One of my favorite things about handlettering is that you can take it anywhere, and practice with any writing instrument! But when you start going through YouTube or Instagram for tutorials, it can seem like you have to buy a lot of tools. It looks like everyone’s got Tombow dual-tip markers, Ecoline watercolor markers, oblique dip pens with fancy holders, and the iPad Pro… and you don’t have the cash for all that.
Beginners, don’t be fooled.
Yes, there’s value in having good tools. But you don’t need the expensive stuff to practice! Here are the basic supplies that I think beginners need, and you can find all of them under $20 (and a good number of them for free if you’re… uh… resourceful like me).
- Pencil + a good eraser: Drafting is a must. I wasted so much paper and ink as a beginner because I was watching Instagram videos that were sped up and doctored. I also suggest wooden pencils over mechanical ones. The trusty yellow school pencil is a lot less harsh on paper. Art people can probably tell you why, but I’m not an art person. I think it’s because the lead doesn’t stay deadly sharp the whole time you’re drawing. You want something that’s softer because it doesn’t make ridges in the paper as you draw. These ridges could divert water when you’re watercoloring, or show through when you’re coloring with crayons or colored pencils.
- Ruler: Duh, it keeps straight lines. You can use this to draw out really specific guidelines for the tops, bottoms, and crossbars of letters if you’re a perfectionist. I just draw out lines like ruled paper so I don’t draw all over the place.
- Black pen: You pick the kind of black pen. Pictured is a gel pen that I stole from work. It writes fairly smoothly, and best of all, it was free! I also suggest the Papermate Flair pen… it’s just lovely.
- Sketchbook: Cardstock or printer paper are fine for practicing or sketching, but they’re not really absorbent. If you want to try color blending or brush lettering, get a sketchbook with thicker paper. Pictured is my favorite cheap Target sketchbook with 75lb paper. My favorite one is the U-Create Sketch Book!
- Washable markers: I cannot stress how amazing washable markers are. They allow you to blend colors like the pros, and they’re great, affordable tools with which to practice calligraphy! I recommend this pack of fat Crayola markers because 1) 40 colors!, and 2) they’re a lot more durable than the Super Tip markers that so many people recommend. My toddler has stolen quite a few of the thin markers and ruined them… but the fat markers have lasted!
I’ll be featuring these tools all week this week on my Instagram account. Follow the hashtags #letteringonabudget or #cheapaflettering, or just find me @nerdladydraws to see some awesome things that you can do with these basic tools!