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Learning the Art of Calligraphy

Learning the Art of Calligraphy

Calligraphy pens and Inks
Calligraphy pens and Inks
Calligraphy pens and Inks
Written in calligraphy, words appear to waltz across a page. But don't let the rythmic flourishes and old-world elegance of such lettering fool you. Calligraphy is easy to learn. All you need to do it are a few special tools and a bit of patient practice. Before long, you'll find making letters this way as comfortable as using your best penmanship.


There are numerous styles and methods of calligraphy. We selected copperplate script because of its sophisticated appearance and simple form. Begin with a pen, a nib, ink or gouache, a guide sheet, and paper. Dip the pen into the ink until the hole of the nib is nearly covered; tap the nib on the rim of the pot, then make a few strokes on scrap paper to eliminate any excess ink, which might cause blotches or drips. The goal is to use enough ink to make solid lines, but not so much that the lines bleed. When the nib begins to scratch the paper, it's time to redip your pen.


Refer to the diagrams above to learn how to create letters and numerals (If you click on the tiny image, a new window will open with a full-size printable page). Position the paper at an angle, with the pen's tip aligned with one of the diagonal lines on your guide sheet. This technique may take getting used to because, unlike cursive handwriting, calligraphy usually involves lifting the pen from the paper several times during the course of making each letter.

Combinations of the nine pen strokes at the top of this page make most of the letters in the lowercase alphabet. To create thick strokes, apply pressure to the tip of the nib; for fine lines, lessen the pressure. It is best to draw thick strokes with a downward motion and thin strokes by moving the pen upward. To make a dot (as in the letter i), press the nib into the paper, allowing the ink to pool. Always lift your pen after each stroke. Once you are comfortable with the strokes, combine them to create letters. Take a break every few letters to check your spacing and form.

Loops and scrolls: More free-form and less rule bound than the lowercase alphabet, uppercase lettering allows you to give your script a personal flair. The seven strokes at the top of this page are used in many of the letters. Many uppercase letters cannot be connected to the letters that follow them, which adds to their noble appearance. As for writing numbers, it's important to practice if you'll be calligraphing dates (for example, on a family tree). Use these numerals as models, breaking down each one into individual strokes, as you do for the lowercase letters.


As you work, keep in mind that calligraphy doesn't need to be perfect to look attractive. Little mistakes only make your lettering more personal. Now pick up a pen, dip it into ink, and commit a little magic to paper.

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