Calligraphy month: how to begin lettering

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Welcome to the Cosy Craft Club's calligraphy month! We really want to encourage you to have a go at calligraphy yourself, and we'll be sharing the key things you need to know to get started. You can find all our calligraphy posts in one place here.

Calligraphy is a wonderful skill - you only have to look at Pinterest or Instagram to drool over the beautiful lettering that can be produced! But it's a skill that anyone can learn (with practice), and one that doesn't require many fancy supplies (see this post to see what you do need to get going). In this post I will point you in the direction of some great resources to get you going if you'd like to try it for yourself.

The Postman's Knock is an amazing website with very accessible articles for anyone who wants to learn calligraphy. There are hundreds of articles to browse through and learn from.

A great place to start is A Beginner's Guide to Modern Calligraphy (part 1 and part 2), which give a great overview of the basics. How to learn + create modern calligraphy also features a free downloadable worksheet and a video so you can see how the letters are formed.

Writing letters

Once you've figured out what you're doing, what should you actually be writing in order to learn? The Postman's Knock has a number of free and paid worksheets which are great for practising with. It's a good idea to start each session with some warm up exercises, such as these calming calligraphy drills and 'not your average' drills.

This page has many other free worksheets you can practice with. There are also sets of in-depth worksheets to teach different calligraphy styles, which you can buy here (only $10 each).

Many other calligraphy websites also have free worksheets you can download to practice with, such as By Dawn Nicole. A good way to find them is to search on Pinterest.

Speaking of Pinterest, it is also a wealth of calligraphy inspiration. It's so lovely to see what other people do with calligraphy - but remember that they have been doing it for years so don't be dispirited if your first attempts don't look like that! I've made a couple of boards for Copperplate calligraphy and modern calligraphy so go and check those out.

Flourishing and bounce

Flourishing and bounce make your calligraphy look much more interesting! Flourishing means writing all the little swirls that are added to letters to make them look more fancy. The Postman's Knock has a couple of great articles on flourishing - here and here.

Bounce is used in more modern styles of calligraphy, and it means that your letters are at different heights on the page (so it looks like they are 'bouncing' around a bit). Amy Latta Creations has a lovely bounce tutorial to get you started with this style.

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Books

If you'd rather learn from a book than a website, you're spoilt for choice! There are so many lovely calligraphy books out there. Here are some that have been recommended to me:

Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe

Modern Calligraphy & Hand Lettering (Haynes Manuals) by Lauren Cooper

Nib + Ink: The New Art of Modern Calligraphy by Chiara Perano

Modern Calligraphy Workshop: The Creative Art of Pen, Brush and Chalk Lettering by Imogen Owen

Modern Lettering Workbook by Rebecca Cahill Roots

What to write

As Lindsay often stresses in The Postman’s Knock, you don't have to repeatedly write the alphabet to practice calligraphy. This post shows you ways you can practice your calligraphy by putting it to use, and there are hundreds of posts throughout the website with project ideas (such as envelopes). Brit + Co also has a great list of inspiring ways to use your calligraphy.

I think that quotes are great to practice calligraphy with. Pinterest is full of them! I have a board of my favourites, why don’t you do the same?

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Alternatively, if you just want something to write, Two Easels is running a year-long challenge of daily prompts, where you can calligraphy an answer to a different question each day. (Two Easels is another great calligraphy resource to browse, but it focusses on brush pen rather than pointed pen calligraphy.)

Tips

Finally, let’s go back to The Postman's Knock where there are loads of calligraphy tips:

My own personal tips are:

  • Keep practicing! Calligraphy takes a long time to master but as you keep practicing, you will definitely see improvement.

  • Watch videos of other people writing calligraphy. You can see how they hold the pen and how they make their strokes. Calligraphy Masters and IAMPETH have YouTube channels with lots of calligraphy videos to watch.

  • Look closely at the letterforms you are trying to imitate. Where do the lines cross each other? What angles are the strokes at? What shapes do the strokes make? When you look carefully, you can see how your own strokes differ from what you’re trying to achieve and you can correct it.

There is a lot to learn with calligraphy, but it's also really simple - you just need to put pen to paper and have a go for yourself! Let me know how you get on in the comments below.

Rachel x