How to create a simple background using Dual Brush Pens

If you’re a (amateur) hand lettering artist, like myself, you’re constantly looking for simple ways to create things to practice your lettering on. You don’t want to create something that takes a lot of time, just to ruin it with a spelling error, or spend a lot of time creating a master piece that is going to sit in a stack of other creations.

The best way that I have found to create a background that is quick and easy, is to use Tombow Dual Brush Pens to watercolor.

Below are the supplies I used to create my project.

Strathmore Mixed Media Paper

Easy to use and this pad comes anchored on one side, which helps reduce paper warping when water is added. I like mixed media paper over water color paper for projects like this, because it is smoother than water color paper, so it isn’t going to destroy my brush pens when I letter on it.

Tombow Blending Kit

For this project, I didn’t use the colorless blender, but I did use the blending palate and spray mister. The blending palate also comes in a larger size that is great if you’re going to use a lot of colors.

Tombow Water Brush

I used the flat brush (dark blue) for this project, because I knew I was just going to be dropping color over a larger surface area. But the small (green) and medium (teal) tips are great for more detailed work.

Tombow Dual Brush Pens

Comes in tons of colors, water-based ink that is great for blending and mixing, and has 2 different tips that are useful for almost any project! I chose a few colors that went together, and matched the “Fall” theme that I decided to do.

Now on to the project. I start simple. First, I add the color I want to use to the blending palate, by swiping the dual brush pen back and forth across the palate, and give it a light spray of water to make it more liquid.

swipe of color on the palate from the dual brush pen
lightly mist with water

Next, I mist a small area of water on my paper (not too large a space, because it will dry before you get to add color to it. By adding water to both the color and the paper, I am using a “wet on wet” technique to watercolor. I use this often, because it allows the color to flow across the page naturally and makes for more natural lines and blends between colors.

mist on paper

Next, I pick up some of the color on the water brush and drop it onto the paper.

pick up color
drop on paper- this is after multiple drops of color

Repeat this process with as many colors as you want to use, making the pattern whatever you’re going for. For this project, I wanted a “tie dye” kind of look- no real shapes or patterns, just a blending of color naturally.

page after several colors were added on

After I getting a good idea of what you want your project to look like, go back in and add more color where you want. I waited for my first layer to dry a little bit, so that the colors wouldn’t bleed together quite so much, and then went in and added more orange and yellow, as well as extended the color closer to the edges of the pages.

my finished page- still wet.

As you can see, because there is quite a bit of water involved in this technique, the colors will blend together quite a lot. If you’re looking for more controlled color, you can do the same thing, but with dry paper and wet color, wet paper and dry color, or with both dry. Each technique yields very different results and is worth experimenting with!

I let my page dry over night, just so my lettering and designs wouldn’t bleed at all once I started adding them.

I added my drawings with the Tombow Mono drawing pens and the black fudenosuke brush pens.

And there you have it, a simple way to create a fun and easy background to practice drawing or hand lettering!

Add lettering or drawings to complete project

How To: Create a unique envelope

As the holiday season starts approaching, you’ll definitely start getting the itch to send cards to your family and friends. One of the most intimidating things about creating a card is creating a cute envelope to go with it. The envelope is the first thing that someone sees when they receive your card, so you want it to be unique and make a statement. I’ve created this simple “how to” to help break it down and make it easier to get started.

The first thing you’ll have to decide when you start creating a card/envelope combo is what theme you want to do. For this tutorial, I chose a simple theme for the envelope, “neon”.

Normally, I would probably choose my card theme first, and then match the envelope to the card, but since I’m only going over the envelope piece in this how to, I chose a simple envelope theme that could go alongside a wide range of card themes.

I used a simple envelope maker to create this envelope (similar linked here). They’re super easy to use and come with easy to follow instructions. Making your own envelope allows you to create an envelope out of a paper of your choosing- that way you can customize it for the type of medium you plan on using, or can use a fun color. Making your own envelope also allows you to create cards of many different sizes, and have an envelope that matches them perfectly!

After I created my envelope, the finishing step was to glue it shut. To avoid using classic Elmer’s glue (and inevitably making a huge mess) I seal my envelopes using Tombow glue tape. It’s a super easy way to finish an envelope quickly, and with no mess.

To use, you simply press down and pull where you want the glue to apply. Pictures below to demonstrate.

easy tape applicator
blue lines indicate where the glue tape was applied
I used a super thin paper, and a bright light for this photograph, so that the tape would be visible.
Quick and easy envelope!

After finishing actually creating the envelope, the first thing I do is add my stamp, so that I can work my words and designs around it. Fun stamps are easy to find- just go on the USPS website or check your local post office. Because this envelope was going to be bright and colorful, I chose a stamp that would be pretty on brand!

Bright stamp for a soon to be bright envelope.

Now on to the actual addressing. I always sketch out what I’m going to do, before I lay it down in pen, just so I can make any corrections without having to start all over. As always, I used my trusty Tombow Mono Mechanical Pencil and Mono Eraser.

Address done in pencil

When addressing an envelope, depending on the look you’re going for, you can mix different styles/types of lettering, or you can go completely classic and do everything the same. I chose to mix and match my lettering types, since I was going for fun look on this envelope.

For the address itself, using something simple and easy to read is great, because it increases the chance that the post office will recognize where you want it to go, and your creation will actually reach the person that it is intended for. I used only black ink for the address itself, for this reason. (Thanks, Mom, for this helpful tip).

After I’m happy with my pencil drawing, I trace it with whatever pen/marker I want, and then erase my stray pencil marks. For my tracing, I used the Tombow MONO drawing pens.

trace pencil
erase stray marks

Now for the fun! Next I added some color to my faux-calligraphy on the name. All of the color I did on this envelope was done using the Tombow Fudenosuke Neon set. I’m obsessed with it.

adding some color!

Once I was happy with the way my address looked, I moved on to adding some simple decorations to the envelope! I try not to do anything too crazy, or anything that is going to mess with the address. This isn’t a necessary step, but it does add some fun details. If you’re happy with the way your envelope looks pre-decorations, then do what makes you happy!

envelope with decor

After adding my easy decorations, I was done with the front, and moved on to adding the return address.

I think it is cohesive to match the theme of the return address to the front of the envelope. But I like to change it up juuuuuust enough so that they aren’t exactly the same. But again, that is all up to personal preference.

For my return address, I mimicked the shapes for decorations that I used on the front, but changed the type a bit, because the faux calligraphy wouldn’t have looked as great in this small space.

Return address complete

And just like that, you’re done with your unique envelope!

With an envelope as thin as this one, I would take it in to the post office and ask them to run it by hand, so that it doesn’t get destroyed (thanks again, Mom). But a heavier-duty paper envelope would do fine getting thrown in the mailbox to be sent out.

Drop any questions about my process below! Thanks for following along and hope you are able to better create fun envelopes and send your family and friends some good-ole snail mail. #makesnailmailpopularagain

How to: Do a Day of Inktober

As I write this, it is October 15th, which means I am officially 15 days though my first Inktober. If you don’t know what Inktober is, it is a drawing challenge, created by artist Jake Parker, that happens during the month of October. Read more about it here.

I decided to participate in Inktober this year as a way to improve my drawing skills, and to try techniques and products that I may not have otherwise. I can already tell that I have learned so much the last 15 days, and I am constantly being challenged creatively by the daily prompts.

Because Inktober is so intimidating to inexperienced creatives, like myself, I decided to do a short How To on how I do Inktober and how I created my drawing for today

Date: October 15th

Prompt: Legend

For today’s prompt I decided to draw my favorite urban LEGEND, a sasquatch.

I started my drawing by doing a light outline of what I was going to draw, using a Tombow MONO Graph Mechanical Pencil and White MONO eraser. My pencil happens to be in light green, because it came in one of my Tombow VIP boxes, but there are several colors on the Tombow site.

Rough sketch done with pencil

After finishing my rough outline, I went back in with the same pencil and eraser, and added more detail.

More detail added to pencil sketch

My next step was to go in with a MONO Drawing Pen 05 and go over the pencil marks that I had just done, to make them permanent and actually start forming the final drawing. While doing this step, I trace my pencil markings very closely, but I also make new marks where I want something to look a little bit different.

Pencil drawing traced in pen

After I finished tracing, I went over the drawing with my eraser and got rid of any pencil marks peeping out from the pen drawing.

Erasing leftover pencil marks that weren’t traced over with pen

My next step was to pick out a set of Tombow Dual Brush Pens that I thought could be used to color in my drawing. Before I lay a color down on my final drawing, I use a blank page to test out the colors and choose the ones that I’m actually going to use. I’ve ruined countless pieces by putting a color on my final piece that was very different than what I wanted, so I try to always do this now so I know what I’m getting myself into. For this drawing, I had several options for the dark brown that I wanted to use for the sasquatch body/fur, but eventually settled on color 947 for the fur and 992 for the face/hands/feet.

color swatch featuring kitten paws

I started coloring everything in by doing the face first, so that I could cover any stray marks with the darker color.

When I was coloring in the body of my sasquatch, I wasn’t too careful to not overlap my lines, because the darker places where my lines overlapped created a nice texture for the fur.

face first
body second

Once I was completely finished coloring, I went in with a thinner MONO drawing pencil, the 01 size, and created additional fur texture by adding tiny lines all over the body of my sasquatch. These lines were meant to resemble fur lines and made the drawing seem a bit more realistic.

additional texture lines
final fully textured drawing

My final step, to commemorate the prompt and date of drawing, was to take a gray Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen and handletter the prompt and date on the side of the page.

final drawing with tools used

I forgot to mention that the surface I am drawing on (and completed all of my Inktober drawings in) is the Plumchester Square Sketchbook. The specific book that I am using is the Inktober edition, which is only different from their classic purple sketchbook, in cover design. I am using the 8.3in X 8.3in sketchbook, but there’s also a smaller 6 X 6 size available.

I hope this simple How To helps you see that Inktober doesn’t have to be as difficult or complicated as it originally seems! Here’s to the final 16 days of Inktober!

All of the work displayed in this blog is my original work, and my images cannot be used without my permission. Feel free to comment with any constructive criticisms, suggestions, or plain comments! Any requests for commission can be sent to me at

I’m a Leftie

It’s true. I’m a leftie and I decided to do art.

Now, if you’ve ever met a leftie, you probably know that we are prone to smudges, which does make this whole thing a bit interesting. I can’t say that I’ve never ruined a nearly finished piece, but I’ve learned to embrace the smudges and check my hands and arms often.

I was originally going to start this blog by saying, “It’s true. I’m a leftie and I’m an artist.” But I’m not sure that I quite identify with the word “artist” by itself. Add “handlettering” in front of “artist” and that’s getting a little closer to how I look at myself. Except, I do more than just handletter, at this point. But I’ll get to that later.

The word “artist” feels very official and serious to me, and the truth is, I’m neither of those things. Art is my creative outlet. It’s my space to have fun, and stretch my brain a little bit, after sitting at my work computer all day. So rather than calling myself an “artist,” I think I better identify as a “creative.” That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t be ELATED to do art in a more professional capacity (commissions, anyone?), but no matter where this takes me, I’m determined to make it fun.

When I first started this creative journey that I’m on, I started learning “handlettering”. I don’t make that any more specific, because when I started, I didn’t think of “handlettering” as anything more than brush pen calligraphy. Though brush pen lettering is an aspect of art that I still focus heavily on, I’ve expanded to so much more.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve expanded into experimenting with different letter types, watercolor, and drawing with different mediums. (My next stop is digital lettering and drawing, in case you were curious).

With all of that being said, this isn’t a classical art blog and this isn’t a classical calligraphy blog. It’s a blog of my lettering (modern brush lettering and otherwise), my watercoloring, my attempts at sketching and drawing, the new things I learn, and everything in between and around.

I can’t really tell you exactly what this blog is going to be, except that I can tell you that there will most certainly be a lot of color, and probably a few leftie smudges.


Enjoy some pictures below of me, and my assistant, Milo, who doesn’t do much except get in my way



All of the work displayed in this blog is my original work, and my images cannot be used without my permission. Feel free to comment with any constructive criticisms, suggestions, or plain comments! Any requests for commission can be sent to me at