Since I always get asked about what's in my toolbox I decided to put together this compilation, but the one thing I want to emphasize is that even though some tools DO make our life easy, or can speed up some processes, the only way to see improvements fast is with practice, so try to carve as much time as you can, download some of my free workbooks and let's focus on our deliberate practice!
If you are interested in checking more recommendations, I have an idea-list with a selection of all my favorite tools.
This is perfect for anyone that wants to test if lettering is something they would like to venture into, it has all the basics you will need to start and a handy little guide, it's not a lot of information, but if you are just starting not feeling overwhelmed is a must, so just start with the basics *hint* check my blog for tips and practice sheets.
I really like the selection of colors and different pens and other tools that Tomow added to this pack, you have pretty much everything you need to further your practice and experiment with color without having to buy the full 12 pack of dual brushes, and since it's a bundle you get a better deal.
The Staedtler pencils one is my favorite pencils, I might be a little biased because this was the exact ones I used during my college years, so I've been using them since for.e.ver!! I really like this bundle because you also get the eraser and pencil sharpener (they are great quality) at a discounted price, so definitely a good deal!
If you want to experiment with different kinds of softness in the lead of the pencils, this pack offers 6 different softness of graphite pencils, 3 charcoal pencils, 1 sketch stick, 4 charcoal sticks, 1 pencil sharpener, 1 charcoal sharpener, 1 kneaded eraser, and 1 white plastic eraser.
This kit is perfect when you are starting and need to make sure that your composition is on point, making line and circle guides are a must to ensure that your letters are the same size in a word and that if you are making mirrored compositions, things are actually the same widths and angles. Later on, you might not need them as much, but while you train your eye and hand, guides are a must!
I really like that in this bundle you get everything you need to get started with watercolor. The brushes, paper, and watercolors, it's perfect to start without breaking the bank. This way you can make sure that if you only invest in better quality inks (more listed in the watercolor section) once you are ready for the upgrade so that the more expensive watercolors will not just sit in a drawer.
All my favorites brush pens, with small and big tips, for a complete list check my Amazon list or check my top ones below.
This brush pen set is by far my favorite when it comes to learning, it comes in a soft and hard version. Even though the difference is not huge, you can make a little bit thicker downstrokes with the soft tip. They handle pressure amazingly good and if you use them with the correct paper (read my paper recommendations below) they can last you a long time.
This one is my second favorite fude brush pen, you can also get it in a bunch of awesome colors, and that is always a plus! (you can see them linked below) I love how durable they are and they have lasted me way longer than I thought they would.
The two previous brush pens are considered “small brushes” this one is considered a “big brush” because the tip and bristles are longer and thicker your letters are also going to be a lot bigger. The Tombow dual-brush is definitely the favorite brush pen of many hand-lettering artists, but they are not very economical, hey big box I'm talking to you! Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love them too, but I like to save them for projects and not just for drills, so that way they last me longer.
These are my current favorite brush pens, they have an easy-to-use felt tip and built-in ink supply combine the convenience of a regular maker with the expressive line variation of a traditional brush.
This one is also a “big brush” and it can be more economical than the Tombow dual-brush, I love how juicy they are and how pigmented the ink is, but because of this they don't tend to last too long. I always recommend to use them with tracing paper so that you waste as least ink as possible, they also have them in a bunch of different colors.
These are one of the most budget-friendly markers to get started, on Amazon though the price fluctuates a ton, so keep an eye for when the price drops. Or you can always buy them from Blick, they have the best prices and offers per size.
I love how budget-friendly these markers are, they are perfect for drills and the tips are not too soft (sometimes you might need to reshape them though) but other than that are they are perfect, budget-friendly and they last a long time. If you are just starting and doing a lot of drills get a box of these ones, you can thank me later ;)
This are a new products from Tombow and a very highly anticipated one. The Classic black Fude pens are the favorites of many lettering artists (me included) And they are the ones I always recommend to beginners because the tips are extremely resistant and they seem to last longer than the dual tips, plus the size is a great one for beginners.
This is the box I mentioned above, they are great fude brush pens, juicy and with a great flexible tip, they last a good time and if you use them with good paper (smooth) the tip will not fray easily. The colors are super awesome too, yay!
You've got to love when the pens you get your kids for school end up being your favorite ones for brush Calligraphy, and that's exactly when happened with these ones. They are not very popular in the USA, but you can still find them on Amazon at a regular price, they are super juicy and mine have lasted a super long time.
After testing these while looking to draw on fabric I was pleasantly surprised by how soft, juicy and overall pigmented they are. They grew on me and now they are my to-go brush pens for most projects, definitely, try them if you want to test a different “big” brush pen.
Blending can be kind of challenging at the beginning, but these brush pens are wonderful and easy to use. You get to mix them just by turning one of them on and snapping to the other, and when you color or “letter” in our case, they automatically change shades.
Talking about blending (see previous pens) the best way to blend with Tombow brush pens is by using this kit, it includes the blending pen, a spray mister, and a blending palette.
As you can tell just by the name, these are not brush pens, but I had to include them because they make the perfect companion to brush pens, I love using them to create shadows and embellishments, they have so many colors and you can never have too many of them!
Paper + paper
Different kinds of paper, for practice, drawing, final projects and watercolor.
This little pad is the most recommended and loved paper-pad among lettering and calligraphy artist because of it's great smoothness. It comes in different sizes so you can use it for drills or just to create small pieces, it's more pricey than other pads, but it treats brush pens very well.
This is my favorite paper for inking and also for brush calligraphy since it's super smooth and it does not absorb all the ink as some do, but because of this you need to be careful and wait for the ink to dry, or you will have a mess in your hands and your paper!
This is definitely the more economical alternative for paper, I use this exact paper to print all my drill grids. It's a great way to save money while you practice, so you can use your special paper for projects and your brush pens will not get damaged like they do with regular copy paper.
This pad is also a great alternative when using brush pens, it's definitely not as smooth as tracer paper, but it gets the job done and it's a lot thicker than regular paper so it will not bleed (or at least not as much) when using super juicy markers or brush pens.
The Strathmore 400 series marker paper has a super smooth surface for markers and brush pens to glide right over, the pad has 24 sheets of acid-free, 50.5lb heavyweight paper that is bleed and feather resistant.
Mixed media is all about layering, and this paper is strong enough to withstand a variety of wet and dry techniques, due to its combination of sizing and texture. This pad holds 150 sheets of 108 lb (160 gsm), acid-free, 9×12 inches paper.
This pad is super versatile because you can use it for wet and dry mediums, but because of the light texture, I would not recommend it for practice. The gluebound pads contain 15 sheets each and feature flip-over covers, the paper weights 184 lb (300 gsm) so it's perfect for long lasting artwork.
Check out my Amazon list for all thing sketching and inking. Or check below for some of my favorites.
Pretty much every awesome lettering artist you see loved this lead holder. I was first introduced to it when I was in college, so I was kind of forced to love it because of how easy it was to change different leads without having to have a ton of different pencils. I still have and use mine, but I am not such a fan of the metal feel when holding a pencil, so I prefer to use the one below. If you are looking into changing the leads for different hardness or softness, you should check this one anyway, and the lead sharpener.
I love how thick this mechanical pencil is, I always have it in my travel pencil case (if my boys don't steal it). The grip is super comfortable and changing the lead to a softer one will give you so much control and shades.
I love having a bunch of these around for when I want to sketch something really quick, and the 0.7 mm size is my favorite ever! It's big enough to be strong but you can still make soft lines.
This is my absolute favorite eraser, I first purchased this one while still in college back in Chile, it was the older version but the same concept. I love that the shape of the eraser gives you 3 sharp point that you can use to be more precise, it's way better than the round ones in my opinion. Also, it's a great alternative if you don't have an eraser shield.
I absolutely love the previous eraser, but because this one is so thin, it allows such a precise erase. If you are working on pieces that require this kind of precision, you will absolutely love this eraser. It is small, and for the amount of actual “eraser” you get it's a little expensive, but it does the job it was designed to do so well.
There are some things that once you find the brand that you love, you just stick to it and never look back. For me the Staedtler erasers are it. I've been using them since my early college years and absolutely love them!
While the rulers and compass I have are from my technical drawing time in college, this set that I found is a great way to start at a very affordable price. it includes a compass, a box of leads, a ruler, a 180 Degree Protractor, a 30/60-degree triangle ruler, and a 45-degree triangle ruler.
While this is technically not a sketching tool, you would definitely need a surface to work. I love this clipboard because you can take it anywhere with you and store your paper and pens inside, plus it's pink! You can always just get a regular clipboard to hold your loose papers.
Check out my Amazon list for all thing sketching and inking. For my top favorites, check below.
This pack is awesome for lettering because you get a wide variety of thickness and also one brush pen, so if you want to start lettering but you are not sure if brush calligraphy is for you, you can just get this and start practicing with the one included here. They are a great deal too! (Instead of buying them in singles)
I love that this pen can be refilled (the refill station is sold separately) but if you are doing a lot of work, something like this comes super handy, I was using SO MANY pens, until I found this kind of refillable ink pen. They are not as cheap at the beginning but worth every penny in the long run.
I was also introduced to this multi-liners during technical drawing in college, but it took me a while to find them here. I love that these particular ones have a great range of thickness, they are refillable and you can also replace the nib. These features are awesome because I can go through one pen in just a couple of days, so this feature really helps my wallet (and can save you a ton too!)
After using the Cricut BrightPad for a few months I am a converted. It's so much better than my older lightbox (linked below) little things like the fact that you have to push down in order to change the brightness prevent you from hitting it by accident, like I always do with my older light-box.
If you don't want to use tracing paper a light pad is a perfect solution ( and also a great one if you venture into watercolor) This is the one I have now, I tried some of the more expensive ones and this one beats most of them, it's worth its weight in gold (actually way more than it's weight because it's super light!)
Everything you need to get started with chalk lettering, I also added some of my favorite tools to enlarge letters for murals.
This is my favorite chalk, I don't like when some chalk “melts” in your hand, and this anti-dust chalk fixes that, it works so good when I sharpen it and it doesn't break too easily.
I mentioned that I don't like the feeling of chalk hands, so this is perfect for that, I've had this holder for so long and still works perfectly. Also, it works so good for small pieces of chalk, so you can have a better grip.
This is my favorite chalk sharpener, it's not really made for chalk, but the bigger opening fits the Crayola chalk like a glove. I leave this one just for chalk and it has been great for the last 4 years. I recently also purchased this electric sharpener that works so great for when I do murals.
This one is my favorite eraser because it leaves a nice thin layer of chalk when used, I like to use this one for dimension and also to go over after I cure surfaces, it doesn't take ALL of the chalk away, and works perfectly for larger areas.
This is my favorite towel to clean up my hands and also the surfaces that I want to keep with the least amount of chalk powder. It's soft and it's perfect to just throw in the washer once it needs it.
My favorite basics to start painting and practicing lettering with watercolors, I am listing a variety of price points so that you can start in a budget-friendly way, and build up as you improve!
Pretty much every other lettering artist that is doing watercolor would swear by these and there's a reason why. The fact that you can dip one color and have another in the barrel makes blending a breeze, and if you use them just with water, not having to dip the brush as often is really nice, they have a great range of sizes (three different thickness) and they are super comfortable in the grip, overall super awesome!
I love these little brushes, the grip is so soft and they have lasted me SO long! they are well constructed and get the job done, pretty much all you need in a brush set.
This set is my favorite, I use them for watercolor lettering and they are wonderful. It has great pigmentation and you can even erase on top of it without everything becoming a total mess, like all other watercolors. And you can never have too many Dr. Ph. Martin's inks!
I love the quality and the watercolor effects you can get with these pens, I like the control that you get from holding a marker and the softness that you can accomplish when you add water.
This is my favorite watercolor paper, it's not the most expensive out there, but it has amazing quality for the use I give it (watercolor lettering) I hope to expand my watercolor work to more natural and botanical subjects, but that is still in the works =] Maybe I'll change papers then!
I like that with this little palette I can save my watercolors to keep working on something later or the following day, I have never tried it with longer times, so I can't assure it will work as good, but it's great that my watercolor doesn't get dry if I need to take a break while working ( because let's be real when you are working with kids in the house, MANY times you HAVE to take breaks to make sure they are not burning down the house)
My favorite tools and accessories for creating lettering and calligraphy using the iPad Pro. Everything listed is the exact set up I have =]
This is the exact size and capacity I have, and it's the BEST! I always say that this has been the best investment I've ever made in my business, I am able to sketch on the go, and send previous to clients so much faster than before. Don't get me wrong, I still LOVE my pens and paper, but this handy tool would change any creative's life. I guarantee it!
This is the second generation of apple pencil, and there is not one thing I don't like about the changes from the previous one. Funny story, my son ate my apple pencil cap, and I was not able to find it (or maybe I refused to lol) so the fact that there are no extra pieces that will go missing is a huge bonus! It charges magnetically and it just feels so futuristic each time I set it on the side of the iPad =]
I did not ting I was going to like this keyboard as much as I do at the beginning, I mainly bought it so I could write content on the go. And I am obsessed with it now, I really like how now the keyboard covers the back and front of the iPad (unlike the previous version) and to me, it seems a lot more sturdy. I've read mixed reviews about it, but my personal experience with it has been amazing, I haven't had any connectivity issues and there is no lag when I type, (I've had it for about 6 months now)
When it comes to protectors pretty much everyone has a different favorite. I was looking for something that was matte, BUT also that was glass and strong, I have 3 little ones, and while I always keep my things away from them, they are sneaky and love technology, so better be safe than sorry! I love this protector and it has lasted me a long time, the pen slides great but it doesn't have the paper texture that other's have.
One of the major changes from m old iPad was that now it doesn't charge with the regular lightning cable, the new iPad Pro charges with USB-C cable. And the one thing I hate about all default cables is how short they are. In my case when I need to charge I don't like to stop working, so having a super long cable is a must for me.
Technically this is a laptop case, but I had this same one for my old iPad (different color, old design) and I loved it, so I went with this again, it has a super soft interior, and what I like the most about this one is that it has the handle in the side, and since the opposite side has seams, there is no danger of dropping the iPad if the zipper is not 100% closed correctly, it has a good amount of storage on the outside for cables and all my extra things as well. I love this thing!
While this is not the exact same I have (because I purchased mine via Kickstarter), this one does a very similar job. I really like the flexibility to charge my iPad with different cables and with my adapter I can also use my projector.
I love to have all my things organized, and while the cover I shared above does a great job with the compartments, I really like having a second pouch for the cables and to keep the apple pencil extra secure, after all that is the most expensive pen I have =]
Probably the only thing that disappointed me from the new Apple Pencil is that this time it did not come with an extra tip as the old ones do, so if you need to replace it, you will need to purchase them separately.
While this is not technically a digital lettering tool, it has been such a game-changer for me (and my back pain) Being able to move the whole surface to accommodate a better posture has been so good for me, especially those days that I work on it for long hours. I painted mine white so it could blend better with my desk and I love it!
Lettering & calligraphy books
For additional pictures and details about the best Calligraphy and lettering books for beginners, please check out this post.
This book by Ivan Castro is the best for anyone that wants to venture into lettering or calligraphy, is such a great guide for beginners and also pretty much the best book to really understand the difference between Lettering and Calligraphy and why the terms are not interchangeable, and everything is NOT lettering. (I'm looking at you “brush lettering”)
I love this book because of how much it covers about the history of calligraphy and different historic styles. It's a great guide if you are interested in more than just the script calligraphy styles and has easy to follow directions. I think it's so important to know the history of this craft and it's origins, especially if you are serious about your craft (just sayin') *hint, hint* Get it!
I have seen other books on chalk lettering, but this one is my favorite because it goes over how to construct letters and the materials, hand stretches, and all the details you'll need to know if you are embarking in chalk lettering or painting letters in a chalkboard. I would definitely recommend this one over others in the market, Dina's is very straightforward and easy to understand, the book has 15 different alphabet styles and 100 step-by-step illustrations.
4Chalk Art & Lettering 101: An Introduction to Chalkboard Lettering, Illustration, Design, and More by Amanda Arneill & Shannon Roberts
Now I might be a little biased for this book, because both Amanda and Shannon are IG-friends and I love what both of them do in the lettering world, so when they teamed up for this book I knew that I had to include it in my favorite book's list. The book is a step-by-step instruction and very beginner-friendly.
5Modern Calligraphy: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started in Script Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe
I love how in depth Molly goes in this book sharing examples and practical tips to learn and improve in modern calligraphy, she also has classes in Skillshare that are awesome. I love her teaching style. In this book, she also shares projects and examples so you can apply and practice what you are learning.
Just like the previous book, the best way to start is by taking a look at what has been done and what the original letterforms looked like, I like that this book covers a great part of the history with great examples and image references.
7The Golden Secrets of Lettering: Letter Design from First Sketch to Final Artwork Hardcover by Martina Flor
I love to look into the workflow of the artist that I admire, and this book is perfect for that, Martina Flor is an amazing Argentinian lettering artist and the examples here are so cool.
I love this book because it lets you peek into the incredible work of Jessica Hische. She shares the way she approaches client work and what her “process” is, definitely a recommended one =]
This book is great for those times you are feeling uninspired, it has such a great compilation of script lettering including different historical pieces and in different styles, it's more of a magazine format in the sense that the images are the main element.
This is also an inspiration type of book. Is a collection of typographic explorations and real designers and typographers sketchbook doodles. It shows how they continually strive to find new and exciting ways of communicating through letters and words.
While this book is not about lettering it has been a lifesaver when it comes to creative work, I freelance quite a bit, so knowing how to price your work and to set different prices depending on the kind of platforms you are working on, is a must! But that information can be really hard to find, that is why this book is the best! PS. Stop underselling your work!
12The Calligrapher's Business Handbook: Pricing and Policies for Lettering Artists by Molly Suber Thorpe
This book is a guide to best business practices and pricing strategies for calligraphers and lettering artists. Whether you’re starting out in creative freelancing, transitioning from a different profession, or running a lettering business that just needs a boost, you will welcome the invaluable ideas in this handbook.
Now this book might not be for everyone because is highly technical, but if you are interested in designing type or a more in-depth book about type analysis, this is the book for you. This book is definitely not a light read, but the content is invaluable!
I love of this book examines some of the most popular fonts (it does not explore hand-lettering, but it does have some samples of script fonts) but is very helpful when you want to understand how type designers think about their letters.
Organize your tools
Some of my favorite tools, containers and ingenious products to organize lettering and calligraphy supplies, check my full list here.
I have this cart, and I absolutely love it! I take it to my craft shows and use it to store supplies in my office. My boys love to play with it and it was the “walker” of my littlest one when he was learning how to walk. So it holds a special place in my heart!
I have a couple of these ones and I use them with the top pencil storage on the size so I can get more areas to organize, while the drawers are not the smoothest thing ever, they still do their job. The area for pencil storage is my favorite.
When I was looking for ways to organize my pens, the straw dispensers where the first thing I thought about, I love how I can add all my “HowJoyful branded pencils” there and take them out as needed, plus they look so cool!
This is a great option for pens that need to be stored in a horizontal way. while I don't have this one, because I have two of the white ones listed above, it's a great economical way to store them if you don't have other options available.
Finding a big enough pencil case has always been an issue for me (hello, pen obsession), that was until I ran into this case. I love how it has different sections where you can divide your tools, or just use it to store massive amounts of coloring pencils
I have a couple of this boxes to store things that could get messy, like paints and chalk stuff, I love that they come with a piece that you can take out or use to have additional compartments. I've managed to add store pretty heavy things and the boxes are still holding strong, so I could definitely recommend them.
A compilation of everything that is in my toolbox & why I love them
A list of all the gear, tools and gadgets I use to make videos and take pictures
A list of all the tools I use to run both my blog and lettering business