Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review: Brush Pen Lettering

I have really nice handwriting. I'm not bragging; it's just a simple fact of life. Seriously, though--handwriting was one of my favorite periods in third grade. I loved painstakingly making my letters as neatly as I could until it became second nature. I couldn't wait to get a checkbook, because I loved watching my mom write checks when we were in a store (let's not touch on the fact of where I thought the money that backed the check came from). Now it's rare that I write a check and handwriting isn't even taught anymore. Boo on that.

This is why I leapt at the chance to review Brush Pen Lettering by Grace Song. I have several different types of brush pens, plenty of paper, and the aforementioned nice handwriting (which apparently isn't necessary, but I just thought I'd mention it again).

In book stores and craft stores I frequently peruse the books on lettering, but none of them seem to contain what I'm looking for. Even the few online classes I've tried don't really have that 'thing' that makes it click. This one, though? Very comprehensive, chock full of techniques, tips, and ideas, and varying methods so you can find what works for you.

There are lots of options in the 'supplies' section--different styles, brands, and prices, that are widely available so unless you live on some remote outlying island at the tip of the Arctic circle, you should be able to easily acquire some affordable tools to get started. What I really liked about this part was that while she tells you what she likes to use, she emphasizes that it's key to find what works for you and what is comfortable for you. I have two different brands of brush pens, and one works so much better for me, while the other is kind I thought I was doing something wrong but sometimes it really does come down to the tools you're using.

All of the different types of strokes are explained, with plenty of tips on what to do to create them properly. There are also pages upon pages of drills for the different stroke combinations that come about. (If you really want to challenge yourself, try putting a phrase into a translation tool and writing that phrase in different languages--due to the non-English letter combinations you have to go slower and think of what you're doing the entire time).

While there are no tear-out sections in the book to practice on, there are different sized guide sheets (depending on your pen tip size) that you can copy or place tracing paper over.

My favorite section of the book was about all of the fun things you can do once you get the lettering down. I guess this would be the 'embellishment' section if it was a sewing book.


There is a nice troubleshooting section, and even directions for how to make your letters look like calligraphy when a brush pen just won't do.

There was one phrase in this book that made it 'click' for me. Previously I had thought that "I have nice handwriting; if I just change the pressure with this cute pen I can do this kind of lettering." No, it doesn't work like that, and I wasn't getting why. But the magic phrase in this book was "hand lettering is the art of drawing letters." And just like that I thought "Hot damn, there's the ticket. It's not writing; it's drawing." Now, I am by no means an artist at all (my sister Alicia got everyone's share of the art gene), but I can doodle just fine (sometime I'll have to show you the envelopes I've decorated while waiting on hold). So by telling myself to draw the letters instead of writing them my practice sheets didn't look too shabby. This is not easy for me as it does not come naturally to me (the way various needles and lengths of string do), but this book definitely makes it feel like an achievable goal.

So if handlettering is something you'd like to try, this book should definitely be on your list. You can find it here on Amazon (I'm not an affiliate so that's just a regular old link).

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book at no charge in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are completely my own based on my own experience. For my complete disclosure policy, click here.


  1. Thank you for this review! I attempted brush lettering a bit earlier this year. My handwriting is not very pretty and I am not great at drawing, so I really should put in more practice.

  2. Oooh I should get this book. During my time in secondary school, we had calligraphy class in Year One. I think in primary school we did some calligraphy too but it was more a fun thing. The calligraphy class was graded so no fooling around but I loved it. Later I tried creating my own letters. One time during my early foolish years, I submitted a job application completely written in my drawn letters. Of course I did not get the job because I was applying for an auditor's job.(I studied accounting in school) However, the person who received my application thought it was so funny, he passed my letter to his friend who was looking for an admin assistant. And yes I did get the job. During the job interview, we just kept laughing over my craziness. And yes, I have the same feeling. To me calligraphy is drawing.

  3. I just ordered a set of Tombow brush markers this very week! xo

  4. It's amazing how I can just be on Pinterest looking at a purse pattern and then go to Amazon to buy a book on brush lettering. Thanks! Now I need to find that purse pattern. Have a great weekend.
    I really do want to learn to do brush lettering though.��

  5. You didn't show us your handwriting! I'd love to be able to write beautifully. I'm actually going to a calligraphy class next week - not sure how well i'll get on with my broken shoulder though!

  6. I was the same way with writing! And I used to have really nice handwriting... but I'm always in a rush now and it's not so pretty. Calligraphy really is more like drawing than writing though- I love it!



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