You’re a hand lettering beginner, sitting down at your desk to letter with your brush pens and paper. You start lettering, but you are struggling to keep your lines straight, and you think, I wish there was a tool to help me with that. Well, it turns out there is a tool for that! Plus, many other hand lettering supplies for beginners that you may not have thought of!
Let me show you 10 hand lettering supplies besides brush pens you need to know about as a beginner.
If you’re new here, I’m Sarah from Ennsign Insights, and I often teach that you can learn to letter with exactly what you have, even if that’s only a pencil and paper. But if there’s something you’ve been struggling with, there may be a tool that can help you! Let’s get into it.
Hand Lettering Supplies for Beginners #1: Laser Level
This tool is awesome because you turn it on and have a straight line to go by. This has helped my lettering so much! I used to draw lines to get straight lines that I would have to erase after and that took forever. I know a lot of people use laser levels when lettering on envelopes for weddings. You could also use it for much larger lettering like a big sign. The laser level I have is by Black and Decker, not even related to calligraphy at all. I love it. This is a must have for anyone who wants to get straight lines in their lettering.
Hand Lettering Supplies for Beginners #2: Light Pad
When I first started lettering, I realized that it would be so helpful if I could just trace what I was doing instead of sketching it on a brand new piece of paper. I didn’t know that light pads were a thing, so I would turn my laptop on its side. That was a little clunky with my laptop, but it worked. Later on, I learned about a light pad and found so many cheap ones on Amazon. I’m happy to have this because it comes in handy to sketch the final piece without needing to erase it. I’ve also used my light pad to trace, and that’s especially helpful when I letter something on my iPad in the Procreate app. Then I can trace it on my paper. I would definitely say a light pad is worth having!
Hand Lettering Supplies for Beginners #3: Clear Pen Storage
My pens often used to sit in containers, and I didn’t know what was in them. It makes it harder to use them when you can’t see what you have! I’ve gone through several desk declutters in the past few months to try to figure out a system that works for me. I wanted to store my pens in neat little clear bags, so I searched and searched for something that would work. Luckily, I found a few different sizes to meet my needs. I haven’t seen anyone else do this, but it works for me. Additionally, I have clear drawers on top of my desk for the pens I use most often, and it is perfect. One last item of clear storage I use is a container that can hold multiple pens. I currently have some fineliners in here so they can be stored together. This is a lot bigger than my perfect-sized bags, so it’s not the best for travel. But with how many pens I have, I need a variety of options. No matter what kind of storage works for you, having something clear is a must!
Hand Lettering Supplies for Beginners #4: Paper Cutter
I can’t tell you how often I use this, so it lives right next to my desk. I got a paper trimmer really early on, and I’m so glad I did. You can use it to cut larger paper into the size you want or trim down a piece that you’ve already made. Using a paper cutter means you don’t have to draw your line and then try to cut straight with scissors. Although I will say, it’s also helpful to always have scissors on hand. You never know when you’re going to need to use them. As for a paper cutter, I rarely do large hand lettering pieces that fill an entire 9×12 inch page, so I normally cut into four smaller pieces. I got my paper cutter at Hobby Lobby, and it was totally worth it. There are some on Amazon for really great prices, too, if that’s something you think will help you!
Hand Lettering Supplies for Beginners #5: Ruler
Any regular ruler will do when you are learning how to hand letter as a beginner. My ruler lives next to my paper cutter by my desk. Since I have a laser level, I don’t have to use it to draw straight lines. Sometimes I want to measure the exact center of the paper or measure how big I want my margins to be. Or I want each line of lettering to be a certain distance from each other. Having a ruler is super helpful for this!
Hand Lettering Supplies for Beginners #6: Helix Circle Maker
I know this one is a bit random, but it is really helpful. I used to search my cupboards for just the right-size cup to trace a circle for the size I needed. The cup method works but doesn’t always give you precisely the circle you need. This circle maker has all different sizes, so it’s perfect. Have you ever seen a circle maker? I like to use it to make rainbows because I can get the different sizes I need with the same curve. So this one might not be your first priority to have, but it’s certainly a bonus!
Hand Lettering Supplies for Beginners #7: A Kneaded Eraser
I used to think I was good with just a regular eraser, which is fine for normal erasing. But you know when you have sketched out your lettering piece with a pencil, and then you go over it with brush pens, but your pencil shows through? You still try to erase it, but the pencil won’t erase under the ink? Yeah, that’s why you want a kneaded eraser. Because it’s soft, you can just touch the paper or rub it gently, and it will erase most of the pencil, leaving just enough to see. I wasn’t ever able to do that with a regular eraser. It’s also more gentle, so it won’t tear the paper like other erasers. If you are pencil sketching directly on your final piece, a kneaded eraser is a must.
Hand Lettering Supplies for Beginners #8: Washi Tape
Do you use washi tape? I don’t think you even need a reason to get washi tape. The fact that it’s so cute is enough, right? But I actually use washi tape a lot. I mostly use washi tape when I’m doing watercolor backgrounds for my lettering. I like to tape down my paper with washi tape to get a really crisp edge, and I don’t have a problem with tearing the paper when I take it off. It’s also great to use if you are going to leave certain areas white. I also love using this skinny washi tape to do mosaic designs or stripes. I got a huge pack of skinny washi tape on Amazon, and it’s the best. You do have to be careful with washi tape because once you buy one, you’re going to love it so much and want to buy all the washi tape!
Hand Lettering Supplies for Beginners #9: Palette
When you’re blending or doing watercolor backgrounds, a palette is helpful. I use mine all the time! You can do several blending techniques with a palette, including the swipe blend, where you lay down some ink and then swipe another color through. You can also lay down your ink and use it like it’s watercolor. If you don’t have a palette, you could also use a little dish or even a plastic bag. But you’ll want some kind of smooth surface to be able to use your brush pens for blending or backgrounds.
Hand Lettering Supplies for Beginners #10: A Water brush
You might think, well why not a paint brush? Let me tell you. To get nice blends or backgrounds, you will want a water brush. You can use a paint brush too, but you also have to get a jar of water and risk having too much water on your paint brush to blend. A water brush has the water right in it, and I have found that it can keep the bristle just wet enough. I know different brands might work differently, but I really love my Pentel aquash and my Kuretake water brushes. I have all three sizes of each. If you want to try watercolor lettering, a water brush can help with the transition because the bristles are a little more firm and easier to control than a regular paint brush. I am always reaching for my water brush when I am sitting down to practice hand lettering.
I’d love to hear what supplies you use in your hand lettering besides brush pens and paper. After hearing my 10 hand lettering supplies for beginners, would you add anything, or did I cover all of them? If there’s something you love that I haven’t thought of, leave it in the comments since it might help someone else!