Guiry’s Watercolor Brush-Lettering Tutorial

Guiry’s Watercolor Brush-Lettering Tutorial

The latest Pinterest trend has calligraphy and watercolor fans scrambling for their brushes! Whether your handwriting is clean or irregular, thick or thin, watercolor brush-lettering is a great way to stylize and showcase the individualities of your penmanship. Spice up your greeting cards, gift tags, posters, invitations, or bullet journals with fun and organic script!

What you’ll need:

-Watercolors: Sets vary wildly from about three to a hundred dollars, depending on quality. The cheaper, the chalkier! Some mid-grade sets such as the Winsor & Newton Cotman 12-pan Watercolor set or the Sakura Koi Water Colors Field Sketch Box (shown in video) come with handy water brushes, and contain the perfect number of colors for getting started.

-Paper: Watercolor paper is the most obvious choice (blocks work well for this), but consider gridded or dot papers to help you regulate the heights and widths of your characters. Cardstock is another great option, as this technique uses minimal water and will not warp your paper.

-Pencil: If you like, use a pencil to lay out grids or letters before you move to the watercolor.

-Brushes: Water brushes are a fantastic tool for brush-lettering, as they are clean, portable, and comfortable. For traditional brushes, stick with watercolor rounds. Rounds respond the most predictably when you’re working with pressure and weight of line.

-Sponge/Paper towel: Use paper towels or tissues to clean the brush between colors that you don’t want to blend. Some portable watercolor sets come with dabbing sponges.

Getting started: You can either keep dipping your water brush in the paint as with traditional watercolor, or you can fill the brush’s reservoir with a mixture of watercolor (or ink) and water so you don’t have to keep wetting the nib. You’ll have to get the color pretty concentrated if you want this to show; more density, of course, means more opacity. The drawback of this technique is that you are limited to one color, and there’s some cleanup required of your brush pen afterward.

Strokes: Be sure that you are making use of both pushing and pulling movements. The idea is to finish a letter in as few strokes as possible to minimize streaking. The amount of pressure you use affects the weight of the line. It’s easier to push for thin lines and pull for thicker ones. Use a lot of water for smoother, more blended edges. Less water will lead to a rougher, painterly stroke.

Fonts: This is where your handwriting shines! Because the nature of brush-lettering is to allow for natural variation and personality, you can’t go wrong. Try using all capital letters, all lowercase, cursive, or print if you’re struggling for diversity. Serifs are also fun: in addition to being pretty, they can be used to balance your text visually if it’s feeling lopsided!

Have fun with it! Be sure to check out our video and all of our great art supplies at!


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