Everyday I pick through roughly 200+ pens, pencils and paint brushes that litter my desk. And I'm not kidding about the 'litter' part. ;) My collection includes everything from hairline gel rollers to thick brush pens, to glitter brushes, to sharpies, and just about everything in between.
I'm not shy about trying new writing utensils. Heck, I've even been known to 'borrow' my son's Crayola Markers from time to time. BTW, those actually work great! ;)
People often ask what kind of pens and brushes I use, and what I recommend for beginners. Since writing utensils aren't really designed with ability-level in mind, it's hard to give recommendations for newbies, so lemme just tell you how I got started, and what I use today. I'll even breakdown my faves, and share a few tips along the way. Ready? Okay, let's do this!
Initially I only had experience with Faber Castell, PITT Artist Pens. Those are great for illustration work, and they come in 4 or 5 basic sizes that you can play with (you can buy these in a set). They also don't bleed, and your work will scan really nicely if you draw on plain, white paper (I'll get to the paper in a sec). I prefer these for detail work and illustrations, but I do use them frequently for lettering too. You really can't go wrong with these on hand.
Those PITT pens soon evolved into Pentel Brush Pens which are just awesome! I mean seriously, soooo awesome! I have so many at this point, that I'm thinking Pentel should probably send me a gift basket or a thank you card, or something. ;) These babies write like a dream, and provide, nice, thick strokes which can be 'broken' if you write fast. Now here's a handy, little tip about these brushes: If you want a super-rich, unbroken stroke, dip the end of the pen into some Winsor & Newton, Black Indian Ink. You'll thank me later for this. ;) And no, I'm not getting any royalties from Winsor & Newton. I just really like their ink. It's not watery like some of the others, and it writes like a dream. Trust me. Get some.
After dabbling in brush pens, I was feeling pretty brave, so I opted for Copic Markers, Tombows and various gel pens. I'm gonna be honest - if you've never tried lettering before, those thick, Copic markers might not be a great place to start. Yes, they are awesome pens. And yes, they do make beautiful strokes, but I had a tough time with them initially. I really wanted to write fast, but they prefer to be used slowly and methodically. If you try these, take your time, and really study your lettering. If you're committed to perfect letter-forms, these will certainly help. Just go slow.
Okay, moving on to Tombows. Ah, people love their Tombows. Not gonna lie, these were intimidating at first. I have the Tombow Fudenosukes. One is considered, 'hard' and the other 'soft.' Personally, I like the hard one. I enjoy 'abusing' my pens to some degree, and the harder pen allows me to really press into the paper without totally collapsing. Plus, it gives me a nice, gritty stroke. Mind you, pens don't last that long if you're a 'hard presser' like me, so be aware that you'll have to replace them regularly if you plan on taking a page out of my playbook. Handy Tip: You know those insanely popular handwritten, grungy fonts that you see everywhere? Yeah, the Tombow Fude will make that happen. Just write fast. :)
Now for a fan favorite, the Tombow Dual Brush Pens. Ah, these are great! I bought a nice, introductory set for my mom's birthday. (She's really into those adult coloring books right now). So, of course, I had to take 'em for a test drive. Tee hee. ;) They write like a dream, come in a TON of colors, and the blending set is particularly cool. Just go slow with these, as they have a similar quality to the Copic Markers. If you want really nice letter forms, immense patience and/or tremendous lettering skills will go a long way.
I also have a really beautiful Kuretake water-based brush pen that just adore, and I recently stumbled upon the Koi and Niji water brushes, both of which are glorious. If you like the Pentel brush pens, you're gonna love these. They have a smaller tip, and are more rigid, so they're better for more detailed, controlled letters. If you add these to your arsenal, you won't be disappointed.
And now for what kind of paper I use. I mentioned it earlier, only because someone asked me about it last week. Okay, get ready...drumroll please...
I buy the plain, white cardstock at Michael's. That's it. Nothing fancy. No watercolor, Bristol or drawing pads for my lettering. Just the cardstock. And If you're thrifty like me, just wait for a sale, and you can get 3 reams for $10. Otherwise, I think they're around $5 each. But still, that's a pretty good price for 50 sheets. I love this paper. It's bright, smooth, doesn't allow any bleed, and fits in my printer. Boom! Sold.
So, if you're just starting out, I might give the Pentel brush pens a shot. Those are a ton of fun, and very forgiving. Definitely try some basic PITT artist pens too. Those will help build your confidence, give you nice clean lines, and help polish your letterforms. Then, once you feel pretty comfortable with your new skillset, shake things up with a few Tombows and Copic markers.
And when you really get brave....we'll move on to Calligraphy. ;)
Happy lettering, my friends.