Hand-lettering 2: This time, with a brush!

A couple weeks ago (ish) I gave hand-lettering a try for the first time. Loyal and devoted readers (which I assume is all of you) will recall that I found it surprisingly difficult and was unsure that I would pursue it further. But it occurred to me – maybe it would be easier with paint?

LDRs, (loyal devoted readers, pass it on) will also recall that I am a big fan of Amy Tangerine, an artist who shares her work and skill via YouTube. Amy has a brush-lettering series, so I picked a few videos to try out.

Based off my previous experience, I was prepared for this to be difficult, and I ran into issues almost immediately. For one thing, it’s been a long time since I pulled out my watercolors, so I needed to use a lot more water than I expected to get an even brush stroke.

You can see where the brush clumps and skips from the dryness.

Then I overcompensated and added too much water, which diluted the color and spread the paint out so much that you couldn’t even tell which letter was which anymore. I scrapped that attempt and started over.

I also had to try out several different brushes before I found one that had enough length in the tip to create nice strokes while at the same time being short enough for me to control. I can’t really tell properly from the video, but I think the brush I use has a shorter tip than the one Amy uses.

As I suspected, I did find it easier than my previous attempt with markers, but I still had trouble with the upstrokes. Although it’s easier to get a thin line on the first attempt, if you try to go over it to get a better color saturation you end up making the line too thick.

Once again, I found caps easier than lowercase letters.
You see that capital N? The upstroke on the end was much thinner when I did it the first time, but it was too light and when I went over it I ruined it. Womp womp.

One thing I really like about Amy is that she encourages you to take your cue from your own natural handwriting, and that changed my approach to the process from last time. Instead of trying to copy her exactly, I made some adjustments in the style and I think that’s part of why I found this easier.

I think I might actually do this again! It was fun and I do think I improved more than I did the first time, probably because I’d had that previous practice.

Which do you prefer, hand-lettering with markers or brush-lettering with paint?

A beginner dives into hand-lettering

If you’re involved with the planner/bullet journal community at all, you’ve probably seen countless examples of hand-lettering using Tombow markers or other tools.

And if you’re anything like me, you’re obsessed.

This week I decided to continue arting by trying out hand-lettering, something I’ve always been curious about. I quite like my handwriting as it is, but when it comes to headers my go-to is caps. Sometimes I alternate caps and lowercase letters for (what I think is) a cute, quirky effect, but otherwise I’ve very limited in terms of variety. I thought hand lettering would shake things up for me a bit.

Some quick YouTube searching led me to this introductory video by freelance graphic designer Will Paterson.

This, I figured, would be ideal for me, because while I do not have any expensive Tombow markers (nor do I intend to purchase any in the near future; you’ll see why in a second), I do have cheapy Crayola markers. Mine aren’t exactly the kind Paterson has (his are short and fat, mine are short and skinny) but the basic premise is the same. I pulled out some colors and dove in.

Then I hit the bottom of the hand-lettering pool with a resounding thud.

Guys. Guys. This is much, much harder than it looks. Paterson gets into this a little the video, but it really does require a lot more dexterity and physical control than I anticipated. In particular, I found it very challenging to get real definition between the upstrokes and downstrokes. Particularly with letters like m and n, where there are repeated up and down patterns, it’s really hard to get any distinction between the ups and downs.

(Apologies for my terrible photography skills.)

You can see me struggling to create proper upstrokes and downstrokes here.
Trying out the alphabet and continuing to struggle…

It’s also an incredibly slow process because you really have to think about how you’re holding the pen, what angle the tip is at, how much pressure you need to apply to get it right; so many things that you don’t see at all when you watch people do this on YouTube.

I did find uppercase letters marginally easier to do than lowercase letters. I think possibly the increased space makes it easier to have that room to move the marker to the correct position for a different stroke.

You can see I’m doing a little better here.

I do think it got a little easier just in the hour and a half I spent practicing, but I honestly don’t know that I’m going to pursue this again. It’s a lot of work for a payoff that I’m not particularly invested in because as I said, I do like my handwriting as it is. I do think it’s a good exercise for anyone pursuing art more generally, because it really does promote control and deliberation in the creative process.

Has anyone tried hand-lettering before? What’s your advice for those looking to perfect it?