Resource List for Learning Calligraphy and Hand Lettering
After a 2-month hiatus I’m finally practicing my calligraphy and hand lettering again. I have been feeling uninspired for a while and just put off practicing totally and it was, of course, a terrible mistake. I was reminded of my tagline for the year which is Pursue Passion, Not Perfection and decided to start practicing again and sharing some of my works even when they are far from perfect.
I’ve also been thinking about sharing a resource list for learning calligraphy and hand lettering in Singapore because I have been receiving a number of queries on this topic. I remember when I was first picking up calligraphy and hand lettering, I was totally clueless what supplies I should start with and where to get them. Hence, I’ve decided to spend some time drafting this post to share with anyone who is thinking of learning calligraphy and hand lettering. I also thought it will be easier for me to drop this link when someone asks me about learning calligraphy and hand lettering rather than typing out all my recommendations haphazardly!
I will be sharing the resource list in 2 parts, modern (or pointed pen) calligraphy and brush lettering (or brush calligraphy), because they require rather different supplies. I picked up pointed pen calligraphy first and moved on to brush calligraphy, which I thought was more intimidating. After trying brush calligraphy, I really grew to love it because it is more forgiving and I love the organic look that water color gives. More about that later. For now, let’s dive write in!
Modern/ Pointed Pen Calligraphy
For pointed pen calligraphy, your writing instrument will be a pen holder, a nib and a pot of ink. You will also need suitable paper to write on. Here’s my recommended list:
|Items||Recommended for Beginners||Remarks|
|Pen Holder||Speedball Pen Holder||I’m a right-hander and I use the oblique holder which I find more comfortable since we write in a slant.
I must say being a plastic pen holder, this isn’t the most comfortable pen holder to use for long hours of practicing. It is good to have in a starter kit because it is less pricey. I now prefer using the wooden oblique pen holders which I received last Christmas.
|Nibs||Nikko G Nibs||Nikko G nibs are widely recommended as the best nibs for beginners as they have medium flexibility and are easier to control for beginners experimenting with the amount of pressure to apply.|
|Ink||Sumi Ink/ Higgins Eternal||Both are great to use, but I find Sumi ink leaving a shinier sheen when it dries compared to Higgins.|
|Paper||Layout Bond Paper/ HP Premium Choice Laser 32lb||To practice pointed pen calligraphy you will want to make sure that you are doing it on smooth paper that doesn’t catch your nibs and doesn’t bleed with the ink you use. I like using layout bond paper for practicing as they are semi-transparent which works great if you are starting out because you can place a template beneath the sheet and concentrate on practicing your strokes.
Another highly recommended paper choice is the HP Premium Choice Laser 32lb – super smooth and really value for money! You can easily print guides and templates on it for practicing too.
All these items can be easily found at Strait Arts Co. (my favourite place to shop for calligraphy needs) and Amazon. The last time I visited Artfriend some months ago, I noticed they also carry some calligraphy nibs but you have to ask the cashier/ counter staff about it before they bring out the box.
Brush Calligraphy/ Lettering
My current obsession is with brush calligraphy/ lettering and have been practicing this a lot more often than my pointed pen calligraphy. For brush calligraphy/ lettering, I’ll further separate it into 2 types – Brush Marker and Watercolour.
Brush Marker Calligraphy
|Items||Recommended for Beginners||Remarks|
|Brush Marker||Zig Brushables (Popular – Marine Parade, Tokyu Hands)
Tombow Dual Brush Pens (Times Bookstore – Punggol Waterway Point; Takashimaya S.C. – B1 stationary section)
|I have mostly been using my Zig Brushables sets for my brush lettering because I love how each sets comes in a gradient of colours which makes blending easy. It was also more easily available when I was first trying out brush lettering.
Tombow Dual Brush Pens are featured on many of the brush lettering tutorials I watch on IG and Youtube. I’ve been wanting to try them but they were not readily available in the past. I’ve recently spotted them being sold at Takashimaya so I finally bought a set!I now prefer the Tombow brushes because its easier to create distinct thin and thick strokes compared to the Zig Brushables. UPDATE: TIMES Bookstore at Waterway Point now sells Tombow Bush Pens as well! They are sold in sets and also individually.
|Paper||Muji Note Pads||Actually, any paper will do. But I love how smooth Muji notepads are and I just love using them to practice my brush lettering. I sometimes use my bond paper as well which is especially useful when I’m trying to finalize my layout. I’ll place a sheet over my current layout and trace/ go over it while making the necessary adjustments.|
Watercolour Brush Calligraphy
|Items||Recommended for Beginners||Remarks|
|Watercolour||Children’s Watercolour Set (those that you can easily get at Popular)/ Prang Watercolour Set (which I received when I went for a brush lettering class. If any of you know where it’s sold in Sg, let me know!)||There are MANY different types and grades of watercolour and they come with different price tags. As a beginner, I started off with a watercolour set bought from Popular (because I had ZERO knowledge about watercolour). I’m glad because it’s really cheap and I didn’t feel like I’m “wasting” precious resources when I first started practicing.
I received a Prang watercolour palette when I attended a workshop and love its creamy texture and intense colours.
I’ve recently just bought a Winsor&Newton Cotman Watercolors set and love the richness of the colours and the variety of colours that you can get by blending. It is more pricey so I typically use it for my custom orders or when I want to achieve specific colours.
|Brush||Round brushes in Size 00 or 000/ Water Brush Pen (e.g. Pental Aquash)||Personally, I use the water brush pens a lot more often than I use the watercolour brushes. I find the water brush pens to be easier to control with the firmer nylon brush tips.|
|Paper||140lb Watercolour Paper||You basically need a paper that is heavy enough to absorb the water that you will be applying on it so that it will not crumple and warp.
For practice and layout, I use drawing paper (in A5 size) which I bought from Popular because it doesn’t crumple too badly and is cheaper than watercolour paper.
If you are using a watercolour paper, make sure its at least 140lb. You can choose between hot-press or cold press paper depending on the feel you prefer. Hot press are better for scanning since it is smooth while cold press, with its textures, is lovely as final artworks (gives a more organic feel IMO).
Woohoo! It feels great looking at this post because I’ve been wanting to put all this information down proper for a long time!
There really isn’t any hard and fast rule on what you should use or start off with so it’s really about trial and error to see what you are most comfortable with. These resources are what I personally use and what I understand to be useful for beginners who are trying to have a go at learning calligraphy and hand lettering in Singapore. If you have more resources to share with us or some of your favorite supplies that you would like to recommend, I would love to hear about it in the comment below because I am still exploring and trying out new mediums and ways to improve!
I hope that this post is useful for any of you who are trying to pick up calligraphy or hand lettering. If there are any more information you would like to know or even to share with all of us, drop me a comment too! I am thinking of doing a Part 2 to this post focusing on blogs, Instagram profiles, e-courses and physical workshops you can check out to learn and improve on calligraphy and hand lettering. So keep a look out for that too!
Free Printable for Download
I created this artwork last weekend as I was preparing for Laurent’s Teacher’s Day presents. I really liked how it turn out and thought it will be a nice little gift for my lovely readers who appreciate my creations and have been giving me such wonderful words of encouragement whenever I post my hand lettering works. To download a copy of this artwork, simple head over to this link and sign up for my newsletter, so that I can continue to reach out to you at a more personal level and have an even to send you nice little freebies whenever I can. This print will only be available for free download for a short period of time so do sign up soon!
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