Start with the basics | Real-time brush lettering [Video]

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Do you know about the basic strokes that make up modern calligraphy? It's a set of shapes and building blocks that serve as an introduction to drawing letterforms.

When I first started lettering, I didn't have the slightest clue about these basic strokes and attempted (unsuccessfully) to practice brush calligraphy with every brush pen I could find, thinking I just didn't have the right pen.

Tools | Faber-Castell PITT Artist Brush Pen, Rhodia dot grid pad

Music | Chasing the Sun by Nick Petrov via

It wasn’t until I realized there was a “formula” to learning brush calligraphy that I started seeing improvement in my letter formations. The "right" pen doesn't make the artist/calligrapher. Starting with the basics and practicing good habits gives you the confidence to experiment with different pens, mediums, and styles that once weren't "right" for you.

There is no “fast-track” to achieving your own whimsical, signature modern calligraphy style. Sure, you can start off by emulating others, but to truly develop your own unique style requires hours of consistent practice - experimenting with different letter formations, studying different styles, and a whole lot of trial and error.

As long as you have mastered the basics, you'll be able to master whatever tool you pick up - be it the brush pen, pointed pen, or even a paint/water brush. Your style possibilities will be endless!

Ready for the basics? Join me for a workshop or download my beginner’s guide to brush calligraphy to start practicing at home and check back in the coming weeks for a video tutorial all about the basic strokes!

Video: Don't Quit Your Daydream - Watercolor Brush Lettering

For most of my life, I had an irrational fear/aversion towards watercolors, painting, and art in general. Going to art class was pure torture for me. My mind would always go blank when it was time to draw, sculpt, paint, or whatever project that involved creating something tangible.

Words, on the other hand, were my comfort zone. I aced spelling tests, wrote short stories for fun, kept a diary, got in trouble with my mom for reading "too much", and had several pen pals whom I'd send endless pages of nonsense.

If you had told me three years ago, that I'd pick up watercolor brush calligraphy at the age of 36, without having picked up a paint brush in over two decades, I would have looked at you funny. But these mesmerizing lettering videos just kept popping up on Instagram and I just had to try it for myself.

Watercolor brush lettering | Video at 8x speed | Music: "Sunrise" by Nicolai Heidlas 

I was living in Taiwan at that time, and had spent the stifling, hot summer lettering away in the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment. After three months of daily practice, I was still struggling with the brush pen and decided it was time for something new. I got my hands on a couple of generic waterbrushes and a cheap watercolor pan. Turns out, lettering with a paint brush came more naturally to me than a brush pen (what!?) - the soft bristles were much more flexible and I found it easier to achieve the thick and thin strokes. The watercolors glided over the paper so effortlessly - I didn't understand why I had wasted so much time trying those markers everyone else was fawning over!

I eventually got the hang of brush pens, obviously - but, I carved my own path to get here.

So, if you're just starting out with brush calligraphy, I want to encourage you to try new things. Things that might make you uncomfortable. Don't quit just because you can't get that one thing to work. Experiment, play, create something - even if it sucks. 

Video | Valentine's Day Lettering on Macarons

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! I hope it's filled with lots of love and sweet treats! 💕

I've never been a big fan of this "holiday" but in recent years it's inspired me to tap into my creative side as a baker/blogger and now, a calligrapher.

Lately, I've been obsessed with these cookie/cake artists on Instagram that specialize in painting on treats using edible paints and markers - they even inspired me to host a holiday cookie painting/lettering workshop over the holidays!

Too bad my macaron-making days are long over - these are courtesy of Trader Joe's. They're surprisingly tastier than some of the ones I've had from local bakeries. Much cheaper, too. 


So now that I've tried lettering on macarons, and fondant-covered sugar cookies, next on my bucket list is a cake. Any takers? ;)

Just for fun, here's a time-lapse video of the macaron painting/lettering process - over 10 minutes in real-time, condensed to about 40 seconds. Apologies for the weird lighting - I thought the sunlight would help show off the gold shimmer but it just ended up being overexposed in some parts. 

I used "faux calligraphy" on these macs as they were on the smaller side, and I didn't trust the cheap-o craft detailer brushes I had on hand to create a clean, elegant look. The edible pen has two tips - one is a bullet tip and the other is like a fine liner. Worked liked a charm!

Supplies used: