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Recently, I’ve learned Crayola markers can be used for brush lettering. Would you believe, you can achieve lovely modern calligraphy with just some markers you may already have? It works! I’m so excited to have discovered Crayola calligraphy.
Now, I do have a lot of brush markers already… (Obsessed, remember? In that post, I talked about my favorite markers for brush lettering.) Maybe, though, you want to give brush lettering a whirl, and you don’t have a brush marker yet.
Well, if you have kids, go hunt down their Crayola markers, and if you don’t have kids, make a run up to the drugstore or Walmart, and grab some for just a few dollars. (You can get a pack of 10 different colors of markers for around the price of one actual brush marker.)
Believe it or not, you can achieve some very nice hand lettering with Crayola markers. They are fun to use and will get you started, and then you can start building your own brush marker hoard collection. (Or not. You can just use these exclusively, if you like. They really work that well.)
The Crayola markers, (both the bigger ones and the slimmer Super Tips), are pointed enough to get both thick and thin lines, similar to brush markers.
The tricks are (as with a brush marker), both the angle with which you hold the pen and changing the pressure as you make the strokes. Light pressure on the upstrokes vs. heavy pressure on the downstrokes.
Here’s how to use a Crayola marker for brush lettering:
Hold the marker at about a 45 degree angle (not straight up.) For the upstrokes, use less pressure so that just the tip of the pen is on the paper, resulting in a thin line. As you make the down strokes, use more pressure, and that will cause more of the broad side of the marker tip to touch the paper, resulting in a thicker line. You may have to change the angle a bit as you write with these markers, unlike a regular brush marker, to get the variation of thick and thin. (With a regular brush marker, the pressure alone will cause the thicks and thins.) With the Crayola markers, you need to use more of the pointed tip for the upstrokes, and the broad side of the tip for the downstrokes.
You will get the pretty thick/thin line variation, even if you are simply writing in your own cursive handwriting, as long as you use light pressure on the upstrokes and heavier pressure on the downstrokes.
Writing in cursive isn’t truly brush lettering though, because with brush lettering, the technique involves a lot of lifting the pen from the paper, while using specific strokes. But, simply changing the pressure on the marker will give you thick/thin variation.)
Write slowly and deliberately.
For the “hello” lettering in the photo at the top, I modified basic calligraphy strokes that I had learned previously. The same strokes I had learned in my traditional calligraphy instruction translated beautifully to brush markers. I also “bounced” the letters for an informal look. Putting a modern spin on the more formal calligraphy styles has allowed for some really fun and creative lettering.
These days, there are some great brush lettering books available (see below) for learning the basics of brush lettering. You will eventually develop your own style and flair.
Below are some simple exercises to get you started. Practice upstrokes and downstrokes at first, to get the feel of the difference in pressure. Then, practice the turns. The transitions are tough at first, but you’ll get better with practice. I recommend drills like this, before attempting letters.
There are also wonderful resources online now to learn brush lettering. Free worksheets, YouTube courses, Instagram examples, etc. You will be amazed at how beautiful your lettering can become by learning the basic strokes and practicing, practicing, practicing!
The books below are some good choices for beginning brush lettering. They don’t speak to brush lettering specifically with Crayola markers, but they give the basics of learning to write with brush markers in general. They will help you understand the basic strokes, how to use pressure, etc, though, so they would apply to any type of brush pen lettering.
Don’t forget to pin!
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