So you’ve got the calligraphy basics down, but something’s still missing. If you feel like your work needs a little personality, “bouncing” your letters is a great way to get it! Unfortunately, getting that “bouncy” modern calligraphy look is tough. What letters do you bounce? How do you bounce them? Are there some that you should never bounce? While it’s not an exact science, my new Bouncy Calligraphy Workbook is as close as it gets! I show you which letters almost always bounce, which letters never bounce, and which letters sometimes bounce, and then teach you how to put them all together! Check it out, and use code BLOG10 at checkout for 10% off everything you purchase!
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know about my recent obsession with Crayola markers. I can’t help it — there are just so many great things about them! They’re inexpensive, they come in tons of colors and, most importantly, they’re fantastic for lefties because THEY DON’T FRAY. As any lefty who has used a traditional brush pen knows, they fray after, like, two uses. Before I started using Crayolas, I had pretty much given in to the fact that I would be stuck using the smaller, firmer-tipped pens forever. I thought I would never get to make those big, juicy strokes that righties got to make with their brush markers unless I wanted to waste beaucoup bucks on markers I could only use a few times. Then, I saw the Crayola light. They were on a big back-to-school display at Target, and a pack of ten was only 97-freakin’-cents! I’d seen others using them on Instagram, and knew it was a sign to give them a try! The awesome thing about Crayola tips is that they aren’t “brushy,” so they can handle our “pushing” strokes without damaging the marker. They’re nice and firm, which makes it really easy to get those thin upstrokes without feeling like you’re fighting your pen. All it takes is a minor adjustment in between strokes.
Here’s how I use them to create thick and thin calligraphy strokes:
1. Hold them as you would your normal brush pens. If you need help with your grip, read this post!
2. The same principles apply as with other brush pens — more pressure on the downstrokes, less on the upstrokes. If you need help with pressure, read this post!
3. This is where it gets a little different. As you’re making your thick downstrokes, the fine point will sort of get “smushed” up. See how the tip is pointing slightly upwards in the photo below?
If you attempt to make a thin upstroke while the tip is pointing upwards, it’ll turn out thicker than you’d like because you’re using the broad underside of the marker. Rotate your marker in your hand until the fine point of the marker is pointing slightly downwards, like this:
That way, only that fine point will touch the paper on your upstroke, making it nice and thin. It seems like such a small thing, but it makes all the difference. Check out my Crayola videos on Instagram @theinkyhand if you’d like to see “The Marker Roll” (I literally just made that name up) in action! For much more information about using Crayolas for calligraphy, check out this amazing Crayligraphy website!
Now that you’ve mastered fauxligraphy and the ins and outs of upstrokes and downstrokes, I bet you want to move on to the real deal! Unfortunately, a quick search on Amazon of “brush pens” is enough to make your head explode… Where do you start, especially as a lefty? Well, I’m here to help! Here’s my roundup of the best supplies for beginners. They’re all pretty inexpensive, as well as being lefty-tested to make sure your first experiences with brush lettering are as successful as possible!
1. Tombow Fudenosuke (Hard and Soft Tip)
The hard tip Tombow Fudenosuke was the first pen that made me believe I could actually, maybe, someday be good at brush calligraphy! The tips are very manageable while still creating good thick and thin lines. Some people prefer the soft tip, so I recommend getting the set of both to start out to see which you prefer!
2. Pentel Touch (a.k.a brush tip Sign Pen)
These are similar to the Tombow Fudenosukes, but they quickly edged them out as my very favorite brush pen. They’re inkier, cheaper, and they come in pretty colors! I use these pens every single day. The fact that they have two different names is SO confusing, so just make sure the ones you get say “flexible” or “brush” tip and you should be good to go!
Lefties are notoriously hard on felt-tip brush pens. We have to push them across the paper where righties pull them. It’s just a fact of life that the ends will fray, no matter how smooth your paper or how light your pressure. That’s why I recommend these for beginners. For less than the price of two Tombow Dual Brush Pens (which righties can use for months without fraying, but lefties will ruin in roughly 7.4 seconds), you get a set of markers that basically do the same thing at a fraction of the cost. It’s much less painful to ruin a $1 marker. Added bonus for those with Target stores nearby: the ones pictured above are the generic version, so they’re even cheaper!
For those of you that want the color and texture variety that paint provides, this combo is the best for beginners. These watercolors aren’t going to win any awards, but they’re super inexpensive and they do what they’re supposed to do. The Pentel Water Brush is also inexpensive, and the medium tip is easy to control. Olivia over at Random Olive is a pro with these, and she recommends starting with large letters until you get the hang of using a real brush. The best thing about water brushes is that the water is in the barrel, so you don’t have to deal with jars of water and they’re portable!
*shameless plug alert*
My Brush Lettering Practice Sheets are available to help you begin to form your letters! They are made to work perfectly with the Pentel Touches and Tombow Fudenosukes, but you can also blow up the image on your computer to use them with larger pens and water brushes. Use code BLOG10 for 10% off of the set!
And there you have it! Feel free to leave any questions for me in the comments if you have them and I’ll try my best to answer them or direct you to someone who can!