Lettering Resources

These are the things that I use regularly. For some tools, I have brand recommendations. However, lettering is not about the tool that you use - it's about the technique and the discipline. So as long as you have a pencil and paper, you can do it!

These links go to Amazon. I earn a teeny bit in commissions when you purchase using my links, and helps fund my coffee! Thanks for helping me stay awake to work on more lettering! 

P.S. Images are from Amazon.


Basic Tools and Brush Pens


Each Lettering piece (well, most of them) starts with a pencil sketch, and a lead holder like this helps. It's shaped like a mechanical pencil, but holds a 2.0mm lead. The pen is portable and is good to bring during travels and lettering away from home/studio. The cap end has a tiny hole which can be used as a lead sharpener. It's a thoughtful addition to the pen, as the lead pointer is not so easy to bring around. 


The lead holder needs to have lead, and the one I use the most is HB or 2B for general sketching. There are other brands as well like Uni which is a bit cheaper than Staedtler.


Working at home/studio means that I need to have a dedicated tool for sharpening my lead. The Staedtler lead pointer is a really trusty tool to have for ensuring really crisp and fine pencil work.


Normal erasers should do, but for tight spaces, having the right size matters. This eraser makes erasing small areas a breeze.


A set of fineliners are a must when you're  lettering by hand. Different sizes help you create lettering pieces with depth and with the right details. The bigger sizes help you fill in colors faster, while the smaller sizes help you with detailed line work. Ohto Graphic Liner has a metal tip so you won't have to worry about the pen pressure.

I also love using Sakura Microns! The only difference is that Microns are felt-tipped and may break faster when you use a lot of pressure. Microns also come in a lot of different colors!


To create grid lines for my work, it's essential to use a ruler or a protractor. I don't have any specific brand that I recommend, but a long metal one would be a good addition on your desk - so you can use it to make lines and also for cutting paper into smaller pieces. A protractor would be nice to make sure the angles are all aligned, but I rarely use it.


A compass helps with circular layouts and I had a recent find recommended to me by a friend, Mimi. It's a portable compass that has a cap! Now, I won't be scared to carry it around and accidentally hurt myself in the process, or be scared to lose the screws, as it's fitted with a mechanism similar to a mechanical pencil. Such a novel idea (or maybe I was just living under a rock this whole time)!


For lettering drafts and drills, I recommend using a normal printer paper (80 or 100 GSM). It's cheap enough so you will not be afraid to make mistakes and throw them away after. I use the brand Paper One, as I find it to be smooth enough and of good quality that you can use it for pencil work, brush pens, or even pointed pen calligraphy! It's value for money!  


Tracing paper is a very useful tool for creating drafts and well, for transferring designs. It's translucent nature allows you to create multiple drafts and selectively trace over the parts that you want to improve. It allows you to see through the different variations easily. You can also use it for transferring your designs to another surface by rubbing charcoal/graphite on the back side and drawing over your design to transfer the graphite on the surface you're working on - works like a carbon paper! 


I absolutely love drawing on Japanese made notebooks - the quality is superb! One of my recent discoveries (recommended by my friend Mye), the Midori notebooks is really smooth and light to the touch. It absorbs the ink quite well. The paper is thin but does not bleed. Absolutely love these for black and white lettering.


The Sakura Gelly Roll is one of the better white pens around for highlighting certain areas in your lettering work. The ink is opaque enough that allows it to stand out of the black background. For some pens, you need to write over and over on the same area; but not with the Gelly Roll. As such, it makes for one of the must haves. 


I can't say it enough. I love the Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen, especially the softer variant. It's one of the best brush pens for all-around use. 


These felt brush pens are good for everyday use. They are vibrant and lasts long. The only gripe about it is that the black is not as black as I wanted it to be, maybe because I was so amazed by the Tombow Fude. But I can't recommend this set enough. It's easy to use for beginners and the tip stays firm even after a long time of use. 


These books help you build the right foundation for your process and for the letterforms. These are must haves in your bookshelf for you to read (and not just hoard). =)