Adding messaging to your artwork can enhance its impact, express a thought, and give mixed media pieces texture and depth. There are many ways to add words to your work, but hand lettering is a great way to inject your own style and creativity into your piece.
If you’ve never hand lettered before, or feel your skills could use a brush-up, I have a variety of online hand lettering classes available to help you improve your skills. And in this post, I’m going to run through the common supplies you can use in your journey to learn hand lettering.
You don’t need to invest a huge amount of money in new supplies to get started with hand lettering. For many of my pieces, I use a variety of Sharpie markers for crisp, clean, dark lines. My favourites are the Chisel Tip, Fine Point, and Ultra Fine Point varieties.
The Chisel Tip is great for shaping calligraphy-style lettering and comes in sizes from narrow to XL. The Fine Point and Ultra Fine Point markers are great for adding decorative lines, filling in shapes, and darkening letters.
Pigma Micron Pens
Pigma pens are some of the most popular marking pens on the market today for artists of all types. These pens offer high quality archival ink, long-term usage, and smooth movement on many different media. These pens are fantastic for use with watercolour paints as they don’t bleed at all once completely dry.
I use these pens when I am adding hand lettering to my artwork and I intend to colour in the letters with watercolour paints. Pigma Micron Pens come in a staggering number of colours and thicknesses; there is a pen for every use you can think of. My favourite pen to use is black and .01 width. This width gives me the versatility I need to do all kinds of hand lettering in my artwork, and the deep, rich black ink stands out against other paints and materials in my mixed media pieces.
Uni-Ball Signo White Gel Pens
If you’re looking for a pen that works on dark backgrounds, such as dark patterned paper or darker paint colours, the Uni-Ball Signo White Gel Pen is fantastic. This pen’s ink is stark white, and since it contains gel ink, your hand lettering will sit on top of whatever material you’re writing on.
I often like to use these white pens on top of black ink to add texture and depth to my lettering.
Cold Pressed Watercolour Paper
Just as the pens and markers you choose when learning hand lettering are important, so is the paper. You’ll want to choose a paper stock that doesn’t let your inks bleed, such as cold pressed watercolour paper from Canson or Strathmore. This paper has a smoother surface and doesn’t absorb so much ink into the fibres, keeping your hand lettering sharp and clean on the surface. Hot pressed paper from Arches is also a great option as it offers a smooth surface to work with.
Mixed Media Paper
Mixed media paper is ideal if you’re using a variety of different materials in your artwork. This type of paper has slightly different tooth—or texture—to its surface so it pulls out the character in charcoals, dry paints, and pastels. It’s also great for hand lettering, as it adds a unique finish to your ink that adds a layer of depth to your piece.
Silver Black Velvet #6 Paintbrush
Sometimes you want your hand lettering to be loose and flowing, and for this I love using my Silver Black Velvet #6 paintbrush. Its ultra-soft bristles allow freedom of movement, and I can add layers of watercolour paint to my artwork quickly and easily and without bleeding or over blending. This is a great brush to start with if your paintbrush collection is limited.
If you want to learn hand lettering, these supplies are a great place to start. They’ll give you the versatility you need to try different styles of hand lettering as well as calligraphy, and they’ll inspire you to keep practicing. If you are looking for fun, no-pressure hand lettering classes, feel free to check out my available online classes that you can take at your own pace.