I have a confession to make. I’m an art supply hoarder. For as long as I can remember, I have been weak to the powers of that new supply smell. My family learned quickly that I was not to be left alone in Michaels or Hobby Lobby, or they would find me uncontrollably loading my cart with more and more art supplies.
They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, but I admitted my addiction long ago and haven’t seemed to make much progress.
Lucky for you, my inability to stop buying art and office supplies means I’ve tried them all so you don’t have to.
Newbie letterers are often overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of available products. We’ve all bought something we thought was going to be great, brought it home to excitedly try, and realized it wasn’t quite what you were expecting.
I want to help you avoid experiencing the disappointment of a bad-quality lettering purchase. I believe new supplies should leave you happier and confident in your purchase, not frustrated and wishing you had never bought them.
This list is made up of the very best supplies for hand lettering. Seriously, I keep these stocked at all times because I use them all so often.
That being said, these links are by no means the best deals for these supplies. I encourage you to shop around both locally and online to find better savings.
I know you want to get to the good stuff, so onward to the list of absolutely essential lettering supplies!
Beginner Brush Pens
Tombow Fuednosuke Brush Pens – These are my number one recommendation for beginner letterers, and a long-time staple in my pen case. The pen comes in either hard or soft depending on your personal preference. They’re cheap enough to use for practice, but be sure to use a fresh pen when starting the final version of your project.
Tombow Dual Tip Brush Pen – This cult-classic is great for larger work and is available in a ton of colors.
Crayola Washable Broad Tip Markers – Cheap and easy to find, I love using Crayola Markers for lettering. Their price makes them and affordable alternative when you don’t want to practice with more expensive pens.
Zig Brushables – These dual-tip markers are one of my top beginner recommendations because their memory-system tip makes it easy to create flawless transitions. They come with a bright color on one end, and a lighter shade of the same color on the other.
Sakura Micron Pens – While not technically brush pens, these fine liners are perfect for “fake calligraphy” and for refining strokes from larger brush pens.
Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen – Another fan-favorite in the lettering community, the small tip of this pen makes it great for beginners practicing their basic strokes as well as advanced letterers creating word-heavy pieces.
Smooth Practice Paper
Rhodia Paper ($$) – Rhodia makes a range of paper pads popular in the lettering community. Their smooth surface won’t fray delicate brush pens, making them ideal for practicing and warming up. The pads are available in a variety of sizes and come either blank or with a grid.
- Dot Pad – Features a grid of small dots to help keep your lettering straight and precise
- Blank Pad – This one’s pretty self-explanatory
- Grid Pad – If the presence of grid lines doesn’t bother you, this pad includes a square grid to help align your lettering
HP Premium Choice Laserjet Paper (32 lb.) ($$) – I’m honestly a bit obsessed with this copy paper. I first bought it because it had a good reputation for not fraying brush pens. I loved how thick and smooth it was so much that I ended up using it for everything from sketching to printing. The copy paper pack comes in two weights, so make sure you’re getting the 32lb version and not the 24lb.
Canson XL Marker Paper Pad ($) – The slick surface of marker paper is perfect to use with brush pens. I’ve found the best deal for this pad is to buy it at Michael’s with the 40% coupon available through the Michael’s app.
Canson Foundation Series Tracing Paper ($) – Not all tracing paper is created equal. Canson Foundation Series Tracing paper is smooth enough to be gently on brush pens and thick enough to handle an application or two of the Tombow Sand Eraser.
Staedtler Lead Holder – Lead holders give you the analog feel of a wooden pencil, but with much more precision via a needle-sharp point. They’re refillable with 2mm lead, which like wooden pencils, comes in a variety of softness.
Staedtler Lead Pointer – Rotary sharpener with two different options to leave your lead either needle sharp, or slightly dull.
Staedtler 2mm Lead Pack – When you run out of lead you can purchase any 2mm lead to refill your lead holder. I’m a fan of Staedtler lead because it’s inexpensive and available in a variety of softness.
Tombow Mono Zero Eraser – Tombow’s 2.3mm eraser holder allows you to erase pencil marks with extreme precision and accuracy.
Other Essential Supplies
LIHIT LAB Pen Case – When you’re a lettering artist, owning a pencil case becomes truly essential. This one’s my favorite because it has room for both pens and accessories such as erasers and rulers.
Tombow Mono Sand Eraser – We’re all human, and therefore are prone to a lettering mistake here or there. Thankfully, Tombow makes a sandpaper eraser to help you out when your inked lettering looks less than perfect.
Gridded Clear Ruler – It almost goes without saying, the secret to a perfect piece is meticulously laying out your lettering grid beforehand. This ruler is see-through and offers helpful grid lines for setting up your masterpiece.
Ready to collect them all? Click here for my breakdown on buying dirt-cheap lettering supplies!
That’s it for my Absolutely Essential List of Hand Lettering Supplies. This comprehensive list should get you well on your way to being able to create all different kinds of hand lettering. These are the tools I’ve found to be the best, and most of this list I actually use daily.
Anything you think I missed? Any supplies you can’t live without? Leave a comment below and let me know your Lettering Essentials!