Exercises for Beginner Calligraphers

To improve in anything, you need to practice with lots of repetition. I know that doing tons of repetitions can be very tedious at times, but it really works. One tedious example of repetition I definitely can relate to is pushup repetitions in  P.E. class. I think everyone can relate to that, to be honest. On the other hand, if you are practicing something that you really enjoy, then doing many repetitions of that skill can be fun. In this case, that skill is obviously calligraphy and lettering.

Recently, I have found myself giving my close friends short calligraphy lessons after they caught me doodling the word “hello” in as many fonts as possible all over my bio notebook. In these lessons, I first give them the simple instructions to get a brush pen. Luckily for me, Crayola markers are perfect for beginners and my librarian keeps a tub of them for the students to use for projects. Of course, we do all of this after class…

Once you’ve gotten your hands on a Crayola marker (these are easiest to find) or some sort of brush marker (I am using Tombow brush markers) then you can begin. Now, this usually where I tell my friends to take out their marker and just go “uupp and doowwn, uupp and doowwn…”. I took a picture of my sketchbook and pasted it in below to show you what I mean. Think of this exercise like a warm-up. Somedays I might fill up a whole page of just ups, downs and a bunch of squiggles. The squiggles and loops in the picture below are also part of the warm-up exercise. Simple start going up thin but instead of picking up your pen, try to make a smooth transition into a thick downstroke…


After they’ve gotten tired of the squiggles and lines exercise, I start teaching my friends how to write the cursive alphabet. I know that there are a lot of people out there who know the cursive alphabet but, there are also a ton of people don’t. For those who don’t know the cursive alphabet, I recommend going online and looking up a few pictures of it.

fullsizerender-6.jpgEverybody does calligraphy a little bit different and as you practice you will find those little details that you prefer. For instance, when I started lettering I preferred to use the traditional cursive “s”, but now I’ve been leaning more towards the more modern looking “s” that looks more print-like.

To practice the alphabet, just start out writing individual letters next to one another all across your paper. Almost immediately you will find the letters that you struggle with (I’ve always struggled with a’s, o‘s, and c‘s). Practice those letters and then practice connecting them into one super long string of letters like I did in the picture below. Your lettering definitely does not have to be perfect when you’re doing exercises. For example, my sketchbook warm-ups aren’t flattering at all because usually people never see them. I think that this is one of the only times someone would tell you that quantity is more important than quality. Start out by writing a few quality letters and then start to really practice them…


Learning how to write different fonts is my favorite part in calligraphy. There is a huge variety of things you can create when you expand your ability to write with different fonts. To do this, I look up “calligraphy fonts” online and practice the ones that I like. So, if its a lazy Friday in the middle of October I may search “easy fall calligraphy fonts” while if summer break just started I’d look up “happy summer calligraphy fonts”. With this, practice the font a few times and then go ahead and start lettering!

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– Raven


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