Yves Leterme

Homegrown Trajan Course - Yves Leterme
Supply List


  • Mechanical pencil (PL21)
    • I'm very happy with my Staedler Mars Technico, its drawing leads that don't break off and the sharpener that allows me to grind the lead into a very fine point, but any mechanical pencil will do. As for the hardness, HB is fine, and choose a thickness of 0.5 mm.
  • Red Pencil (S818)
    • Any red pencil that can be used for corrections is fine.
  • Ruler (S798)
    • The ruler used in my videos is a Westcott 12" Graph Ruler. They used to be called C-Thru rulers and may still be found under this name. Any ruler will do.
  • Compass
  • Broad edged nib (N02, N04, N09), pointed nib (N70, N77, N90, N113, N118, N120), straight pen holder (H63, H69, H105, H113)
    • Personally, I would do almost everything with a Speedball nib (C series), but for this you can use a Brause or a Mitchell nib as well. The size of the nib depends on the size of the letters you want to make. A Speedball C4 is perhaps the easiest to start with. If you prefer to build up the Trajans with a pointed nib, use whatever you have and see what works best for you
  • Broad edged brush (BR24, BR66)
    • Here we need to be more specific and demanding. You may already have a flat brush that works well. If so, keep treating it properly, don't use ink or acrylic, clean it out with soap regularly and thoroughly (watch my demo in the first lesson) - a good brush can last for many years.
      A few things to consider when you choose a brush to do the Trajans:
      • The most important thing in a flat brush is that it allows you to make a very thin line with its tip when you hold it upright at 90 degrees with the paper. In other words, the tip should not be fatter in the middle (residue of paint can cause this, so wash out your brush!) and all the bristles should be aligned to form one straight line.
      • Check also that none of the bristles is visibly damaged.
      • The bristles should spring back into (the right) shape after a stroke
      • The length of the bristles is also important. Too short makes the brush not flexible enough and it can't hold a lot of paint either. Too long makes the brush more difficult to handle.
    • Brushes come in different sizes. I suggest a brush of about 3/8" wide (12mm) with bristles appx. 3/4" long. A brush with smaller bristles than this makes it more difficult to write with. A larger brush is very interesting to have and experience with but it will take up too much paper for daily practice. If you have a good flat brush already, great, give it a go! If you are in the market for a new brush, here are some recommendations for beginning students:
      • Raphael Kaerell #10
      • Denis Beaux Arts' 98317 #12
      • W&N Cotman 666 with a light blue shaft.
        For more advanced students:
    • For more advanced students:
      • Daler & Rowney D88 size 3/4", which is half an inch wide and about twice as long. A very good brush, but as I said, the length of the bristles doesn't make it easier if you're a beginner. I'm sure there are other brushes that work equally well. I honestly think that a higher price doesn't necessarily give you a better brush. I'd go for a nylon brush for sure.
  • Optional
    • An Optivisor or magnifying lens to really see the details


  • Paint
    • Don't use watercolor or acrylic, but use gouache (e.g. W&N, Talens, Linel...) instead for the pen drawn and brush written capitals. (Click HERE for our selection of gouache)
    • Poster paint (e.g. Nicker) works perfect too, but only for the brush. For your practice, choose a color that contrasts enough with the paper. (S1022, S1023)
  • Ink (I08, I04, I123, I53-2.5)
    • Non-waterproof ink (Higgins Eternal, Pelikan, Waterman, Noodler's...), walnut ink, as long as it's not too thick and it flows nicely out of your nib. Use either paint or walnut ink for your brushwork.
  • Paper
    • For Built-up capitals (PS01, PS42)
      • As long as the ink doesn't bleed, the nib doesn't take up fibers too easily and the paper allows for hairlines, you're fine. Some papers are nicer to work on than others of course. I recommend paper with a bit of tooth for the pen drawn capitals - I love the texture of MBM Arches and Fabriano Roma, but Arches Text Wove and lots of watercolor serve our purpose as well.
    • For Brush Capitals (PS109)
      • You can brush letters on almost any surface, given the right medium, but since we're practicing here with a medium large brush and we'll use up a large amount of paper, we need something easy and cheap. I practiced for years on Mala paper from Ikea. You can find it in the children's section. Kraft paper also works well but if you can lay your hand on lining paper (or 'papier de fond'), that would be even better (but more expensive), since it's stronger and doesn't cockle (choose 800 grade). Lately, I also use the back of wall paper. I'm sure you can find some cheap rolls in a home-decorating shop nearby. Watch out that they're not pre-pasted though and that the surface is smooth.
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