How To Teach Yourself Calligraphy

Teach yourself calligraphy fb

I’ve been wanting to take a calligraphy class for years. The other day I was at the Amazon store at Palisades village and spotted the Tombow Dual Brush Pens in Pastel Palette and knew it was a sign that I needed to start!

I found the Lettering and Modern Calligraphy Book and went to work teaching myself.

PS I’m going to be referring to this as “calligraphy” but it’s actually modern calligraphy/hand lettering. Traditional calligraphy uses an ink pen and looks more formal.

What To Know About Calligraphy and Hand Lettering Before You Start

  • You can do this. No matter what doubts or resistance or defenses are popping into your brain right now I promise that anyone can do this. You don’t need a bunch of fancy supplies or to be born with a gift. You just need something to write with and something to write on plus a little patience and grace for yourself.
  • You do not have to have nice handwriting to be good at calligraphy, but doing calligraphy has actually improved my handwriting. I also loved this “how I improved my handwriting” video and got some ideas from there.
  • It takes a lot of practice and at first you are going to be pretty terrible at it. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Put dates on your practice pages to see how far you’ve come! I practice nearly every day- while eating my lunch, while watching TV, to study, when I’m bored, etc.
  • If things aren’t looking right- SLOW DOWN
  • Calligraphy is not cursive. The letters are not supposed to be written in a connected fashion like cursive is.
  • It’s a great super relaxing creative outlet that can be done while watching your favorite shows on Bravo

What Supplies You Need for Calligraphy

Calligraphy Pens or Markers

If you’re just starting you don’t need the most expensive supplies ever. You basically need something to write with (pens, paint brush, markers, etc) and something to write on (printer paper, lined paper, graph paper, cardstock, etc)

Crayola Markers

Classic Crayola Markers

In fact, you can start with good old classic Crayola Markers (10 Pack). Check out this video on How To Do Crayola Calligraphy – My Tips, Tricks & Hacks for Beginners.

Crayola Markers 40 Pack if you want more color variety

Classic Crayola Markers Calligraphy example
Classic Crayola Markers Calligraphy example

Crayola Super Tips

Crayola Super Tips Markers also work, but produce a thinner line which means your thin/thick contrast isn’t going to be as obvious. They’re also really affordable with a huge color selection. If you’re just starting out I suggest the thicker classic markers, but if you’re starting to expand and want more colors without a big investment you can try these.

Crayola Super Tips Markers 20 Pack Calligraphy example
Crayola Super Tips Markers 20 Pack Calligraphy example

Sharpie Markers

Standard Sharpie Markers

You can also use a standard sharpie marker if you have them around. Be sure to use a clip board or put something under your paper so they don’t bleed through to the table. This will work for faux calligraphy as well which is a great technique for beginners.

12 count pack of sharpie markers for hand lettering and faux calligraphy
12 count pack of sharpie markers for hand lettering and faux calligraphy

Here’s an example of faux calligraphy using a regular Sharpie marker. This was one of the first pieces I did after I started learning. Calligraphy adds a nice little flair to cards and makes them extra special.

Hand lettering with a Sharpie Marker writing Grandma on a card envelope
Hand lettering with a Sharpie Marker writing Grandma on a card envelope

Sharpie Brush Pens

My next set of markers I bought after Tombows were the Sharpie Brush Pens. These pens have a shorter and slightly less flexible tip than the Tombows which make them much easier to control. The colors are super bright, vivid, and beautiful. BUT they dry out SO FAST. I still use them because when you let them rest then use them again you can get some ink out, but you just never know when they’re going to fade on you. It’s tragic!!

Sharpie Brush Pens for modern calligraphy and hand lettering
Sharpie Brush Pens for modern calligraphy and hand lettering
Sharpie Brush Pens Calligraphy Example
Sharpie Brush Pens Calligraphy Example

Sharpie Brush Tip Permanent Markers

Sharpie also makes bigger Brush Tip Permanent Markers, but the reviews say they too dry out quickly.

Tombow Dual Brush Pens

Tombow Dual Brush Pens in Pastel Palette

The Tombow Dual Brush Pens in Pastel Palette were the first set of pens that I bought. These are a favorite in the modern calligraphy/hand lettering community. They’re slightly more difficult to use for beginners due to the longer and more flexible brush tip because it gives you less control over the stroke. The colors of these are gorgeous and this is a great set of pens. Just beware that they take practice!

Tombow Dual Brush Pens Pastel Palette calligraphy example
Tombow Dual Brush Pens Pastel Palette calligraphy example

You can blend the pens together like you can see at the bottom of the example above.

Paper for Calligraphy

I use a variety of paper for calligraphy practice. You can use standard printer paper which you will quickly find out can vary widely. Heavier cardstock paper is nice because for most pens you won’t be able to see through the paper so you can fully use both sides. Having paper with lines or graph paper is helpful to work on making more consistent strokes. I’ll often use old notebooks because they keep all of my practice pages organized and I can see my progress over time.

Printer Paper

Smoother paper will keep your brush tips on your markers from fraying quickly.

HP Premium32 Printer Paper

Most of the experts I watch use and recommend the HP Premium 32 Paper which I have not tried yet. They say it gives the best color payoff for the markers. It’s also very smooth which is important so the tips of your pens don’t fray.

HP Premium 32 Paper
HP Premium 32 Paper

Rhodia Notepad

The Rhodia notepads are also very popular due to their exceptionally smooth finish. They have tiny dots instead of lines or grids for guide lines.

Rhodia Notepad
Rhodia Notepad

Graph Paper

The marker examples from above are all on Target Up & Up graph paper. Here’s some similar Five Star graph paper.

Five Star Graph Paper for calligraphy
Five Star Graph Paper for calligraphy

Calligraphy Ideas

So you’ve got your supplies and you’re on your way. After you’ve learned the alphabet and are doing lots of practicing you tend to run out of things to write. Here’s some ideas on things you can hand letter:

  • Favorite quotes (I like ridiculous Housewives quotes)
  • Study Notes
  • Names on notes or envelopes
  • Practice a foreign language
  • Anything you want to memorize i.e. bible verse, song lyrics
  • Mantras – I like to do money mantras like “Money flows to me easily and effortlessly”
  • Sometimes I’ll just write the name of anything I see around me
  • Goals
  • List of accomplishments
  • To do list
  • Brain dump

Here’s an example of me using my Tombow pens to add a little pizzaz on study notes for a professional exam

Using calligraphy on my audiology study notes
Using calligraphy on my audiology study notes

Videos that Helped Me Teach Myself Calligraphy

Before You Start/Advice for Beginners

Pep Talk About Hand Lettering/Calligraphy – You must practice everyday, your lettering will never look exactly like anyone else’s, what you do yourself is beautiful because it belongs to you, buying all of the things won’t make you better, don’t make excuses, just do it! Just try!

5 Handlettering Mistakes You Might Be Making – Slow down, lift your pen, product recommendations for beginners, differences between papers, you don’t have to spend a lot of $ to be good, basic drills, don’t compare yourself to others

Beginning Lettering Videos

Basic Strokes

consistency tips

After You’ve Started – Expanding Your Skills

Author: Lindsay

Lindsay is the creator of Blushing in Hollywood a beauty, dating, travel and lifestyle blog based in Los Angeles, California.

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