Those who follow me on Twitter, know I made an art book filled with 93 names of my community friends/members. I got many compliments on my calligraphy skills. So many, that I thought to share some tips for those who want to start doing calligraphy as well! Without further ado: let’s go!
- Understand the ‘thicknesses’ and the position
Most people think that ‘thick’ means shadows. That’s not true. The thickness is the most important part to understand how calligraphy works. What it actually means, are the downstrokes. When you write your word and move your pen in a downwards direction, it’ll be thicker. Which we call downstroke. The other way around, moving upwards to make it thinner, is what we call an upstroke.
2. You don’t need to look for exclusive calligraphy pens
If you want to go ahead and do modern calligraphy, the tools they use for older and more traditional forms aren’t what you want to use. So, when you head into an art store, you shouldn’t buy any pens that are labeled as calligraphy ones. In modern calligraphy, you apply the thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes by applying less or more pressure to the tool you use. No moving hands, only pressing hard or light. So, you need flexible-tipped tools. What you should be looking for, are brush pens, (looking like normal markers but flexible) pointed pens (steel nibs you dip into ink, but are pointed at the tip and flex when adding pressure) and paint brushes (a little hard to use for beginners, but are flexible, and thus useable for calligraphy.
3. Know the calligraphy cursive
Most people learning calligraphy assume that it’s just cursive, but with the added thicknesses. Well, I’m here to tell you that calligraphy isn’t the same as cursive. To clarify: cursive is written in a continuous movement without lifting your pen off the page. Calligraphy is broken down into strokes. So, when you start doing calligraphy, you need to learn those strokes. Any letter should have multiple strokes when you start with one. This way, calligraphy looks more consistent and neat than cursive with added thicknesses. To easify this: stroke + stroke = letter.
4. Lift your pen
You may wonder why an artist doing calligraphy lifts his hand so much? Well, remember those earlier mentioned strokes? That’s the reason why. You’re writing in individual strokes and you should therefore lift your pen in between each stroke. For example, the word cat would be divided in six pieces, or well strokes. The consistency shows as you’re no longer thinking about the letters as wholes, but as individual strokes. Though, the lift between the strokes shouldn’t be crazy. Let it be subtle, a simple start/stop motion. Just lifting your pen for about a millimeter or so. When using a pointed pen (the nib dipped in ink) it’s even more crucial. If you don’t stop in between strokes, you’ll get the ink everywhere. So, be aware of this.
5. Don’t speed, take it slow
You should do yoga with your hands while doing calligraphy. That may sound silly, but just try. Breathe in while doing upstrokes and breathe out when going for the downstrokes. Going slow is the key while using flexible tools. So, let’s take a look at three spots you might notice issues while going too fast. When it comes to transitions, you might notice having trouble switching from a hard downstroke to a light upstroke. Or of course the other way around. Now, let’s move on to consistency. Because when you go too quick, you’ll notice a lack of this in your strokes. And this phenomenon is key with calligraphy. Last but not least, we’ll take a look at ink flow. Because when you move too quick, your pen will affect the ink flow of your tool. As with the pointed pen, you’ll drag and splatter ink everywhere. With brush pens or paint brushes, it’ll leave your downstroke looking streaky. Or, as if the pen is running out of ink. And you don’t want that.
6. Bonus tips
Make sure you use high-quality paper. Why? So it won’t ruin your pens. And of course, to make your work look much cleaner, if you get what I mean. Also, smaller brush pens are easier than bigger ones. For beginners, the smaller the tip of the pen, the easier it’ll be. And last but not least, try to relax your so-called death grip on the pen. It’ll make your strokes look more natural, trust me. Oh, and don’t think you’ll get the hang of this in one take. You need to practice, dedicate time to learning calligraphy.
Have fun creating!
Love, Deem ❤
Image source: Pexels