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While the tools don't make the artist, the right tools can be more fun to use. You can definitely get by with a number two pencil, a sharpie marker, and copy paper.
However, here are the supplies I recommend for a beginning hand letterer. These things will help you achieve finer and more precise results, and you may enjoy the experience that much more that you do it more often.
I recently blogged about my favorite pens (photo from that post shown below), but here are the supplies that I've found to be the best for detailed hand lettering projects.
Hand Lettering Tools For Sketching
It's a good idea to sketch out your designs first with pencil. Lay down the framework and the lines that you'll ink over afterwards. Don't be afraid to erase and move your lines over or fix an entire word. I recommend at least these things:
- A hard pencil, 2H, for lighter lines
- A regular 2B pencil
- An eraser
For an extra punch, I recommend these items for the sketching phase:
- An eraser shield
- A triangle or straight edge
Hand Lettering Tools For Inking
After you've perfected your design in graphite, you can move on to inking your lettering. You can get by with one thinner marker pen and one thicker one, but I recommend these:
- Micron set
- Pigma Graphic 1
- Occasionally the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pen (becoming less and less my favorite)
The reason it's best to get the whole Micron suite is that you can get the crispest lines and corners. If you have really intricate work, you can first trace the outlines with a very thin tip, then draw a thicker line right next to it for some padding, and then fill the rest of the letter with a Graphic 1. And if you're lettering in a much larger scale, I've found that these markers work well:
- Copic Black
- Tombow N25
- Regular Sharpie
Just watch out as none of these are perfect: the Copics and Sharpies bleed, and the Tombows take a little longer to dry and the ink can smudge.
Good Paper For Hand Lettering
When you're a beginner, paper doesn't really matter as much. Grab copy paper or a sketchbook. When I'm feeling fancy, I like to letter in my Moleskine Sketchbook. If I'm just going to be practicing, I letter on scratch paper or a cheapo sketchbook from Blick.
If you want to get fancy, grab some dot grid paper.
Feeling ready? I assembled everything in an Amazon store.
What do you like to use for lettering?
Cover photo by Kelly Sikkema