Alphabet Practice

 

Hello there! Have you been thinking of picking up brush lettering or are just getting started? You are probably wondering how you can possibly get your hand to create those beautiful, effortless (seeming) letters on Pinterest. Well, I’ve got some important tips for you. You may eventually get tired of me saying this, but the easiest way to get better at brush lettering is simply to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!

How to practice brush lettering efficiently:
-Warm up with your basic strokes.
-Practice each letter until you have a “favorite” or go-to version of that letter
-Do not shy away from letters that make you uncomfortable or that you hate. Those are the exact letters you need to focus on, keep practicing, and work to make a version that you love.
-Use different brush pens to see if there is a type of pen that you prefer or a pen that makes your style look especially good!
-Work on exiting each letter so that it’s “tail” meets at the midline. This will help you with letter connections.

In an effort to help beginners who are just learning about building letters using the basic strokes, I decided to start an alphabet tutorial on my Instagram page. Below are the images straight from this tutorial. There are arrows and numbers on each image, which show the direction the strokes are going and where I pick up the pen. This is meant to help you see how to build each individual letter!

Grab a pen, pick a letter, and get started!

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A was created with a Carmine Red Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pen. The capital A is created using the basic “n” stroke, which focuses on the transition from thin line to thick line. The lowercase a is simply a lopsided oval and tail stroke.

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B was created with an Orange (933) Tombow Dual Brush Pen. Both versions of B are whimsical and begin with a thick stem. Capital B contains a double loop, while the lowercase b includes only one loop. These are opposite of the “o” stroke because the thick side is on the opposite side. I call that stroke a “b loop” because it is the essential piece to both b’s and is a great practice stroke.

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C was created with a Yellow Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pen. Both the capital and lowercase C are created with an open lopsided “o” stroke. The lowercase c is very similar to the lowercase a – just do not close the oval.

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D was created with an Chartreuse (133) Tombow Dual Brush Pen. The capital D is similar to B, but with only one (larger) “b” loop. Lowercase d includes the same lopsided “o” stroke as a. create a beautiful stem by beginning a new stroke near the same spot the “o” stroke ends, use a thin line to move up (and out) – arch around – and move down with a thick stroke to create the stem.

 

More letters will be added as the tutorial continues on Instagram.
Be sure to follow along @lyssarts!

Her Success Does Not Threaten Mine.

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About six months ago, I was at Barnes and Noble looking through the Christian book section. I have a tendency to buy books, read the first couple of chapters, put a bookmark in, and forget about the book completely. The last five years of my life were devoted to attaining my bachelor’s degree and teaching credential, which is what I’ve credited this lack of finishing any books to. The beginning of 2017 marked the beginning of my life post-college for real. So I picked up this book – Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. I read the back of the book and flipped through the pages, it seemed like it would be such a great read – but I almost didn’t buy it. I was particularly hesitant about this book because of it’s title (such a silly reason, I know). I didn’t want to buy a book called “Uninvited” because then the cashier would probably think that I was sad and lonely. And that would just be so embarrassing. For some reason, though, I couldn’t put the book down.

I put on my biggest smile, made sure John walked up to the counter with me, and bought this book with confidence so that the cashier would know I was content (and totally get invited to stuff) – I just wanted to read this interesting book. Let’s be real, the cashier could not care less. This was all about me and how I wanted to appear super cool.

I’ve been slowly reading this book in my spare time since I purchased it and every chapter has been a blessing to my heart. I love Lysa’s style of writing – it’s clear, humorous, and filled with truth. I am all about a book that convicts me while making me giggle and this book does just that. This week I got to chapter 10, which is called “Her Success Does Not Threaten Mine”. And let me just tell you, this is a necessary chapter for us all. I thought of this calligraphy and lettering community when I got to this chapter because of the temptation to compare your handwriting, your creativity, your business ventures, and your successes with others. It’s such an ugly, pointless, and sometimes regular thing that we have a tendency to do.

I know that not all of you who follow this blog may have a relationship with Christ or know who he is, but I think that we would all benefit from this reminder and this truth. If we believe that the success of another woman, another calligrapher, another person threatens our own, we are missing out on some of the greatest joys in life. It can be so hard to step back from your own hard work and business ideas to see that someone else’s success really does not take away from our own.

Lysa uses this chapter to talk about her struggles in publishing her first book, feeling as though the women around her were experiencing so much success, and she only faced rejection letters. What she said resonated with me,

“In my better moments, I did the right thing and authentically celebrated with them. But then there were other moments. Hard moments. Moments where I felt my friends’ lives were rushing past me in a flurry of met goals, new opportunities, and affirmations of their callings from God. It seemed the world was literally passing me by” (pg. 118).

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve felt exactly what she is describing for various things. I’ve felt this for others around me getting married, having babies, finishing up their degree early, getting hired for jobs, or simply for some random achievement I didn’t even think I would have wanted to accomplish (and I most likely don’t actually want to accomplish). We find ourselves in this never-ending comparison game to be more successful, more happy, and more aesthetically pleasing on our Instagram page than others. We want people to know that we are content, loved, and totally invited to things (like me with that cashier).

She talks about the difference between having a scarcity mentality vs. an abundance mentality. This is where you really need to read the chapter for yourself. The thing she said that stood out to me the most was her mention of Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply.”

The plants weren’t limited. The animals weren’t limited. People weren’t limited. Inside each were seeds for more. This fruitful ability clearly speaks of God’s goodness and abundance. (pg. 122)

From the beginning, we were created by God who gave in abundance and does not withhold His Goodness from us.

If I look at my dreams, desires, and hopes for the future as coming from a place of scarcity and the world’s limited supply, it will constantly feed the notion that someone else’s success is a threat to mine. In other words, this person getting opportunities means less opportunity for me. (pg. 123)

And yet, we are all created uniquely by God with different gifts and talents. Some of which may not be calligraphy, painting, running, writing, or speaking in public. That is the beauty of God’s creativity in creating each of us- he did so uniquely and with a purpose. Whatever it is that you do, do it for the glory of God rather than in competition with another. I’ll end with one of my favorite things that Lysa says in this chapter,

So even as the closed doors and rejections seem more prevalent than the new opportunities you’d like to see, even as you’re seeking to readjust your thinking, remember that there is an abundant need in this world for your contributions to the kingdom…your thoughts and words and artistic expressions…your exact brand of beautiful.

So, I challenge you to a life knowing the abundance of opportunities set upon the path before you. I pray that you look beyond whatever difficulty, rejection, or uncertainty you face. Press on and continue to work hard and cheerfully in all that you do. Ask the Lord to reveal what it is that he’s created you to do (if you don’t already know). Ask the Lord to reveal the next steps that you should take, however small they may be. Know that you were created with unique, important talents that will be used to impact the world in whatever way. Don’t look to the right or to the left in an effort to see how well you are doing in comparison with others. Don’t allow the strongholds to keep you in a place of bitterness, loneliness, or jealousy.

Unfollow the people who make you feel less than. Pray to have a better attitude toward those who have the successes or opportunities that you dream of. Pray for the Lord to reveal his purpose for your life. Lean in close with Jesus and with trustworthy friends who will push you further toward His goodness.

Don’t be afraid to buy a book because you think it will make you look lonely. Be a real, authentic person. Work alongside the Lord in your heart so that you can genuinely feel joy for the happiness and successes of those around you. I would love to hear from you in whatever it is that may be weighing you down or if you’ve felt the same way that I have. Be sure to COMMENT below with stories from your own journey. Creativity is a blessing and a gift, but it comes with many doubts and insecurities. Remember that your creative expressions are necessary and meant to be shared. Keep sharing, keep working, and keep seeking Jesus.

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How to get your letters to have that bounce.

Some of you have started to notice a trend in calligraphy that is not always discussed at a beginner level. And that is the bouncing letters.

Many calligraphers train their students to write all letters on a straight baseline focusing on making the letters consistently sized. This is a great way to master a consistent style, but as you begin to get the hang of calligraphing every letter- it’s time to add some excitement to your lettering. This is where “bouncy letters” come in.

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It is important that you have already been practicing your alphabet and are working toward creating consistent letter forms before fully focusing on the bouncing style of your letters. You want to be able to create a natural flow as you are writing your letters. When you give bounce to your letters, it should be free flowing and connect your letters in a visually appealing way.

Here are my steps toward creating that bounce:

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When you are creating a piece or practicing, think about the whole word or phrase that you are writing. Are there a lot of tall letters or short letters? Is there a good mixture of tall & short letters? Focus on making all of the letters “fit” into the look for the whole piece. The “bouncy” look is an attempt to balance out words and phrases with varying ascenders and descenders. You want all of your words and letters to fit into the piece and work together.

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The number one way to create that bouncy look is simply to offset tall and short letters. The best example is in the word “letters” written in the picture above. The letters l and t are considered tall letters, while e is a tiny little letter. Because of this, I tend to place the e at about the midpoint of those letters so that it balances the word out a little bit and makes the tall letters a little bit less tall. This may not come naturally or easily, but the more that you practice you’ll find it becomes easier to accomplish!

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Here’s another thing that I’ve noticed about some of my bouncier letters: they are very close together. They don’t have to be close together, but I feel that this creates a more balanced and bouncy look! Scrunch the letters together horizontally and balance them out vertically (those tall & short offsets!). This will create a well-balanced piece that is visually appealing! I like to make my smaller letters even smaller and squish them between the tall letters. This is the look that works for me!

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Most importantly, though, what’s the whole point of bouncy letters? The purpose is to create a balanced, fun, and imperfect look in your lettering. This means that you need to enjoy it and embrace the imperfections. It isn’t supposed to look perfectly planned or space exactly the right way (especially not the first time!). Make sure you have fun with the words and letters. It may take your four or five tries to get one word correct, but that’s how many it takes me sometimes as well! It’s not about being perfect right away, but continuing to work hard and creating something beautiful!

These are my tips for creating a bounce in your lettering. You may try these tips and find that this doesn’t work for creating the bouncy letters that you enjoy. Something I love about calligraphy is the fact that every individual does it a little bit differently, which creates so many different styles.

What would you do differently? Tell us in the comments below!

A Beginning Letterer’s Christmas Wishlist

I’m going to make a little assumption about you based upon your finding of this blog post. You’ve recently picked up the art of calligraphy. I’m excited for you, I truly am. Calligraphy has been one of the most relaxing parts of my life over the last couple of years. I recommend it to anyone who has the patience to rewrite the same letter over fifty times in order to master it.

Since you’re just getting started, though, you may be overwhelmed when your mom so kindly asks for your Christmas wish list. I thought I would help you out a little bit. Here are some items that I would recommend for someone who is just getting started in calligraphy.

A Beginning Letterer’s Christmas Wishlist

Brush Calligraphy

Pentel Fude Touch

Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Tip

Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens

Rhodia Notepad

Beginner Brush Lettering Kit

Modern Calligraphy

Speedball Straight Pen Holder

Higgins Eternal Black Ink

Nikko G Nib

Brause Steno Pen Nib

Rhodia Notepad

These are the inexpensive starter items that I would get if I were to start either of these hobbies again. None of these links are affiliate links, by the way, I just love these websites. All of the items on these lists are things that I still use regularly to do calligraphy.

Extra Fun Items

Pentel Aquash Water Brush

Tombow Dual Brush Pens

Pentel Color Brush

Ashley Bush Custom Pen Holder

Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleedproof White Ink

Rhodia Dot Pad

Where should/can I purchase these items?

Jet Pens

Paper Ink Arts

Amazon

Hobby Lobby

Blick

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Step Four: Get Started Working on Letter Connections

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Did you miss the last post? Click here to go back!

Get Started Working on Letter Connections

In the last post, we talked about using the basic strokes to begin forming letters. Practicing your basic strokes and letters is about the best thing that you can do to improve your lettering and get more comfortable with it.

Lately, I have a lot of people who ask me how to connect letters together and make words have good spacing or look consistent together!

One of the important things to realize and remember about lettering is that it is not the same as cursive.When we write in cursive, we write quickly & do not lift our pen from the paper unless we are starting a new word. When we do calligraphy, we lift the pen between each and every stroke- even multiple times within the same letter. Calligraphy is not as quick as cursive by any means!

The picture below should give a visual representation of each time your pen should lift while you are writing the word “hello” – the little x’s divide up each individual stroke. You may also notice that across the word the little x marks almost line up into a line because you want your exit strokes for each letter to be at about the mid-line level. This will help you to connect the letters a little bit better & more consistently throughout your words.

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The x marks show where I lift the pen between & during each individual letter.

The letters shown above & below are more spaced out than they would normally be to emphasize the different places to pick up the pen. I think that it helps to see the different connection points – while you are practicing this I would challenge you to actually space out your letters like this prior to writing the word as you would like to. This will help your brain to get in the habit of picking up the pen between strokes/letters. It’s a foreign concept, especially if you are a frequent user of cursive!

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The x’s within the word “hello” seem to all be about on the same line- but in the word “welcome” it is not quite linear!

I hope that this has been a helpful post in helping you to start figuring out how to connect your letters together- a bit part of it is learning how to lift your pen between strokes and where to lift the pen at! As your exit strokes become more consistent & meet in the middle of the word- you will start to see your letter connections improve!

Materials:

Crayola Markers*

What’s next?!
COMING SOON!

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 *Affiliate links are used in this post.

The TWO things you need to start lettering!

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When you first start lettering it can seem overwhelming to see all the different kinds of brush pens & supplies that are circulating out there.
What do I actually need to get started?

When I first started lettering I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on supplies, but I wanted to try different pens. The brush pens that I was able to find were not very cheap and I had a really hard time using them. A lot of the pens available at local stores were very difficult to manage and I thought that I would not be able to do brush lettering at all.

Now that I have been lettering for over a year, I feel like I’m able to give beginners a pretty good idea of the supplies that they will need to get started with!

ONE. A brush pen or two.
I think the temptation is to purchase multiple brush pens of all different kinds because you are excited about getting started. I can’t blame you for that because I definitely did the same thing. The downside to this is that you are more likely to ruin your brush pens because you haven’t quite learned how to hold them or use them yet. I recommend buying one or two brush pens to get started with and/or even beginning with a Crayola marker!
Click on the photo below to find what I think are the three best pens for beginners:

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TWO. Soft paper!
Once you have some brush pens, it is important to take great care of them! The Tombow Dual Brush Pens* are often some of the most popular pens around, but they are easily frayed and can be ruined just by writing on one wrong sheet of paper. The best paper that I can recommend to you are the Rhodia Notepads*. The paper is quite possibly the smoothest you’ll ever feel and comes in many different sizes. These are available in blank, dot grid, and grid styles!

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Once you have started to learn how to hold the pen, practice basic strokes, and begin to feel comfortable when building your letters THEN you should move toward buying some more brush pens. There are a lot of things out there on the market that it may feel like you NEED, but if you are looking to try a new hobby and spend the smallest amount of cash possible- I recommend buying a brush pen and a dot pad to get yourself ready!

Beyond those items, you may want to purchase an online class or a lettering guide to help you learn the basics. You can also look for calligraphy workshops within your local area!

*This post includes affiliate links.

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Brush Pen Spotlight: Zig Clean Color

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In my last post I listed what I think are three of the best brush pens for beginning letterers. Click here to check that out if you want to see!

I thought I would highlight some of my favorite things about each of these pens by doing brush pen spotlights!

First up is the Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pen (longest name ever, I know).

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The tip of this pen is made with actual bristles – so you are able to get a very brush-like look without having to dip your “brush” into ink over and over. How you use the pen controls the amount of white space is included in your lettering.

Something that I LOVE about this pen is the fact that you can create so many different styles with this one pen. Your lines can be thick or thin, fully pigmented or given a brushed texture, and there are plenty of colors to choose from!

Here are some examples of the various types of lettering that can be achieved using the same pen (simply in different colors):

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The whole reason letterers tend to buy a lot of different kinds of brush pens is to get a new look in their lettering. That’s what makes this pen so amazing! In one single pen, there are so many different styles of letters possible!

The way to create such different letters?
– Vary in the amount of pressure used on your down strokes.
– Use a greater/lesser area of the (side of the) brush tip when creating strokes
– Leave more space between your letters
– Write slowly so that the pigment flows evenly throughout your letters (for more of a pen look)
– Write quickly, not waiting for the ink to catch up to get more of a brush look to the lettering (see red letters above writing “brush” for an example of this)

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Now, these pens are called Zig Clean Colors- so I know you’d expect there to be a lot of different colors. These colors are vibrant and very fun, as well!

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You can purchase a set of 12 pens like the one that I have for the variety shown above – minus the black pen, which is also included!

Like I said in the previous post, this pen was a unanimous favorite among my friends who were beginners interested in trying out different brush pens. It’s size is a big reason why it’s so easy to learn with. This pen is quite small in comparison to other brush pens and the tip is short. The shorter the tip of a pen, the easier it is for beginners to manage (for the most part). It will help you to master the muscle memory of lettering. These pens aren’t only for beginners, though. As you begin to increase in your lettering knowledge, it becomes more fun to play with them and see what different styles you are able to create!

What do you think of the Zig Clean Color’s? Have you tried them already? Or do you think there is a better beginner pen out there? Let me know!

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The THREE best brush pens for beginners.

The Best Brush Pens For Beginners

One of the questions that I get asked the most frequently is, “What are the best brush pens for beginners?”. I thought I would help you guys out and show you the three brush pens that I think are the best for beginners and some reasons why I think so! You may already have seen that I think it’s easiest (and cheapest!) to start lettering with the Crayola markers you may already have around at home- but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have brush pen recommendations!

The Best Brush Pens for Beginners

  1. Pentel Fude Touch
    The Best Brush Pens for Beginners

    This is my absolute #1 favorite brush pen that I will recommend very first if you ask me this question. Why? Because this pen is small & easy to manage, but it creates beautiful letters. I love that I can write more words in a smaller area because of this little pen! The tip is firm enough that it is great for beginners, but still has a brush pen’s flexibility. The size makes it easy to manage & it even comes in various colors if you’re looking to try something different!
  2. Zig Clean Color
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    This brush pen was a total surprise to me. I had never heard of it, but I received a 12-pack of them for Christmas! I loved that they came in so many colors, they are small, and they have real bristles for the tip! It’s like using a brush, but you never have to dip it back into the ink. You can many different styles of lettering out of this vibrant pen! I had a group of friends over to try out all of the different kinds of brush pens that I have and this was most often the favorite!
  3. Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Tip
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    This brush pen is similar to the Pentel Fude Touch (#1), but comes in both Soft Tip or Hard Tip. I have not tried the hard tip, but I do love the soft tip! This pen is almost the exact same size as the Pentel, but the tip is just slightly bigger. I like that it is small & easy to use, especially for beginners. It allows for beginners to get a handle on the way to hold the pen and what kind of pressure to use without fear of bending the tip because it’s so small. This pen can handle a lot of the pressure of you learning a new skill and won’t get ruined if you make a few beginner mistakes!Hopefully these mini-descriptions have been helpful so that you can hear about three different pens that you probably see most often on my Instagram page!

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Create Letters with the Basic Strokes

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Did you miss the last post? Click here to go back.

I’m sure you know by now that I find the practice of basic strokes very important. The reason for this is the fact that they will help you as you begin to create your letters!

Let’s get started! All you need is a Crayola marker and some blank paper.
The first basic stroke that we are going to focus on is the circle. You may be thinking it’s just an “o”, but it is the base of a lot of letters in the alphabet!

Start out your lettering practice with a half page of the “o” basic stroke. Don’t skip this part because it will help warm up your hand! You can do other basic strokes as well if you want extra credit (and practice). Don’t forget to hold the marker at an angle! You want those thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes (tired of hearing that yet?).

Okay, now that you’ve practiced here are some letters that you can start building with this “o” basic stroke:

a, b, c, d, e, g, o, p, and q.

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In the picture above I tried to show the various strokes that each letter is made out of. Your lettering style may look different than mine, but you can use this example as a guide to building your own alphabet. The great thing about lettering is that everyone’s writing is unique and beautiful in its own way! Don’t worry about your letters looking like mine, just focus on creating your own unique alphabet!
NOTE: b and p will have the thick downstroke on the right side rather than the left, which is a little bit of a different basic stroke that you may need to practice as well!

I would advise you that if you are feeling overwhelmed or annoyed with these letters to pick ONE letter to focus on this week and practice that letter only. You can create the letter various ways or work to get it exactly how you envision it in your mind. Don’t forget the importance of practicing your basic strokes so that your letters will look beautiful! I can’t wait to see your letters – if you post to Instagram please tag me (@lyssarts) on your practice!

What’s next?!
Get Started Working on Letter Connections
LetterConnections

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Lettering with Crayola Markers.

Did you miss the first step? Click here to start with step one!

So, you’ve got your Crayola markers* now. And I know what you were thinking…I had no idea that you could letter with Crayola markers when I first started! I thought that you had to have fancy brush pens to even remotely start brush lettering!

SO. Go grab those Crayola markers again. This time you’re going to create a few different kinds of strokes. These are the strokes that are a tiny little piece of the Beginner Brush Lettering Kit. You’re going to start with those first thin & thick strokes that I mentioned and then move to some new strokes!

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Now, I thought that perhaps you’re wondering HOW to create those thin and thick lines with a Crayola marker. I was right there with you, too! BUT hopefully this will help you.

When you are creating a THICK line you want to angle the pen (like shown in the photo below) so that a greater area of the pen will be touching the paper! You don’t want to use the tip and push the tip down for a thicker line- this won’t work as you will probably just bleed through the paper! If you tip the pen to the side, you’ll naturally be able to create a thicker line because there is a greater area to work with!

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When you are creating a THIN line you can use the tip of the Crayola marker!

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So, here’s another important tip about lettering…

You do NOT need to be writing fast. The pace of lettering is much slower than writing in cursive. You can take your time transitioning between those thin and thick strokes. Take your time creating each letter (we will talk about building letters soon, but not quite yet!). Don’t feel like you need to write fast when you are lettering because it is actually a much slower process than you might think!

AND most important of all, be nice to yourself! You are learning something new and you won’t become a professional overnight! Have some grace with yourself and enjoy the process of learning a new skill. Have some of your friends join you in learning this new skill & encourage each other as you finally start to like the lines (or letters!) you create!

What’s next?!
Use the Basic Strokes to Build Letters
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