Hello Tombow fam! My name is Paige and I am one of Tombow’s Brand Ambassadors. I’ve been hand lettering and doing calligraphy for a little over three years now I love teaching people how to use brush pens. Lettering takes out the structure of classic calligraphy and adds a ton of fun. Each letterer brings their own unique style to the equation and makes each word have spunk! Today I’m sharing with you how I teach lettering workshops using Tombow’s brush pens.
I recently taught one of my Intro to Brush Lettering Workshops at the beautiful Brice Hotel in Savannah, Georgia. We grabbed some drinks, a donut (or two) and hung out for a couple of hours while I taught the basics!
I always teach my classes using Tombow’s Fudenosuke Brush Pen in the Hard Tip and Soft Tip variations. (Because I still can’t decide which one is my favorite!) They are the perfect tool for beginners because the tips of the pens are very small and short, making them easy to control.
I start my workshops by introducing everyone to the brush pen and walking them through how I’ve laid out my course worksheets. Students have different guidelines (literally) that will help them build out each letter. PRO TIP: To prevent wear and tear, use the pen at a 45-degree angle. You will keep the fibers of the nib together instead of breaking them – making your pen last MUCH longer.
We go through my trusty worksheets, starting with practice strokes. The most important thing to remember when working with a brush pen is: downstrokes are heavy and upstrokes are light. Once you have that muscle memory down, you are through the hardest part!
Now, we may begin with ‘A’ and end with ‘Z’, but I’ve mixed up the alphabet in between. Some letters build off of each other. For example: my capitol ‘J’ is the first step for other letters like ‘B’, ‘R’, ‘K’, ‘P’, etc. While practicing, don’t get discouraged! You’re going to like some letters more than others. For me: I love upper-case K’s but I am not a fan of upper case ‘O’s. PRO TIP: If you’re feeling stuck, shake it out. Literally. Put your pen down (you don’t want ink everywhere…) and shake your hands. Seriously! Try it! You tend to carry a lot of stress in your writs, so if you can loosen up you’ll likely feel much better.
This workshop in particular was so much fun because of my giveaways! Every two letters, I asked one of my attendees to draw a name from a bowl and the winner received some fun goodies from either Tombow or my friends over at Rhodia Pads. Each person left with something fun to help continue their lettering journey.
As we worked through each letter, I walked around the room to help fix those pain points we all have when learning. One issue I always come across is differentiating between thickness of upstrokes and downstrokes. Almost EVERYONE I’ve taught has trouble with this, but don’t fret! I always advise those people to go back to the beginning and practice their upstrokes. All we’ve ever known is that you put pressure down on a pen when writing. Putting enough pressure on the paper without totally mashing a pen down is crazy to wrap your mind around. If you can get those thin ups going you’ll be in business!
After we’ve finished my handout, I offer to write out some names so people can practice more at home. Sometimes it can be tricky when flipping through the worksheets to find all the letters in your name AND connect them all together. If you can leave my workshop being able to letter your name, you’ll have a much better experience practicing at home.
PRO TIP: Use a pencil! Trace out where your letters will live on a piece of paper, an envelope, or a place setting before you go in with pen. I still do! You’ll save SO much paper. I hope y’all enjoyed taking a peek into what it’s like to take one of my workshops! Letter on!
Paige is a graphic designer and letterer in Savannah, GA. She got into lettering her own fonts while attending the Savannah College of Art and Design. When she isn’t making fun stuff, she is probably watching Gilmore Girls for the 50th time on Netflix, eating queso or watering all of her succulents.