Writing Art: How to Start the Art of Calligraphy

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There’s something about printing words yourself that puts so much more meaning into the message. Calligraphy is an art that makes handwriting beautiful. Not only is it charismatic but it is also a fun and rewarding hobby.

How to


  • Ink- available at craft stores and comes in an assortment of colors
  • Pen holder- holds your replaceable pen tips
  • Pen tips- come in different shapes and sizes depending on how you want your letters to look
  • Guide sheets- help you with letter placement; use a ruler and a pencil to help you make one
  • Paper-any type will do but stay away from glossy because the ink will run


To start, pick your font. Each font will have different guidelines that will help you shape your letters correctly. The most important thing to remember when doing calligraphy is that the size of your pen tip determines the size of your letters. In order to do this you need to make a guide sheet.

Guide sheet instructions:

  • With your paper horizontal, make multiple notches the width of your pen tip along the top of the paper.
  • Count down the required notches specific to your chosen font. Use a ruler and a pencil to draw lines all the way down. For any humanistic font, the guidelines are 3-2-5-5. Meaning make a top line for the ascender, count down three notches, make a line for the capital letter height, count down two notches for lower case letter height, five more for the baseline, and another five for the descender.

Calligraphy instructions:

  • Trace your guidelines on your paper.
  • Draw the letters for your desired font within the guidelines.
  • Use the same size pen tip you used to make your guide sheet. Dip pen tip into the ink and dab it on a piece of scratch paper to prevent large blobs
  • Trace your letters while holding your pen at the same angle. The best way to ensure this is to draw an angle anywhere from 20-45°. Line your pen tip up with the angle and then carry it back to your writing without changing it. The motion is in your arm, not your wrist. If you use your wrist, your angles will change instantly.
  • Calligraphy is not like cursive, you will need to pick up your pen to do multiple strokes for one letter. Always pull your strokes down, never try to go up.
  • Re-dip when the ink starts to lighten or you can feel the metal scratching against the paper.

*Practice on scratch paper first to help you get the feel for it.

Calligraphy is perfect for cards and addressing envelopes. Get creative with backgrounds and add flourishes with a fine tipped pen.

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.

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Cambria VandeMerwe

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