Bouncy Lettering Tutorial Using Brush Pens

Bouncy brush calligraphy that reads, "You can do it!"

Hi! This is Melissa of @thislletters. After a lot of practice and experimentation, I found my style. I like to change things up, and bouncy lettering is a way to do that while having fun with your lettering art! I’ll show you how you can turn your basic modern lettering into bouncy lettering and how to make it your own.

Bouncy lettering is where the downstroke of a letter dips below the baseline. This is unlike traditional modern calligraphy where the letterforms are uniform and stay within the lines. This is explained in further detail below. Now, let’s get started.

Materials:

Gather your Zebra Pen lettering supplies and some smooth paper. Paper with grid lines or dots is helpful for keeping the words straight, especially if you are a beginner. These are the Zebra Pens I like to use:

  • Mildliner Brush Pen: Perfect for lettering, its large nib gives you thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes.
  • Metallic Brush Pen: Another great option that’s wonderful on black paper as well.
  • Zensations Brush Pen: Excellent for small lettering. I like to use it for creating drop shadows (see final photo).
  • Funwari Brush Pen: Also excellent for small lettering, gives you very thin upstrokes, and is good for embellishing (see final photo).
  • DelGuard Mechanical Pencil: Great for creating your own lines on dotted paper.

Lines drawn on a dotted piece of paper

Step 1: Draw Guiding Lines on the Paper

Using a mechanical pencil, begin drawing lines on your dotted paper like in the above photo. I used the DelGuard Mechanical Pencil. I like it because the lead doesn’t break or slip out. I labeled each line on my paper to give you a visual reference for the upcoming steps.

Modern calligraphy vs. bouncy calligraphy

Step 2: Compare Modern Calligraphy vs. Bouncy Calligraphy

In the image above, I’ve drawn some letters in modern calligraphy followed by their bouncy counterparts. While they look similar, it’s important to notice how the downstroke dips below the baseline in the bouncy calligraphy.

Next, practice creating some of these letters with a Mildliner Brush Pen until you’re comfortable and happy with how your letters look. The nibs on these pens are not too soft, making them beginner friendly. Remember to avoid dipping too far below the line or it will look strange and may distort the letter, making the word illegible. In addition, it’s important to note that not all letters bounce well such as the letter c, e or o.

Words written in bouncy calligraphy

Step 3: Practice Connecting Letters to Form Bouncy Words

Now let’s move on to connecting letters and creating bouncy words. I’ve lettered a few short words in modern calligraphy and bouncy calligraphy so you can see the differences. Dropping the downstroke of each letter creates bounce in the word.

Letter these words and see what you think. Don’t forget practice makes progress! These are the basics of bouncy lettering, but now we’ll take it a step farther.

Bouncy calligraphy

Step 4: Add Visual Interest to Bouncy Calligraphy

Let’s add some visual interest by allowing some letters to rise above the X height and ascender line. You can also exaggerate letter size by making them larger or smaller.

Bouncy calligraphy example

Notice in the example above how I stay within X height for letters like a,c, i, n, o, and u. Now give it a try for yourself!

Bouncy brush calligraphy that reads, "You can do it!"

Once you’re happy with your bouncy lettering, transfer it to another sheet of paper and add even more visual interest with the help of more brush pens. I used the Funwari Brush Pen and Zensations Brush Pen to embellish the quote above with stylized lines, bubbles, and outlines.

I hope this bouncy hand lettering tutorial was helpful and gives you the confidence to add some bounce to your calligraphy. For more calligraphy tutorials like this, check out How to Add Shadows to Calligraphy.