a guide to: calligraphy

Hi all! I hope you’re doing well. In this post I want to share some tips and tricks to get calligraphy-ing! I have been loving it for years now and doing it whenever I feel like I need a new quote on my wall. But when I started out I got frustrated by the not-getting-it-right-right-away feeling. It took me some practice and helpful tips to get where I am now and my hands are just aching to share it with you!

First, let’s start with materials. I like to use the pens above: Pigma brushes and the other one is from Tombow. They are quite affordable and nice to work with. Whatever pen or pencil you use, start with experimenting. Get the hang of the material by making lines or circles, using pressure or less pressure as you go.

Then onto the basic ‘rules’ of calligraphy.

  • Upwards strokes are thin and require less pressure.
  • Downwards strokes are bigger. Do this by using more pressure on the paper.

Really practice this with nonsense letters like you see on the image. Just make strokes upwards, followed by downwards strokes so you can also practice the transitions between thick and thin. Just remember: Up is thin, down is thick.

If you got the hang of these basic rules you can experiment with different fonts. You can go from serif to sans serif to curly and straight lines.

An old teacher of mine always quoted Picasso: “Good artists borrow, great artists steal”. Just look up handlettering online and copy it. It’s a great way to practice and to do up ideas for types of letters. Once you got the hang of it, you can use these styles to create your own ideas!

Another approach is faking it till you make it, but in a different way than you might think… There is a great technique to make letters look like they are calligraphed, even if you don’t have the right material or skill or patience. With this technique, you just write a word in any handwriting you like with lines the same width. Next, you add an extra line where with calligraphy you would be pressing hard on the paper, creating a thicker line. This line you can then fill in or leave empty for a nice effect. I usually interchange between these calligraphy styles. This ‘fake’ one is handy if you don’t yet really know where you want to put letters or don’t want to focus on the thick and thin lines.

On the image above you can see the difference between my ‘fake’ lettering and calligraphy. I’m also still learning a lot about the art! On the bottom ‘lovely’ I used purple to drop a shadow down the thick sides of the word.

And yes… Practice makes perfect. I KNOW it sounds like something you don’t want to hear, but I truly truly truly recommend just taking out a piece of paper and scribbling all over it. Nonsense words, lines, letters… Just give it a try and keep the thin line up, thick line down rule in mind.



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