My Top 5 Creative Tools For Hand Lettering
Since starting my hand lettering journey properly in 2018, I’ve found that over time I’ve become reliant on a particular set of tools to help me get from sketch to final piece.
Let’s jump right into it!
Dot Grid Notebook
Rhodia, Moleskine, Leuchtturm 1917, Scribbles That Matter, Nuuna… The list goes on for the different types of sketchbooks and notebooks I’ve tried over the past year (hi I'm Dom, and I'm a stationery addict). For absolute beginners, I would recommend purchasing a cheaper sketchbook like the Rhodia DotPads for practice purposes, then explore the more expensive side once you feel more confident with your drawing.
My go-to right now is a large dotted Moleskine notebook, but as the paper is on a thinner side than what I would like, I’ll be moving to a Scribbles That Matters dot grid notebook soon (which has superior/thicker paper).
The main reason I use dot grid paper is that the dots offer me more structure when drawing than plain paper, and they’re less obtrusive and more subtle compared to squared (graph) paper or lined paper.
Mechanical Pencil / Palomino Blackwing Pencil
Papermate mechanical pencil - Cheap mechanical pencils are a great starting point as I use them for very rough sketches, and don’t need to worry about sharpening them regularly. I would recommend the Papermate HB mechanical pencils as come in a pack of 12.
Palomino Blackwing pencils - If you prefer drawing with regular pencils, these are a dream to draw with! I only found out about them fairly recently, but they’ve quickly become a staple in my toolkit due to how nice they are. There are quite a few different versions, but the main three are the Blackwing (soft lead), the Blackwing 602 (firm lead) and the Blackwing Pearl (medium lead). They are definitely on the more expensive side compared to your everyday regular pencils, but I think they’re worth it as a portion of every Blackwing sale benefits arts and music education, which is super cool in my eyes!
Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens
If you want to learn brush pen lettering, this is always the top pen you will see recommended for beginners. You can buy them in a two-pack (a hard nib and a soft nib). I recommend using the hard nib if you’re a beginner as it is less flexible and easier to control when trying script/calligraphy lettering. They’re also now available in a range of different colours so you don’t need to stick to all black everything if that’s your jam.
iPad Pro & Accessories
When I completed 30 days out of my 100 Days of Lettering project last year, I treated myself to a 9.7 inch iPad with 32gb of storage. As I was creating all of my work for share online only, the low storage didn’t matter too much as I saved everything in Dropbox anyway, and it was the most affordable iPad for me at the time. However as the months have gone on and lettering has become a bigger passion for me with prints and client work becoming important milestones, I needed a serious storage upgrade so recently got a new iPad Pro 2018 with 256GB.
The new Apple Pencil is a godsend and is a much more improved version of the previous Pencil. It connects magnetically to the iPad (eliminating the need for an extra pencil holder), and it also feels more like a real pencil, making it easier to hold for longer periods of time.
A matte screen protector is an absolute game changer. It helps to give the Apple Pencil a lot more grip when drawing or writing (like a regular pencil on paper), and it helps to reduce some of the screen glare you get from the original glass.
This is THE number one app I use for lettering, hands down.
When I first started using Procreate, I didn’t find it too difficult to get my head around the different gestures, buttons and editing options as there are a number of tutorial videos available on Youtube. There’s also an official Artist’s Handbook created by the Procreate team that you can download for free from their website, plus they post a lot of mini tips and tricks on their Instagram page which is pretty cool.
With Procreate, the ability to mimic real pens, pencils and textures comes to life with the use of brushes. This can easily be a whole blog post of its own so I won’t overload you with all of my favourite resources for now, but Procreate does come with a really good set of default brushes you can try before venturing into the world of buying new ones.
If you’re a lettering artist, what are some of your favourite tools?