Resources: Tools for Lettering & Productivity
I get asked a lot about what tools I'm using for lettering, so I started writing this to layout what's in my pencil case. I'm going to take it a step further and explain (most) all of the tools that I'm using to complete projects, from lettering and design to running my business(es).
When I started lettering, I used a Pilot Precise V5 Rt retractable pen and it is still, oddly, my favorite.
There's no magic pen that will make you draw straight lines. You need to practice and hone your skills no matter what.
Everyone has their own go-to tools and I'm not advocating that you even need any of these to be successful! Here are some of the tools that I use on a regular basis:
- Staedtler Lead Holder with 2HB Lead: These lead holders are great for detailed sketching as long as you keep the lead sharp - there are a couple options that are all pretty close in price, but I use an alvin rotary lead pointer. There are a few different lead holders available, but the Staedtler lead holder is reliable and cost effective.
Zebra M-301 .50 Mechanical Pencil:
The first year that I was lettering, I didn't sketch in pencil because I never enjoyed using them before. Instead, I went straight to my pen. So sketching in pencil is something that I forced myself to start doing a while ago, and since then, I've been happy with a mix of the traditional lead holder and a standard mechanical pencil.
- Sakura Micron Pens: Microns may be the most common pens used by lettering artists and heavily used in illustration, drafting, etc. These are fairly cheap, as they're meant to be disposable
A note on microns: It took me a while to appreciate the ease of using Microns. I used to get frustrated with them because the ink would seem to just stop flowing halfway through every stroke. I couldn't find any discussions online mentioning this kind of problem, so I had no idea what was happening. Later on, I was working on a sketch and ended up having to erase the same area multiple times. I noticed that the area started to feel a little waxy and that's when I realized that the problem was with the eraser that I was using, and not the microns. Since then, I've been happily using these for inking my sketches. Make sure you're not using some weirdo eraser and you'll be golden!
However, they do tend to dry out quickly, so be diligent about capping them tightly. I've also read that it's best to store them horizontally as opposed to vertically. Hope that helps!
- Topo Pen Case: I'm a superfan of everything Topo - they sell backpacks and tons of organizational bags and make a super quality product. They are based in Colorado and everything is handmade in the United States. This bag is perfect for all my pens, field notes, erasers, rulers, etc.
- Other Pens: From left to right
If you don't have access to a local art store, you can find all of these tools on Amazon or JetPens.com
- 15-inch MacBook Pro & iMac: I use my laptop more than anything and I've recently set up my iMac to act as a monitor for my laptop when I'm working from home.
- Rain "mStand" Laptop Stand: I just ordered this recently and I am really enjoying using it so far. I was skeptical at first because I didn't think that I would be comfortable with the height of the stand, but after only a few hours of working on I'm already noticing a lot of relief in my neck and back - plus, it's super comfortable typing with the keyboard elevated. You can find it here.
- G-Drive Mobile: (not shown) This portable external hard drive comes with me almost everywhere - I use this when working from home or out of the office and when traveling.
- G-Drive: I use this to back everything up from my computers and portable hard drive.
- Little Chief The Pug: (not shown) My pug usually plants himself underneath my desk or on my lap.
Apps: I'm sure some of these will be obvious to most of you but I'll also mention some new apps that have been really helping with project management, etc.
- Adobe Creative Cloud: Creative Cloud is the most convenient update to happen to the Adobe suite! I don't have to detail all the benefits of Adobe CC, but here are my go-to apps; Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and I use dreamweaver on occasion for basic coding.
- Wunderlist: I've tried out a handful of the industry-leading task and project management apps (Basecamp, Podio, Asana, etc) and have been extremely impressed with Wunderlist. It doesn't have all the bulk of a traditional PM app, but it's extremely flexible. It's easy to organize, meetings and important tasks feed right into my calendar and you can share easily with anyone. It also allows you to use hashtags in the task names and descriptions to easily locate similar items. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a (free) project and task management app.
- Switch.co: Switch is a service that provides you with a business phone number through your existing phone and/or computer. It is basically a call forwarding system, but it also lets you set times to allow your business line to push calls through which is extremely helpful. It will also forwards all calls/texts to your email, so you don't miss a thing. It's not free but the peace of mind if worth it.
If you have any helpful productivity apps that you can't live without, let me know in the comments!