Are you starting to learn hand lettering? The basics of how to hold a brush pen for hand lettering makes a huge difference! Lettering is different from cursive in many ways, one being that we don’t use a regular pen. Instead, we use a brush pen. Because a brush pen is different, there are different techniques to keep in mind when it comes to holding the brush pen. I will show you how these simple brush pen techniques will help your lettering improve quickly.
I get asked a lot of questions that could be solved by holding the brush pen correctly. I’m not talking about the way you wrap your fingers around the pen. That is such a personal preference so let your fingers hold the pen how it feels comfortable to you. When it comes to the pen in relation to the paper, that’s a different story. A brush pen works because it is flexible and allows you to get thick downstrokes as you give your pen more pressure. If you hold your pen at the wrong angle, it’s not going to do what you want it to.
Read on for diagrams of what I’m talking about. I also have a video with demos and in-depth examples. Watch it here:
How to Hold a Brush Pen for Hand Lettering
Brush Pen Technique 1:
Angle your brush pen so it’s about a 45-degree angle to the paper, not straight up and down. If you hold it straight up and down, you may ruin your nib, and you also won’t be able to get the full amount of pressure. If you hold your pen at the correct angle, the pen will work with you to get the right thickness of downstrokes.
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Brush Pen Technique 2:
Next, hold your pen so it’s perpendicular to the downstrokes. If your pen isn’t perpendicular, you will get saggy bottoms because your pen may be dragging in the wrong places. You could be doing everything else right and wondering why your lettering doesn’t look good. It could be that you simply need to hold the pen perpendicular to the downstrokes.
When you hold the pen correctly, it will be working with you, not against you. You want to let your pen do the work, you are just guiding it. Once you hold the pen correctly, it will be easier to master the 3 Basic Hand Lettering Rules for Beginners. In the end, it just takes a lot of practice!
Hand Lettering for Lefties
I’m not a lefty so all I know is from my lefty lettering friends and students I’ve taught. What I’ve seen is that these lettering techniques still apply to lefties just on the other side. Instead of pulling the pen, you are pushing the pen most of the time. For righties who have a hard time with the oval (Hand Lettering the Basic Strokes), it might be because we’re pushing the pen instead of pulling it like in most of the other strokes. This is how lefties feel for almost all of the other strokes. As a lefty, you may have to find the right position for your hand that works for you without smudging. These techniques still apply just flipped to the other side. It’s how a brush pen works.
This is a sample lesson of something I teach in my online course Hand Lettering for Beginners. You could complete the course in less than 2 hours and it comes with a workbook and video lessons. The purpose was to have an online resource with everything I teach in my in-person workshops for those who don’t live nearby. You may be an absolute beginner or you may know a little about lettering. In the course, you will go from a beginner to knowing everything you need to move forward in your lettering.
Were these brush pen techniques helpful? Are there any other things that I missed?
If you are still looking for more hand lettering techniques, download my free Beginner’s Guide to Learn Hand Lettering. I show you five simple things I wish I knew when I started hand lettering. You will also find some helpful lettering worksheets. Download the free guide.