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Mastering Calligraphy: An Easy Introduction

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This post is part of a series called Mastering Calligraphy.
Mastering Calligraphy: Making Your Own Font
Learn the Art of Calligraphy in Our Latest Course

Calligraphy is an art that never dies. You see it coming back into style with hand-lettered invitations and in high-end magazines. It's a great way to jazz up your correspondence and impress people.

While most people think that calligraphy is difficult to learn, it's really made up of two simple strokes, which we're going to learn in this lesson before we start our series on "Mastering Calligraphy".

This calligraphy fonts practice will teach you the basics of this art. Now, if you're looking for the best font for calligraphy to use in your digital project, scroll down after this tutorial and find our selection of premium calligraphy fonts from Envato Elements.

Elisabetta Copperplate Calligraphy Font
The Elisabetta Copperplate Calligraphy Font is available on Envato Elements

What You Will Learn in This Calligraphy Tutorial

  • How to pick the right pen tip
  • How to dip and hold the pen
  • How to do the basic calligraphy strokes

What You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Black ink (preferably Speedball or Higgins waterproof ink)
  • Practice sheet
  • Pen holder (the black part of the pen above)
  • Pen nib (the shiny gold part of the pen above)
calligraphy intro - supplies

1. How to Pick the Right Tip

There are many calligraphy pen tips for you to choose from. To start out, it's best to have a flat-tipped nib that is about 1/8" wide (the tip in the top left of this photo). This gives you a nice variation in your line work, and it's bold enough to be very different from your normal ballpoint pen. Insert the tip into the pen holder, and you're ready to go!

calligraphy intro - tips to choose from

2. How to Dip the Pen

Dip the pen gently into the ink until the ink reaches 3/4 up the tip. Too little ink and you'll run out faster, leading to scratchy lines and constant interruptions. Too much and you'll overflow the tip and cause the ink to drip out in spurts.

calligraphy intro - dipping pen in ink

3. How to Hold the Pen

Step 1

Hold your pen like you would a pencil, gripping it gently. If you grip too tightly, you'll be more likely to shake as your hand fatigues.

calligraphy intro - holding pen

Step 2

Place the tip of the pen flat onto the paper. Placing the tip flat means you will get more variations in your lines and you won't scratch a hole through your paper with the corners of the tip.

calligraphy intro - putting pen to paper

4. How to Do Calligraphy Strokes

Let's be honest: starting calligraphy is daunting. So for starters, I just want you to play on the back of your practice paper. Make some big loopy lines and some straight lines. Practice dipping your pen into the ink. There's no right or wrong here; you're just getting the feel of the pen.

calligraphy intro - playing with the pen

5. How to Do the Basic Downward Stroke

There are only two main strokes in calligraphy: the downward stroke and the curve. So let's start with the downward stroke! If it feels easier to you, you can draw each of these lines first with your pencil. That way, you have a line to follow.

Step 1

Using your practice sheet, place your pen at the top line. Keeping the tip of your pen flat against the paper, move your hand downward to the bottom solid line. You don't want to keep perfectly straight, but rather, if you are right-handed, let your line slant right (like mine below), and if you're left-handed, let it slant left. You will have a little 'foot' on the bottom of your downward stroke as you finish.

calligraphy intro - basic downstroke

Step 2

Practice filling the entire line of your practice sheet with downward strokes. You'll be surprised by how quickly your lines will improve.

calligraphy intro - basic downstroke line

6. How to Do the Basic Curve

Step 1

The basic curve is essentially as simple as drawing a letter 'c' without its top. Place the tip of your pen flat on the middle dashed line. Then make a curve moving down and left, pulling back up slightly after you reach the bottom line. If it feels easier to you, you can draw each of these lines first with your pencil. That way you have a line to follow.

calligraphy intro - basic curve

Step 2

Practice filling the entire line of your practice sheet with curves. Again, you'll be surprised by how quickly your lines will improve.

calligraphy intro - basic curve line

Your Basic Calligraphy Fonts Practice Is Done

Calligraphy is much easier than you think, once you have the basic strokes down. With these two simple strokes, you can make nearly every letter in the alphabet. In future tutorials, I'll be teaching you several different alphabets using multiple pen nibs and showing you how to create your very own font.

calligraphy intro - filled in practice sheet

5 Best Fonts for Calligraphy From Envato Elements

I hope you liked this calligraphy fonts practice tutorial. Next up, I'll share with you a hand-picked selection of the best fonts for calligraphy from Envato Elements.

If you're working on multiple digital creative projects, you'll love our subscription-based marketplace. 

Envato Elements gives you unlimited access to the best calligraphy fonts.
Envato Elements gives you unlimited access to the best calligraphy fonts.

For a low monthly fee, enjoy unlimited downloads of the best modern calligraphy fonts. You can also get unlimited premium fonts, graphic templates, actions and presets, and more.

1. Metalurdo Copperplate Calligraphy Font (OTF, WOFF)

Metalurdo Copperplate Calligraphy Font

Looking for a classic copperplate calligraphy font? Matalurdo is an elegant calligraphy font, perfect for logos, invitations, stationery, and more. This copperplate calligraphy font includes swashes, alternates, ligatures, and multilingual support.

2. Elisabetta Copperplate Calligraphy Font (OTF)

Elisabetta Copperplate Calligraphy Font

A nice copperplate calligraphy font never goes out of style. Check out Elisabetta, a nice mix of copperplate calligraphy and hand-lettering style. This is a contender for the best font for calligraphy as it features more than 340 glyphs and 160 alternative characters, along with multiple language support. 

3. Makise Japanese Calligraphy Font (OTF, TTF, WOFF)

Makise Japanese Calligraphy Font

Japanese calligraphy fonts are a hot trend. If you're a fan of the Asian calligraphy style, you'll love Makise. This Japanese calligraphy font was created with a natural handwriting brush, and you can use it for many types of projects.

4. Oriental Chinese Calligraphy Font (OTF, TTF, WOFF)

Oriental Chinese Calligraphy Font

Continuing with the Asian calligraphy trend, check out this Chinese calligraphy font. This strong typeface features an authentic Chinese traditional calligraphy feeling. This Chinese calligraphy font includes a normal and bold version, along with numbers and punctuation. 

5. Bouncy Calligraphy Font (OTF,TTF)

Bouncy Calligraphy Font

The Bouncy Castle is a modern calligraphy font that will look great on your stationery. This bouncy calligraphy font includes four sets of alternative letter styles for maximum creativity. The fun and modern calligraphy font family includes the original style, three stylistic sets, a bold style, and more!

Discover More Fonts and Resources

You've learned the basics of calligraphy fonts practice and checked some of our top modern calligraphy fonts. Now, if you're hungry for more fonts and interesting resources, we've got these for you:

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