Everyone wants to learn calligraphy, and everyone wants to learn it FAST.
But, not everyone can, because they might not know how to.
Here are the 7 proven and effective tips below will significantly accelerate your progress and help you learn how to write calligraphy in the shortest time possible.
However, just before I let you in on the 7 tips which you would definitely find useful, there are NO magical techniques or tricks here which will enable you to learn calligraphy overnight.
If you are looking for that magical technique, I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you.
The fast and easy way to learn calligraphy is to practice. There's no way around that.
But trust me, these 7 tips will make a world of difference to your practice and learning of calligraphy.
Now get ready:
1. Get Rid Of Your "I Can't Learn Calligraphy Because…” Mentality
This is the first things you've got to do.
One of the largest hindrances to your learning calligraphy is you believing that you can't learn it. Some of the common reasons I've heard are:
I cannot learn calligraphy because…
- I have no artistic talent
- My handwriting is atrocious, hideous, and messy
- I have no background in calligraphy
- And so on…
And when you adopt a “I can never do calligraphy” mind set, you are making learning calligraphy unnecessarily tougher.
You're going to doubt every stroke that you make - Oh no I'm probably not doing this right.. I probably will get this wrong again.. It's going to affect your confidence in doing calligraphy too.
You have to make a decision to ditch this mindset that will do you no good!
If you don't have such a mindset or have already conquered it, good on you! But if you haven't you're probably thinking, "how?"
Now, you just have to know this:
If you can write, you can do calligraphy. It's just that simple.
Just like how dancing is just moving beautifully, calligraphy is beautiful writing. In fact, calligraphy originated from the greek words kallos which means beauty and graphein which means writing. So, calligraphy essentially means beautiful writing.
Till this date, anyone who has followed the right steps has been able to learn calligraphy, no matter how bad their handwriting is, or how little artistic talent they have. But don't just take it from me, the lengendary master calligrapher, Lloyd Reynolds, said it too.
I used to believe that I could never learn calligraphy because I had no artistic talent and bad handwriting too. But when I started believing that I can (since so many people just like me were also able to learn calligraphy), I started to truly see the joy of learning calligraphy.
Time has proven again and again that anyone can learn calligraphy if they can write. So stop worrying, ditch that "I can't" mindset, grab your pen and start learning!
2. Don't Skip The Basics
NEVER skip the basics!
Skipping the basics is a big mistake because the basics are what you need to know if you want to write beautiful calligraphy.
They are the foundation of the house that you are going to build. If you don't lay the foundations correctly, no matter how nicely you build the rest of the house, it's always going to be wobbly. If you want a good house, you've got to lay the foundations straight.
The same goes to calligraphy - if you want to be good at it, you've got to get the basics first.
I remember being really excited about learning calligraphy and tried writing calligraphy the moment I got hold of a calligraphy pen.
Guess what happened?
Well, you probably guessed it right: instead of the beautiful, elegant calligraphy that I was expecting, ugly lopsided letters appeared instead.
As calligrapher Fred Eager said, there's nothing more destructive than practicing the wrong thing. And the thing is, if you skip the basics and go straight to writing calligraphy, chances are that you will waste a tremendous amount of time making unnecessary errors and frustrating mistakes.
Moral of the story: Don't skip the basics!
But what's the solution?
- Learn Calligraphy: The Complete Book of Lettering and Design by Margaret Shepherd
- Calligraphy For Dummies by Jim Bennett
- Calligraphy (First Steps Series) by Don Marsh
You can also read my article "How to Learn Calligraphy In 5 Easy Steps" here to get an idea of what the basics are and how you can learn them. If that's still not enough, you can get my Ultimate Guide: Calligraphy For Beginners for free.
You're bound to make mistakes as you practice and learn calligraphy.
But when you don't spot them early and continue to make them unknowingly... then the problem surfaces. And when you practice these mistakes diligently, you're going to 'perfect’ them, which isn't really what you want!
Well the good news is, this is easily avoidable and it need not be a long and unnecessarily frustrating process for you if you want to learn calligraphy.
Get your model examples, and constantly refer back to them. Just like that, you'll be quick to identify where you went wrong and it's easier to figure out how to make it right. Sometimes figuring that out will be a process of trial and error but with a little bit of persistence, you will definitely get there.
Or, it'd be great if you recognize some very common mistakes that beginners make when they learn calligraphy. One example would be overly-narrow arches:
There are many common mistakes made by beginners and it would be immensely helpful for you to spot them and correct them instantly. It will save you a ton of time, effort and unnecessary frustration.
There are more examples in my eBook Calligraphy For Beginners. You can claim a free copy at the sidebar or at the bottom of this post.
4. Use Calligraphy Guidelines
I can't emphasize this point enough:
Always Use Calligraphy Guidelines!!
Calligraphy guidelines are your naggy teachers, that thing that always reminds you to keep your letters in line and with consistent size.
Like it or not, calligraphy guidelines will be your best friend during calligraphy practice, and it is one of the most effective techniques of learning how to do beautiful, consistent calligraphy.
Preparing calligraphy guidelines is not hard and will take you only 3 minutes at most.
Here's a wonderful post by Joyce Teta on how you can create beautiful calligraphy guidelines.
Calligrapher Paul Antonio also demonstrates how you can prepare calligraphy guidelines in just a matter of minute in his short but delightful tutorial video here:
However if you're feeling lazy today, Ductus is here to your rescue!
If you want to to learn how to write calligraphy fast, calligraphy guidelines are your answer and you can use the above methods to create them.
5. Slow and Steady Wins The Race (Really!)
Calligraphy is not a race, but it's sad that not many people see that. The quicker you write, the more ugly habits from your handwriting will surface.
Instead, don't rush through your letters. Focus on making every stroke as perfect as possible. Make sure that they look as perfect as the model examples.
Concentrating intently on every stroke will increase your chances of producing a sharp, clean stroke. Letters will also look uniform.
As you slow down and become more meticulous and aware of how you’re writing, you will realise that you are doing much better calligraphy than before.
6. The Magic Is In The Grip
The essence of calligraphy is in the way you grip pen.
The 45-degree angle of the nib is what creates the beautiful calligraphy alphabet, with the "thicks and thins" at all the right places.
Therefore, your pen angle is one of the most important things that you have to take note of, because it can make or break your calligraphy.
Here's a picture to illustrate that:
If your pen is gripped in a manner such that the nib is 90 degrees, your vertical strokes will be very thin and your diagonal thick. If you hold it in a 0-degree angle, your "n" will be the one on the right - thick vertical and diagonal strokes.
However, what you want are thick vertical strokes and horizontal strokes but thin diagonals. That can only be achieved with a 45-degree pen angle. The "n" on the left best demonstrates that.
So, hold your pen in a 45-degree angle at all times - it makes a world of difference!
When the edges of strokes turn out jagged and uneven, instead of a nice, smooth and thick line, it’s a sign you’re not holding your pen properly.
It can take time getting used to the broad nib of the calligraphy pen which can be honestly be quite difficult to write with compared to a regular pen.
You have to make sure that the nib of your pen is flat against the surface of the paper at all times when you are making the stroke.
You can hold it this way: let the pen rest on the side of your middle finger, with the thumb securing it. The index finger then rests on top of the pen, gently pressing the pen flat against the paper.
Practice this with exercises like these:
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see your strokes come out nice and clean!
7. Beware: Don't Develop Your Own Style!
"Isn't calligraphy all about personal expression?"
Well there's no need to panic just yet, what I meant was: don't consciously try develop your own style now, especially so if you are just a beginner.
Your style will come to you sooner or later, as you grow more confident, smooth and better with your calligraphy.
Now, note what I said: it will come to you naturally. You won't even have to go out searching for a distinctive personal style.
Do you think Pele could have developed his graceful style of dribbling without having learnt the basics of dribbling first? Probably not, right? And if he hadn't known the basics of dribbling a soccer ball, I'd doubt that he'd be concerned about trying to develop a graceful style of playing soccer.
Similarly, you should just concentrate on learning the basics of calligraphy - how to form basic letters, how to hold the pen etc. As you proceed on and start learning how to write words and sentences, you will subsequently develop a style that you would find most comfortable.
So, don't consciously try to develop a style now. You will develop it in time to come.
The creative discipline of calligraphy is a wonderful source of calm and pleasure - not just to the one doing it, but also others.
And like all other satisfying personal skills such as cooking, dancing, or playing the guitar or piano, calligraphy
- can be learnt easily step by step
- gets better with practice
- comes to life when there's an audience
Calligraphy may be a little more difficult at the start, but as with all worthwhile pursuits, the pleasure and calm that you get is definitely worth the effort and the practice. And good news, just like running downhill, it gets easier and easier as you go on.
So, now that you know these 7 proven and effective tips, put them into action! Practice and persevere! You will be able to develop a deeply satisfying personal skill which will be worth every second spent learning.
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below, hopefully these tips will help you in your journey to learn calligraphy!