Brush Lettering Tips & Resources for Lefties
So you were born left handed. You are one of the lucky 10% of the population! Did you know that you are most likely right-brained, meaning you have a good imagination and are drawn to the arts? So all this brush lettering you’ve been seeing all over the internet seems right up your alley. You may have even gone so far as to purchase some fun new brush pens. But some people still wonder, can lefties do brush lettering? The answer is yes, of course!
Before your blame your left handedness for making brush lettering more difficult, let me reassure you that learning to brush letter is difficult for everybody! I don’t believe that you are at a true disadvantage by being a leftie – you are absolutely just as capable to master the art of brush lettering, which you’ll see in the examples below. The beauty of brush pens (unlike calligraphy nibs) is that they’re round and can move in any direction. As with everybody who learns to letter, it’s just about figuring out what works for you. And we’re here to offer you a few tips and suggestions!
Tips & Tricks
The basic mechanics of brush lettering involve pulling the pen down and pressing into the side of the brush for thick strokes, and pushing the pen up with lesser pressure for thin strokes. Each letter is comprised of thicks and thins, and brush lettering is truly the art of mastering the transition between the two. No matter which hand you write with, this amounts to a ton of practice. Even if you start out unsure and your letters are shaky, keep at it regularly and you will improve.
In our brush lettering classes, we typically have 1-2 lefties in every group of about 15-20. Now, Natasha and I are both righties, so we can’t tell you exactly what it’s like to letter as a lefty. But we’ve worked with enough left handed students to start to learn what tricks help them to master brush pen. Here are a few:
Turn your paper. You’ll notice in the first image above that her paper is turned nearly 90 degrees to the right, while in the next image his paper is straight on. Most likely, your paper will be turned to the right to some degree (while righties will turn their papers to the left). But what works for each person varies, so make sure you experiment with your paper angle!
Adjust your hand position. You probably have a natural tendency for how you hold your pen, whether your hand curls over or under the pen, or goes straight across the page. But brush lettering is different than regular handwriting, so try adjusting your hand position and see if that helps.
Ease back on your grip. By pulling your hand further back on your pen shaft, you’ll have more room to get into your thick strokes, and you won’t be as tempted to press too hard on your thin strokes.
Use scrap paper under your hand. You’ve probably been fighting ink smudges your whole life, but it’s even worse to smudge your beautiful hand lettered creations! Slide scrap paper under your hand and adjust as you write to avoid grazing disasters. As a note: many brush pen inks actually dry pretty quickly (like Tombow Dual Brush Pens), but some of the inkier (or as we say, juicier) pens will cause you more trouble (like these Kuretake Metallic Brush Pens).
Resources & Inspiration
We’ve also found some great lefty letterers that can do what we can’t do: show you. We recommend following some left-handed Instagram accounts because they often share tips and information from personal experience. And of course the same community can be found on on YouTube, with lots of resources and examples. Here are some of our faves:
Brush pens are 👌🏼 if you need to write on a bigger x-height! Ps. Lefties CAN write without smudging. Here’s how I do it – it’s the same paper angle that I use for pointed pen, brush pen, and even on the iPad 👊🏼 —- Pen: @sakuraofamerica Koi Brush Pen Laser : @blackanddecker_us laser level from @amazon
Backward, forward, upside down… whichever way! First half of the video is in real time. The second half is recorded at 3x speed and if you look closely, you can see I’m practicing the “lefty hover”. I don’t recommend this move, lefty peeps, because you have no control or stability. But go ahead and try to hover. I know you will anyway!! #leftyhacks #leftylettering #miamicalligrapher #moderncalligraphy #letteringpractice
Thought we would start November with a positivity challenge hosted by the awesoms girls @tjt.design @lettersbyshells and @hazelslettering Encourage, inspire and repeat 💓 . . . . . . . #createinspirepositivity #flourish #pentel @penteluk @pentel_eu #calligraphy #handlettering #lettering #moderncalligraphy #handmadefont #typography #art #design #handwritten #fonts #handdrawn #illustration #calligraphyart #creativity #script #drawing #sketch #dailyart #typespire #typegang #goodtype #calligrafriends
Again, don’t forget that learning brush lettering is tough for righties too. Repetition, practice, and finding what works best for your personally is key. We hope these tips will help you lefties out there, and we’d love to hear what works for you!