• 5 Creative Modern Calligraphy Variations + A Surprise Worksheet

    In today’s article, we’ll discuss five different ways to switch up your pointed pen creations. Remember, modern calligraphy is flexible and welcomes innovation! Among other modern calligraphy variations, I’ll encourage you to try reinforcing your downstrokes, taking on a new writing instrument, and writing with inks that aren’t inks at all. And, SURPRISE! There’s a fun…

    Envelope Created Using Brause Rose Nib | The Postman's Knock
    One of my favorite modern calligraphy variations is reinforced downstrokes, as shown on this Kaitlin Style calligraphy envelope. You can go over downstrokes twice for double the thickness!

    One of the best things about modern calligraphy is its flexibility. You can play around with any modern calligraphy variations that suit your fancy! Unlike traditional calligraphy styles such as Spencerian and Copperplate, modern calligraphy encourages innovation and deviation. Today, we’ll talk about 5 ways to switch up your pointed pen creations, and I’ve got a surprise worksheet to give you some ideas and practice.

    Variation 1: Thicken Downstrokes

    Envelope by Molly Suber Thorpe | The Postman's Knock
    Molly Suber Thorpe reinforced the downstrokes on this large envelope (appx. 9″ x 12″) that she sent to me. See how the beefed-up downstrokes help the calligraphy to fill up an appropriate amount of space?

    Thickening downstrokes is the simplest of the modern calligraphy variations in today’s article. To create it, start by writing any word in any calligraphy style.

    5 Calligraphy Variation Techniques + A Surprise Worksheet | The Postman's Knock
    For this example, I wrote my name in Kaitlin Style calligraphy.

    Next, thicken the downstrokes by adding another stroke to the right of the original downstroke. Make sure the stroke you are adding blends seamlessly into your original downstroke.

    5 Calligraphy Variation Techniques + A Surprise Worksheet | The Postman's Knock

    Once you’ve filled in your downstrokes, you’re finished!

    5 Calligraphy Variation Techniques + A Surprise Worksheet | The Postman's Knock

    It can be beneficial to reinforce your downstrokes if you really need a word or a sentence to stand out. It’s also helpful when you’re working on larger surfaces like posters, and you need your calligraphy to make a considerable visual impact and take up space.

    Variation 2: Try a New Writing Instrument

    The Beginner's Guide to Pencil Calligraphy | The Postman's Knock
    This envelope calligraphy was written with a pencil.

    Pointed pen calligraphy’s appeal boils down to stroke contrast. It’s hard not to admire the thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes that make up a beautifully calligraphed word! Once you’ve mastered pointed pen basics, though, try implementing what you learned to make pointed pen-esque lettering with other writing instruments. Paintbrush calligraphy, for example, is quite cool.

    How to Create Paintbrush Lettering + A Free Exemplar | The Postman's Knock
    You can find this free exemplar plus instructions for writing calligraphy with a paintbrush in this article.

    I also like to use brush pens to write calligraphy. (If I’m feeling especially exuberant, I’ll add pencil shadows and white highlights, as shown in this tutorial.)

    "Juicy" Brush Pen Calligraphy Tutorial | The Postman's Knock
    Tombow is my go-to brush pen brand.

    There are lots of different calligraphy techniques that follow the pointed pen technique’s lead. You can explore a number of them below:

    • Pencil calligraphy – I have a free worksheet and a demo video to show you exactly how to write calligraphy with a pencil.
    • Paintbrush calligraphy – I have a free printable exemplar to help you practice using your paintbrush like a pointed pen.
    • Brush pen calligraphy – Brush pen calligraphy is pointed pen calligraphy’s less intimidating, more transportation-friendly cousin. TPK has lots of information on how to create brush pen calligraphy, plus free and paid worksheets.
    • Faux calligraphy – You can create faux calligraphy with any writing instrument, from ballpoint pens to chalk to permanent markers. Click on the link to find TPK’s free tutorial and exemplar!

    Variation 3: Write With a Crazy New Ink

    How to Write Calligraphy With Coffee
    All of the brown ink that you see on this envelope? It’s actually coffee!

    Look beyond your sumi and India inks! The possibilities are endless. You can write with, among other things:

    Mail Art with Kaitlin Style Calligraphy
    All of this mail art was created using a watercolor palette. I love using watercolors as calligraphy ink!

    Next time you’ve got curiosity and a liquid that’s known to stain (pomegranate juice, wine, etc.), try dipping your pointed pen into it to see what happens. Maybe the results will be too faint — but then again, maybe they won’t. Anything is worth a try in the name of modern calligraphy variations!

    Variation 4: Add Out-of-Control Flourishes

    Making Fabulous Calligraphy Flourishes (Includes Free Worksheet)
    You can find instructions, inspiration, and a free flourishing worksheet in this article.

    If the maximalist in you can’t leave a calligraphed word alone, give it company! A lot of flourishes never hurt anyone. If anything, the flourishes serve to make a recipient or a viewer feel special.

    Flourished Swan Envelope
    This envelope design (originated by Schin Loong) seamlessly integrates the recipient’s address into a flourished swan.

    As you write, think about how you can connect elegant flourishes to a letter or two. You don’t have to include a lot of flourishes; just a couple of flourishes ascenders and descenders will do. Work within your comfort level! If a lot of embellishment is within your skill level and your preferences, great. If you only want to add a couple of embellishments, also great.

    Calligraphy Name Envelope With Flourishes

    I love flourishing, so I’ve written a lot of articles that help you understand how to do it through projects or worksheets. You can browse those articles below:


    Variation 5: Skip Loops, Curves, and Fluidity

    5 Calligraphy Variation Techniques + A Surprise Worksheet | The Postman's Knock

    Fluidity and seamless strokes are a hallmark of calligraphy. So, what happens when you get rid of calligraphy’s lovely curves? That’s something you’ll find out when you replace swoops and loops with angles and straight, unyielding lines.

    5 Calligraphy Variation Techniques + A Surprise Worksheet | The Postman's Knock

    Writing with straight lines and corners instead of loops and circles can be an interesting visual experience. By connecting each letter with disjointed lines and awkward angles, this calligraphy style creates a unique aesthetic. If you’re looking to make calligraphy that doesn’t have a feminine feel, a “Cramped” calligraphy variation is a great addition to your repertoire. It removes the femininity typically associated with calligraphy while still producing eye-catching results.

    Surprise Stylistic Calligraphy Variations Worksheet

    Today, we touched on three ways to switch up your calligraphy with stylistic tweaks. (The other two variations — switching up your writing instrument and trying out unconventional “inks” — focus on the tools you’re using.) There is a lot more to explore with stylistic variations, though, and different calligraphy styles invite different variations. In TPK’s new Kaitlin Style Calligraphy Variations Worksheet, we’ll explore four different stylistic modifications to bouncy Kaitlin Style calligraphy.

    Kaitlin Style Variations PDF
    The Kaitlin Style Calligraphy Variations Worksheet is 16 pages long and features ideas and practice for modifying bouncy Kaitlin Style calligraphy. (This image has been redacted in some areas.)

    While it’s helpful to have filled out the original Kaitlin Style calligraphy worksheet before taking on its Variations add-on, you don’t have to do so. I did include original Kaitlin Style letter exemplars and formation instructions in the Variations worksheet for those who aren’t familiar with the original style. As long as you have a foundational understanding of how to write pointed pen calligraphy, you can benefit from the Variations worksheet!


    "Switching" is one of the variations included in the Kaitlin Style Calligraphy Variations Worksheet. It focuses on alternating letter sizes.
    “Switching” is one of the variations included in the Kaitlin Style Calligraphy Variations Worksheet. It focuses on alternating letter sizes.

    If you have any questions about any of these variations or the fun new worksheet, please feel free to comment! Thanks so much for reading the TPK blog … I’m so glad that you’re here!


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock