Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy {Letter Formation}

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Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy -- Letter Formation -- Destination Decoration

Now that you have have all your materials and you’ve mastered some basics of calligraphy, you’re ready to start using these to form letters.  Before you start, here are some tips and tricks that I’ve found useful when doing calligraphy.

Modern Calligraphy Tips and Tricks

  1.  I found it best to either repeatedly practice one letter, repeatedly practice the whole alphabet, or practice a string of letters.
  2. Don’t be afraid to pick up your pen!  I wish I had known this when I first started.  Calligraphy is different than just writing in cursive.  If you pick up your pen, no one will notice!
  3. Every 5 minutes or so, wipe your nib clean on a damp paper towel.  It’s also helpful to do this if you’ve left your nib out without writing for more than a minute or so.
  4. Keep a cup of water nearby.  If your ink is being finnicky, lightly dip just the very tip of your pen into the ink to help flow more smoothly.
  5. If your ink is too runny and tends to pool or blob, add a few drops (2-3 at a time) of liquid gum arabic until your ink flows nicely.
  6. Experiment with different types of paper.  For a while, I use coverstock and either made my own guidelines or used these writing worksheets as a guide.  Now, if I’m practicing, I use Rhodia paper pads.  It’s nice that they’re all bound so you don’t have to deal with oodles of loose leaves of paper and you have built in guidelines if you use the dot pad or lined pad.
  7. Discover your own style.  I started by using some calligraphy worksheets as a guide, but eventually I tweaked these styles to form my own way or writing.

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Writing Letters

There are two options that I would start with when you’ve practiced the basic strokes enough and you’re ready to write letters.  The first option is to write calligraphy using your standard cursive writing.  This is how I started and the basis for the Elizabeth style worksheet below.

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If you’d like more structured practice, you can find tracing worksheets online to help you practice letter formation.  OR you can stay right here and grab the Elizabeth lowercase letter tracing worksheet.  Here’s a sheet that I made that you can use to practice lowercase letter formation with the Elizabeth font.

If you’d like the uppercase letters practice sheet, you can find it on my Etsy shop.

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Both have an examplar letter (in black), two practice tracing letters (in gray), and space to practice your own letters. The Elizabeth font is great for modern calligraphy beginners because the letters are fairly basic, there is no slant, and there is minimal flourishing involved.


Developing Your Own Style

Use practice worksheets, find inspiration on Pinterest or Instagram, and experiment with letters.  Just make sure that you make it your own (because no one likes a copycat).


Hopefully this will get you on your way to being a master calligrapher.

Good luck!

Want a different font?  Get the Christine style calligraphy page below.


Looking for a new calligraphy font? Get the the Christine style worksheet.

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