Faux calligraphy — calligraphy created with any standard writing instrument like a ballpoint pen, chalk, or marker — offers a fantastic introduction to dip pen calligraphy! Additionally, faux calligraphy is a beautiful lettering art form in its own rite. In the first half of this blog post, I’ll teach you how to create this fun, accessible form of calligraphy. In the second half, you’ll find inspiration for using it to add beauty to everything from chalkboards to mail art!
How to Make Faux Calligraphy
1. Write the Word or Phrase
To create faux calligraphy, you’ll first want to choose your writing utensil. It can be anything, from a regular pen (like the Pilot G2 shown below) to chalk or a crayon! Use it to write a word or sentence in cursive, and make sure you leave a fair amount of space between the letters.
2. Reinforce Downstrokes
Next, you’re going to reinforce the downstrokes used to create the word. In order to do that, you’ll first want to identify the downstrokes! A downstroke occurs when you pull your pen down to create a stroke. You can see in the photo below that the word “create” is made of several downstrokes.
Next, draw lines that are parallel to your downstrokes. These new lines should hug the contours of your downstrokes. Note that it doesn’t matter which side of each downstroke you draw your new lines in on!
Once you finish drawing in the downstroke reinforcements, your word will look something like the photo below.
3. Fill in the Downstroke Reinforcements
Now that you have created all the downstroke reinforcements, you can use your pen to fill them in!
When you finish, the contrast of the strokes in the word will strongly resemble dip pen calligraphy!
Confused? Here’s a Video!
Sometimes, concepts like this are best described by way of a video. In the following video, you’ll learn how to make faux calligraphy with a regular pen:
… And Here’s a Free Printable Exemplar
I love using the faux calligraphy technique to make Kaitlin Style pieces! Accordingly, I put together this basic Kaitlin Style faux calligraphy exemplar for you to keep at hand for reference. If you’re confused about how to make the letters or you’d like to see uppercase faux calligraphy letters, you can find them in the Kaitlin Style worksheet set.
Faux Calligraphy Inspiration
Even if you are capable of creating dip pen calligraphy, sometimes faux calligraphy is the best technique to utilize. That can be due to a number of reasons — maybe you’re in a situation where you can’t use a dip pen (e.g. a work meeting), maybe your writing surface isn’t conducive to dip pen calligraphy, or maybe you’re just fed up with ink spills and spatters!
Chalkboard Faux Calligraphy
You could arguably use a dip pen and white ink on a chalkboard, but the resulting calligraphy would be tiny. Furthermore, you’d have a headache erasing it! The calligraphy below — made to welcome a guest — was created using standard chalk.
Hand-Lettering + Faux Calligraphy
You can combine faux calligraphy with hand-lettering (decorative, non-cursive writing) to make an art piece like the one below! The stroke contrast in words like “Colby”, “xo”, “Sushi”, and “Cream Cheese Jalapeño Pizza” contrasts beautifully with other styles of lettering. Personalized lettering art like this, which shares cherished experiences and common interests, makes for a wonderful gift!
Faux Calligraphy in Mail Art
You can make lovely mail with faux calligraphy! The envelope below was created using all-lowercase Kaitlin Style lettering (again, you can download an exemplar by clicking here). Notice that the downstroke reinforcements are not filled in. If you like this stylistic variation, as I do, there’s no need to fill in the downstrokes!
No matter what your level of proficiency with a dip pen, I hope that you’ll give this technique a try! While faux calligraphy offers a soft introduction to dip pen calligraphy, it’s not just for beginners. Seasoned calligraphers can also benefit from using it to spice up their lettering creations!
If you have any questions about creating faux calligraphy, please feel free to ask! You can reference any of the premium calligraphy worksheets for faux calligraphy practice. I am a huge proponent of mastering this type of calligraphy before moving on to “real” calligraphy … because that’s how I learned!
Thanks very much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your day!