How to get your letters to have that bounce.


Some of you have started to notice a trend in calligraphy that is not always discussed at a beginner level. And that is the bouncing letters.

Many calligraphers train their students to write all letters on a straight baseline focusing on making the letters consistently sized. This is a great way to master a consistent style, but as you begin to get the hang of calligraphing every letter- it’s time to add some excitement to your lettering. This is where “bouncy letters” come in.


It is important that you have already been practicing your alphabet and are working toward creating consistent letter forms before fully focusing on the bouncing style of your letters. You want to be able to create a natural flow as you are writing your letters. When you give bounce to your letters, it should be free flowing and connect your letters in a visually appealing way.

Here are my steps toward creating that bounce:


When you are creating a piece or practicing, think about the whole word or phrase that you are writing. Are there a lot of tall letters or short letters? Is there a good mixture of tall & short letters? Focus on making all of the letters “fit” into the look for the whole piece. The “bouncy” look is an attempt to balance out words and phrases with varying ascenders and descenders. You want all of your words and letters to fit into the piece and work together.


The number one way to create that bouncy look is simply to offset tall and short letters. The best example is in the word “letters” written in the picture above. The letters l and t are considered tall letters, while e is a tiny little letter. Because of this, I tend to place the e at about the midpoint of those letters so that it balances the word out a little bit and makes the tall letters a little bit less tall. This may not come naturally or easily, but the more that you practice you’ll find it becomes easier to accomplish!


Here’s another thing that I’ve noticed about some of my bouncier letters: they are very close together. They don’t have to be close together, but I feel that this creates a more balanced and bouncy look! Scrunch the letters together horizontally and balance them out vertically (those tall & short offsets!). This will create a well-balanced piece that is visually appealing! I like to make my smaller letters even smaller and squish them between the tall letters. This is the look that works for me!


Most importantly, though, what’s the whole point of bouncy letters? The purpose is to create a balanced, fun, and imperfect look in your lettering. This means that you need to enjoy it and embrace the imperfections. It isn’t supposed to look perfectly planned or space exactly the right way (especially not the first time!). Make sure you have fun with the words and letters. It may take your four or five tries to get one word correct, but that’s how many it takes me sometimes as well! It’s not about being perfect right away, but continuing to work hard and creating something beautiful!

These are my tips for creating a bounce in your lettering. You may try these tips and find that this doesn’t work for creating the bouncy letters that you enjoy. Something I love about calligraphy is the fact that every individual does it a little bit differently, which creates so many different styles.

What would you do differently? Tell us in the comments below!

Lyssarts Handlettering

A Beginning Letterer’s Christmas Wishlist


I’m going to make a little assumption about you based upon your finding of this blog post. You’ve recently picked up the art of calligraphy. I’m excited for you, I truly am. Calligraphy has been one of the most relaxing parts of my life over the last couple of years. I recommend it to anyone who has the patience to rewrite the same letter over fifty times in order to master it.

Since you’re just getting started, though, you may be overwhelmed when your mom so kindly asks for your Christmas wish list. I thought I would help you out a little bit. Here are some items that I would recommend for someone who is just getting started in calligraphy.

A Beginning Letterer’s Christmas Wishlist

Brush Calligraphy

Pentel Fude Touch

Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Tip

Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens

Rhodia Notepad

Beginner Brush Lettering Kit

Modern Calligraphy

Speedball Straight Pen Holder

Higgins Eternal Black Ink

Nikko G Nib

Brause Steno Pen Nib

Rhodia Notepad

These are the inexpensive starter items that I would get if I were to start either of these hobbies again. None of these links are affiliate links, by the way, I just love these websites. All of the items on these lists are things that I still use regularly to do calligraphy.

Extra Fun Items

Pentel Aquash Water Brush

Tombow Dual Brush Pens

Pentel Color Brush

Ashley Bush Custom Pen Holder

Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleedproof White Ink

Rhodia Dot Pad

Where should/can I purchase these items?

Jet Pens

Paper Ink Arts


Hobby Lobby


Get Started On Letter Connections

Step Four: Get Started Working on Letter Connections


Did you miss the last post? Click here to go back!

Get Started Working on Letter Connections

In the last post, we talked about using the basic strokes to begin forming letters. Practicing your basic strokes and letters is about the best thing that you can do to improve your lettering and get more comfortable with it.

Lately, I have a lot of people who ask me how to connect letters together and make words have good spacing or look consistent together!

One of the important things to realize and remember about lettering is that it is not the same as cursive.When we write in cursive, we write quickly & do not lift our pen from the paper unless we are starting a new word. When we do calligraphy, we lift the pen between each and every stroke- even multiple times within the same letter. Calligraphy is not as quick as cursive by any means!

The picture below should give a visual representation of each time your pen should lift while you are writing the word “hello” – the little x’s divide up each individual stroke. You may also notice that across the word the little x marks almost line up into a line because you want your exit strokes for each letter to be at about the mid-line level. This will help you to connect the letters a little bit better & more consistently throughout your words.


The x marks show where I lift the pen between & during each individual letter.

The letters shown above & below are more spaced out than they would normally be to emphasize the different places to pick up the pen. I think that it helps to see the different connection points – while you are practicing this I would challenge you to actually space out your letters like this prior to writing the word as you would like to. This will help your brain to get in the habit of picking up the pen between strokes/letters. It’s a foreign concept, especially if you are a frequent user of cursive!


The x’s within the word “hello” seem to all be about on the same line- but in the word “welcome” it is not quite linear!

I hope that this has been a helpful post in helping you to start figuring out how to connect your letters together- a bit part of it is learning how to lift your pen between strokes and where to lift the pen at! As your exit strokes become more consistent & meet in the middle of the word- you will start to see your letter connections improve!


Crayola Markers*

What’s next?!

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The only two things that you ACTUALLY need to start lettering!

The TWO things you need to start lettering!


When you first start lettering it can seem overwhelming to see all the different kinds of brush pens & supplies that are circulating out there.
What do I actually need to get started?

When I first started lettering I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on supplies, but I wanted to try different pens. The brush pens that I was able to find were not very cheap and I had a really hard time using them. A lot of the pens available at local stores were very difficult to manage and I thought that I would not be able to do brush lettering at all.

Now that I have been lettering for over a year, I feel like I’m able to give beginners a pretty good idea of the supplies that they will need to get started with!

ONE. A brush pen or two.
I think the temptation is to purchase multiple brush pens of all different kinds because you are excited about getting started. I can’t blame you for that because I definitely did the same thing. The downside to this is that you are more likely to ruin your brush pens because you haven’t quite learned how to hold them or use them yet. I recommend buying one or two brush pens to get started with and/or even beginning with a Crayola marker!
Click on the photo below to find what I think are the three best pens for beginners:


TWO. Soft paper!
Once you have some brush pens, it is important to take great care of them! The Tombow Dual Brush Pens* are often some of the most popular pens around, but they are easily frayed and can be ruined just by writing on one wrong sheet of paper. The best paper that I can recommend to you are the Rhodia Notepads*. The paper is quite possibly the smoothest you’ll ever feel and comes in many different sizes. These are available in blank, dot grid, and grid styles!


Once you have started to learn how to hold the pen, practice basic strokes, and begin to feel comfortable when building your letters THEN you should move toward buying some more brush pens. There are a lot of things out there on the market that it may feel like you NEED, but if you are looking to try a new hobby and spend the smallest amount of cash possible- I recommend buying a brush pen and a dot pad to get yourself ready!

Beyond those items, you may want to purchase an online class or a lettering guide to help you learn the basics. You can also look for calligraphy workshops within your local area!

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Brush Pen Spotlight: Zig Clean Color


In my last post I listed what I think are three of the best brush pens for beginning letterers. Click here to check that out if you want to see!

I thought I would highlight some of my favorite things about each of these pens by doing brush pen spotlights!

First up is the Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pen (longest name ever, I know).


The tip of this pen is made with actual bristles – so you are able to get a very brush-like look without having to dip your “brush” into ink over and over. How you use the pen controls the amount of white space is included in your lettering.

Something that I LOVE about this pen is the fact that you can create so many different styles with this one pen. Your lines can be thick or thin, fully pigmented or given a brushed texture, and there are plenty of colors to choose from!

Here are some examples of the various types of lettering that can be achieved using the same pen (simply in different colors):


The whole reason letterers tend to buy a lot of different kinds of brush pens is to get a new look in their lettering. That’s what makes this pen so amazing! In one single pen, there are so many different styles of letters possible!

The way to create such different letters?
– Vary in the amount of pressure used on your down strokes.
– Use a greater/lesser area of the (side of the) brush tip when creating strokes
– Leave more space between your letters
– Write slowly so that the pigment flows evenly throughout your letters (for more of a pen look)
– Write quickly, not waiting for the ink to catch up to get more of a brush look to the lettering (see red letters above writing “brush” for an example of this)


Now, these pens are called Zig Clean Colors- so I know you’d expect there to be a lot of different colors. These colors are vibrant and very fun, as well!


You can purchase a set of 12 pens like the one that I have for the variety shown above – minus the black pen, which is also included!

Like I said in the previous post, this pen was a unanimous favorite among my friends who were beginners interested in trying out different brush pens. It’s size is a big reason why it’s so easy to learn with. This pen is quite small in comparison to other brush pens and the tip is short. The shorter the tip of a pen, the easier it is for beginners to manage (for the most part). It will help you to master the muscle memory of lettering. These pens aren’t only for beginners, though. As you begin to increase in your lettering knowledge, it becomes more fun to play with them and see what different styles you are able to create!

What do you think of the Zig Clean Color’s? Have you tried them already? Or do you think there is a better beginner pen out there? Let me know!


Lettering With Crayola Markers

First Step

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The Best Brush Pens For Beginners

The THREE best brush pens for beginners.


One of the questions that I get asked the most frequently is, “What are the best brush pens for beginners?”. I thought I would help you guys out and show you the three brush pens that I think are the best for beginners and some reasons why I think so! You may already have seen that I think it’s easiest (and cheapest!) to start lettering with the Crayola markers you may already have around at home- but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have brush pen recommendations!


  1. Pentel Fude Touch
    This is my absolute #1 favorite brush pen that I will recommend very first if you ask me this question. Why? Because this pen is small & easy to manage, but it creates beautiful letters. I love that I can write more words in a smaller area because of this little pen! The tip is firm enough that it is great for beginners, but still has a brush pen’s flexibility. The size makes it easy to manage & it even comes in various colors if you’re looking to try something different!
  2. Zig Clean Color
    This brush pen was a total surprise to me. I had never heard of it, but I received a 12-pack of them for Christmas! I loved that they came in so many colors, they are small, and they have real bristles for the tip! It’s like using a brush, but you never have to dip it back into the ink. You can many different styles of lettering out of this vibrant pen! I had a group of friends over to try out all of the different kinds of brush pens that I have and this was most often the favorite!
  3. Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Tip
    This brush pen is similar to the Pentel Fude Touch (#1), but comes in both Soft Tip or Hard Tip. I have not tried the hard tip, but I do love the soft tip! This pen is almost the exact same size as the Pentel, but the tip is just slightly bigger. I like that it is small & easy to use, especially for beginners. It allows for beginners to get a handle on the way to hold the pen and what kind of pressure to use without fear of bending the tip because it’s so small. This pen can handle a lot of the pressure of you learning a new skill and won’t get ruined if you make a few beginner mistakes!Hopefully these mini-descriptions have been helpful so that you can hear about three different pens that you probably see most often on my Instagram page!




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Step Three: Use Basic Strokes to Build Letters


Did you miss the last post? Click here to go back.

I’m sure you know by now that I find the practice of basic strokes very important. The reason for this is the fact that they will help you as you begin to create your letters!

Let’s get started! All you need is a Crayola marker and some blank paper.
The first basic stroke that we are going to focus on is the circle. You may be thinking it’s just an “o”, but it is the base of a lot of letters in the alphabet!

Start out your lettering practice with a half page of the “o” basic stroke. Don’t skip this part because it will help warm up your hand! You can do other basic strokes as well if you want extra credit (and practice). Don’t forget to hold the marker at an angle! You want those thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes (tired of hearing that yet?).

Okay, now that you’ve practiced here are some letters that you can start building with this “o” basic stroke:

a, b, c, d, e, g, o, p, and q.


In the picture above I tried to show the various strokes that each letter is made out of. Your lettering style may look different than mine, but you can use this example as a guide to building your own alphabet. The great thing about lettering is that everyone’s writing is unique and beautiful in its own way! Don’t worry about your letters looking like mine, just focus on creating your own unique alphabet!
NOTE: b and p will have the thick downstroke on the right side rather than the left, which is a little bit of a different basic stroke that you may need to practice as well!

I would advise you that if you are feeling overwhelmed or annoyed with these letters to pick ONE letter to focus on this week and practice that letter only. You can create the letter various ways or work to get it exactly how you envision it in your mind. Don’t forget the importance of practicing your basic strokes so that your letters will look beautiful! I can’t wait to see your letters – if you post to Instagram please tag me (@lyssarts) on your practice!

What’s next?!
Get Started Working on Letter Connections

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Step 2: Start Lettering with Crayola Markers!

Lettering With Crayola Markers

Did you miss the first step? Click here to start with step one!

So, you’ve got your Crayola markers* now. And I know what you were thinking…I had no idea that you could letter with Crayola markers when I first started! I thought that you had to have fancy brush pens to even remotely start brush lettering!

SO. Go grab those Crayola markers again. This time you’re going to create a few different kinds of strokes. These are the strokes that are a tiny little piece of the Beginner Brush Lettering Kit. You’re going to start with those first thin & thick strokes that I mentioned and then move to some new strokes!


Now, I thought that perhaps you’re wondering HOW to create those thin and thick lines with a Crayola marker. I was right there with you, too! BUT hopefully this will help you.

When you are creating a THICK line you want to angle the pen (like shown in the photo below) so that a greater area of the pen will be touching the paper! You don’t want to use the tip and push the tip down for a thicker line- this won’t work as you will probably just bleed through the paper! If you tip the pen to the side, you’ll naturally be able to create a thicker line because there is a greater area to work with!


When you are creating a THIN line you can use the tip of the Crayola marker!


So, here’s another important tip about lettering…

You do NOT need to be writing fast. The pace of lettering is much slower than writing in cursive. You can take your time transitioning between those thin and thick strokes. Take your time creating each letter (we will talk about building letters soon, but not quite yet!). Don’t feel like you need to write fast when you are lettering because it is actually a much slower process than you might think!

AND most important of all, be nice to yourself! You are learning something new and you won’t become a professional overnight! Have some grace with yourself and enjoy the process of learning a new skill. Have some of your friends join you in learning this new skill & encourage each other as you finally start to like the lines (or letters!) you create!

What’s next?!
Use the Basic Strokes to Build Letters

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The First Step In Brush Lettering.

First Step

One of the things that people tell me the most often is this: “I’ve been really wanting to start learning calligraphy, but I just don’t even know where to begin!”

I totally agree with you there. When you want to learn something new, it’s really hard to take that very first step. It may seem like a huge task to get started with hand lettering, but it doesn’t need to be!

Do you want to know a secret about hand lettering? It has nothing to do with the supplies that you have. WHAT? I know! I was pretty surprised when I realized that, too. Brush lettering has more to do with how you use a pen to create specific lines. You can use a PENCIL to create calligraphy with the right amount of pressure. It’s all about your technique. And it is something that anyone can learn!

So, what is the first step? I know that’s what you’re wondering.

Grab a Crayola marker (I’m assuming you have one lying around the house somewhere).
Practice creating thin and thick lines with your marker. Simply make some small, straight lines. Try to create a thick line when you are heading down the paper. Then, attempt to create thinner lines when you go up the paper. Don’t feel like you need to move on to a next step quite yet. Simply try to create these two variations of lines. Thin lines and thick lines. These will be essential for your lettering.

Creating THICK lines: [Also known as downstrokes] Hold the pen at an angle. You want the side of the tip of the pen to lay flat on the paper (usually you write with the tip, but you want to angle it so that a greater surface area of the pen touches the paper!). Put pressure on the pen as you are creating the line so that the line created is larger than usual!

Creating THIN lines: [Also known as upstrokes] Begin to lift up that pressure that you would use for a thick line (or downstroke). For a thin line, you may transition to hold the pen as you “normally” would. You want to use a smaller portion of the pen (most likely the tip) so that the result is a thinner line!


Don’t worry about creating letters or words quite yet. I know that it can be hard to wait, but focus on these basic strokes until you feel as though you’ve been able to master the variation between thin and thick lines!

What’s Next?!
Step Two: Start Lettering with Crayola Markers
Lettering With Crayola Markers

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Let’s Compare Brush Pens!

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When I first started hand lettering, I was eager to try any kind of brush pen that I could get my hands on. I knew nothing about them and had absolutely no idea what I was looking for. I didn’t even know how to use them once I had them, but I was excited to try them out! Because of this lack of knowledge & skill on my part, I ended up ruining a lot of my pens. Yikes! Brush pens tend to be quite easy to mess up, especially when you have no idea what you are doing. I feel as though I’ve messed up enough brush pens that I can now help others avoid that step in their own lettering journey! I’ve decided to give you a little comparison between 7 of these brush pens that I own:


Pens (top to bottom): Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pen, Pentel Fude Touch, Pigma Brush, Koi Water Brush Fine Tip, Pentel Color Brush, Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Tip, Tombow Dual Brush Pen.

I’ve decided to look at the same elements for each pen, plus a little bit of my own personal thoughts about them. I will be looking at:
Difficulty: Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced. This should help you determine if you’re ‘ready’ for this pen. If you’re really adventurous, then you can surely ignore this recommendation!
Tip: Bristles, Fairly Flexible, Mildly Flexible, or Extremely Flexible. This will let you know the kind of tip the pen has. Is it like an actual paint brush or a more firm, pointed brush tip. Different kinds of pens will create very unique lettering styles and you want to be sure the pens you buy have the look you’re hoping for!
Colors: Are these pens available in various colors or only black & white? If you’re looking for bright colors, then some of these pens will not be the ones for you!


  1. Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pen
    I got this one as a Christmas gift, but I found a link to it here.
    Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
    Tip: Bristles, Very Flexible
    Colors: Various
    Recommendation: These pens are wonderful! They were a hit with some of my beginner friends because they are like a real paint brush, but the tip is short so it’s easier to manage. The ink runs smoothly & you can get some beautiful thin/thick lines! I would recommend these, especially because they come in so many fun colors!
  2. Pentel Fude Touch
    Purchased from: Jet Pens
    Difficulty: Beginner
    Tip: Short, Mildly Flexible
    Colors: Various
    Recommendation: I LOVE this pen. I wish that I had known about it when I started lettering! It is small, easy to manage, and creates gorgeous lettering! It’s very similar to the Tombow Fudenosuke (#6 on this list!), but for some reason I tend to lean toward this pen more! I love that it comes in various colors, as well!
  3. Pigma Brush
    Purchased from: Hobby Lobby (I bought it in the store, but added a link in case you want to see it!)
    Difficulty: Intermediate
    Tip: Long, Fairly Flexible
    Colors: I’ve only seen it in black!
    Recommendation: I personally don’t like this pen very much because I feel that it frays no matter what kind of paper you use it on. I’ve only used it on printer paper & it has already lost it’s shape. That’s a bummer because I like my upstrokes to be nice and thin, but a frayed pen creates larger upstrokes & white spots!
  4. Koi Water Brush – Small
    Purchased from: Hobby Lobby
    Difficulty: Advanced
    Tip: Bristles, Extremely Flexible
    Color: Doesn’t have a color. This pen is meant to be filled with water, I filled it with Sumi Ink instead.
    Recommendation: I personally do not like this pen at all. I prefer the Pentel Aquash Water Brush Pen (not featured in this article, but I may do a whole post on that pen!) This pen is very difficult to manage & does not easily flow across the page. I like having the ink right in the barrel, but rarely use this pen because it is frustrating to work with. The tip is very thin & long. I find this makes it hard to create transitions between thin and thick lines.
  5. Pentel Color Brush
    Purchased from: Paper Ink Arts
    Difficulty: Intermediate
    Tip: Bristles, Very Flexible
    Color: Various, most often found in black
    Recommendation: Another favorite pen of mine! I have to say, Pentel makes wonderful brush pens. I love this pen. It’s unique because the ink must be squeezed through the barrel of the pen up into the bristles. You have to be mindful of your ink usage and remember to squeeze the pen so you don’t run out of ink in the middle of a word! I highly recommend this pen!
  6. Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Tip
    Purchased from: Jet Pens
    Difficulty: Beginner
    Tip: Short, Mildly Flexible
    Color: Black
    Recommendation: I recommend this pen for beginners! It is a portable, small pen and creates gorgeous thin/thick lines! You will be writing a lot smaller than you might with some of these other brush pens, so it’s good for details or pieces with a lot of words! This pen is very similar to the Pentel Fude Touch & I recommend trying them both to see which one you like more!
  7. Tombow Dual Brush Pen
    Purchased from: Blick Arts Store, Jet Pens, Tombow USA
    Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced
    Tip: Long, Very Flexible
    Color: Various, can be blended to create even more colors!
    Recommendation: If you’ve been researching hand lettering, then you have likely seen a LOT of this pen. It creates some gorgeous lettering & is well-loved by many seasoned letterers. These pens are very difficult to use, especially for beginners! I wouldn’t recommend it as your first pen. It has a very flexible tip that is easy to fray! These pens are also not very cheap, that’s why it may be better to begin with an easier pen & work your way up to this one! I will say this though, I love the Tombow Dual Brush very much. It is easily one of my favorite pens & I love the (what seems) infinite color options. I absolutely recommend this pen, but I would say proceed with caution & use soft paper (I’ll talk more about this later, but basically look for a Rhodia notepad)


Hopefully you’ve found this information helpful as you’re on the beginning of your lettering journey. I would love to hear about YOUR favorite brush pens! Am I missing some? Please let me know! Either leave your thoughts in the comments OR you can email me at

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