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There’s no denying that hand-lettering is having a major moment.. it feels like everyone I know is embracing this hobby, and I love it, too!
If your Instagram explore tab is anything like mine, you’ve probably watched letterers showcasing their free-form calligraphy on almost every surface possible (paper, clothing, tile, glass, etc). They use fancy brush pens, paintbrushes, or even traditional nibs dipped in shiny metallic ink. And these tools are awesome, but not the most budget-friendly.
You may be tempted to think you need all the tools the professionals have in order to get started, but I promise you don’t!
Today I’m sharing 3 ideas for cheap pens that will help you kick-start your hand lettering hobby (or career). And the best part is you probably have these pens at home or in your desk drawer already.
Cheap Hand Lettering Pen #1: Ballpoint Pen
Ah, the ball point pen. The cheapest pen on the list. Accessible to nearly everyone.
Coworkers everywhere love to argue about which ballpoint pen is best and which one the manager should order for the entire office. Some ballpoint pens click open/closed, some of them have a cap. Mostly they possess black, blue, or red ink, but they are available in every color of the rainbow. If you can’t find one at home or at work, you can order a box of 24 on Amazon for $6.35 — that’s less than 26 cents per pen! But if you can’t find a dime, you can probably get one for free — it’ll even come with the name of your bank screen printed on the barrel — the next time you make a deposit or withdrawal.
I know what you might be thinking — you aren’t able to vary the thickness of your stroke with a ball point pen, which is true. BUT this is the perfect opportunity for creating modern faux calligraphy. To learn this technique, be sure to check out my post on How to Fake Calligraphy.
Cheap Hand Lettering Pen #2: Felt Tip Pen or Marker
The second cheapest pen to use when you’re getting started with hand lettering is a regular marker. It can be a permanent felt tip marker like a Sharpie, or a washable Crayola marker.
Single Sharpies can be purchased for less than $2.00 each, and an 8 count pack of Crayola Washable Markers can be purchased for less than $5.00! Markers make quick work of coloring in down strokes for fake calligraphy.
The best part of felt tip markers is the wide variety of ends, called nibs. Markers with tapered ends (like the original Sharpie or Crayola) can be used like a brush pen. The more pressure you apply, the thicker the stroke will be.
For markers that come with a fixed wide, flat nib.. use the corner for thin strokes and the whole nib for thick strokes.
Cheap Hand Lettering Pen #3: Highlighter Marker
Technically a highlighter is also a felt tip pen, but in this case, the ink is neon. It’s also more transparent than a regular marker, so you can use it as a background to make one word stand out from the others in your composition. The fixed nib size is great for drawing thick strokes, but you can also use just the corner to get thin strokes.
I love these highlighters because they have a transparent nib so you can see exactly where you’re highlighting. A clear nib is one of those things I never knew I needed until I used it for the first time, and now I’ll never go back.
My favorite way to use highlighters is for a drop-shadow effect that adds major dimension to your hand lettering. This is the perfect way to start getting fancy and exploring styles you thought were only achievable using digital tools.
Free Lettering Guides
Ok! What are you waiting for? Go ahead, grab your pens and markers and give hand-lettering a try!
If you need a place to begin, I’ve created a lettering guide .PDF for you! Download my Free Hand-Lettering Guides now in My Free Resource Library. If you need the password, fill out this form: