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A beginners guide to Calligraphy & Lettering – things to know!

If you want to start with calligraphy and are confused as to where to start and how to start, you should start right here – difference between calligraphy & lettering.

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I have for ever been contemplating if I am competent enough to put out a post on calligraphy or lettering because I never consider myself an expert. But with the amount of DMs I get on Instagram, I am fairly convinced I am at the exact right position in my calligraphy journey where I do remember all the mistakes & struggles, at the same time also know what & how exactly to overcome them. Maybe a few year ahead, I might start talking greek and french of calligraphy and that is not going to help beginners so here is a post for beginners in calligraphy & lettering 🙂

You might find this post interesting too :   The only calligraphy supplies you need to own

Lot of people ask me this question – How do I start calligraphy & lettering ?

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This is a part of Calligraphy series posts and you can find the rest in this series below 🙂

  1. A beginners guide to Calligraphy & Lettering – things to know! (You are here)
  2. 4 Basic Calligraphy supplies you must choose wisely
  3. Beginners calligraphy practice tips & guides : How I started my calligraphy practice

Okay so when I started out, I wanted to write in pretty fonts, in the inside of the cards I used to make. When I started searching for resources online, I ended up stepping into an entirely unknown world! I did not know what it was called – handwriting? calligraphy? lettering? hand lettering? modern calligraphy? pointed pen calligraphy? brush lettering? brush pen calligraphy? It was just too much of information about one simple thing that I wanted to learn about 🙁 So for those, who want to start calligraphy, first understand what exactly you want to learn.

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What is Calligraphy :

Is essentially the art of “writing” like literal writing, in aesthetically and artful manner. Most important aspect of calligraphy is that there is no redo or re-work – it involves flawless strokes with varying width , mostly a result of muscle memory from rigorous practice.

As far as English calligraphy is concerned, the popular ones these days are italics, gothic, spencerian and copperplate ( again classified under roundhand, engrosser, engravers script), the last one being my absolute favorite. One thing we must keep in mind is that calligraphy is a a really really old art form, and most of these stuffs were done with quills and natural inks. What resources we have right now are much advanced and the fonts and styles have changed as well.

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Spencerian Script –  Source : Calligraphyquill
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Copperplate Calligraphy – Source : Amazon
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Gothic Calligraphy –  Source : Etsy NKLettering
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Italics Calligraphy – Source : Etsy ArtfulCelebrations

The most favorite among calligraphers are Spencerian and copperplate scripts and I swear they are the prettiest! Learning these require a lot of discipline because they are based on rules and by rules, i mean like really strict rules. Each alphabet, both in small and caps, are defined, in size, stroke length, start stop, stroke length, stroke width, curve angle and what not. I tried learning but I realized I dint have much patience and discipline for that 😛

Modern calligraphy on the other hand, is rooted in the traditional form of calligraphy, however, with flexibility in the “rules” part. I love modern calligraphy because, its easy, fun and most importantly, you can curate your own comfortable modern calligraphy style!

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        Source : Pinterest
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Source : Pinterest
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                                                          Source : Pinterest
calligraphy, modern calligraphy, calligraphy envelope addressing, calligraphy basics, calligraphy beginners, calligraphy modern , handlettering
Source : Pinterest
calligraphy, modern calligraphy, calligraphy envelope addressing, calligraphy basics, calligraphy beginners, calligraphy modern , handlettering
Source : Pinterest

Now that you have a fair idea of the style or script or final look of calligraphy, let me introduce to you the two types of calligraphy ( most rpevelant today), based on the tools you use :

  • Pointed pen calligraphy – written with fine tip pens, nibs that are relatively flexible than normal fountain ink pens, allowing the strokes to be of varying width depending upon the pressure applied. This is my most favourite way to write and obviously most of my posts on calligraphy is going to hover around this topic 🙂

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  • Brush pen calligraphy– recent form, involving use of brush tipped pens to create strokes of varying widths. I equally love this form of calligraphy as well, but even the smallest brush pens allows you to write only as tiny as 8mm height which is a bit of a drawback for me. I use tombow or pentel brushpens to write names in the addresses in bigger fonts followed by complete addresses with pointed nib in smaller fonts. There are bushpens of bigger nibs marketed by tombow, Camlin, Adgel etc which can only be used to write letters as big as 1.5 inches so there is a limitation on the usage based on the brushpen nib size.
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                                                                                    Source : Pinterest

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  • Pencil calligraphy– I see 12k posts on Instagram under this hashtag so lets call it official 😛 its just calligraphy with pencil! Use a 2B or 4B pencil that have softer nibs and hence gives that nice thick & think stroke effect as you write.

What is Lettering :

This is more of drawing than writing, more creative. artistic and definitely more fun. This is where you make a rough sketch of the letters, more like drawing them, then paining them, adding shadows, adding bubble effects, ombre shades – I mean the final letters that you see might seem the same like calligraphy output, but in the process of it, you might have done multiple strokes to add weight and effects which is more like drawing than writing. Whereas in calligraphy, you don’t go twice over a letter that is written.

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Calligraphy is writing letters whereas lettering is drawing letters. I see a lot of lettering enthusiasts on Instagram and I absolutely adore their works but I , on the other hand am not interested so much in lettering as I don’t find much of a practical use for it in my life. Maybe for banners, display boards, signboards, nameplates, labels etc. I am only proud of this particular sign board I did for my home – this is lettering yes 🙂

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Now why hand lettering? Because the next popular thing in calligraphy front is Ipad lettering so if you are lettering on a piece of paper with your own hands, its hand lettering 😀 I am not much of a fan of I pad lettering because the whole point of me wanting to learn  calligraphy was to send handwritten messages in my handmade cards, and doing that with so much technology and without that “personal touch”, defeats its whole purpose. Plus I don’t own that I pad pen thingy and the procreate app is not free, plus if you want to make all those sophisticated lettering stuffs you find on insta, you need to “buy” brushes, again I don’t understand how its all creative in any way.

So that was about calligraphy & lettering. Now you can decide, which one is it, that you want to learn? Calligraphy or lettering? Join me in my calligraphy & lettering journey on Instagram – I almost try to post every other day with something creative so hop on 🙂 I will be posting more on calligraphy, lettering and water coloring – the three things I have been obsessed, over the last few months 🙂 Watch out for my next post on actually starting to practice calligraphy & lettering. Let me know if you have any specific topics that I should cover  🙂

xoxo Angela 

angela

Angela jose is an engineer by profession and crafter by hobby. She resides in India with her husband and daughter. TheCraftyAngels is her brainchild which is a platform to share craft tutorials.

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2 Comments

  1. From long time I’m planning to learn Calligraphy. I couldn’t as I thought it is time consuming :(. Again getting inspired because of this post.

    1. angela says:

      Thats great Ranjana! Glad you are going to take it up again 🙂 Cant wait to see your practice & works. Do ping me on instagram or facebook if you are sharing your works there 🙂

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