The Beginner’s Guide To Writing Calligraphy


Life as a beginner trying to write calligraphy can be a little tough (been there done that), with all the different kinds of inks, different kinds of tools that you've got to get and also all the things that you've got to learn. Oh, the confusion!

I know how agonizing it must be not having a full overview of what needs to be done, so here is a quick Beginner's Guide to the art of writing calligraphy!

It's no doubt that being able to write calligraphy can be one of the most impressive and valuable skills that you can have. You can do so many things with calligraphy, one example would be elegantly and beautifully designing Christmas cards like this guy here:

Anyway, here are 10 quick steps any beginner can take and find themselves writing calligraphy in no time at all!





Here's a picture of the area where I write calligraphy:

Sufficient Area for Writing Calligraphy

As you can see, it is not an entire desk, just probably a 70cm by 70cm area that can fit my paper and equipment.

Point is: before you can even start with anything, you need to set the stage for writing your calligraphy.

That means that you need to have a comfortable space around you for writing calligraphy. You don't need too big an area but one large enough for you to write calligraphy comfortably.

You can write on a slanted board (which is pretty much just a slanted writing surface) or you can write on a flat surface like the desk. Make sure that your posture is also conducive to writing calligraphy - sit upright but relaxed and not get too stiff.

#2: PEN / NIB

You have to get your pen. There are different kinds of pens that you can get for writing calligraphy:

  • Dip pens
  • Cartridge-loaded pens

Dip pens are pens which need to be dipped into ink and cartridge-loaded pens are pens where ink is fed to the nib by an ink cartridge.

If you are a beginner, you would want to get started with cartridge-loaded pens first and then try dip pens later, because cartridge-loaded pens are extremely easy to us, mess-free and foolproof.

Dip pens require a little more work, like breaking into the nib, buying inks, cleaning the nibs etcetera, and can get quite messy (and confusing for a beginner!)


This is the Pilot Parallel Pen, which is an example of an affordable and excellent cartridge-loaded calligraphy pen. I use it to write calligraphy and I absolutely love it! (The picture above is a picture of a Pilot Parallel)


#3: INK

This is only applicable if you are using a dip pen to write calligraphy instead of a cartridge pen. There is a huge variety of inks at your disposal.

Calligraphers' favourites are water-soluble inks because they are easy to wash off and do not clog up the nibs. However, they are not waterproof, which is something you'd want your ink to be if you are going to add watercolor to your calligraphy piece.

Drawing inks on the other hand are waterproof and you will need a special pen cleaner to clean such inks off. They also have a lacquer in them which rusts metal nibs.

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These are some of the inks that I use: Speedball India Ink (Waterproof), Chinese Calligraphy Ink (Water-Soluble) and Ink cartridge refills for my Pilot Parallel. The first 2 inks are only to be used for dip pens.

If you are a beginner and are using a cartridge-loaded pen for writing calligraphy, then just use the ink recommended by your pen manufacturer.


What you want is thick, smooth paper that doesn't cause bleeding. As usual, there's a huge variety of paper for different uses.

Some popular favourites would be Strathmore 300 / 400 series paper, Maruman Mnemosyne paper.

Usually finding the right paper requires some experimentation - you have to find the combination of ink and paper that doesn't cause bleeding.


Guidelines for writing calligraphy

If your notebook or the paper that you are using already has margins, use them to write consistent, even-sized calligraphy.

If it doesn't, prepare some guidelines. Remember: guidelines are your teacher when writing calligraphy. They remind you how big your letter should be and ensure that you are writing calligraphy letters of identical sizes (and not some big, some small).

If you don't know how to draw guidelines, get my free e-Book here.


Everyone has their own way of holding a pen and might find certain grips more comfortable than the rest. However, some postures are not suitable and will lead to cramping when you write calligraphy.

An example of such a grip would be where the thumb is overlapping the index finger and the hand looks like it is clenching into a fist.


The pen angle must always be 45 degrees to the horizontal.

In other words, if you draw a line upwards at a 45-degree angle to the horizontal, the line will be a straight, thin line.

Pen angle for writing calligraphyKeeping your pen at this angle helps you create thick and thin lines exactly where you want them and is absolutely critical to writing beautiful calligraphy.



Experiment with your pen and play around with it to get a better feel of how it works.

You can also practice with some exercises like these:

Pen exercises for writing calligraphy



Now, this must be the part you've been waiting for - writing the calligraphy alphabet! Once you've completed the steps above, it's time to start learning how to write the calligraphy alphabet.

The calligraphy alphabet consists of a few basic strokes.

By learning how to manipulate these strokes and combine them with a series of other basic strokes, you will be able to write calligraphy in no time at all.

If you want to learn more about writing the calligraphy alphabet, claim your free copy of my e-Book now (limited time period only), and it will show you how the calligraphy alphabet is formed using diagrams.

Click this link here to claim your free copy of my e-Book:



Once you're able to write the calligraphy alphabets, string them together into words and write sentences in calligraphy, it's time to take it a step further and try some projects out!

Here's a post on 6 easy calligraphy projects that every beginner can do.

Here's a more detailed post that shows on how I actually create my calligraphy pieces, step-by-step: How To Create Amazing Calligraphy Pieces With A Calligraphy Pen

Projects allow you to have fun with your calligraphy and put your calligraphy to good use. Not to mention that you get to impress your friends and family along the way too!


Hope this beginner's mini guide to writing calligraphy has helped you realise that calligraphy is actually not that hard and that there is a very systematic way to help you learn (and eventually write) beautiful calligraphy.

Let me know what you think and if you have any questions in the comment box below!

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About Henry Wong

A calligraphy-lover who defied the odds and finally managed to write calligraphy, he now teaches beginners how they too can write beautiful calligraphy in the fastest and easiest way possible. You can read more about him here: or drop him a message to tell him how awesome he is at

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