Did you know I used to be an extreme couponer? I didn’t have bomb shelters full of shampoo, but I did have over 30 boxes of General Mills cereals in my one-bedroom apartment once upon a time.
What in the world does that have to do with brush lettering?
I’m letting you know that I’m extremely frugal and carefully consider most of my purchases.
When I’m starting a new hobby, especially one that involves practice (and initial screw ups), I don’t want to feel anxious about “wasting” really pricey supplies.
The flip side is that sometimes you get what you pay for.
I’ve going to save you a bunch of time and heartache here by just telling you what worked for me in my brush lettering journey.
For practice with bristled brushes (not felt tip brush markers!), I use any cheap paper lying around. The cheapest copy paper will do just fine for practice. This is not for precious works of art.
Want to get even more frugal?
- Find paper that already has printing on it. If you have access to the office recycling bin, this is the best place to scour. (Um, maybe in the early morning before your co-workers come in).
- Use old newspapers or phone books and practice on the sections that don’t have many pictures. Your brush lettering can still be seen on top of the text of the newspapers.
My technique is to start big to get the muscle memory formed and then practice your way to smaller letters.
To start, I use a round watercolor brush in size 6, then size 4, then size 2.
Using synthetic bristles lets the ink or paint flow smoothly out of the brush. Mine are from Blick Art Supply, but you can find these anywhere. Here are comparable brushes on Amazon.
Another brush that is a starter kit essential is the Pentel Aquash Waterbrush. The Medium size is the best choice if you’re only buying one, but I like to buy the three pack with three different sizes.
Ink or Paint
My favorite black ink to work with is sumi ink. If you have a Daiso nearby (a Japanese dollar store), check to see if they carry these bottles of black ink. This is the most affordable source I’ve found. If you don’t have a Daiso around, you can get sumi ink online too.
Do I just use the ink straight up? No. For brush lettering, I dilute the ink with water. This keeps the ink flowing smoothly without any dry patches. It’s typically a mix of 50% ink and 50% water, but not an exact measurement. I mix the ink in small jars so I can put the lid on and save it
What about working with color? You can get some great watercolor paints pretty affordably. (Remember that we’re not aiming for art quality paint here. We’re getting basic supplies for our practice and skill-building.)
For the tubes of paint, I mix these up with water in a small jar and a crappy paintbrush so that I can easily dip my brush while I’m working.
The paint palette is great for when I’m working with the waterbrush.
And that’s it. Really. That’s all you need to get started. And if you don’t like to paint in color (Why? What’s wrong with you?), you can skip the waterbrushes and the watercolor paints.
Looking for a marker recap? Check out this blog post.
What brush lettering tool excites you the most?
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