Introduction: A Beginner's Guide to Calligraphy

Hello and welcome to this instructable on beginner's calligraphy! :) By the end of this instructable, you should have obtained a good understanding of the basics of calligraphy. I would most definitely recommend learning this skill, as it is super useful for taking notes, creating gift cards or just expressing yourself creatively!

Step 1: Materials/Supplies

You will need....

  • a piece of paper or a journal
  • a ruler
  • a pencil
  • calligraphy brush pens or markers of different colours (look at the image above for examples of pens you could use!)
  • fine liners

Less expensive supplies that you can use instead of regular calligraphy brush pens are sharpies, crayola markers or regular fine liners.

Step 2: Upstrokes and Downstrokes Basics

The key to mastering calligraphy is understanding its building blocks. In contrast to regular cursive writing, calligraphy is defined by the emphasis put on its upstrokes and downstrokes. Here it is important to understand that upstrokes are always thin and downstrokes are always thick. You achieve this effect by either applying little pressure (upstrokes) or pressing the pen down harder (downstrokes). To avoid a disconnect between the upstrokes and downstrokes in your letters, remember not to take the pen off the paper but rather try creating a flow with the pen. This does take some practice! Begin practicing the technique by drawing lines on your paper, like in the picture above. The black arrows indicate if a stroke goes upward or downward.

Step 3: Creating Letters

Every letter in calligraphy consists of upstrokes and downstrokes. Try writing out the alphabet in regular cursive writing and identify where your hand moves up and where it moves down while writing the letters. Then apply this technique to calligraphy. Though it sounds cliché, practice makes perfect! My technique improved a lot after practicing my upstrokes and downstrokes continuously! :)

Step 4: Combining Letters Into Words

After learning how to write the letters of the alphabet in calligraphy, the next step is to combine them into words. This part can be rather difficult, as the beauty of calligraphy is largely determined by this step. To combine all letters, draw thin lines that connect either the top or bottom of two different letters. In order for the words to be legible, you must ensure that the lines are very thin and consistent. This will make it easier to recognize whether a line is part of a letter or simply used to connect the words. In clear calligraphy styles, the connective lines should almost go unnoticed. Look at the image above, the arrows on the left indicate the thin connective lines and the image on the right shows you how much this step affects the aesthetics and neatness of your calligraphy. As when drawing upstrokes, apply little pressure to your pen to create the desired effect of the thin and neat lines.

Step 5: Pens and How They Affect Your Calligraphy

Don't worry if your calligraphy isn't particularly neat or aesthetically pleasing just yet. This all comes with practice. However, sometimes the pen you use can have a big impact on how your letters appear on the paper. Width, length, flexibility, and the material of the tip of your pen are all things you should take into consideration.

It probably goes without saying that a thin tip will create thinner letters. A thin tip will also enable you to write smaller with less effort. As the size of the pen tip increases, so will the size of your writing. However, this is also largely determined by the flexibility of your pen tip. The purple pen tip on the picture is rather small and thin, yet it is difficult to write small letters with it, as it is incredibly flexible and will, therefore, result in you having less control over the pen and the letters. The same goes for the turquoise pen. Its tip is large and rather flexible, which makes it more difficult to differentiate between upstrokes and downstrokes.

Therefore, a beginner would benefit most from using a brush pen with a medium-sized tip which is less flexible. Lots of practice will show you which pen works best for you! :)

Step 6: Other Calligraphy Styles - Print

Though the style shown above is probably the most common, calligraphy isn't limited to only one style. Combining different variations of calligraphy may provide you with the most creative results.

The print style follows the same calligraphy rules as the regular one but resembles capitalized print handwriting, as opposed to cursive writing. What makes it different from regular capital letters is it it's narrow and long appearance. Although the letters are kept thin, downstrokes are still drawn with more pressure to create more depth.

This style is considered more formal and sophisticated, which makes it ideal for headings for class notes or invitation cards. Using the print style as base and topping it with a more stretched variation of cursive writing always makes for elegant yet playful decoration.

Step 7: Other Calligraphy Styles - Swirly

The swirly calligraphy style is certainly more playful and jovial than many others - my personal favorite for birthday cards! :) As with the regular calligraphy style, pay attention to upstrokes and downstrokes. This style is characterized by the additional loops and swirls added to letters, as in the picture. Numerous letters such as S, Y, K, J, G, R are great to use this technique with.

Step 8: Decoration

Calligraphy has become increasingly popular in the past years. Therefore, it is quite nice to add decorations that personalize your calligraphy style and make it more recognizable and unique. These decorations can occur in various different forms - flowers, swirls, corners, lines, stars, etc. It is always nice to add them to your calligraphy on cards or headings using a black fine liner. You can use many at once, vary their size, color, and shape to make your calligraphy more interesting :)

Step 9: Thanks for Reading This Far...

I hope you found this instructable helpful! Now enjoy trying out some calligraphy and keep practicing! :)