The ABCs of Brush Pen Lettering | Learn The Miniscule (Lowercase) Alphabet in 20 Minutes! | Emma Witte | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

The ABCs of Brush Pen Lettering | Learn The Miniscule (Lowercase) Alphabet in 20 Minutes!

teacher avatar Emma Witte, Artist, instructor, author + paint maker

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

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

5 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. What is Brush Pen Lettering?

    • 3. The Grid and Staple Strokes

    • 4. Forming Letters + Class Project

    • 5. Final Words

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Master the miniscule (lowercase) brush pen alphabet in 20mins!


Have you daydreamed about achieving perfect penmanship? Have you fallen down several Instagram rabbit holes and watched hours and hours of brush pen lettering and calligraphy videos, WISHING you could do that too? Is it time to reclaim the pen licence you lost after graduating from school and abandoning the written word in favour of texting and typing?

NEVER FEAR! Your friendly neighbourhood Pen Wizard is here.

Emma, the Overlord and Chief Pen Wizard of Black Chalk Collective will show students how to create letters of the miniscule (lowercase) alphabet in just 20 minutes by piecing together a range of staple (simple / basic) strokes.

This class is aimed at beginners who need a helping hand (ha ha...) with forming miniscule letters. If you've never picked up a brush pen in your life, this class is PERFECT for you!

Brush pen lettering is great for:

  • Swoon-worthy Insta posts
  • Creating cute greeting cards
  • DIY-ing your own prints to hang at home
  • Making labels, placecards, and other stationery
  • Lowering stress levels (it's very therapeutic!) 
  • Improving focus / mindfulness
  • Helping find time for YOU
  • ...who knows? Maybe you'll be the next big Insta-famous letterer or small business owner!

It doesn't matter whether you are left handed or have terrible handwriting - brush pen lettering can be done by all!

So join in the craze, and get creating!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Emma Witte

Artist, instructor, author + paint maker


What up, party art peeps! I'm Emma, and I'm an artist from the seaside near Melbourne, Australia. My love affair with art was reignited in late 2015 when I discovered brush lettering. Brush pens were my first love, but I've since moved on to focus on teaching - and making - watercolour!

You can find my online classes in brush lettering here on Skillshare, and if you're keen on watercolour, check out my online school The Watercolour Academy and my handmade paint biz The Watercolour Factory.

Aside from consuming unhealthy amounts of chocolate milk, playing Fortnite and loving my cat Leo and dog Rhodie a little too much (lol jks that's not possible) - I love sharing what I know about art. I've taught hundreds of students face-to-face over the last couple o... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hey, I'm Emma from Black Chalk Collective, and welcome to my online introductory course to brush pen lettering. 2. What is Brush Pen Lettering?: What is brush pen lettering? It's actually a type of illustration. It's not handwriting, which is really good news for those of us who have messy handwriting like myself. As you can see from this top, what I've drawn, just for the regular fine on a pen, it's old assign thickness mono line, whereas I've used a brush pen for the second one and as you can see, it's very different. The defining feature of brush pen lettering is the strokes, the varying thicknesses of them. The downstrokes when we bring the pen towards us are heavy and thick and the light strokes, we apply very little pressure to them. It's a bit of a tribute to calligraphy. 3. The Grid and Staple Strokes: I want to show you a grid which will come in very handy when you are learning to brush pen letter. It will help you keep your letters consistent. But there's a few things I need to explain first; there's a few different lines that make up the grid and you'll need to understand those to use it. This middle part here is what we call the x-height, and that's between the baseline and the waistline. It's often referred to just as an x, as you can see there. This is where the body of most of our letters a going to sit. The letter a would sit right in there, but a letter b would come up through these boxes here. We've got the waistline there and the line above it is called the first ascender. It's fun to pass your lines through that, but you don't want to reach the second ascender. It should finish about here. Beneath the baseline, we have the first descender. Again, you can bring your strokes down through here, but don't touch the second descender at the bottom. That's essentially the grid and now I'll show you the staple strokes or brush pen lettering and how they fit in on this grid. These strokes that you can see here are the staple strokes of brush pen lettering. Basically what that means is these are the strokes that will appear in most of the letters of the lower-case alphabet. Therefore, they're the ones that you need to learn. It's important to learn these strokes so that you build them into your muscle memory. The reason that we want to do that is because we want it to be effortless when we hand letter, we don't want to have to stop and think what comes next, just like you hand write now without thinking, you need to teach yourself these strokes so that you don't have to think too hard when your hand lettering. The first one we've got here, that is a light upstroke. The way that you perform that stroke is by holding the brush pen and moving it lightly up the page. The next is a down stroke, and that is a thick down stroke with heavy pressure on the brush pen. The next is an overturn. How that one is created is by starting at the baseline, heading towards a waistline, nice and light, and when you get to the top, heavy pressure all the way down. The next is an underturn, and that's essentially the opposite of an overturn. We start here at the waistline, heavy pressure down towards the baseline and then right back towards the waistline. The next one here is a combination stroke. That's basically these two stuck together. We start off at the baseline, head towards the waistline, nice and light, when we get to the top, we transition into a thick heavy down stroke and then repeat back up into a light stroke towards a waistline. The next two curves, it's a bit of a c-shape and a backward c-shape. So we want to head towards the waistline nice and light, and then we transition to a fixed stroke and back into a line. The other one is exactly the same, just in the other direction. Next we have an oval. When we start the stroke, a lot of people tend to do it from the top here and apply thick pressure down and light up and connect it at the top. You'll find that it's much harder to connect a thin stroke and a thick stroke than it is to connect two thin strokes. So I always recommend starting over here, at about two o'clock on the clock and hitting anticlockwise. A light stroke towards the top into a heavy thick stroke towards the bottom, backup thin and connected over here. The next strokes are all loops. With this one here, we start at about the waistline, head up nice and light, go through that first ascender, come down with heavy pressure towards the baseline, then next you start at the waistline and are opposites of each other. The first one comes down heavy and thick towards the second ascender, comes back nice and light towards the baseline. The other one is the same, but we just take it in the other direction. So you might be wondering after looking at these, how they actually fit into letters and the alphabet, they just look like bits and pieces of letters. So I'll give you an example. This is the letter a is actually made up of three strokes. First was that upstroke, then is the oval shape and then is an under-turn. We need all of those strokes to create the letter a. The thing about brush pen lettering is it's not continuous, it's not cursive. We actually have to break it down this simply to create the letters. As I mentioned, it's illustration, so it's not writing, it's not continual, we do have to take it very slow and go piece by piece to create our letters. 4. Forming Letters + Class Project: Now, we're going to look at putting all of those strokes together to create letters. Look at letter a. as we saw before, letter a is made up of three strokes, the first one being an entrance stroke, the next one being an oval, and the last one being an undertone. The entrance stroke, when you're connecting it to a oval or a curved shape it's best not to take it all the way to the top. That way, it's going to be hard for you to match up. If you want to finish it about three-quarters of the way up, that would be best. In saying that though, if you are starting a word with the letter a or with any letter that is curved, you don't need to have that entrance stroke. That entrance stroke best serves letters that have a thick line next to them. The reason that these are included in my workbooks in my lessons is purely so that you can see how they would connect to a letter before and a letter after them. When we put these together, we get the letter a. The letter b is made up of an entrance stroke, a loop, a curve, and another entrance stroke but in this instance, it would be an exit stroke. When we piece them all altogether, this is what we get. I often end up connecting or flicking that last stroke. It looks more like an oval than anything, but it depends where you start it. Letter c is an entrance stroke. Again, don't take it to the top because we're about to do a curve. Then the next stroke is actually a combination of a curve with an exit slash entrance stroke, but we just do it all in one so that it's consistent. When we piece it together, it looks like that. The letter d starts off with an entrance stroke. Again, don't take it to the top, then an oval, and then a loop. But instead of coming to the bottom and stuffing, we want to take it around and make it an exit stroke. When I piece it together, it looks like that. The letter e is much like the letter c in that we have an entrance stroke and we're going to turn that curve into an exit stroke as well. That's a very poor example. When we piece them together, they should look like this. Some people also like to add that part in later, so they would draw it as a c and come back around later, and take that down. That's up to you. That will help you create consistency when you're writing words. That's not necessary. The lowercase letter f is the longest letter of the alphabet. We're going have to increase our range of movement. The way that we do this is to make sure that we're not planting our hand on the table. It's a general rule of thumb with hand lettering anyway, especially when we get to flourishes and fun things like that, we need to have a wide range of movement. If we plant our hand on the table, we really restrict that, and that's a bit of a handwriting thing to do. We're about to break that habit. The best way to do that is to rest your hand on the table so you've got some stability, but make sure you can still slide it around as well. It might feel weird to engage a whole arm but it will help. You'll see that now. With the letter f, we start off with an entrance stroke and then we have to connect true loops to each other in one long stroke. This is where it will come in handy to move. Start with one, bring all the way down through the first descender, back up to the baseline, and we can get an exit stroke that way. We add it all together which I already hastily did with the exit stroke. It looks like that. What we want to do is try and keep consistency with the size of these spaces in the two loops, which is quite hard but it will be more visually appealing if we do. The letter g starts off with an entrance stroke but don't take it to the top because we've got to connect the curved stroke. Then we do an oval. That was a poorly connected example. Then we will do a loop which could cover up my mistake anyway. Take the pen off, and we'd finish with an exit stroke. When we do these loops, don't carry them through to the other side. There's a good reason for that and it's more obvious in the letter h, so I'll show you soon. But let me connect those full strokes, this is what we get. With the letter h, we start with an entrance stroke, then add a loop, then a combination stroke, and that's it. Now, I want to show you the reasoning behind breaking this line which I just mentioned. If we were guessing, I'm doing that stroke all in one, we could create some inconsistent letters, so for example, if I did that entrance stroke and turn it straight into a loop for the h, I might have bring that way too far back and all of a sudden, I've run out of space to finish that letter and it's cramped. On the other hand, I may bring it back too close and all of a sudden, I don't have a big enough loop. The reason we break this line is so we've got a point of reference. We now know that when we complete this stroke we have to bring it down through there. That's going to make sure that we create consistent letters and allow ourselves enough space to finish the letter. If we break those strokes down and then connect them one by one, this is what we get. The letter i is made up of an entrance stroke and under turn, and a little dot. There's no hard and fast rule whether you just dab it on like I did there, or whether you do a little circle, it's personal preference. If you join them together, we get the letter i. The letter j is made up of an entrance stroke, a loop and an exit stroke and also a dot. Again, depends if you want to just blub or draw a circle, it's up to you. Entrance stroke, loop, exit stroke, dot. The letter k is a bit of an interesting one and it involves some strokes that out from the staple strokes list. We start off with an entrance stroke, then we add a loop, and now I have to finish it off. I like to tell people that it looks like half a bow. If we were drawing this input there, it looks like half a bow if we had it drawn the other side to it. If we add it all together, looks like this. You can do that all in one stroke, I tend to break it down, it's up to you. Some people also like to draw their ks like this. Again, up to you, the style that I'm teaching you is basic. It's not really my style, it's just the basic of the basic style for you to then add your flair to. The letters that you see me writing here today and always what I draw, but that's the point of lettering, you should learn the basics and then you figure out what you like and what you don't like, and you go from there. If you don't like drawing your ks this way, then by all means, change it up. The letter l is two strokes, the first one being an entrance stroke, and the second one is a bit like the last part of the day. It's a loop, and then instead of bringing it down bluntly, we take it around and make it into an exit stroke. Let me join it altogether, it looks like that. Again, breaking a line and having a point of reference, will help us with the consistencies of our loops. The letter m is a bit of a repetitive letter. We come in with an over turn, then we add another overturn, then we add a combination stroke to finish. My piece add all together, and looks like that. The letter n is quite similar. Now, it's made up of repetitive strokes, overturn , and the combination stroke, and piece together, look like that. The letter o is made up of an entrance stroke, an oval, and then this stroke is called a comma dome. This one is quite exaggerated in comparison to the ones we'll use later. When you add those together, it'll look like that. You don't have to press that hard on the final stroke if you don't want, you might want a light connection, again, totally up to you. There are few different ways you can do it. P is made up of an entrance stroke, a loop goes down and around to the left, curve that goes to the right, and then an exit stroke. When I put them together, looks like this. The letter q is made up of an entrance stroke, an oval or a curve, a loop that goes to the right, so this is like the one we used at the bottom of f, and then an exit stroke. When I piece it together, it looks like this. The letter r has a stroke that is outside the staple strokes. We started off with an entrance stroke, then we add what I like to call, a little dog ear, just above the baseline, all connected to an under turn, so when we add that all together, we get an r. Letter s also has a stroke outside of the staple strokes. We start off with an entrance stroke, then we do a bit of a squiggle. It starts above the y sign, like the r did. It's heavy transitions to y, and then it comes around, kills the tail, and finish off with an exit stroke. When we piece those together, we get this. The letter t is also a little bit different. We start off with an entrance stroke, then we essentially join under stream, but it starts much higher. So we start it about here, bring it down and we finish at the waistline, and we going to cross it with the t-bar. We add that all together, we get the letter t. Letter u, starts with an entrance stroke, then it has an under turn and another under turn. We can piece it together, it looks like that. The Letter v starts with an entrance stroke, then we add an under turn,then we add comma top , just like we did in the r, but not as big, so we put them together, we get the letter v. The letter w is quite similar to the v. We have an entrance strokes, we have two under turns instead of one, and then we add the comma top as well, and we add them all together, we get w. The letter x is a tricky one, but not if we break it down, it's essentially a stretched out combination stroke, and then we cross it through the middle. If we stretch out a combination stroke, then cross it through the middle, we'll get the letter x. The letter y is made up of an entrance stroke, an under turn, a loop and an exit stroke, then we piece them together, that was a bit of a wonky one, then me piece them together properly, we get the letter y. The letter z is a bit of a funny one as well. It starts off with an over turn, then we add another over turn that goes down further and around, it really doesn't have a name for the shape, but looks like this, and I like finish of with an exit stroke. When I piece it together, it looks like this. It's a weird letter [inaudible]. 5. Final Words: Thank you for watching and I hope you enjoyed these videos. For further tips, tricks, and inspiration, head to my Website, Instagram and Facebook. If you've got any suggestions for what you'd like to see in future, feel free to get in touch, I'm always open to suggestions. Thank you and happy lettering.