Lettering resources Besotted BlogI have to confess that up until a couple days ago, I hadn’t picked up a nib and ink for nearly three weeks!  I have mentioned that you can’t ‘will’ yourself to become better at lettering, you need to put the time + effort in; although I believe that sentiment wholeheartedly I did find myself wishing I could get better without having to pull out my supplies.  The holiday season took a lot out of me with work, visitors and such, so I never had that extra energy after my 12-15 hour days to pull out my nibs and get cracking.  I was also plagued with a bout of extreme insecurity, after practicing some legitimate calligraphy exercises and my letters looking more like a ransom note than calligraphy, I was feeling a bit dejected.  Monday I started playing again and I even gave those ‘ransom’ notes a second look, you know what?  They weren’t as horrible as I remembered!  There may be hope for me yet. Some of the tools that have helped me get back on track are finding some guidelines that are a good size for me, I have a download available for you if you want to use the same ones (they were made for Copperplate practice). I have found a paper that I really like practicing on, it’s smooth, but not too slick (formerly I tried mixed media pads and bristol paper both were a little tricky) the paper is made by Canson and is the Pro-Layout for markers; bonus is that it is semi-transparent so you can slide your guidelines underneath and see them nice and clearly–so helpful!  I have become more and more attached to using the weirdly shaped oblique pen holder with the Zebra G nibs, I didn’t use it for the above lettering (this was the Blue Pumpkin another current favorite), but I am finding the oblique pen helps me with angle and being a little more fluid. It seems I naturally want to letter like Frankenstein would (if he was into calligraphy and all) just choppy and uncoordinated, so the oblique pen holder has given me a little more fluidity in my strokes.  The last thing I will mention is finding exemplars to study and re-create, these are usually alphabets with both upper and lowercase samples, sometimes you may find some with words (I once spent a few hours writing out the word ‘minimum’ to practice connecting). The Paper Bride has a really pretty + simple alphabet/practice guide that you can download here.

In my limited experience with lettering I can tell you that the tools make a big difference, if your paper is too slick or has too much texture you may run into problems with how your nib reacts to the substrate (paper). Calligraphy can be a relatively inexpensive hobby (as compared to my photography one), I am not including classes in this but quality nibs, holders, ink and paper can be procured for under $20, so don’t skimp on your tools. Let me know if you have any questions!

P.S. I had The Directory nice and loaded with resources for you for this post, but I must have accidentally deleted it (still learning how to use this here blog) so I will work on getting that updated again this weekend.

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She is obsessed with hand lettering and also enjoys taking a photo or two. She recently moved from the city to the country with her husband and two pups.


  1. Don’t be silly Sarah! I have seen your BEAUTIFUL lettering and it is envy producing, you could run circles around my meager attempts, but thank you, I am humbled by your sweet compliment!

  2. I must say that I am increasingly interested in calligraphy. I love your work. I think once mastered, it might be quite relaxing to sit quietly and create those beautiful letters. Thank you for listing your favorite products.

  3. Kathy I think it could be a great hobby for you since you love all things stationery! It is very relaxing when you aren’t being insane like I can be, but once I get into the groove it’s easy to not think about my giant to-do list and just focus on the task at hand. I love that it’s so old fashioned and I am still mesmerized when I see antique letters with beautiful penmanship–swoon!

  4. Beautiful hand lettering! What specific oblique holder do you use? Do all nibs fit all holders? Trying to teach myself. Thanks for all of the tips in your previous blogs!!

  5. Hi Tristan,
    Thanks for your wonderful posts about calligraphy! I’m fascinated by the art and just starting to learn myself. Your posts have been so helpful with my exploration of tools. Your feelings mirror so many of my own right now as a beginner with a desire to do great work. Happy writing!

  6. I am loving going back through your lettering posts! I took my first calligraphy class this past August and started a 365 day lettering project this year to help reinforce lettering as a fun hobby and escape from the daily editing in front of a computer that being a photographer entails.

    My calligraphy teacher, Deb Warnat, recommended HP premium laserjet paper for practice (easy for printing the guidelines onto), and with 500 sheets for $15 or so it’s actually pretty affordable. I am just now ordering a second pack and I’ve been practicing quite a bit since August! It’s also great for reproduction. Just thought I’d share! Also you can use spray fix/fixative to prep a paper surface that tends to bleed!

  7. Kelly this is GREAT info thank you for sharing with us. I go through a lot of paper so this is great news!

  8. I was so amused reading the part of this post where you hated how your lettering looked and then the next day, you felt like it didn’t look so bad. Happens to me aaaaalllll of the time. A man on the street near my school handed me this quote by Thoreau and I thought it applied perfectly to hand lettering!

    We know not yet what we have done, still less
    what we are doing. Wait till evening, and other parts of our
    day’s work will shine than we had thought at noon, and we shall
    discover the real purport of our toil. As when the farmer has
    reached the end of the furrow and looks back, he can tell best
    where the pressed earth shines most.

  9. Thank you for sharing!
    I’ve tried a few different nibs but can’t seem to find a smooth enough paper – the nibs keep catching. Could you offer any suggestions? I’ve always used the italic pens in the past but wanted to try the nibs with ink this time. I’m lettering a wedding blessing – should I use card stock? I would really appreciate any kind tips:)

  10. Ms. Tristan B.
    My name is Diana and I live in Karen, Nairobi, Kenya. Can you please advise me where I can get tutorials penmanship in Caligraphy and Old English Text.
    Thank you

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