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Faux Calligraphy: A Beginner’s Best Friend

I’m going to kick off this blog exactly how I kicked off my lettering journey — with faux calligraphy!  It’s a great way to learn what your letters should look like once you make the jump to brush or pointed pens.  All you need to start is a pen or pencil (nothing fancy, anything you have lying around the house will work!) and a piece of paper. I’ll be using this cheapy ballpoint pen that has lived in my checkbook since I got it on our honeymoon!


I’m not sponsored in any way, but my favorite pens to use for faux calligraphy are Gelly Rolls.  They’re inexpensive and the colors are vibrant and beautiful, even on dark paper!

First, write your word in cursive, paying attention to when your pen is moving downward.


Next, look at your letters and visualize where your pen was moving downward as you wrote them.  These are called downstrokes and I’ve illustrated them here:


Now you’re going to make those parts of the letters thicker.  If you’re a lefty, you’ll want to start with the last letter and work backwards to avoid that dreaded smudging!  The first step is to “double” your downstrokes.  This is where you can start to get creative.  You can make them as thick or thin as you want, depending on the style you’re going for.


Next, fill them in.  You can use the same pen for a classic look or go bold and use a color or even a pattern!


Sometimes I’ll go over the rest of the lines (the upstrokes) one more time to make them more even. And that’s it!  Once you’ve got this down, you can use this knowledge to help you form letters with a brush or pointed pen.  The basic rule of calligraphy is lighter pressure on the upstrokes and heavier pressure on the downstrokes.  And now you’ll know which is which!