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Tips for Improving Your Calligraphy and Lettering

As you may already know, I love many kinds of calligraphy and hand lettering. Brush lettering, modern pointed pen calligraphy, copperplate, italic calligraphy – I absolutely love them.  

How to Improve Your Calligraphy

The photos below show several of the styles of calligraphy I like to do. These were each done early in my journey with each style.

How to Improve Your  Calligraphy

Copperplate

How to Improve Your Calligraphy

Italic

How to Improve Your Calligraphy

Brush calligraphy with brush pens

How to Improve Your Calligraphy

Brush calligraphy with Crayola markers

How to Improve Your Calligraphy (Hint: Practice a Lot!)

I’ve had several people tell me they don’t believe they are “talented” enough for calligraphy and hand lettering.  Or that they just can’t seem to really grasp how to get better at it.  

But, calligraphy consists of learning strokes and then putting them together to form letters and then words. It’s a skill that will improve with practice. While it will come more easily to some than to others, I think everyone can learn beautiful writing.

There are many things that can hinder your progress with lettering and calligraphy, so I thought I’d share with you some thoughts today about how to improve and, hopefully, give you some confidence, too.

  • Decide which style you want to emulate.  Nowdays, there are many many different styles of lettering and calligraphy. And, gone are the days when following strict rules dominated calligraphy. That is so freeing and wonderful!  It also makes it a little more difficult to choose a style to learn first.  Modern pointed pen calligraphy and brush calligraphy are really popular right now, and there are many versions and flavors of them, depending upon who is teaching. Pick one you like from a book or online tutorial, and then get started. (Eventually, your own style may develop, too.)
  • Perfectionism can be a real obstacle to growth, so try to practice freely and purposefully, and enjoy the process. (I am speaking to myself here, as well as to my readers.)   You will find some “mistakes” in the images above, as these are early photos in my calligraphy journeys with each style. And, that’s absolutely fine!
  • Slow down.  With so many videos and tutorials online, learning hand lettering can be intimidating.  Keep in mind, when you see those videos on Instagram, many times they are sped up for time’s sake.  When you see them in real time, you might be surprised at how incredibly slowly the person is actually writing. This was one of the best tips I heard when I started calligraphy, and it remains true.
  • Use the right tools.  When you’re first learning about lettering and calligraphy, the tools can be confusing. What is a pointed nib and how does it differ from a broad edge nib?  Which brush pens and markers are the easiest to use for which purposes?  But, while it’s true that tools can be important (you won’t get great results if you try pointed pen calligraphy with an italic nib, for example), don’t feel pressure to spend a lot of money. You can pick up just a pencil and start learning basic strokes.  And, Crayola markers are fun to use for brush lettering
  • Don’t rush the process.  Lettering and calligraphy are learned stroke by stroke.  It’s best to practice the strokes before you even begin to make letters.  It can feel tedious, but practicing with drills will help you get the feel of your pen before you begin to start making letters and then words.
  • Use a lightbox (lightpad) or tracing paper when you’re practicing. With these, you can trace over letter examples, and you can re-use your guidesheets over and over.  You’ll develop muscle memory, and that helps your lettering improve. 

Most of all, enjoy the process and beauty of it all.  

Please pin for later!

How to Improve Your Calligraphy

Linking to:

OMHG Wonderful Wednesday, Creative Muster at Fluster Buster, Wow Me Wednesday at Gingersnap Crafts, Tuesday Turn About at My Wee Abode, Party in Your PJs at Apple Street Cottage, Thursday Favorite Things, Artsy Fartsy Mama, Shabby Art Boutique, Blogger’s Pit Stop, Funtastic Friday, Simply Sweet Home, The Answer is Chocolate, The Painted Hinge, Traffic Jam Weekend, Friday with Friends, Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy, Handmade Monday at Sum of Their Stories, Craft Schooling Sunday at Creative Jewish Mom, Snickerdoodle Create, Bake, Make at Eye Love Knots, Happines is Homemade at Decor, Craft, Design, Home Matters at Modern on Monticello, Inspire Me Monday at Mostly Blogging, The Really Crafty Link Party at Keeping it Real, Craftastic Monday at Sew Can Do, Lou Lou Girls, Beautifully Made at Across the Boulevard, Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life, All About Home at Common Ground, Happy Now at Jenerally Informed, Pam’s Party and Practical Tips, Grammy’s Grid

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22 Comments

  1. These are great! A few years ago, I purchased quite the number of hand lettering markers, and didn't have the patience to practice so it never turned out the way I wanted, but I've been looking at them lately, and thinking of printing off some practice sheets now that my printer is hooked up.

    Alexandra
    EyeLoveKnots.com

  2. I purchased some lettering books a few years ago and never had the patience to stick with the practice needed. I just might have to pull them back out. Thanks for the inspiration. #HomeMattersParty

  3. Pam, Thank you for sharing this on Traffic Jam Weekend! It has been chosen as a fave feature for this week's party that goes live on Thursday at 5:00 pm CST.

  4. Pam I had no idea there were so many forms of calligraphy. Somewhere in my stash is a set of calligraphy pens. I am going to book mark this so I can remember the finer points.

    Thanks for adding it to the FWF party.
    RR

  5. Hi Pam – visiting from Bloggers Pitstop – I've recently bought a brush lettering kit, but after watching quite a few youtube videos, I bought some Crayola pens and they have been much easier to work with as I get my lettering more even. I'll go back to the brush pens when I have better technique because they're tricky to get a neat look with. Thanks for all your tips.

    1. I find the regular Crayola markers very easy to work with too, Leanne. They are nice and firm and easier to control at first than brush pens. When you do try the brush pens, you might give Zig Brushables a try. They have firmer tips than some others.

  6. Great tips! I think we all want perfection when we start a new thing and actually just enjoying the process is what is important. Improvement comes with practice practice practice right?

  7. I love calligraphy, took a local class, was so much fun! Thanks so much for linking up at the 25 and Done Link Party 1. Shared onto social media!

  8. Beautiful calligraphy! I bought a set of brush pens, but my lettering still looks awkward. It's fun to try, though. Great job!

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