These are products and classes I recommend from personal use and experience. If you have any questions about any of the items on this page, don’t hesitate to ask me about them!
Also, the list contains affiliate links, so if you purchase from them I’ll receive a commission, with no added cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. (Thanks for your support!)
Brush Lettering, Journaling
I like the Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen for smaller brush marker lettering. The black one comes in a pack with one hard-tip and one soft-tip pen, so you can decide which tip you prefer. I prefer the hard tip because it’s easier to control.
Now they come in colors too. The colors all have the hard tip.
It’s a great size for journals, envelopes, longer quotes, etc.
Another of my favorite small brush pens is the Zebra Funwari. The tip is extra-fine, roughly the same size as the Tombow Fudenosuke, above. It doesn’t come in as many colors as the Fudenosuke, but that’s about it’s only downside. Like the Fudenosuke, it’s the perfect size for smaller lettering in your journals, envelopes, etc.
I also really love the Pentel Sign Brush Pen for smallish brush lettering. (Be sure you are getting the ones with the brush tips, as they also have some with regular marker tips. This link is for the brush tips.) The tip is a little softer than the two pens above, so the lettering will be slightly larger. The Pentel is pretty easy to control and comes in vibrant colors.
The Tombow Dual Brush Pens are wonderful for large brush lettering, plus, they are perfect for blending and watercolor techniques. They have a fine point tip at the other end, which adds versatility. These Tombows come in many colors. This pack is the Bright Palette.
If you would like a large brush pen with pigment ink, the Zig Brushables are excellent. The ink is archival, pigment ink, so they are waterproof, lightfast, and fade-proof. This makes them wonderful for memory keeping and for lettering that will be exposed to a lot of light. (But, be aware, this also means they aren’t quite as good for blending techniques like the Tombow Dual Brush Pens are. I have them both! Different tools for different types of projects.)
There are two brush tips on each Zig Brushable (which is different from the Tombow Dual Brush Pens, that have a fine tip on one end and a brush tip on the other.) The brush tip on these is a little more firm than the Tombow Dual Brush Pens, so I find them a little easier to control.
One end on the each Brushable is a 50% tint of the other end, which is nice for shading.
Be sure to use very smooth paper with your brush pens, like HP Premium 32 so as not to fray the tips. If you are going to be doing blending techniques, however, the HP Premium won’t hold up well for that.
The Strathmore Bristol holds up better for blending. It is a very smooth, heavyweight paper that is great for final artwork. (It’s not cost effective for practice.) The ink sits on top of the paper longer than on the HP Premium 32, so it’s better for blending techniques.
The Pentel EnerGel pens are some of my absolute favorite gel pens. They write very smoothly, dry quickly, and don’t smear. Plus, I love the vivid colors.
I have this pack of the medium point. I love everything about them.
The bold tip version is even more smooth than the medium. It literally glides. The bold tip isn’t as good for tiny writing as the medium, but I use it a lot for everything else, and it’s probably the smoothest pen I’ve ever used.
I use this tiny (it’s almost the size of my phone!) Canon Ivy Mobile Photo Mini Photo Printer to print my little 2×3 photos from my phone, via Bluetooth, for my journals. The pictures have a peel and stick backing, which makes it really easy to stick them in my journals. (See my review here.)
This is the case I got for my Canon Ivy. It’s a beautiful, hard-shell case, and it was only $9.99 at the time I bought it.
Prime Lenses (These are prime lenses, meaning they don’t zoom)
The first lens I purchased, after I purchased my DSLR with the kit lens, was the 50mm 1.8 prime lens. It is an extremely affordable lens. The biggest advantages of the 50mm 1.8 lens is that it can be used in very low light, and it’s a sharp lens for the money. The most “bang for the buck.” It’s available for both Canon and Nikon. While it’s not the most substantial lens in build, it is a great choice for the money and delivers very professional looking photos.
The next lens I purchased was the 40mm 2.8. This one stays on my camera most of the time. In addition to being a very sharp lens and good in low light (not quite as good in low light as the 50mm 1.8, but almost), it has a closer miniumum focusing distance, which means you can get, well, closer. With my Nikon 40mm, 2.8, this means it works well as somewhat of a macro lens, allowing some great close-ups. I’ve not used the Canon version, so I don’t know if you will have the same results. In any case, the Canon version is rated very highly as well. I’ve heard at least one Canon user say it takes great food photos for them. I have gotten terrific close-up shots with my Nikon version.
Clickinmoms is a wonderful photography resource. I have been a member for years, and it’s helped me a lot. It’s a dedicated photography community, with tutorials and member perks. There are several membership options, including a lifetime membership that is a great value. So much information in one place about every aspect of photography.
Picmonkey – Super easy photo editing, graphics, and lots of fun features. I love Picmonkey! If you don’t want to purchase a software program like Lightroom (my favorite) for photo editing, then Picmonkey is the place to edit your photos. You can also create photo collages, use their graphic design tools for social media images, and have all kinds of creative fun.
I make all of my Pinterest images on Picmonkey, so I wouldn’t be without it.
The Nikon D3500 is a perfect entry level DSLR. Beautiful images, great resolution. This is the one my daughter used in her college photography classes. I personally have not used this one, but I have the next step up from it. See below.
The Nikon D5600 is a step up from the 3500 and is the current model of my Nikon D5100. Although I have a couple of bigger, more complex DSLRs, I use my 5100 the most. It’s small, light, basic, and, most importantly, takes wonderful, clear images. I highly recommend this 5600, as it has even better resolution and more features than my 5100. (This particular set comes with 2 lenses, but it can also be purchased with only one.)