Brush Lettering: Getting Started | Helen Colebrook | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (49m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Tools and Supplies

    • 3. Basic Brush Strokes

    • 4. Lower Case Alphabet

    • 5. Upper Case Alphabet

    • 6. Forming Words

    • 7. Adding Creative Details

    • 8. Lettering a Quote

    • 9. Class Project

    • 10. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Do you ever see gorgeous brush lettering, but feel you don't know where to start? Have you perhaps tried it before, but not been happy with the results?

In this class I will teach you the basic brush lettering strokes and also share my top tips and techniques. You will start by practising the lower and upper case alphabet, using the worksheets provided.


Next, I will show you how to join your letters together and add decoration to create beautiful pieces. By the end of the class you will have the skills you need to write out a quote in your own style of brush lettering.

This class is aimed at beginners, with no previous experience required.


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Helen Colebrook

An avid journal keeper/creative


I'm Helen and in case you haven't guessed, I have a bit of a thing about journals. I'm an author, product designer and online teacher. I've been lucky enough to work on great brand collaborations and feature in publications all over the globe. I currently have over 170K followers across my social media platforms, where I love sharing my journaling adventures.

I use journals to plan out my dream life, document special moments and keep a record of the day to day happenings in my life. Plus, I love to get creative and use lots of different techniques to decorate my pages. 



                         &nb... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Helen, and welcome to my class Brush lettering getting started. I am really happy to be teaching this class because it's something I get asked about all the time when people look at my journals, they asked if I've got any hints or tips on been able to really just get started with using brush pens and feeling confident. So we're going to cover all of that in this class, so we'll start off by looking at the different types of brush pain that you can use. And then we'll work through different brush strokes on their lower case and upper case alphabet together. And then we'll build on that by joining those letters together to form some really nice looking words on. Then look at how we can decorate that lettering further on the class will end in putting order. They skills together on hand lettering, a really lovely looking quote se really versatile and fun skill toe have on its hugely on trend, and you can use it in your journals like me. You can also use it for any kind of crafting projects, greeting cards, envelopes and gift tags. So I really hope you're looking forward to getting started 2. Tools and Supplies: in this first lesson, I'm going to torture about the tools and supplies that you need to take my class. All you need is some paper and a brush pen. However, if you want to make sure that you get the best effects possible, I would recommend using some really good quality paper. If you have some available, I can highly recommend rodeo paper. You'll find that you get a really good effect from your brush pens on this paper or one of my other favorite choices is just some color laser paper. And I found that this paper from Staples that's 120 GSM works really, really well for brush lettering. If you've tried brush lettering before and being disappointed with the effects ive achieved , you may well find that it is just a simplest changing the paper. If the paper qualities to cheap, you'll find it the ink conceit through the pages on Bleed Out and really give, you know, great effect at the end. It's the next thing to talk about his brush pens. They come in all sorts of different varieties, the most popular ones and new ones that you'll see a lot of people use of the Tom Bo A bt Jewell tip brush pens. I really enjoy using these, and you'll find that you get a really nice thick down streak when you apply the pressure. However, when I first started out using these, I actually really struggled to control them. So one of my tips is that if you want to try something that's a little bit easier to control, Tom Bo also do these fitness Suki brush pens. They've got a much firmer and small in IP, so you don't get as a ticket down stroke. But you may well find that they're much easier to control when you're first starting out. And they also come in a lovely range of colors. If you're looking for something big and bold, you could consider something like an E. Coli sign. Brush pan, and you'll see these offer you really sick lines, and they also let out a lot of ink. So it's not one that I would suggest for beginners, but once you get more comfortable with your brush lettering, there definitely fun to have a play with. On one of the other popular brush pens is the Kerry tacky riel color brush pen, and this is different to the other ones I've used. If you notice with these brush pens, it's one solid nip. So she pressed down. That nip still stays completely intact. Where is this? One is actually far more like a brush, like a paintbrush each. You've got lots of separate bristles on the end of this nip. It's when you press down, you see they all separate, which means they're great fun. You can have lovely effects with them again, then much more difficult to control. So Tom bows definitely my favorite brand to use, but please feel free to join in with anything that you have alongside those when it comes to decorating our letters. Later on in the class, I'll also be using a state lor pigment liner. But any black pen would do, and I also like to add white effects and I've got a union. It's a universal signal white gel pen. If you've got any kind of white pan or even glitter pan, anything like that will be fun base. Absolutely no essential on the final thing to help you through this course is I've also created a brush lettering worksheet If you head down into the your project and resource is , you'll be able to see this link down below on this we're going to use to guide through creating different brush strokes on also working through the lower case and upper case alphabet, so if you grab your supplies, we'll get started. 3. Basic Brush Strokes: in this lesson, we're going to look at the basic brushstrokes that you need to get started. These were really good place to start practicing your thick strokes and your thin strikes and get a good feel fuel pan on one of my tips for when you're doing brush lettering is to make sure that as much of your lower arm as possible is supported. If you find that when you're practicing your starting to get shaky lines, it may well be because your arms starting to get tired. So make sure that you've always got in a really nice, comfortable position on that. The surface you're working on his flat, so the first straight we're going to look at is a basic downwards fix stroke on with brush lettering. You learned that anything that's moving down the page will be sick and anything thats moving up the page will be sin and on the worksheet. I've always got a lease or circle with an arrow to show you where you should start with. The brush pen is really handy. If you can help angle, it's slightly to the side, and that helps you to achieve a really nice, thick downward stroke you'll find If you hold it too upright, you're not gonna be able to get as much as that nip onto the paper. So it's really worth taken some time to make sure you're getting as much of that pen down as you can and do it as slowly as you need to. I'm not quick when I do my brush lettering at all. I always take my time so you can either use thes worksheets or just use any paper that you have and just get used to doing really nice. Fix downward strokes. Once you're comfortable with this, the next thing to move on to is the upward strokes on. A lot of people actually find these more difficult than the downwards because this you've got that that pressure applied onshore page, and this is all about a light touch seal starting from the bottom and you're moving your pen lightly up the page, so it's definitely time to give this a little bit of practice. And don't worry if your lines are not perfect. Mine rarely are, but you'll still end up with a really pleasing effect. When she put all of these strikes together for the next stage. We're going to look at angled downwards and upwards lines, and it just gets she used to holding your pen in a slightly different way so that you can achieve those strokes. So in the same way is before you start at the top, apply pressure and bring your pen down the page. And for the next line, you're going to do the same as you did with the's, starting at the bottom, but doing it an angle and just bringing it lightly upwards. The next stage is looking at moving down the page and then bringing up a little hook at the end. So you get used to going from a thick stroke up into a thin stroke. You start here, slowly, move it down and then flick up. Just a the end. And this is where you'll really learn to practice, how to ease the pressure, just the right point to bring your pen upwards. Don't worry it all. If yours is still looking a bit shaky, and if you're not getting that clear line between the sick and the thin, it really does just take practice. When I was first starting out, I used to sit down and just do lines after lines of different shapes and styles every evening for about five or 10 minutes. And if you put in a little bit of practice your natives, really, how quickly you can start to improve your lettering. It is just that down into a light up. And this will be a really useful shape Teoh get used to cause this will help form some of the letters that we move to later on. We're not gonna do the opposite if the shape that we've just done. So we're going to start nice and lightly again, keeping that pen angled and your forearm onto the flat surface seem even lightly upwards and then apply. The pressure is you come around the top of the hook on art, recommend Ernie's all the way across the top of the page. Do you get a really nice feel for it? We're not going to move on to combining a down stroke into an up and then down again. So we're starting at this point, moving the pen down, then going upwards and then but down and you're noticed here. I took a pause because I could feel that I wasn't holding the pen in a way that was quite comfortable enough for me. That's fine. You can always lift your pen off the paper and just adjust where your hand is on the page or how you're holding your pen. Please feel free to pause these lessons at any point you want to see. You can carry on doing your shapes all the way across on the shape is this one just turned upside down. So we're gonna start with that thin upwards stroke going up and broadening our apply the pressure to come down and then back up the page, and hopefully by now you're gettin a feel for how you're in particular brush. Pam works Notice tries to use something different, like the fitness Suki. I can still do the exact same marks, but the sickness and the sickness going to vary, and I use different pens for different circumstances. If I want to do big lettering pieces, it's likely that I'm going to use a Tom Bo, A B T or the E. Coli brush pan in my regular journal. If I just want small equate sort right out days of the week then the fitness Seiki is probably the pen I use the most. So the shape here is similar. You're noticed that we've got two corners joining together rather than it being Smith on one of the advantages of shapes like this is if you want to, it's very easy to just lift your panel for any point and then move along in a really handy shape to be able to forms it probably a bit easier than some of the rounded tops on the final. When we're going to do on this page, it looks like the bottom of a J shape, and it will also be useful for wise. They're gonna move down the page, lift that pressure off and then sweep it up. There's now just two more shapes. I'm going to go through with you before we start moving on to the lower alphabet. So do a sin line up on a sick line down one of the shapes people feel most find the most difficult is this oh, shape, and it's that joining it up the top, so you be starting here, bringing the pen down nice and slowly, and then it lift in that pressure and bring it back to the top. As I said earlier, it really is only practice that makes this easier, and I just find that the more you do it over time, the more comfortable you find it to form these shapes. I really hope you found this first lesson useful in terms of getting used to the different brush strokes and getting used to how much pressure you need to apply on your own pen and the gentle touch you need when you're creating those light strikes. 4. Lower Case Alphabet: when are going to start working on the lower case alphabet. And it has any letters on here that you don't like you don't feel comfortable with and they're not your style. Please feel free to substitute them with. However, you'd most like to create those letters to help try and keep your letters over a similar size. Your notice that we've got a baseline where the bottom of your letter should sit and also got a middle dotted line which is really where you want the top part of your letter to be coming to and then another raise line. So if you've got hi bits like you would with a B that you could go right up to that ascender line there to try and make sure that your lettering is even so I'm going to talk you through the first few letters that I form Andi I wore. Then speed up the video so that you can see me creating all of the letters. But you congest pause it and watch any letters. You particularly want to see how that I've created. So start with the letter A. So I start with my pen here, move lightly up, then apply the pressure to come down and then leave it back up. I then take my pen off the paper. I get to the top part here, bring the pain down and create a little tail upwards. And that's one of the really important things to remember. Unlike perhaps when you learn to do joined up writing at school, we to be expected to have kept your pen on the paper and create your A like this. You really don't need to You you'll find you get a much better, more consistent effect if you finish with a little tail and then bring your pen down. Feel thick. Stroke on up again also gives you the chance to have a little rest in between. But here, if you haven't bought something over far enough, you can always add little stroke and bring its alone with the letter B. I start mine here, so I do a light loop upwards. Then bring it down the page again. You can rest and then do like here, down into the sick curve, and then just leave up underneath. As I said in the first lesson, please feel free to easy use these worksheets or create these on any pieces of paper with the letter C looks the pressure on the way down and then ease up feel little tail. And these tales that the ends will become more important when we start looking at how we join these letters together to form words. So to show you the d in the E and then I will speed up the lettering. But please do take your time as you form them. So I create my first Mr Casey shaped them. I'm gonna start from here like we did with the B. Bring that down and create the tail. If you're not keen on the loop on the end of the day, you could always just do the down stroke so you could decide Teoh, do the Cirque in the normal way and then just bring the D down E is a course very similar to the sea. You're just starting it in the mid point here. So now move on to the other letters of the lower case alphabet. - Yeah , - okay , - with I hope you found that helpful, and you've now started to feel more comfortable in creating the lower case letters. Next, we'll move on to the other case. Alphabet 5. Upper Case Alphabet: we're now going to start practiced in the upper case. Alphabets on. A lot of people find this more difficult. I think that's because the upper case letters often tend to have more elements to them, and they're more detailed in the lower case. But again, if you look on somewhere like Pinterest, you'll find tons of different ways of doing the uppercase alphabet. So if any of these aren't quite your style, please feel free to swap them around on as in and as the same sided with the lower case alphabet. I'll talk you through the first page, and then I will speed up my writing off the rest of the upper case alphabet so that it's still there for you to follow along with. So we'll start with the upper case. A. We start at the bottom of the page lightly. Bring it up in a six line, coming down on little tail up nice and lightly across the middle with a B. I start with this stroke here, so bring it down with little curve and then I come out into the two ovals and these. They're probably my favorite letters that I've chosen the fate my favorite style, but depending on what sort of peace on creating, I change these up a lot. And actually, one of my favorite ways to write is just all entirely in lower case. So even with things like days of the week, the months of the year or my name, I often do those all in lower case because I just like the way that looks. It's with the day on going to start here. I'm gonna bring this down a small live and then bring that along the way up the page and then down. Don't forget, you can always go and correct little bits. If your pens just skipped slightly or you need to move your hand, that's absolutely fine. And do you remember this part of your arm? It's so important. Teoh. Keep on the table. And the more you do these letters, the more you start to build your memory muscle. Andi Forming the letters will come far more instinctive. Andi easier. Just with some practice. It was the F. I'm going to start here to do this little leap at the bottom and bring it up thick down. Strike on a little line across the middle. Apologies is squeaking of the parent noise. Anybody, unfortunately is not much I can do about that is the sound I actually really like. But I know that it can be off putting to some people. And it does depend which pay p years on how loudest sweet you get. So I now move on to the other letters, and I'll just speed this video up of it. - And okay, I hate you're now feeling a bit more confident with how to form some off the upper case letters in the alphabet. 6. Forming Words: in this lesson. We're going to look at joining letters together, so we'll be building on those skills in the other lessons have actually been able to create the letters. And now look at how we can use those to form words. So I'm going to start with a really simple end. Short word so high. So you do your h as normally. Have you want to do it? When she got the h, you do little tail and he just joined your next letter right next to it. So again, like Arsene is, ones don't feel like you have to keep your pen on the paper. You really can rest in between each of the letters and then start next to it. So this one all right? Hello? Just do your little tail flick up, and then you have your formed word and you can see where the ink go. Start into the next one. But you really won't notice it in your journal on, we're gonna look at how we can decorate these letters in a moment, so there'll be even less obvious. So I'll do if I was going to do my name all in lower case My name is Helen. Just keep May, making sure you just keep adding those little tales and flick them up. So is have a nice natural place feel. Next letter to form and using dot paper is a really good way to be ableto visualize. How kind of tall and why do you want your letters to be? But if you've got blank paper, it's absolutely fine. You could always put in some pencil lines or put a piece of lined paper underneath it. Seacon See through just to give you that initial guidance. That's when I'm writing out the days of the week in my journal. Girl might decide to use the dots as a guideline from writing Monday. Just have that lovely little tail come up and wherever possible, you always want something to join the next letter onto. There are a few letters where I don't have a natural tail coming up so that I don't worry about them being joined. I just do the next lesser in about an even space away, as I would with the other letters, if I wanted to do something, perhaps like the fancy A. For the front of a thank you card like store do my letters is normal. Always just thinking about bring in that tail up. The sickness is you come down, The likeness is you travel back up, do my tea there But I might decide that I want it Wavy line at the beginning I'm doing my you for the thank you And then to balance it out on my tail on the side, I might just extend that further to That's just a really quick and simple way to just add something a little bit fancier to the beginning and end of your words. So I definitely encourage you to take a few moments to practice joining some of those letters together. Perhaps start with your name or day of the week or something short and see how you get on. 7. Adding Creative Details: in this lesson, we're gonna cover one of my absolute favorite parts. And that's how to decorate your lettering and really make it your own. One of the best things. I think that brush lettering is that you've got these thick downward strokes, which to me are really calling out to be decorated in some way. So I've written out the same word seven times, and I'm gonna show you seven different ways that you can change how this these letters look , really bring your own style to it and hopefully inspire you to decorate some of your words and come up with your own ways of being creative with them. So I start off by using my black pigment liner on the first version. I'm literally gonna trace along in the middle of each of the letters. So I'm gonna come down. Just always try and bring it in the middle so that my thin lines will always join up. I just think this is a really nice, fun way already making that brush lettering look quite different to how it did when you first rated. And again, you don't have to worry about being too precise. It's just about having fun, relaxing in enduring how you can play with these letter forms for anything haven't quite joined up. I'm just going correct these at the end. I often like doing this with things like days of the week on my head of pages and even on envelopes. It looks great. The next thing I do is use the same pen again, but to create some shadows around the word. So I'm going to imagine that my light source is coming from here from the top left. So I'm going to use the black pen to trace around the bottom, Andi right hand side of each of the lines of each letter. So I'm going to start here and go up what's under the bottom here and go up. I'm just gonna do this along each of the lines on the word Monday and I could just decide to leave the letter like that. That doesn't really nice. I'm gonna add some little highlights to the top using my white gel pen. So just on the top off each off the thick downward strikes, I'm gonna add a little white line, and it just adds a fun touch and gives that element of light bouncing off the top really quick and easy today for my next Monday ongoing cheese. A similar technique to the one I've used below. But I'm going to use the thin end of the Tom Babe brush pan. He could use any colored pen to do this on again. I'm going to trace around the bottom to create a shadow. It's again. I'm gonna do the right hand side, Andi, anywhere that's along the bottom. And this time, rather than using a white gel pen, I'm going to use my black pigment liner again on on the top of each of the down streaks are gonna do a line and adults, and it's another really quick and easy way just to add your in style to your lettering. And for this one I'm gonna draw turned my page around. I'm just gonna draw some straight lines across each of the thick downward strikes. I really love how that's turned out. I think that's such a cool effect for my next word. I'm going to add some small circles right down the middle, off each of the thick downward strokes and then for the sin upward lines. I'm just gonna do some little dots and I'm gonna repeat this pattern all the way through all of the letters in the word. And with this, of course, you could choose through little squares or triangles. Any shape city fantasy. On this next one, I'm going to doodle some flowers and I'm gonna do it at the top point of each of the down strikes. So I start with a little circle and just draw awesome simple petals around it and then color the circle in in the middle. This is probably another one of my very favorite ways of quickly decorating my lettering. I'm always happy with how these turn out the flowers don't need to be perfect, but they just give such a pretty effect. So for the final one, I'm going Teoh do a similar process. But at the top of each of these, I'm going to doodle in its your heart. I'm just going to keep the hearts nice and lease. I'm not gonna worry too much about whether they're formed perfectly in terms of lettering. The details really can just be relaxed and fun. And then underneath each of days, I'm just gonna add some or little white dots just coming down. Each of the thick strikes, I hope, cliches you with how just a few simple supplies, how you can really mix up your lettering and come up with some great effects. And I hope it encourages you to play with your words and just think about the different designs that you could add to them. And this is just one word just written with two different color brush pens and then changed into lots of different designs. So, please, do you have a look at some of the word you've drawn out already and have some fun with them . 8. Lettering a Quote: in this final demonstration, I'm going to be lettering. A quote. So I'm gonna be sharing you how I'm bringing all of those different skills together that we've learned in the earlier lessons. It's going to be using the upper and lower case alphabet, joining together the letters and then be adding some design elements to the words on for the quite I'm going to use to different Tom Bo A B T brush pens all. I've picked the numbers 6 26 73 on going to use thes and alternate them in between each of the letters. And if you pick two shades, which are quite similar to each other, this works out really nicely. In a quote, I'm starting off by lettering the quote onto my page, and as I mentioned, I'm just going to coordinate the different pens. And I think this gives a really nice, interesting effect to your quote, and this is one of my favorite quotes. I tend to find quotes that I really like on Pinterest or just on Google. If I search for something that's perhaps on my mind, then I usually find some really lovely quotes that come up Now that the quote is complete, I'm going to start adding my decoration. And as the word build comes up twice, I decided that I would add to the same decoration Teoh both of these words by drawing those lines right across the letters and for the word you on drawing some hearts on both of those , I'm adding some flowers to the word dream. You might have noticed that the word someone is all written in one color on because I knew that was going to be roughly in the middle of the page. I just thought it would help to break things up a bit amusing the black pen to trace around the outside of each of the letters. The final decorative element that I'm adding is using the black pen to add shadows on the right hand side, Andi underneath and then using the white gel pen to add the highlights on top. I hope this is helped to give you some ideas for lettering out your own quote 9. Class Project: I'm setting you two tasks for the class project. The first ones really easy. I'd like you to take a photo off your practice sheets and that could either be from the workbook itself. Or if you've been doing it on other pieces of paper, that's absolutely fine. Not really like to see this because I'd like Teoh be able to see how much you progress throughout from the beginning of the class to the end. On the second stage off the class project is what you're feeling. Confident enough to let her out a quote or write out your name or anything you fancy. I really like you to take a photograph of that. And please, do you look at the other class projects on offer other people feedback on encouragement as we move along 10. Final Thoughts: Thank you ever so much for joining me on this class. I really hope that you've enjoyed it on that. You've learned some new skills and you feel confident to go away and start practicing your brush lettering. It can take time for you to feel happy with your results. But I promise you, if you just put in a little bit of practice on a regular basis, you'll see a huge improvement. Thank you again for joining May.