Hand Lettering Essentials for Beginners

I started learning modern calligraphy/brush lettering out of boredom. One day, I was at home browsing Facebook and Instagram videos on my phone when I saw this really good artist scribbling verses from my favorite writer on a pad.


Then I figured that if I wanted to be productive during my free time, I might as well learn a new hobby. So, a month ago, I began watching a bunch of tutorials and I practiced on my unused sketchpad.

But the thing is, sketchpads are made of a different type of paper. The texture is for oil, charcoal, watercolor, and acrylic paint. So it is not as smooth as the paper you should be using for pen ink. It’s just a good start up if you want to help your muscle memory get used to the upward and downward strokes. I’ve also started with a cheap brush pen and a not-so-expensive parallel calligraphy marker from the Japanese brand Marvy. It’s not as expensive as the Zig pen, though.

In order to fully grasp the basics of hand lettering, you need a  worksheet, preferably, ruled/lined pads, and  brush pens. It’s up to you if you want to scribble in color or just black and white. If you wanted to start the way I did with sketch pads, you’ll probably need a pencil and a ruler, too. Here are the products I recommend for beginners like me.



Before I stumbled upon the IFEX calligraphy practice pad in the SM  Department Store, I used to draw lines in my sketchpad. They serve as a guide to the typeface, so I would know where’s the baseline and where the ascender and stem of each letter should take if they’re in either uppercase or lowercase.


That’s how the finished product looks. It was one of my first strokes, a line from Taylor Swift’s song All Too Well. I used the black Japanese brush with the gold ornaments around the pen. And of course, a pencil for my typeface guide.

Going back to IFEX’s ruled pad, it already includes lines that will guide you for horizontal, vertical, and diagonal strokes. As a beginner, it also helps me measure the distance between letters, especially those that have tails like K, R, and Q.

IFEX is a supplier of specialty papers, as well as office and school supplies. Their products are available at local bookstores, particularly in any SM Department Store branch. This calligraphy practice pad that I’m currently using was designed by ink scribbler Alexis Ventura. Here’s a sneak peek of the insides:


Personally, I like the pad because it is smooth and the lines helped me a lot. Though the spaces are so tiny especially for me who writes really thick letters. Maybe I just need some getting used to? Also, the ink from the brush pen doesn’t easily blot from behind the leaf. I’ll recommend it for beginners like me so you won’t have a hard time balancing on the invisible baseline.


For aspiring calligraphers, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing perfect strokes made by our  capable hand–especially the challenging upward strokes. There is no denying that achieving a seamless hand  lettering  takes time. But practice always makes perfect, so you should start as early as now if you want to see a finished product that will make you proud.

I’ve learned from another artist that it took her two years to perfect her strokes. In that span of time, she practiced every day. Imagine just how many worksheets and pens she had used in order to achieve perfection. God knows how much she spent on those things,too.

If you want to learn without spending much, there’s a way to save money and still be able to practice efficiently. Buy cheap pens as you start and go for expensive ones later on.

I know that expensive brush pens come in better packaging than cheap ones. Chances are, you’ll go for the most eye-catching piece of art if you’ve got the penny to spend. But hey, I’ve found a set  of cheap brush pens that come in bright colors.



The M&G Signme brush pens are available in sets of 12 and 24 (as far as I know). I found it at the SM Department Store where I also bought the calligraphy practice pad. This is a good substitute for other brush pens that are widely used like Tombow.

Signme is a dual tip pen that comes with one brush and fine marker tip. It is also called an aquarelle brush since its pigment gives a watercolor texture on the pad.


The pen’s ink was great but it’s kinda hard to glide and make thin upward strokes using the Signme brush. See that I messed up a bit with P to show you that I’m still a beginner. 😛

Overall, I like the pens because it’s cheap and it won’t make me feel guilty scribbling some ugly strokes sometimes. Also, you can make bold downward strokes without much pressure on the pen. But you have to be careful with each stroke as the brush tip could easily break off. The strands of the brush are not as intact as other pens and the brush barely retains its point after stroke.

If you want to cheat and double each stroke, it is  not advisable as well. You can see that the second layer of strokes is visible on the word “hello.”

To learn more about these hand lettering essentials, visit the pages linked to each brand. Or let me know what you think through the comment section below.

P.S. This is not a sponsored post. All photos are mine.

5 Replies to “Hand Lettering Essentials for Beginners”

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