra fine tip in my case, but any size will work! It really depends on your style and what type of piece you tend to create. Monoline, detailed drawings= fine tip. Rough, modern portraits= regular sharpie. Large, sweeping cityscapes= super sharpie. Whichever you choose, a sharpie is a staple.

4.) Micron pens

Absolutely all the microns, please! Once you try them, you'll never not use them. This is one of the utensils I keep on me at all times. They are so versatile and perfect for any type of art you could create. Smaller the #, thinner the line. Bigger the #, bolder the line. You get it.

5.) Some sort of black brush pen

I gave you a few options to choose from. Of course there are many more than just these and you can try them all to find your favorite! You never know when you really want to create a perfect lettered quote, and a bigger brush pen is going to do that for you. I will list a few of their traits below:

Kelly Creates: broad tip is very firm, and will become a bit more flexible with use. Very good if just starting to get the feel for a brush pen. The small tip is extremely flexible, probably one of the most flexible I have tried. This means razor thin upstrokes, and beautifully broad downstrokes. It may take a bit to get used to this nib.

Pigma Brush: most flexible nib until I tried Kelly Creates. So its nib is quite flexible as well, and sometimes you just have to let the pen take you where it wants to go.

Tombow Dual Brush Pen: one of the best brush pens on the market. Not too hard, not too soft. Holding brush pens correctly will lengthen the use, though they will all fray in the end (as you can see in the picture--I have used it until it can't be used anymore!) Absolutely try Tombow for sure, and there are many colors available. Good for big letters. Go crazy!

Ecoline: amazing brush pen. Very flexible, and heavily pigmented. Meaning, you will get a gorgeous swath of ink as you push down for your downstroke. I love these markers.

Ooly: probably one of the best kept secrets of brush markers. This is one of my faves, as it gives you a wonderful watercolor effect.

6.) A pencil (or two)

I mean, obviously. Two of my faves are Blackwing pencils and Tombow drawing and drafting pencils. Choose your favorite drawing pencil and stuff it in. You'll always need a pencil.

7.) An eraser

Well this is just pretty much self-explanatory, isn't it?

8.) A white detail pen

My favorites are Uniball Signo White and GellyRoll. These are great for different colored-paper and adding detail to any style of lettering.

Of course you can choose whatever you like, and this doesn't even begin to make a dent in all the wonderful possible pens out there. It is a good start! Below I compare the different black brush pens to give you an idea of ink flow. I hope you enjoy this post, and let me know what you love to use! Got questions on lettering in general? Drop a comment and we'll talk!

Letter well, letter often my friends.


Mary Kate

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