Starting with the Basics of Lettering – Including Tools, Tips, and Other Resources

Let's start with the Basics of Lettering | Going over brush pens/markers, paper, and other tips | -


UPDATED 6/7/2017



Today, we’ll be starting with the Basics of Lettering. (The stuff to get you started when you’re just beginning.)

I decided a while ago that I wanted to organize and start my blog over with some hand lettering basics (moving up from there). Basically, dedicating my blog to everything letter related. If you follow me on Instagram, you may know I try *really* hard to help in every way I can when it comes to lettering. I love to share everything I know, hoping it will help someone like you with your lettering journey.

So, in this first installment, I’d like to go over some basics. Things that I get asked a lot on my Instagram posts or in messages. This will include; materials, tips, and a list of some of my calligrafriends (friends in the modern calligraphy / hand lettering community) along with some hash tags and lettering challenges to get you started.

Also, a lot of this is going to refer back to Instagram. Instagram is my main source of social media. But you can also find letterers and lettering inspiration on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Just search some of the hash tags / key words I listed toward the end of this post.

First; we’ll go over materials.


When I started out with lettering, I needed something “easy” to use. Something that was easy enough to start to practice with. I searched everywhere and ended up with these.


  • Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pens
  • Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens (with a choice between hard & soft tips)
  • Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens (so many beautiful colors) & Pigma Brush Pens (3 Different Sizes) – Not shown in photo because they’re quite new. 🙂 Will try to update soon!
  • Zebra Disposable Brush Pens (with tip sizes; Super Fine, Fine, and Medium)

Let's start with the Basics of Lettering | Going over brush pens/markers, paper, and other tips | -


When you look for the Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pens, make sure they say “TOUCH” on the pens themselves. That way you know you’re getting the tips that are flexible.

Let's start with the Basics of Lettering | Going over brush pens/markers, paper, and other tips | -

When you get used to those, some larger brush pens are a lot of fun. Especially when it comes to blending them. Here are some of those.


  • Artline Stix Brush Markers
  • Tombow Dual Brush Pens
  • Kuretake Zig Brush Pens (I’ve only tried the Metallic, so far.)
  • Royal Talens Ecoline Brush Markers (Not shown in photo, will update soon!)

Let's start with the Basics of Lettering | Going over brush pens/markers, paper, and other tips | -

Other non-expensive and fun markers you can letter with are:

  • Crayola markers! Yes, they are totally accessible and you can get great thick and thin lines with them!

Let's start with the Basics of Lettering | Going over brush pens/markers, paper, and other tips | -

–Quick Note: There are so many more tools/materials to use, but the ones I mention in this post and any other posts are ones that I’m familiar with unless otherwise stated.–

Next, Let’s talk Paper for Lettering! (Super Important!)

I never realized how important paper is. When I started, I always used scratch paper or super cheap printer paper that I would find cheap at local stores. This is *not* a good idea. Well, this is ok for Crayola markers because they are really durable. But for other pens, this paper can really mess up the tips and you will end up with frayed tips which is no fun. I honestly hate when it happens, and it happened to me A LOT! I thought if I changed the pressure it would help, but the texture in the paper always gave the same results. So, here’s some paper I can recommend to you that can hopefully help you not make the same mistake I did!

  • HP Premium Laser Jet Printer Paper
  • Tracing Paper
  • Bristol Paper (Smooth, not Vellum)

Going over Basics for Lettering including some of my favorite paper to use when lettering! Check it out at chrystalizabeth.comGoing over Basics for Lettering including some of my favorite paper to use when lettering! Check it out at  Going over Basics for Lettering including some of my favorite paper to use when lettering! Check it out at

*I’ve tried other Premium printer papers, and they are not always great quality, so keep that in mind when trying different brands!*

When looking for these products, I know it can be difficult finding them.

Here’s some of my go-to places to purchase them.

You can even visit the company websites and shop directly from them.

Now, let’s talk practice. There are so many letterers out there that offer free lettering worksheets, and worksheets that are paid for. I will go ahead and list some of both.


NOT FREE WORKSHEETS/WORKBOOKS (But, totally worth it!)

(More will be added to these lists over time!)


So, I’m trying to remember what could have helped me when I first started. It’s funny trying to remember because you get so used to doing something and forget how it was before.

Here’s some things I can remember;

  • Paper is so important! I know I went over that a little while going over materials. But, really! It makes a difference. Even if it’s just the difference of the way it looks on paper. The better quality paper will give you more satisfying results due to more vivid colors and better lines when you don’t have frayed tips.
  • Remember to use your brush pens/markers at an angle so you don’t damage the tips that way also. You want to be able to lift up and press down easily for the thin and thick strokes while lettering.

Let's start with the Basics of Lettering | Going over brush pens/markers, paper, and other tips | -

  • Practice is the one thing that will help you no matter what. Even if you were to use just a pencil, the more you practice, the better your muscle memory will be and the better your letters will be. It takes time and patience to get your letters the way you want them to be. It took so much time to learn how to move my pen slow enough but also smooth enough while making different strokes for each letter. And with that said, I still have a lot of imperfect letters and I still practice as much as possible! This is where I throw in; “Enjoy the Process & the Progress!” 🙂
  • I want to mention again, this for sure didn’t happen over night. I have dedicated myself to my lettering back in January 2015. Today is January 1st (as I finish writing this post) and I’m still practicing and still learning. And that doesn’t deter me at all. I love everything about the process and the community. Enjoy it. All of it. Including any mistakes. They are just going to show you later how much you’ve improved, and that’s a great feeling.

Let's start with the Basics of Lettering | Going over brush pens/markers, paper, and other tips | -


So, here’s where it gets difficult! I have so many friends on Instagram. The lettering community is AMAZING. So ENCOURAGING & KIND. If you’re looking for some people to follow, whether you want to learn from them or just have them in your feed for inspiration, here’s some friends of mine, that I personally follow, that can help you out with that;

** I don’t consider anyone in this list better or worse than anyone else. These are friends I’ve made within the community, and there are plenty more that I still need to add and will do that soon!! 🙂 **

Another way to find really amazing lettering/letterers is by visiting hashtags like these mentioned below.


#brushlettering, #moderncalligraphy, #modernscript, #brushcalligraphy, #typography, #handtype, #handlettering, #brushtype, & #calligraphy

Also, I started a hashtag a while back – #letteringthenandnow – that will have some letterers showing their progress. Always a fun thing to see!

These are just some hash tags that people use within the lettering community. You should be able to visit those and get a lot of inspiration and find new people to follow.

And the last thing I wanted to add here.


I cannot say enough, how much the lettering challenges helped me. They not only helped me practice, but also helped me make the friends I have now. If you’re looking for something to be apart of, I highly recommend joining these challenges. Whether you decide on one or more. Even if you can only do them a few days out of the month, you should still do them!! They are so much fun and so helpful!!

Here’s a couple I help host (These were obviously from January 2017 🙂 But you can find more every month within the lettering community!)

All New January | Instagram Lettering Challenge Happy Lettering Challenge | Instagram Lettering Challenge

For more Lettering Challenges, you can visit Stacee at @letteringchallenges. She’s so wonderful keeping everything up to date. 🙂

So that’s going to conclude this post to get you started. And, don’t forget, this isn’t everything out there, but this is how I got started and these are things I’m involved in and people I’m friends with and that is what I’m sharing with you. But always be open to other things and have fun while doing so!

Also, I get a lot of questions on how I set up my space for videos & edit my photos, and how I edit my videos. Definitely check those out if you’re wondering how I work my behind the scenes. 🙂

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below!

*** These are my personal opinions and statements. I am not being paid or endorsed by any company mentioned in this post, in any way. ***

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  1. Denise Marie Green

    What a wonderful way to start me off on my lettering journey. Great information and I am actively following you and other calligraphers on IG. Thanks for your help and have bookmarked your blog to keep me on track! XxX

  2. Jessica Patterson

    This is awesome! You are great at this stuff:) keep up inspiring everyone, because I know you inspire me 🙂

  3. Christina

    Hello! I just bought your brush calligraphy lettering worksheets and I totally love your calligraphy ? I’m doing fine when I’m tracing the letters but I can’t get a grasp on connecting the letters (and connecting different styles of letters together too). Can you give me some advice please? ?

    • Hi Christina! First, Thank You!! ?? And for connecting letters, I think, if I can explain this right, you want to make sure to try and get the letter your doing at the time ready for the next by making sure it extends. The way the tail of the letter ‘a’ can go out to the next. If you’re mixing letters, then that really depends on how you want to do it. I mix it up a lot for different looks. Sometimes changing it up for composition purposes. ? I hope that helps even a little. I’ll have to put up a blog post on that soon!!

  4. Meaghan Sponseller

    I love your work! It’s absolutely gorgeous! I am starting to put my lettering on instagram and I was wondering what app you use to filter and how do you make your pictures look so gorgeous and clear! Also, what equipment do you use for your process videos? Thank you!

    • Hi Maeghan!
      I love using PicMonkey for my photos. In their settings I’ll adjust the Exposure (brightness/contrast/highlights/shadows) to get my photos to where I like them. I also love the Clarendon filter on Instagram since my photos have a yellow tint from the lights here.

      For videos, I process my videos using Windows Movie Maker. 🙂

      Hope that helps! I’ll actually be putting up a blog post about it soon!

      ❤ Chrystal

  5. Emily

    Hello! This doesn’t quite fall under ‘beginning handlettering’ category, but here goes. I was wondering if you would recommend the same pens for journaling, in other words are these pens you suggest good for caligraphy in small spaces, where i want caligraphy but cant use big markers? Thank you and i hope my question made sense. Just found you on instagram!

    • Hi Emily!

      You can actually write pretty small with the fude pens like:
      Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pens
      Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens (Hard Tip)
      Zebra Disposable Brush Pens (Fine)

      And if you still find those are just a bit big, you can do some faux-calligraphy using pens like:
      Sakura Pigma Microns
      Staedtler Pigment Liners

      I hope this helps!
      Let me know if there is anything else I can help with ?

      ❤ Chrystal

  6. kihoon

    Hi Chrystal
    First of all, thank u for ur tips for brush calligraphy.
    I live in South Korea(so i can’t use english well) and I want to teach
    brush calligraphy to Korean(in a community). If u don’t mind, may I
    ask questions about brush calligraphy by email?
    Anyway thanks again for ur tips and inspiring.

  7. Anshika

    I have been wanting to start handlettering but couldnt find the right beginners tutorial to start.. but your post is just the right guidance i wanted.. thanku so much.. since i have never done handlettering before i will be doing the challenges for my practice and looking forward to see more from you.. :)))

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