First of all, I want to thank you for subscribing to my Lettering and Design newsletter! My aim with this weekly newsletter is to push myself to further develop my voice and to share knowledge more openly. I hope to shine a light on some of the things I have learned over the years working as a professional designer and lettering artist, and I hope to inspire thought and conversations around lettering and design. Thanks again for joining me in this journey!
Before I jump into showing you my 8 favorite lettering tools, I would like to quickly introduce myself! My name is Ray Mawst, and I am a graphic artist currently living in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. In short, I graduated with a BFA in design, moved out to New York City to work as a designer in a branding company for 2 years, and now have moved back home to Wisconsin to focus on building my freelance career as a lettering artist.
So with that said, let’s talk about some lettering tools!
1. Pentel GraphGear 1000 - .7 lead -
This is my favorite pencil ever, and here’s why. It never needs to be sharpened, and when working through a lot of sketches, I find this to be a time saver. Also, notice that the tip has a thin metal lead stabilizer. This prevents the lead from breaking as easily as a conventional mechanical pencil.
For a while I used the Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil which I know a lot of lettering artists swear by, but I wasn’t a big fan. What turned me off was how quickly the lead flattened out and how often it needed to be sharpened. Look at how blunt that tool is! After a few minutes of use, that is what it dwindles down to. Too thick to work with.
The only downside of the GraphGear 1000 is its puny eraser. So I recommend having an extra eraser off to the side if you plan on erasing up a storm. Get it here
2. Pentel Color Brush Pen
As far as brush pens go, this is my favorite at the moment. With very light pressure, you can write super thin lines, and with more pressure you can get a mark with a substantial width. If you have ever used a Tombow brush pen, the way this pen writes is a bit different. As opposed to the Tombow and its felt tip, the Color Brush has a nylon brush tip. This is favorable in my opinion because the nylon doesn’t wear out like the felt tip of the Tombow. It takes some practice to become more precise with the mark making, but in the end I think you gain greater control with contrast between the thicks and thins.
The base of this pen is not made for easy refill, so I recommend you just buy the refill cartridges sold separately. Get the brush here
3. Pentel Japan Aquash Waterbrush Water Brush Pen, Medium
This pen is unique because it is sold as an empty vessel for you to fill with your own ink. The brush tip is nylon, just like the Color Brush. Try filling it with some Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Water Color ink. They have a great selection of colors, and like the name implies, the colors are radiant and beautiful. The less diluted the concentrate, the more saturated the color will be. Get the pen here and Get the ink here
4. Pilot Parallel Pen - 6mm Nib
What’s beautiful about this calligraphy pen is that it has a refillable cartridge on the inside. This is nice, I think especially while you are learning because you won’t have to worry about dipping the pen in the right amount of ink. What is also cool is, you can still dip the tip in different colored inks to get a unique effect. In this photo, I have black ink within the pen, and dipped the tip in the blue watercolor ink at the beginning of each letter. TIP: You can buy the refill cartridges sold separately, or you can buy your own vile of ink with dropper, and refill the cartridge. Get the pen here
5. Marvy DecoColor Metallic Gold Paint Marker 2mm
Behold the gold! I have purchased quite a few gold markers, and honestly most have disappointed me with their lack of vibrance and reflectiveness, but not this one! If you shine a light on what you have written with this pen, you will see beautiful and natural transitions in the tone of the gold. Get the pen here
6. Bienfang 50-Yard by 12-Inch wide Sketching and Tracing Paper Roll
As opposed to buying pre-cut sheets of tracing paper, I prefer to buy a large roll like this. It’s nice to be able to tear off how ever much tracing paper you need for any given project. In the video above, I rip off just a small piece to draw over the letter "a", and don't have to feel bad about ruining a full size sheet. Another example is if you are working at a large scale, a letter size sheet isn’t going to cut it! With the roll, the height is determined by the size you purchase, but the width can be how ever long you need it to be. Get the paper here
7. Huion Ultra Thin Light Table
A light table is a little bit of an investment, but it’s worth it! The main reason to use one is for the contrast the bright light provides as it shines through the paper and line-work. If I am working on iterations of a piece of lettering or illustration, I make adjustments on a separate piece of paper placed on top of the previous version. The improved contrast from the light box makes it much easier to see through both pieces of paper, and allows me to make better calls about how to draw the next line. The photo of the letter "A" demonstrates the detail you get through the tracing paper. It makes the paper even more transparent than it already is. Get the light box here
8. C-Thru 24" English/Metric
Last but not least, is a clear ruler. If you don’t have a clear ruler, you need one! It is a game changer to have increments running down both the length and width. In this way, it is easier to draw lines with custom spacing. Notice in the video above, the clear ruler allows me to use its guidelines to straighten out the ruler in relationship to the baseline in order for me to draw the cap height parallel. Get yourself a double wide ruler here I also recommend a smaller 12" ruler for when you are working on smaller letters. Get the short one here
Well, I hope that you got something out of this! This is my first time ever creating a newsletter, and I want to make each post interesting and worth while! If you have anything you would like for me to write about , I would love to hear about it!
Also, if there is anything you think I can improve about the way I set up this newsletter, don't hesitate to reach out and let me know. I want to know so I can make it better for you guys! Thanks for taking the time to read this all!