I want to talk to you guys today about the importance of slowing down when you create letters, and always keeping the staple strokes in mind.

It can be easy to skip ahead or leave our drills behind once we get stuck right into brush pen lettering – “I knowww how to do that”, “drills are boring”, “you don’t control me Emma”, etc etc.

dogeYou rn.

But do you ever find that you become frustrated at times when your letters don’t look consistent or you keep making mistakes with their form, like running out of space for the next stroke?

I want to show you why it’s important to remember to break your letters down into staple strokes, rather than get too carried away with big swooshes and flourishing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love big swooshes and flourishing. They’re my favourite, do them all the time, every day. BUT I also experience that same frustration from time to time, when my letters look out of balance or I’ve cramped them and they just look weird.

When you start moving on to professional pieces and commissions, it’s more important than ever to create that consistency so that you produce a visually stunning and balanced piece that your client will be totally stoked with.

Let’s take the lowercase letter h for example. I can’t count how many times I start the letter off with a big swooshy entrance stroke that then turns into the ascending loop all in one. Let’s face it: it’s FUN.

However, when we continue that entrance stroke into an ascending loop without stopping, we create room for error.

Take a look at this image I took on my phone that’s crookedness is driving me nuts to see what I mean:


If we continue that entrance stroke into the ascending loop, we are essentially guessing where to bring the thick stem down. We face the problem of bringing it down too closely and hardly having a loop at all, and a weirdly long entrance stroke (first example). Or, we bring it back too far and the loop is ginormous and suddenly we run out of space for the combination stroke to finish the letter (second example).

By breaking the line, we create a point of reference. A place to aim for when we bring the stem back down after the loop. This is where the entrance stroke ends, and where the beginning of the next thin upstroke starts – just near it, at the wasitline. As we created the entrance stroke, which goes from baseline to waistline, we can rest assured that bringing the thick stem down through this gap will create a letter that will not only have a balanced looking loop (not too big, not too small), but also allow us enough room to continue the next stroke and finish the letter.

This process comes in handy with words, such as handy! The aim of lettering that word would be to create it as consistently as possible – which means aiming to do things like having the same shape / size loop in both the h and the y. If we follow the above process with the y as well, we can achieve that!

Keep this technique in mind when creating lowercase letters: b, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, p, q, y and z.

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Image of rogue doge on a roof courtesy of Google.