31 Lettering Tips

Back in October I did this little series on Instagram. I posted a lettering tip every day for the whole month. But other than that I never did anything with it. So instead of making you scroll down my Instagram and find all of them, I decided that you deserve to have them all in one spot. 

31 Lettering Tips for beginners @twoeasels #lettering

If you're stuck, you don't know what to do with you letters, maybe you want to spice them up a bit scroll down and try something new. 


31 Lettering tips for beginners

Tip 1: The perfect "M" 
When lettering beginners often make this mistake. They rush through letters and don't pay attention to details. We all know what am "M" looks like, so why the mistake? Because we don't analyze the shape of certain strokes when writing. But in the art of lettering we don't write. We draw. So here it is.

M 1: The two outside stems are bold and the two inside strokes are thin. That is WRONG.

M 2: The outside stems are thin and the inside ones are bold. WRONG again. It just looks weird, doesn't it. But sometimes we can't figure out why. Well here it is.

M 3: The left stem is thin, the stroke coming off of it is thick, the one next to that is thin and then the final stem is thick. That is CORRECT.

This simple reminder will make your M's look a lot better. Same goes for "N" and "W"

31 Lettering tips for beginners

Tip 2: Start cheap

As a beginner you might and will be tempted to try out all the tools out there. You may even get the false sense that if using more expensive tools you will get better faster.


Why waste your money or good tools when you're long gonna use them for practice? If you want to learn brush lettering. Or lettering in general I recommend starting with plain old Crayola markers. The tips are soft enough so when you press harder you will get that famous thick downstroke. And if you have kids at home you most likely have plenty of these laying around the house anyway. Give them a go and let's see what you can create.

Also check out #crayolacalligraphy for some inspiration.

31 Lettering tips for beginners

Tip 3: Color shadows

Shadows don't have to be boring. Add a little bit of color splash to your lettering by adding a color shadow.

31 Lettering tips for beginners

Tip 4: Pencil is your best tool

Always have a pencil around. Especially when doing lettering. It's a huge time saver and it will get your mind working. You can sketch out your composition and letters and then apply color over it. No need to waste time and energy getting everything perfect the first time around. Sketch, erase and then ink.

31 Lettering tips for beginners. Tip 5

Tip 5: Bouncy baseline

Give your letters a bit of life and movement by not following a straight base line. Put one letter higher then another and repeat. They don't have to be down every other letter, can be random. But it will make your letters cute and more fun.

31 Lettering tips for beginners

Tip 6: Outline

Add some more fun to your letters by outlining them. Not all lettering has to look like calligraphy. Lettering can be fun and quirky. Go out there and experiment with your outlines.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 7: Watercolor lettering

You don't need the latest lettering pen or a Tombow brush pen to do lettering. Simply pick up a brush and paint your letters.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 8: Use grids

Use graph paper to keep your letters aligned. You can also draw lines with a ruler but this gives you a lot more lines and a lot more paper to work with.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 9: Practice each letter

Grab some practice sheets and practice. There is no other way to get better. 

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 10: Sketchbooks are your friends

Keep a lettering sketchbook and do your practicing in there. And of course any ideas you have. That way you can see your progress and anything else you did previously. 

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 11: Use smooth paper

Tombow brush pens are great, but be careful. When you use them on textured paper, like watercolor paper, you will destroy your brush tip really fast. And I'm telling you, you won't like the result. It will become fuzzy, dry and loose all the nice sharpness that it's known for. So if you're using them please pickup some marker paper. It's super smooth and won't damage your tips.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 12: Fake it till you make it

If you don't know how to works. Brush pen or real brush but want that brush look just fake it. If you want to do a calligraphy look but don't have the tools you can use a simple pen to fake it. Why not. It's art and you can make or break what ever rules you want. 
Just remember. Down strokes thick, up strokes thin. Have fun!

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 13: Try working with real brushes

Why only use #Tombow brush pens? Brushes give you so much more flexibility. From long ones to thick ones to tiny ones. There are endless options. All I do is look for soft tips, like watercolor brushes, and the rest is up to you. 
Remember, just be you, and stop the comparison game.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 14: Try something new

I don't really do calligraphy and I wish to learn more. But that won't stop me from trying. If you want to learn a different style or try out a tool, don't hesitate, go out there and get it. Try it out, you might like it or might not, but don't be afraid to try something different. 

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 15: 2 in 1 brush pens

Use dual brush pens to get variation in your lettering, plus they are great when your on the go. You don't need to carry a bunch of pens with you when you've got 2 in 1. Here are 3 of my favorites. They usually come in brush and fine tip.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 16: Make mistakes

That's the only way to learn. Don't expect to be perfect when you're just starting out. Don't try to be perfect either. Just have fun and practice. I suggest keeping that sketchbook so you can go back and see how much you've improved and see the mistakes you used to make.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 17: Marker + water = gradient

want a nice gradient when mixing two Tombow colors? Just use water. In this video I use a Pentel Aqua Brush filled with water to mix the two colors. Work perfect. Even giving it a watercolor look. This also works with Crayola markers

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 18: Go thick

Did you know that's sharpies are awesome. Yup, they now have a brush marker. It's super thick and juicy. I mean juicy. It will bleed through regular thin paper so use something underneath to protect your desk or use thick paper. And since it's so juicy it runs out of ink really fast. But it's so cool and bold.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 19: Do some drills to warm up your wrists

Do some warmups before starting your lettering. Let your hands and wrists loosen up so they don't get shaky on you. This will prevent shaky and uneven lines. Join the 90 Day drills challenge for free.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 20: Rainbow effect

Love color? Mix two or three or more colors to create this rainbow effect. Looks cute and colorful. For this I used watercolor paints, blue and pink. I know I know I missed a few days. It I was super busy and just didn't have time. I'll Marie up for it. No worries.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 21: Decorate

Add some decorative elements to your lettering to make it fun and cute. 

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 22: More mixing

Mix Tombow brush pens to create this gradient effect. All you do is get 2 markers or more and just get some of the ink on a piece of foil or a sandwich bag. I used a little mirror. And then dip the other colors in that, and begin lettering. Yes, the color will return to normal after a little bit. Have fun.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 23: Opposites attract

Mix large and small letters, you know why? It makes your layout more interesting, and of course the bigger word will really pop out.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 24: Borders

Just add a border and call it a day. A little border will create some interest and make the piece look like it's a piece of art, a print. Anything framed automatically looks great, so do your letters.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 25: Add highlights

Shadows are pretty common, but I want you to do something else now. Add some white highlights to make the letters look more shiny. This isn't my best example, but you get the point. I'll post a video of this soon. I just used a white watercolor paint by Copic and a little brush.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 26: Experiment with other brushes

This one is long and thin and hard to use but once you find a way it's fun and looks unique.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 27: 3D

Make your letters 3D to give them more dimension and pop.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 28: Ditch the brush

Just go crazy and ditch the tools. You can skip the brush and just do some lettering with the eye dropper that comes with these @drphmartins concentrated watercolors.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 29: Experiment with some shapes

Draw a shape, doesn't have to be a circle, do a heart for Valentine's Day and fit some lettering inside it. This way you'll practice making letters different shape so that they fit inside. It's fun and pushes your creativity.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 30: Don't be boring, think in reverse

All I did for this example was paint a small are in black acrylic paint on some watercolor paper. After it dried I used white opaque paint to do the lettering.

31 Lettering tips for beginners by @twoeasels

Tip 31: Have fun!

This is the last tip of the month long series. Just have fun with your lettering. Let go of any rules or grand expectations and just explore.