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Brush Lettering Basics

Lesson 3 of 13

How to hold the Brush, Posture & Body Mechanics

Laura Worthington

Brush Lettering Basics

Laura Worthington

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Lesson Info

3. How to hold the Brush, Posture & Body Mechanics

Lesson Info

How to hold the Brush, Posture & Body Mechanics

so I thought you guys were really excited to actually bust this open and get started. I mean, you're probably looking at those going, all right, so let's let's talk a little bit about brush handling. So, you know, there's a lot of differences between you know, how we hand right and how we let her. So when we hand right, we his finger writing, you know, we write with our fingers or fingers or manipulating the tool. And if that's because, you know the letters are so small that you know you have to write small well, as soon as you get into a brush, you're having to start to make the letters larger. So, you know, with handwriting, we're going from, like maybe 1/4 of an inch tall in letters to 3/4 of an inch to an inch and 1/2. So, you know, all of a sudden you know, your letters become exponentially larger. And so with your fingers trying to make those motion your fingers has your fingers have a really limited range. There's only they can only get so big with that and the main purpose of u...

sing your fingers when you're doing any kind of writing is actually gripping the pen. So has anybody ever had the experience where you're trying to use a brush and all of your letters look, really, really, You know, maybe they look very rough and kind of jagged, and you have a hard time controlling it. It's because the fingertips are primarily meant for gripping. So as you're gripping and you're holding something kind of tightly, it's natural that they're going to get a little bit shaky. And the other thing, too, is that now that we use, you know, larger, larger letters, we have to increase our range of motion. So the larger the letters, the higher up the arm the movement will come from. So say, for example, if we're doing, like, really huge brush lettering, we're doing this and we're using her shoulder and all the motion is coming from the shoulders, and your fingers are just primarily there just to hold the brush. Everything else you know, even your forearm and your wrist or kind of in a locked motion, you know, as you start, may be moving down to a little bit smaller letters, you know, the motion mainly comes like from your elbow. As you're moving even smaller, it starts to come from your wrist in your forearm. Is your writing really tiny and handwriting fingers. So does that make sense? That kind of works its way down, depending on the movement. So really, what we're gonna be doing with using this brush is that we're gonna have to break some of your handwriting habits because primarily the motion comes from the rest and the forearm and or a get your fingers on Lee play a tiny little role, use a little bit of finger manipulation. But primarily you really want to focus on keeping your fingers pretty fixed so that you're not really interfering with getting these letters out. So, uh, so let's go ahead and get this bad boy started here while we're talking about this and we'll do, we'll talk a little bit more about body mechanics. Imposters were going the way that you want to, actually, before we open this up. Forgot to mention this is how you hold the brush. So generally what I do is right around this, like the sticker. You know, this aero sticker that comes down here. This is where I usually hold my grip, and I used what's called kind of like the tripod method. And it's where your three fingers kind of, you know, like go around it like in a perfect little tripod. So pretty much is how you hold a pencil or a pen. The one difference is that you want the barrel of the brush to be sitting kind of a little bit low so that we can get that dragging motion. And we're not writing on the tip, because again, the way that you're going to get most of your contract is gonna be from these dragging pulling strokes, where the brush tip is on its side, not on the top. Because, of course, when it's on the top, you can only get tiny little brush strokes, and the the bristle start to play out and do all. These is kind of these crazy things, so that's kind of the way you know that we want to work it. And so I've run across several students in the past that have an issue with this because sometimes they hold their brushes like this or they have some really unusual grip. And here's kind of my advice. If you're one of those people in you, hold your brush like this or you have some kind of an unusual grip. You're gonna be learning how to write quite a bit differently than handwriting anyway, So this is a good point in time to really try to break that habit and try it as much as you can. If you really find that it's not working for you, then go ahead and go back and see if you can modify your existing hold on that brush and make it work. But if you can this so we also want to be a close to our death. You know, I like to be. You know, honestly, I sit really, really close to my desk. You want to be kind of over your work as much as possible. You don't want to be too far back. You really want to have, you know, most of your forearm resting on the table, Not your elbow, but kind of like from about here up, that's where your resting. Because remember, we're gonna be using our motions and wrist motions, and you're gonna have to be moving around quite a bit. So you don't want to be too far back, you know. You know, you wanna want to have a really good position here. So back to what? I promise that we were gonna dio a few minutes ago before I jumped in with a bunch of other stuff. Let's get started. OK, so there's a little arrow on the sticker here. And so what we're gonna do is untwist untwist way we're going to twist. And you're gonna laugh about this in the opposite direction of the arrow And let me tell you, everybody, I will always have, like, half of the class always messes this up, so he untwist to pull it out, pull it open, and if it's not coming off, go the opposite direction. There we go. Well, that one went on the right way. Weird. Sometimes they actually I found that Ken is right there. It went in the direction, toe unscrew It went in the direction of the arrow. Mine was the opposite. Very strange. Anyway, pull off this little red ring and you want to keep this because I don't know, maybe maybe you want to propose to someone with tiny fingers, but what I usually do with this little this little red ring right here, Call or whatever you wanna call it. So I just put it on the end of the cap because what's nice about this is if you're going to take and put this in your backpack or purse later, you may want to keep this because you can kind of reassemble the brush back the original way that it came. Just in case you want to avoid having, you know, a massive Inc disaster in your in your bags. I've never had it myself. Pretty careless person when it comes to these things, that kind of throws stuff around. Hasn't happened yet that there's always a first time for everything anyway, back to putting the brush back together. So go the opposite way that you that you know, you screwed it off one direction you screwed back on the other way. And then we take a piece of paper and I gave everybody different sizes of paper because people some people like to let her really large sum like to go really small. There's really kind of no right or wrong answer when it comes to brush lettering. I highly recommend that size is something that you should experiment with. Everyone's a little bit different, and then you squeeze the crap out of this barrel until the comes out. And let me tell you, it could be a little bit of Ah, it could be a little bit of a challenge. You know, it's you have to squeeze quite a bit and I've got a little bit of a drop their on my paid paper, which is fine. And this is something that you'll have to get used. Teoh. I think that it's worth it. You know, it's worth taking the time to get used to, because it's so convenient. Have a fountain brush, but you will need Teoh constantly be squeezing this. And usually I squeeze at the very bottom of the barrel, and sometimes I actually will bend it like I'll squeeze it, Teoh like where? I'm kind of make sure don't getting on the floor. I'll actually like. Bend it like this between my fingers, the barrel, the plastic barrel. So now everyone's got ink out. Sometimes if I see a big blob coming out of the bottom will quickly flip it back up so that no, I don't have any blob. Horrific things happening

Class Description

Be sure to check out our other Brush Lettering classes on Flourishes & Ornamentation and Putting Together a Final Piece.

Brush Lettering is a fun, analog activity that can be applied to personal and professional projects. Put a personal touch on your brand, and evoke a playful spirit without changing the words themselves. In this class, type designer Laura Worthington covers the tools and techniques you need to get started brush lettering, including:

  • How to hold the brush, best posture, body mechanics
  • Basic strokes
  • Trying different styles of lettering using adjectives and themes
You’ll learn the basic strokes that are the building blocks of the alphabet, and you'll start rendering upper- and lower-case characters and numerals. Take this class, and you'll receive an easy-to follow guide you can use to practice.

Class Materials

Free Download

Worksheet | Lined Paper

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Basic Strokes & Alphabet

Resource Guide

Expressive Lettering Adjectives List

Alternate Letterforms

Tools & Materials List

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



Wow!!! Great class, terrific presenter! Easy to follow, professional, enthusiastic, fun!!! Most CL presenters have at least one of those attributes, but not all. CL Management: have potential new presenters learn from Laura's class. Only one suggestion: Laura's constant hair interference gets really tiresome and irritating. She frequently tosses her hair over a shoulder, and moves her hair behind her shoulder with her hands, and "fights" her hair being in the way during the whole presentation. Very distracting. Laura obviously loves how her very long hair defines her personality, and I'm not suggesting that is a bad thing. But for these short presentations, perhaps Laura would consider corralling all that hair with a loose ponytail, behind her back? That said, I bought the course anyway, as she is an outstanding teacher.

Debbie Smith

I loved loved loved this class. So wish I had been there in person. Although I'm not so great with the brush lettering, Laura was so perfect in her teaching and I definitely have some ideas to put into practice.


This class was amazing it had high energy lots of details . It shared new ideas on where I could use such beautiful lettering I'm super excited to use it in my business and on my note cards! Buy it!