Welcome to another installment of Brush Pen Lettering with Black Chalk Co. We’re focusing on pressure today.

First – a quick recap…. 

So far… we’ve learned what supplies we need to get started, how to set up our work station, the importance of grid lines to maintain consistent angles and sizes of letters, and how to better use our body (specifically our arm) to create long and steady strokes. Phew! That’s a lot already, and we haven’t even started on staple strokes yet!

So, uh, why is pressure important?

Well, pressure is what defines and differentiates brush lettering (and other types of lettering such as calligraphy) from regular writing. Your regular handwriting is most likely done in a quick and efficient manner, with no second thoughts about applying certain pressure to certain strokes and most likely written with a pen that isn’t capable of producing varied thicknesses. Brush lettering involves mindfully creating thick and thin strokes by applying different amounts of pressure at different times to a tool that is designed to have noticeably thin and thick strokes.

The simplest way to put it is: thin strokes up, thick strokes down.


(I immediately think of this scene in the Simpsons, every, single, time).

On a more serious note:

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…But it’s not always that easy, is it?

How am I supposed to remember to apply different amounts of pressure when I’m already focusing on the angle and size of my letters, the steadiness of my strokes and the way I’m using my arm?!?


There’s that word that gives me nightmares again. *cold shiver*

I’ve mentioned before how important drills are – and I’m gonna mention it again! Repeating the same physical actions time and time again will embed the motions into your muscle memory so that in future, you won’t have to think twice!

But I’m going to tease you a little longer – we’ll look at staple strokes in Lesson Five. Once you know your staple strokes, you’ll be able to drill until your heart’s content.

For now, I’m going to bang on about another really important thing to note about pressure.

Be mindful that the amount of pressure you apply to your strokes will vary from tool to tool. Brush pens can be really flexible and have soft tips requiring very little pressure. Some calligraphy pens on the other hand can have very stiff nibs requiring a lot of pressure for a thick down stroke.

I recommend experimenting with your various tools and seeing what result you get from applying as much pressure as possible (without breaking it!) and the result you get with feather-light strokes. By knowing the capacity of your tool you’ll be able to better determine how to switch between pressures when lettering.

Don’t forget what you know!

Using grid lines and your entire arm will help you to achieve consistent lettering. Please refer back to Lesson Two and Lesson Three for more information on these.

Try it yourself

I’m going to throw you in the deep end a little. Grab some paper and your favourite tool and have a go at lettering the word ‘minimum’. This word has lots of up and down strokes all one after the other, so it’s the perfect word to practice on. I know, I know. I’m being mean. I haven’t even shown you the staple strokes yet. So why bother? For progress! See what you work looks like now, and then compare it in a couple of lesson’s time. Nothing is more motivating than seeing your progress. Don’t forget to share you work on Instagram and tag @BlackChalkCo

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please leave them in the comments section below or find us on Instagram @BlackChalkCo.

Stay tuned for Lesson Five!


*Simpsons gif courtesy of Google