A whole bunch of you suggested on previous posts that I try five days of calligraphy and I got weirdly excited by the topic, because it sort of reminded me of when I did my bullet journaling post, which is one of my favorite posts ever. For the past few days, I have been reading every post I could find on that’s about calligraphy. And let me tell you there is a lot of information out there in the ether. But the next five days are going to be my introductory journey into calligraphy, hand- lettering, brush-lettering and more.
Calligraphy Hand Lettering Photo Gallery
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So let’s get into it. Okay, the basics. Calligraphy is the art of producing decorative handwriting, and as I’ve learned it is incredibly complex. I think of calligraphy as a discipline. It’s just like learning to play an instrument. So you really need to practice and work hard at it if you really want to grow and develop the skill. There are a whole bunch of traditional calligraphy styles. Things like spenserian and copperplate and these are made with very specific formations and strokes. This post is not gonna be focused on those old school, traditional calligraphy styles, even though I will be using some traditional tools. Earlier today I went to the art store and got a calligraphy pen set and some special calligraphy paper. The pen set came with six nibs of different sizes and shapes. Nibs are the pointed metal edges that you write with.
I got a pen holder, black ink, and a little bowl to pour the ink in. I also had a couple of cotton pads near me because it’s important to degrease the nibs before you use them. I used rubbing alcohol to do this. And after I cleaned off my nibs I just dove right in and got started by practicing some basic strokes. It took a little while to get used to the strokes and to get the ink to actually come out with the calligraphy pen. You know your elbow needs to be involved when you’re writing calligraphy. You're not just your wrist, it’s a whole sweeping motion of the arm. And also the pen has to be at a certain angle to the paper. You’re not holding it upright like a normal ball pen. But perhaps the most important thing about calligraphy is that your downstrokes are always thick and your upstrokes are always thin. If you’re gonna take one thing away from this post downstrokes thick, upstrokes thin. Got it? It actually took me until the very end of the practice sheet before I realized how the calligraphy pen physically works. And then I just felt kind of silly because if I just knew that ahead of time it would’ve helped with the strokes. When you put pressure on the nib at a certain angle, it opens up a little. There are these two prongs called the tines and when they open up and there’s ink in the middle of it, it draws a double line, filling it in with ink, which is how you get your thick stroke. And then when you release the pressure the tines close which gives you that thin stoke going up.
But sometimes if you don’t have enough ink on there or if it’s not at the exact right angle, your tines will separate and draw two lines, but it will not fill it in with ink. I practiced today for 45 minutes, drawing different strokes and lines that I knew would come in handy once I actually started creating letters and words. By the end, I was really starting to get the hang of it. Today I wanted to learn and break down the basics of writing different letters. The simplest way to do this is to grab a ruler and draw four lines. The second line down is called the waistline. There’s the baseline, the ascender line at the top, and the descender line at the bottom. The space between the waistline and the baseline is known as the X-height, and that’s the height of all those small letters. Letters like “a”, “m”, “n”, and “o”. The letters that ascend up, to the ascender line, are letters like “d”, “f”, and “h”. And then there are descending letters that go down to that bottom line, and those are letters like “p”, “g”, and “j”. Make sense? I started out by using my nib and ink to write these letters, and I actually drew arrows on them to show where the upstrokes are and where the downstrokes are. But then I went to the art store and I discovered so many other types of pens and I realized that the possibilities here are endless. Just to show you some examples, here’s a quick look at what those wavy lines look like with a few different tools. The Tombow Dual Brush Pen was my personal favorite because I feel like it gave me the biggest contrast between those thick downstrokes and the thin upstrokes. And the bottom two, the Bic Marking Marker and the Bic ball pen, even though they’re great pens, they’re clearly not made for calligraphy because there’s no visible difference between the downstrokes and the upstrokes.
Now that I’ve tried out a few types of pens, I’m realizing that stylistically I really like the brush pens and brush-lettering. So today I’m focusing on using those brush pens and practicing different letters. I wrote out the whole alphabet again, and I made those up and down arrows showing which are upstrokes and which are downstrokes. It’s pretty amazing how many different styles of hand lettering there are and how many different ways you can make the exact same letter. And not only uppercase and lowercase letters, but when it comes to modern calligraphy you can be really creative with how you make those letters and where you add in those decorative elements. I think after about an hour today my muscle memory kicked in and I was really impressed with myself reading my hand create these crazy twirly, swirly letters that I’ve never been able to make before. And I’m not trying to brag but that uppercase “D” was so fancy and so good. When it comes to writing out these letters it’s different than using a regular pen where you’re applying equal pressure to all parts of the letter, so it definitely takes practice to get used to the feel of it. Certain letters like “c” and “e” are really hard for me because you have to go for that thin upstroke, to the thick downstroke, back to that thin upstroke, all in one fluid swoop And after I wrote out the letters in black, I practiced them in different colors and I even tried it with the water brush. And I know I’ve said this word about 40 times already, but the key word here is practice. After spending so much time yesterday working on individual letters, I decided that today I was finally ready to put words together. I think one of the toughest things to remember here, is that every single letter you create needs has to have some sort of connection to the following letter. So you’re always sort of thinking one step ahead here and it definitely takes practice to get this technique down. Something that I thought was fun when I first started reading posts on this topic is that you can fake calligraphy pretty easily. I first wrote the word “joy” normally, using a few different brush pens, and then I picked up my ballpoint pen and I wrote “joy”, and then I outlined the downstrokes with two lines and filled them in. I did it again with the word “fake” and the key here is to just pick out those downstrokes and give them a double line and then fill them in.
And honestly the word “fake” looked like real calligraphy. And the term modern calligraphy means different things to different people but essentially it’s a little bit more flexible than traditional calligraphy and it lets you add your own creative touch and variations. One thing that’s really fun and helps the word come out looking a little bit more whimsical, is instead of using one standard baseline on the whole word, you actually give each letter its own baseline. It’s definitely all about practice and I’m getting really addicted to practicing. Earlier I lit a candle, and I just bloged my inner nib and ink, and I wrote what came to me. Give this post a thumbs up if you’re a Hamilton fan, too. My cameraman, Andrew, who had been reading me this entire time asked me if he could have a turn and that was proof that practice is necessary, because he hadn’t practiced before and he just didn’t have it down. Today I played around with color and blending, using the brush pens. I think it’s really easy to blend if you have a Tombow Colorless Blending Pen or a spray mister, but I didn’t have either of those today, so instead I just tested out a few different blending techniques. First I drew with the lighter color, and then I added a few darker tones into it. But the second method was a lot smoother and basically I just got a plastic sheet, you can use any nonporous surface, and I took a darker pen, got all the ink out onto it, and then took a lighter pen and actually just soaked up that dark ink. And that way when you start writing, it starts out dark but as the dark color fades, you get back to the lighter color of the pen. The second method was a lot smoother and I think it gave the word sort of an ombre effect. The coolest part about this week for me is that all of my coworkers have been seeing what I’ve made and one of my coworkers, Patricia, actually asked me if I would consider making her “Will You Be My Bridesmaid? ? cards for her wedding. And I was touched that she asked me to be part of such a special occasion in her life. And it was also great that I could put such a new skill to use, so quickly.
Since my bullet journaling post, I’ve actually stopped using a bullet journal and I switched over to a regular planner because I found it was difficult for me to keep creating those weekly and monthly templates. But now that I’m getting into calligraphy I’m thinking of starting my bullet journal again and using it to practice my hand-lettering and also to create some trackers. What do you think of that? Comment below if you think that’s a good idea and as always, lemme know what you wanna see me try next time for five days at a time. Hey, thanks for reading! Click on comment button for another post on our blog, right here to comment to us on and here for my personal blog. See ya.