Learning calligraphy is an incredibly satisfying endeavor that will exercise your creativity for a lifetime! In this article, we’ll go over the five simple steps to getting started. Follow the steps, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering the calligraphy style of your choice!
1. Identify What Kind of Calligraphy You Want to Learn
There are three main types of western calligraphy that you can learn. They include:
Brush pen calligraphy
You create brush pen calligraphy with a tapered marker called a brush pen.
Many calligraphy learners like to start with brush pens because they don’t seem intimidating. Brush pens give you quick, colorful results!
Pointed Pen Calligraphy
You create pointed pen calligraphy with a pen and a piece of pointy metal called a “nib”. You dip the nib into ink, then you either exert a lot or a little bit of pressure on the nib to control the width of your strokes.
Pointed pen calligraphy is known for its delicate look and pleasing stroke contrast. Some strokes are very thin, while others are thick. While pointed pen calligraphy has been around for centuries, it’s mostly used in modern times for special events.
Broad Edge Calligraphy
Broad edge calligraphy is created with a nib that ends in a blunt edge. Instead of varying the pressure that you apply on the nib to control stroke contrast, you vary the nib’s rotation.
Like pointed pen calligraphy, broad edge calligraphy has existed for many years. If you’ve ever seen old English manuscripts, you probably will recognize broad edge calligraphy on them.
2. Figure Out What Supplies You Need
When you’re learning calligraphy, it’s important to start off with high-quality supplies. Less than ideal writing tools generally translates to less than ideal success!
Here’s a list of articles you should read to find the supplies you’ll need:
- Brush pen calligraphy – Six Amazing Brush Pens for Beginners (Buy one of the pens in the article plus 32# laserjet paper.)
- Pointed pen calligraphy – The Ultimate DIY Modern Calligraphy Starter Kit
- Broad edge calligraphy – The Ultimate Blackletter Calligraphy Resource Guide (Blackletter is a type of broad edge calligraphy.)
3. Make Yourself a Curriculum
Once your supplies are on their way, it’s time to find resources and make a plan for learning calligraphy.
Brush Pen Calligraphy Curricula
In my experience, many people find brush pen calligraphy fairly easy to begin learning calligraphy with. Don’t get me wrong: it will take some practice! However, brush pens aren’t too complicated to use, especially since you really only need a brush pen and smooth paper to get started. TPK has two brush pen learning resources that will walk you through how to write:
- Brush Pen Calligraphy Worksheet + Videos: Kaitlin Style (This is a whimsical-looking calligraphy style.)
- Brush Pen Calligraphy Worksheet + Videos: Janet Style (This is a more traditional-looking calligraphy style.)
I also recommend taking a look at Pieces Calligraphy. Sharisse, the creator of Pieces, has tons of resources for learning brush pen calligraphy there!
Pointed Pen Calligraphy Curricula
There are two categories of pointed pen calligraphy: traditional and modern. Examples of traditional calligraphy include Copperplate and Spencerian. If you want to learn traditional pointed pen calligraphy, here are some fantastic resources:
- Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy by Eleanor Winters
- Spencerian Penmanship by Platt Rogers Spencer
- IAMPETH Website
- Script in the Copperplate Style by Dr. Joe M. Vitolo (free eBook)
My passion, on the other hand, is modern pointed pen calligraphy. “Modern calligraphy” refers to any calligraphy style that isn’t traditional. I love not having rigid rules to follow, and the fact that you can take plenty of creative license to give your pieces a cool, personal feel. For modern calligraphy, one of the very best resources out there is TPK’s own Beginner’s Modern Calligraphy Online Course.
BroadEdge Calligraphy Curricula
Like pointed pen calligraphy, you can write broad edge calligraphy in different styles. This website doesn’t have a wealth of information on learning broad edge calligraphy. That’s because I don’t have experience writing with broad edge nibs! However, when I have the time to learn, I will probably purchase one of Jake Rainis’s printable worksheets. I love the look of Fraktur, in particular!
No matter what style of calligraphy you’ve chosen to learn, you have to stick to your curriculum and practice. The most important thing is to make your practice fun! Remember, practice comes in many forms. Maybe one day, practice means filling out worksheets. The next day, however, practice could mean making a cool project!
Your calligraphy will only improve if you enjoy creating calligraphy. Do what you can to procure tools that inspire you, and try to make yourself a comfortable workspace! I love to create calligraphy in the mornings when everyone else in my house is asleep. I sit at a sunny window, put on a good podcast, and brew myself a cup of tea to make the time special. For more practice tips, see:
- 5 Ways to Sneak in Calligraphy Practice
- A Calligraphy Practice Reality Check
- How to Practice Calligraphy
5. Give Yourself Projects or Take Project Requests from Others!
Once you feel confident about the projects you’ve created for practice, consider taking your calligraphy a little more seriously. This might mean volunteering to address envelopes for a family member’s wedding, writing out place cards for a special dinner, or making miscellaneous projects.
Even after you reach an advanced skill level, every project that you tackle increases your skills! As a result, each calligraphy creation session will help you to improve and flex your creative muscle. Enjoy this new challenge, and happy writing!