BRUSH LETTERING 101

Brush Lettering 101 at The Paper + Craft Pantry

Here are some photos from my recent Brush Lettering 101 workshop at The Paper + Craft Pantry!

I helped my attendees “brush up” (I couldn’t resist) on their lettering skills by starting out with practice brushstrokes and then practicing the alphabet. We then did a practice phrase together, breaking it down into a step-by-step process of individual strokes. In the last part of the class, through another multi-step process, we made an art print on watercolor paper. It was really cool to see confidence develop and personal styles emerge over the course of the workshop.

Below are a few of my brush lettering tips and material suggestions:

1. MATERIALS
• protected surface (cutting board, vinyl tablecloth, or art table)
• cup of water Paper towels Pencil and eraser Ruler
• scratch paper for preparatory sketching
• brush: #6 pointed round brush (you can experiment with different sizes & shapes)
• watercolor paint or India ink
• small palette cup to hold paint
• watercolor paper or Bristol board

TIP: A LITTLE INK GOES A LONG WAY
Start with a small amount of paint or ink in your plastic palette dish. You can always add more!

2. WARM UP
Do several practice letters & brushstrokes before you begin on your design. Get a feel for the brush and paper. Try making brushstrokes in different thicknesses and angles. Practice making curves and loops. Turn on some music, breathe, relax and have fun with it.

3. PREPARE YOUR ARTWORK
Do a preparatory sketch or two to create a layout you like, then lightly sketch it onto your watercolor paper. Use a ruler to make guidelines on your paper to ensure you’re writing straight (if that is important to your design!)

4. START LETTERING
Gently moisten your brush with water, and dip it in paint.
You don’t need much paint – start with less and load more on the brush if needed. Draw your rst letter. Try to find a smooth rhythmic movement with your brush. Don’t rush it – paint each letter one stroke at a time.

TIP: EXHALE AS YOU STROKE THE BRUSH
It helps to take a breathe and exhale as you start a new stroke – this will steady your brush and relax your hand.

Go back into your water and india ink as much as needed. Depending on how much ink you get on the brush, how absorbent the paper is, and what kind of letter you’re making, you may need to “reload” after each letter.

5. CLEAN UP
Use mild soap, or a brush cleaner, and water to gently clean your brush. I like B & J’s “The Masters” Brush Cleaner ($12), available at art supply stores. Absorb leftover ink with a paper towel and rinse your palette cup to re-use.

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