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.





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) when you're practicing. With a lightbox, 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.  


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How to Improve Your Calligraphy


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15 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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alexandra! Yes, give it a try! I always tell people, "don't give up!" It will eventually click.

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  2. Thanks for these tips, Pam. We will feature your post in the next Blogger's Pit Stop.
    Kathleen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Kathleen! I appreciate being featured!

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  3. 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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you do give it another try, Donna. It doesn't click right away. But once it does, you are on your way.

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  4. 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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so grateful for that - thank you!!

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  5. 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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, there are so many styles, and it can be so confusing at first. I hope you get a chance to give it a try!

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  6. For the last one year I am trying lettering. This is just the boost I needed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that's great! I'm so happy to hear that.

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  7. 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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

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  8. 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?

    ReplyDelete

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