I’ve been constantly asked about the materials I use as a hand letterer, and while I have shared some of the weapons of mass creation that make my lettering pieces come alive, I’m doing an update to let you guys in on some tools I currently use.
A year of freelancing has opened many opportunities for me to further enhance my craft and know which materials are essential for my work. Although it’s only been a year and I have more to learn, I hope this post will be adequate enough for aspiring letterers out there who are planning to start this out as a hobby. Freelancing at a young age is hard, promise – I’m not discouraging you, but it took a lot of effort to work especially if you’re like me who started this thing as a student. I suggest taking it slow first and making it a hobby to not put too much pressure on yourself.
Anyway, I’m not here to sermon about lettering in general so let’s move on to the materials I use. :)
Ever since I started doodling in high school, I’ve always had my stash of fine liners in different points: 0.2, 0.5, and 0.8. These three are I think the most appropriate points if you want to achieve a variety of weights, especially in lettering, and to achieve certain effects such as shadows, outlines, banners and the like.
Some works of mine which uses fine liners. Most of these include daily drafting and Sketchography outputs.
I am a loyal Uni fine liner user, but on occasion I try out other brands like Pilot, Micron and Artline, which are equally as good (just a bit more expensive). Either way, they’re all manufactured in Japan so they are really of good quality.
For cursive and smoother lettering projects, I use brush and calligraphy pens. My brand preference is usually Artline for calligraphy pens but for brush pens, sometimes I buy from Daiso (I bought some during my trip to Hokkaido) and try out different brands I see – as long as it fits with my budget. If you’re looking for a particular brand of brush pens, try Zig. It also comes in a variety of shades so it’s pretty fun to work with.
I love how brush pens are super smooth on paper. Usually I do freehand lettering with brush pens and try to control my hand when I write.
For watercolors, it’s always Prang. Many people have asked me this and I really recommend Prang especially if you’re like me who was a total newbie to watercolor back then. Apart from its good quality, it’s pretty affordable and you can find it in the nearest bookstore. I’ve yet to try other brands although I’m eyeing on Sakura for my next purchase.
I’m not much into using coloring materials except watercolor, but I recently purchased Copic markers and they’re really a good investment. I got Copic Ciao, which is a brush pen on one end and a highlighter tip on the other. They come in a variety of shades but they’re pretty pricey (around P200 per pen) so better choose colors that you will be using often. Copic also has a blending marker which helps blend colors. Not really in line with my lettering work but if you’re interested in coloring illustrations, best to visit Singapore and probably Japan to get your share of Copic markers.
In Manila, Dong-A Playon Color is a nice and cheaper alternative. I use it a lot because of the thick and thin twin tip and the color range is enough for me.
Believe it or not, I don’t usually pencil my work first! I have a separate draft notebook for practicing so most of the pencil work is there, but when I do use pencil, I’m not that picky with brands. I usually use random mechanical pencils I find at home or even Mongol. Anything goes, as long as it does its job. Same with erasers – as long as it does its job of erasing well, I’m good.
I use a Muji dotted notebook for initial inputs and my Nuuna as a visual journal. For painting, I use Berkeley & Canson watercolor pads, whichever. I am not picky and brand conscious with sketch pads just as long as the paper quality is good and the price is average.
It’s a long process I have of my work but basically I use these for what I do. It will vary from person to person depending on factors so if I were you, do some canvassing first to find materials that suit your preferences. :)