Brush Lettering is one of my favorite lettering techniques. Once you learn how to properly hold the pen and recognize the different strokes you can accomplish with a brush pen your letters will look beautiful without much effort.
With this post I want to share some of the key things to keep in mind when using a brush pen. And with that said I want to start by mentioning the different brush pens I use. Tombow Dual Brush Pen is one of my favorites. They come in a variety of colors which makes it really fun to create colorful graphics or to create shading, high lights etc. It also has 2 different tips, a thick one like the one on the picture above and a thin-smaller tip. I usually use the thin tip to fix my strokes, this comes really handy when you are digitizing your letters because it means less time retouching in Photoshop or Illustrator. I also love the Pentel brush pens. They have different brush pens and all the ones I've tried seem to be just as good. I specially like these pens for logo concepts and to digitize letters. And, lastly the Pilot Brush Pen which might be my favorite but it seems to dry out really fast. So, just an FYI :)
One of the things that would make a BIG difference in your letters is the way you seat. I've noticed this with my own work and when I've taught people brush lettering. For me, it is key to have space around and feel comfortable moving my arm. When practicing any type of lettering you need to remember that your arm is the one moving. Your wrist and fingers should only be the helpers of your arm. I also like to seat close to the desk so my elbow can rest on it. This also helps to keep your arm relaxed instead of keeping it stiff and close to your body. Another thing that you will notice in the picture above is that my grip is not tight. I like to keep my hand and arm relaxed to have a more organic flow on the strokes.
2. HOLDING THE PEN
I've seen a lot of people hold the pen different ways so I will only talk about my personal preference. I like to hold the pen close to the tip, just above the partition line of the pen. The important thing here is being able to see the tip of your pen as you write. You can also see how I hold the pen in an angle so that it rests on my hand. This feels comfortable for me and I also get more consistent strokes holding it this way. So, try different things and find the most comfortable grip for you.
3. THICK/DOWN STROKES
If you are new to brush lettering, you have probably noticed that the beauty of lettering with a brush pen is the contrast of thick and thin strokes. Having control of the amount of pressure you put on the paper is basically what makes a difference when drawing your strokes. So, I encourage you to practice the 2 main strokes you can achieve with a pen before practicing an alphabet.
The first stroke ,and the easiest (for me) to control, is the down stroke which will always be your thick stroke. Yes, there are some exceptions but you don't need to worry about those exceptions when you start learning. Later, when you feel comfortable doing your strokes it will come naturally to identify which are those exceptions.
So, this stroke is achieved by the amount of pressure you put on the paper. Remember, the pressure is coming from your arm and your grip gets a little tighter but not to the point that it hurts. With this stroke you want to practice consistency on the thickness of the stroke from top to bottom. You can also get your muscles used to writing in different angles and since this is the thick stroke or dominant stroke this will pretty much set the angle in which you are writing.
4. THIN/UP STROKES
The thin stroke is a little more tricky and it requires a lot more control on the pressure you put on the paper. I tried taking the pictures at the my eye level, so basically this is the same thing I see when I am writing. For me, they key thing when creating thin strokes is to keep your eyes on the tip of the pen that way you are not letting only your arm do the work but you are challenging your brain to always keep that tip just barely touching the paper.
I hope these tips allow you to start practicing brush lettering. Like I mentioned before, practice the basic strokes before jumping on the alphabet. Keep checking the blog for more posts on lettering techniques.