Try Our DIY Modern Calligraphy to Inspire Your Day

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Here at Makeful, we're all about inspiration! And what better way to showcase some of our favourite quotes than through calligraphy. Not only is it an easy and inexpensive skill to learn, but it’s great for everything from handwritten notes, to creating your own custom art. If you’re worried your handwriting is too messy — don’t be. There’s something about using a traditional calligraphy pen that makes even the messiest of handwriting look professional.

Materials
  • Oblique calligraphy pen
  • Black India ink
  • Size 101 Calligraphy nib
  • Dr. Ph Martin Iridescent silver ink
  • Card stock
  • Paint brush
  • paper towel
  • Pencil & paper
  • water

New to calligraphy? That’s ok! The good news is that it’s easy, and everyone can absolutely do it with a bit of practice. Here’s a few tips and tricks to learning calligraphy.

Let’s start with tools.

Pens

The first thing to know is that there are two types of traditional calligraphy pens: straight and oblique. Both will work fine, but in our opinion oblique pens are easier to use because they are positioned at a more natural angle to your wrist, so you get more even pressure while you’re writing. We used a plastic Speedball Oblique holder. We also recommend starting with a size 101 nib.

Ink

The best type of ink to start with is India ink. It comes in every colour, including iridescent metallics and white. If you’re using white, make sure its bleed proof. It’s best to start with black to get a feel for how the ink flows through the pen nib.

Paper

Paper choice can be tricky and will require some trial and error. Using the wrong combination of ink and paper will cause calligraphy to bleed. As a general rule, you want smooth, non-absorbent paper that is at-least 30 lb thick, so the ink doesn’t bleed. To practice, we recommend HP premium laser jet paper 32 lb. Card stock is ok, but it will bleed a little. For final artwork, smooth watercolour paper is a great choice. Keep in mind that the more fibrous the paper, the more careful you should be to avoid snags.

How to write

Hold the pen like you would a pencil. The weird appendage on the oblique pen does the hard work of keeping the nib at the right angle for you. Dip the nib into the ink about ¼” otherwise you’ll risk blobs of ink ruining your masterpiece. Apply more pressure as you go down and very little as you go up, this is how you’ll get those lovely thick and thin strokes.

The pens can be a little finicky, so don’t give up if you’re first few tries snag (ours did!). Remember, the most important thing you can do is practice. So keep at it, and you’ll be a pro in no time.

Below are some instructions to go with our videos. Feel free to start with pencil guidelines, or go freehand!

“Better an Oops Than a What If”

Step 1:

Using a dry brush, take a small amount of ink and lightly the splatter the paper. Use more ink for a more dramatic effect.

Step 2:

Dip the calligraphy pen in your ink. Apply more pressure as you press down and less when you go up. The key to great looking calligraphy is practice, so keep at it.

Step 3:

Clean off the nib when you’re done.

Step 4:

Admire your masterpiece. Allow about 5 minutes for your ink to dry before erasing any guidelines.

“Everything is Figure-out-able” 

Step 1:

Dip the calligraphy pen in your ink. Apply more pressure as you press down and less when you go up.

Step 2:

Clean off the nib when you’re done.

Step 3:

Ta-da! Allow about 5 minutes for your ink to dry before erasing any guidelines.