Brush lettering has become super popular lately due to the interest in Modern Calligraphy styles of writing. Even traditional signwriting has become cool again which I love! In this technologically driven world more businesses are wanting to show authenticity in their brand and are using 'hand made' techniques like hand lettering to do so.
Brush lettering is essentially using a paint brush to write letters. It may sound simple but don't expect to just pick up a brush and be able to write perfectly straight away. There are many skills you need to learn to get the results you want to see from the brush. Similarly to calligraphy there are also two types of brushes - pointed and flat. Each brush creates different lettering looks and is controlled in different ways. I'm also going to introduce you to some modern 'paintbrush' products which make brush lettering even easier.
POINTED/FLAT PAINT BRUSH
Actual paint brushes are the most obvious and traditional brushes used to create brush lettering. There are many different brands and types of brushes of which I am yet to master. Admittedly paint brushes are the brush tool I use least, mainly because there are so many options at art stores that I get overwhelmed and don't know which one to choose. I've just started some flat brush lessons though which are really fun and have encouraged me to become more confident when using them.
Taking care of your brushes is very important as the best quality ones can be quite expensive to buy. You have to be very careful not to mess with the shape of the bristles as it will make it extremely hard to make nice letters. Don't let the brush get squished, frayed or clogged up with paint! All calligraphy alphabets can be mimicked using a brush. Pointed brushes are used to create pointed pen letters and flat brushes are best for broad nib letters. Each type is used in a similar way to its calligraphic counterpart. You can get long or short handled brushes but I find short handled brushes are easier to control.
Brush pens are essentially a paint brush combined with a pen. The best advantage of using a brush pen is that you don't have to dip your brush into ink all of the time - it's a lot quicker to use! Brush pens only come with a pointed brush tip and you use it like a pointed pen nib, applying more pressure on downstrokes to get the thicker lines. You will find that some brush pens are refillable which is a lot more economical. Only some brush pen styles will come in a variety of colours (but you will have to buy one of each colour you like) and some even have glitter mixed in with the ink to add an extra shimmer to your writing.
Over the past couple of years I have seen, bought and tried numerous brush pens and they vary a lot! The main differences are in flexibilty, colour and size. I found that a lot weren't great so when you find one that works for you keep using it! My favourites are the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (GFKP) for larger letters and the Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen - Soft for smaller letters.
Waterbrushes are an awesome recent invention from Japan. They were originally designed to use with watercolour pencils whereby you fill the pen with water and brush it over the pencil colouring to create a watercolour artwork. However they also work really well for brush lettering. You can either keep the brush filled with water and dip it into ink or onto a watercolour palette or I have even just straight up filled the brush with ink.
The brush has synthetic bristles which makes it very durable. I've had mine for a while now and the brush tip is still in perfect shape. They are also great for travelling with. I own two different waterbrushes, the Pentel Aquash Water Brush - Medium and the Kuretake Water Brush - Small Compact Size. There's only one reason why I prefer the Pentel brush - it's easier to fill up. Waterbrushes are best when being used for watercolour brush lettering.
One of the main reasons I love brush lettering is that the final lettering shapes are quite unpredictable. I enjoy embracing imperfections in my work as that's what makes each letter unique! You can also get some very expressive results, especially when you are working with a drier brush. Have fun exploring different alphabets and make sure you try inventing your own lettering styles!