• How to Make a Calligraphy Exemplar (Includes Free Printables)

    There are several reasons to create calligraphy exemplars. First of all, they provide you with great writing practice! Second, they have the potential to challenge your creativity. Finally, once you’re finished, you can reference the result over and over to remind you what the letters in a certain calligraphy or lettering style look like!

    How to Make a Calligraphy Exemplar | The Postman's Knock

    When I’m working on any sort of calligraphy project, I always keep a calligraphy exemplar at hand. Exemplars are good to have around just in case you forget how to make a particular letter in the calligraphy style that you’re using! In today’s tutorial, I’ll teach you how to make a calligraphy exemplar with the help of a printable shortcut.

    Why Make a Calligraphy Exemplar?

    In my experience, even if you came up with your own calligraphy style, it’s easy to forget what certain letters look like. If you make an exemplar, then you will always have a reference. Keep the calligraphy exemplar close as you undertake any calligraphy project, and you’ll know exactly what each letter should look like!

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    I have a Janet Style calligraphy exemplar displayed on the wall to the right of my desk. I look up at it every time I forget what a certain letter looks like!

    Of course, making a calligraphy exemplar also provides you with good practice — and it can challenge you to come up with a new alphabet!

    How to Make a Calligraphy Exemplar

    When I first started planning out this blog post, I intended to give detailed instructions on how to draw out an exemplar from scratch. This involves a ruler, a pencil, and — my personal deterrent — a ton of math. After writing out a draft paragraph with measurements, I realized that it would be much easier for both of us if I just made a printable for you in Photoshop! So, before you do anything, print out the free Calligraphy Exemplar Template.

    How to Make a Calligraphy Exemplar | The Postman's Knock
    I created two calligraphy exemplar templates for this tutorial. The one with the 55 degree slant lines (shown) is great for calligraphy, and the one without slant lines is best for lettering and more modern/upright calligraphy styles. You can find both by clicking here.

    Next, put the template under a piece of 32# laserjet paper. Place both pieces of paper on a light box, and you’ll notice that the template shines right up through the top sheet of paper!

    How to Make a Calligraphy Exemplar | The Postman's Knock
    If you want to know more about light boxes, check out the Do You Need a Light Box? post.

    Now, start to write the uppercase letters of your exemplar on the top line. Try to center the letters over the dots on the exemplar.

    How to Make a Calligraphy Exemplar | The Postman's Knock
    The dots on the exemplar will help you to achieve even spacing between the letters.
    How to Make a Calligraphy Exemplar | The Postman's Knock
    You’ll end up with seven uppercase letters on each of the first three lines, and five on the fourth line.

    Now, continue to write all the lowercase letters of the alphabet. You may want to write special characters after “z”, such as “&” and “?”.

    How to Make a Calligraphy Exemplar | The Postman's Knock
    Feel free to use the extra dots on the last line for special characters!

    Upon writing the last special character, you’ll be rewarded with a complete calligraphy exemplar that will serve you well for years to come!

    How to Make a Calligraphy Exemplar | The Postman's Knock
    This elegant calligraphy is Janet Style! You can learn how to make it with the Janet Style worksheet set.

    Things to Note

    First of all, you don’t necessarily need a light box to tackle this tutorial. Check out the Do You Need a Light Box? post for alternative suggestions! Second, you can use this tutorial for practically any calligraphy or hand-lettering style. I’d use the exemplar template with slant lines for calligraphy, and the exemplar template without slant lines for hand-lettering.

    "George Style" Printable Hand-Lettering Exemplar | The Postman's Knock
    You can use the exemplar template to make hand-lettering exemplars, too! This is George Style Lettering. For tips on coming up with your own lettering style, check out How to Develop an Artistic Hand-Lettering Style.

    If you’re stumped on which calligraphy style to use to make your calligraphy exemplar, you’re always welcome to use one of the TPK Learn Calligraphy worksheet styles. If you’d like to come up with your own style, try using the Creative Calligraphy Challenge worksheet. You may write a letter that you love, and then you can base an entire calligraphy style around that one letter!

    A Creative Calligraphy Challenge | The Postman's Knock
    The Creative Calligraphy Challenge worksheet provides a good exercise in coming up with different styles of letters.

    It’s also worth mentioning that you can write directly on one of the calligraphy exemplar templates if you want to. It won’t be as aesthetically pleasing, but that doesn’t affect your exemplar’s functionality!

    I hope that this post helps you to make your own calligraphy exemplar! If you have a light box, the project should only take a few minutes. Remember, you can find the free printable exemplar templates by clicking here. If you have any questions or observations, I always welcome comments! I also love to see the results of your work on Instagram; you can tag me at @thepostmansknock. Thanks so much for reading TPK, and have a fantastic weekend!


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