How to Do Fake Calligraphy

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As much as I love creating dip-pen calligraphy, it can be kind of a pain to lug all of the supplies with you if you want to create calligraphy somewhere other than home.  Enter: fake calligraphy (AKA cheater calligraphy or faux calligraphy).

How to Do Fake Calligraphy 2

How to Do Fake Calligraphy

The nice thing about fake calligraphy is that you probably have all of the tools already.  Pretty much any writing instrument can be used to create faux calligraphy, though some are suited better to certain styles, sizes, or fonts than others.

In my opinion, the best tool to start with is a rollerball or gel pen because it’s easy to control and gives a nice, fine line.  I used a Pilot extra-fine roller ball pen because I already had it on hand.

The first thing that you’ll want to do is write your phrase in a nice cursive font.  To keep your writing straight and even, you may want to create guidelines.  I darkened my lines using a photo editor, but you’ll want to keep your lines fairly light so they don’t leave marks when you erase them.  Leave some space between your letters because your lines will eventually become thicker.

Cheater Calligraphy Sketch

Next, trace over your letters with your pen.  Pay attention to how your pen moves on the paper: When does it move up?  When does it move down?  This will be important in the next step.

Fake Calligraphy Outlined

Did you pay attention to your upstrokes and downstrokes?  Great!  Now you’ll want to thicken your downstrokes by drawing a line parallel to your downstrokes.  Curve your thick line on the beginning and end of your stroke so that it blends with your original lines.  I tend to put my thickening lines on the left side unless there isn’t room.

Thickening Downstrokes in Faux Calligraphy

Now color in the thick lines that you made.

Coloring in Downstrokes for Cheater Calligraphy

Wait at least a half an hour, then erase the guidelines.  Voila!

Finished Faux Calligraphy

Fake Calligraphy Using Roller Ball Pen


Variations in Fake Calligraphy

There are several things you can do to vary your faux calligraphy.  Here are a few that I’ve tried (though I’m sure there’s many, many more).

Use Markers

Though using Sharpies or other markers will not get you as fine of a line as using a pen, Sharpies can create a beautiful effect because of their colors.  I would recommend using this with large fonts and make sure letters have a good amount of space between them.

Grateful, Thankful, Blessed: Fake Calligraphy with Sharpies

You can see in the picture above that the letters look a little cramped.  A bigger font and wider spacing would have created a looser look.

Vary the Size of Your Words

When creating guidelines, you can create some of them smaller or larger than others to give emphasis to words and create visual contrast.

The Greatest of These is Love: Varying Font Size with Faux Calligraphy

The word I wanted to accent was “love”.  You can see I made it larger.  When you use different sizes, you have two options.  You can make the downstroke lines the same size no matter the size of the letter or you can create thicker downstrokes for bigger letters (as I have done above).


Mixing Script Fonts with Print Fonts

To add interest to your work, mix cursive fonts with print fonts.

2015-10-27 11.40.10 (1)

Or you could do double cheater calligraphy: Find a script font that you like on your computer, print it out, trace it, and add thick downstroke lines to make it into fake calligraphy.  Go ahead, I won’t tell.


Whatever you choose to do with modern calligraphy, it can be a beautiful option to ease into calligraphy or just make beautiful handlettering projects.

How to Do Fake Calligraphy

If you’d like to take the leap into dip pen calligraphy, check out my series:

Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy {The Materials}
Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy {The Basics}
Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy {Letter Formation}

8 Responses to “How to Do Fake Calligraphy

  • This is a GREAT tutorial! Seriously, this just opened up a whole new set of doors for creativity. I love being creative with my writing, but I never thought about paying attention to up strokes and down strokes like you suggested. Fake calligraphy I shall try. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this with us!
    Kelli recently posted…Free Printable: An Elisabeth Elliot quote for an Anxious HeartMy Profile

    • I’m glad you liked it! It’s a really fun process to do…I find sometimes it can actually be kind of calming to make fake calligraphy. I hope you find as much enjoyment as I have from it!

  • Wow, that is beautiful! I absolutely love how you did this. I can’t wait to try this 🙂
    Marie recently posted…Cinnamon Stick Candle HolderMy Profile

  • Not only is this a brilliant idea, it’s beautifully executed! I kind of do this when a hand writing occasion arises for me, but you’ve taken it to the next level. I feel a lot more confident to try some things I’ve been thinking about now – thanks!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so glad my post gave you more confidence.

  • Great article. I’ve just recently taken an interest in calligraphy so this was all very helpful information. Thanks for sharing.
    Lisa Martens recently posted…Easy DIY Drop EarringsMy Profile

    • Fake calligraphy is a great way to lead into dip pen calligraphy. Though I started with dip pen calligraphy and then learned faux calligraphy, I’ve heard that it can be helpful to start with fake calligraphy as a transition into the real thing. I’m glad that this article was useful for helping your calligraphy skills!