Toolbox #1 for Beginners

Toolbox #1- The Essentials Budget Box For Beginners in Brush Calligraphy

Toolbox #1- The Essentials Budget Box For Beginners in Brush Calligraphy


What’s in the tool box? Affordable and widely available supplies that all beginner Brush Calligraphy / Hand Lettering learners should have.

Okay, so if you have read my previous post then you are ready to dive in. You’re inspired, motivated and ready to begin learning the art of Brush Calligraphy! If you haven’t, read my previous post, check it out right HERE. I encourage you to take a pause from reading this post and go read My Handwriting Sucks. I promise, it will be worth it!

Today, I am starting a mini-series about the Tools of the Brush Calligraphy and Lettering Trade. I have put together 3 different toolboxes for beginners that will satisfy a thrifty budget all the way to what I like to call a “Baller” budget. We will open a new toolbox over the next few posts. 

There will also be a FREE supplies guide for each toolbox we open. You can download, print and play with your new Brush Calligraphy supplies on it! Use this guide to test out all of your new Brush Calligraphy supplies and keep track of how you like them! The tools you use when learning and practicing calligraphy are important as well as how to use and care for them when you are a beginner. These guides will be so handy to help you buy the tools you need and these blog posts will tell you all about them and where to find them!

Toolbox 1 Lay Flat

There is an endless amount of options for supplies out there. When I first began learning, I was so overwhelmed by all there was to choose from. I basically chose the first pens that came up in the Amazon search for bush pens and used the thin scratchy paper from my son’s composition book.

They were completely the wrong tools! I became so frustrated that I almost quit and I even threw them away (May they Rest In Peace). I cringe every time I think about that!

There are some tools that are perfect for the beginner and some that are a lot more difficult to manage and are better suited for the advanced learner.

The Toolboxes

These 3 different tool boxes are based on my own personal experience with these products as well as the common opinion I have discovered with my students. The first toolbox will be for the beginner with a budget for just the Essentials. The second box will be the Healthy Budget Toolbox and the third box will be The Baller Budget Toolbox.

Starting With The Basics

Toolbox #1

If you are a beginner, and have no idea what supplies are best for you in the vast sea of calligraphy supplies out there, this is THE LIST. These tools are all you need to get started. Close all the other tabs, your endless search is over! These were the tools that I SHOULD HAVE started with when I was first learning this skill.  With each item, I will provide links to where you may purchase them!

*Full disclosure: The links provided are affiliates. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I make a small commission – but it does not affect the price that you pay.

I only provide affiliate links on the items that I personally use and love!

The Essentials Budget Toolbox

ArtBin Quick View Deep Base Double Decker Portable Art & Craft Organizer

As a learner in Calligraphy and lettering, we run into a big snag with our tools. This can also probably apply to any crafter in general. Organizing all of your supplies! We have needs. Needs of spacious love and organizational care. ArtBin knows. ArtBin understands.

Check out this video to see how I organize all the supplies in this AMAZING box!

I have searched far and wide for a toolbox that can satisfy and this particular craft box from ArtBin is EVERYTHING! All of ArtBin’s products are built tough and able to take a beating, but this particular box is built for versatility and organization…

  • The top tray is perfect for storing your workbooks and paper pads. 
  • The bottom level has customizable dividers to give each of your tools a space of their own. 
  • This box will fit ALL of the contents of each toolbox AND THEN SOME. 

Level Up Brush Calligraphy: Minuscules Digital Download (Essential) 

This is the workbook. There are a lot of great workbooks out there. I have learned a lot from many of them, but I have designed this book series to be the only one you’ll ever need to purchase with my Level Up Method and challenging drills! Read my detailed description HERE. These books are also available printed! A great option, if you don’t have access to a printer at home. Proper instruction is the #1 essential for learning any new skill! With this series, you can be confident that your practice in the Brush Calligraphy alphabet will be effective and successful!

Hammermill Premium Color 32lb Copy Paper (Essential)

This paper is the Rolls Royce of copy paper. It is bleed proof, and super smooth which makes it perfect for color intensive projects. The buttery smooth surface is ideal for printing these workbooks on and your brush pens will glide across the page like glass. If you are purchasing the printed workbook, buying this paper is not necessary.

Flying Solo Calligraphy Grid Book (Optional) 

This book is filled with blank calligraphy guidelines for endless practice! Flying Solo is great for creating your own guidelines for calligraphy and lettering practice. Flying Solo is available as a printed book shipped to your door, or as a digital download that you can print from home. 

My printed books are always made with premium quality paper. High quality paper is so important to use with your brush pens, even when you are just practicing. It will improve your writing experience AND most importantly protect and prolong the life of your pens. NEVER use textured paper or any weight lower than 28lb. Your pens will fray very quickly and your writing quality and experience will suffer greatly. 

Strathmore 300 Series Tracing Paper (Optional) 

This is optional but if you’d rather not use a ton of ink from printing tons of practice pages from the Level Up Brush Calligraphy workbook or using up all of your pages in the printed book, then tracing paper is going to come in handy. It is not very important which brand you buy, because most tracing paper is very smooth and safe for your pens. I always lean towards Strathmore because they ALWAYS seem to be on sale at Michael’s! Translucent Vellum or semi-translucent marker paper are also good options.

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens (Essential) 

Say it with me…Foo-day-no-soo-kay is how you pronounce it (I have been told). These pens are my absolute favorite and #1 go-to and I ALWAYS recommend them to my students first. Tombow pens are very widely available and easy to find. You can pick them up at your local Michael’s or Hobby Lobby Stores, and there’s always the trusty Amazon! They have 2 options for brush tips:

  • The hard tip is still flexible but has some rigidity to it which provides more control and finer thin lines.
  • The soft tip is noticeably more flexible but still fairly easy to control.

The majority of beginner calligraphy learners out there generally find small brush pens easier to learn with because they find much better control with the small brush tips. Large brush pens have larger and much more flexible brush tips making them more difficult to control, so SIZE DOES MATTER!

Don’t forget to whip out your handy-dandy supply guide and use the test boxes to try them out and see which one you prefer! 

Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pens (Essential) 

Another great small brush pen option. I use these pens and love them equally as much as the Tombows. The reason I don’t always recommend them first is because this particular set not as widely available as the Fudenosukes.  Many of my students have said that these pens are a lot more smooth to write with, PLUS they come in 3 different sizes! There’s the medium, fine, and extra fine. The fine and extra fine are comparable to the Tombow Fudenosuke soft and hard tip pens. 

It is hard for me to choose which one of these sizes is my favorite. I really like the medium size because it is the only pen I have been able to find with this particular brush tip size! 

Ticonderoga Dixon #2 HB Pencils (Optional) 

That’s right! A good old fashioned pencil is a fantastic tool to use for calligraphy. They do, in fact, create thick and thin lines. If you do not have access to brush pens, any pencil will work great for learning calligraphy. Another bonus is that you don’t need to use high quality paper with them. You probably have one laying around your house right now! If you’d like some guidance on how to do calligraphy with a pencil, check out this video in the Kayla To The Letter Network ( my YouTube channel).

The Toolbox Price Breakdown

The Essentials:

  • ( Essential Supplies + Workbook Digital Downloads) = From $48.00
  • The Works: (Essentials + Optionals + All Pen Options + Printed Workbooks + Toolbox) = From  $76.00

*prices ranges were based on products from  and before the cost of taxes and shipping.

Learning the art of calligraphy doesn’t have to break your bank. Even though there are endless brush calligraphy items out there, you can relax knowing that you don’t really need a lot of them to begin. In fact, you may have the perfect beginner tool lying around somewhere already!

I hope this shopping list was helpful. In my next post, I’ll show you what’s in Toolbox #2! Over this week, try to find some time to grab these tools and try them out on your FREE printable Brush Calligraphy Supplies Guide I include when you subscribe to this blog! If you liked this post, you learned something or have a question, leave a comment and subscribe so that you can follow along. My digital door is always open. See you next time!

Don't forget to Subscribe to my Blog!

Kayla Berleth
Author: Kayla Berleth

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: