Tips on Calligraphy Writing

By | 9:28 PM

By Edward Ashcroft-Hamilton 

Calligraphy is not simply writing but more a type of stylized writing. It is important that a beginner understand this concept well to calligraphy write the letters. It is a process of putting different letters together to form a perfectly patterned and well placed set of angles and letters.

The difference between normal writing and calligraphy writing is that when you calligraphy write you literally draw your letters artfully, rather than just write your letters. Calligraphy writing requires a certain amount of adherence to styles and form in writing. It is necessary that the beginner studies the shape of each letter thoroughly and considers them as pictures rather than letters, or as a collection of pictures rather than a collection of words, meant to represent an idea.


Western calligraphy
Western calligraphy by Alliance française de Wuhan

In order to achieve proficiency in calligraphy you will first have to learn the use of the calligraphy pen to calligraphy write. Importance should be given to the angle of the pen to allow the hand to move freely and smoothly while practicing to draw the letters. The pen should typically be held at an angle of 45 degrees when writing. The paper should be kept straight and you should begin the process using vertical strokes. This process should continue while the pen is held in the correct angle. This process provides training for the hand's small muscles, much like crawling gives exercise to a child's large muscles.

Once you are familiar with this exercise you can calligraphy write by adding serifs or small lines that are added to the end of each letter for style. This should be in proportion to the other letters to obtain uniformity in the style of writing. The next point would be to practice to draw circles of equal size. For this purpose you can use different nibs from thin to thick ones and check the outcome of the exercise. You will notice how well these nibs have contributed to letters that have appeared on the paper and the way they feel in the hand.

Gothic 01 307
Example of  Gothic calligraphy, note the vertical lines
image: Public Domain
Vertical lines pertain to Gothic calligraphy and they are usually much easier to draw than the circles which are used in the Carolingian calligraphy style. Both these styles can be incorporated when learning to calligraphy write, or you can choose whichever is easiest.

The pen is crucial when learning to calligraphy write. There are some pens that are provided as starter kits and these are particularly useful for practice writing. There are still a few pens available today that have cartridges containing dye-based ink that have a tendency to fade over a period of time.

If you want to calligraphy write and plan to keep at it for a long time, the best choice is a metal nib that comes in sizes ranging from thin to thick according to the choice of the user and the style of the lettering. Sometimes metal nibs can be problematic for the beginner, causing blots on the paper. This problem will wear off sooner or later with proper practice and learn how to maintain a smooth and consistent flow of ink.


calligraphy pen
 A Stipula fountain pen lying on a written piece of paper
image: Antonio Litterio



Edward Ashcroft-Hamilton, calligrapher
Edward Ashcroft-Hamilton is a professional calligraphy teacher with over 25 years experience. Click the following link for more great tips, tutorials and advice when you calligraphy write.

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