How to Start Doing Modern Calligraphy

How to Start Doing Modern Calligraphy

Modern Calligraphy

Even though technology today is giving us so many various things to do, sometimes we just feel the need to go back to the basics and try some old-school hobbies. It’s the case of the modern calligraphy that is both rewarding and relaxing, on so many levels.

The art of “beautiful writing” isn’t that difficult to learn, but you need to give it time and to practice as much as you can until you enjoy your results.

Modern calligraphy is fun and calming as you fill the pages with letters and curls. It may become even a Zen meditation to you, as long as you’re managing to isolate yourself from the surrounding world.

What you need

You do need some supplies to begin with. If you’re going to try modern calligraphy, do it right from the very beginning and spend the extra buck for some quality tools. Calligraphy isn’t an expensive hobby, but you do need high quality writing tools and surface to write on in order to get good results.

  1. The nibs

the nibs

This may be the first thing you do need when planning to try modern calligraphy. You need nibs with a pointed tip that are very flexible and able to create nice looking letters.

There are many types of nibs you may find out there, but you should start with the ones especially designed for the beginners. They are reliable and sturdy, which is what you want at first.


  1. The nib holder

The nib holderIn the beginning, a straight nib holder is going to serve you better. You may find nib holders made with wood or plastic and what you really need at first is quite cheap.

You should go for the models that feature a general holder. You insert the nib by wedging the back end of your nib between the metal ring and the inner prongs and check to see if it sits really tight. You never want to go between the prongs.

  • The paper

As a beginner, you should try a smooth paper at first that is even a tad transparent. You do want to see the guide sheet underneath.

You want the paper not to bleed and the surface to be smooth so that the nib doesn’t snag. Don’t use regular printer paper as the ink may bleed too much.

You may give it a go with layout paper, but you really should try a thick paper that it’s not too textured. Some types of watercolor papers, Bristol papers are also options to consider.

You should use a guide sheet in the beginning so that you write straight lines and there are plenty of models out there to choose from.

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  1. Ink

You do need to use ink for calligraphy and it comes premixed an ready to go out of the bottle. Nevertheless, there are many and various inks to try as you perfect in modern calligraphy.

The Ink

  1. Some small stuff

You also need a soft piece of cloth, a bowl of water and rubbing alcohol or soap for cleaning the nib before you begin.

All of the things you need in the beginning are easy to find in a big art supply store.

Getting ready

All nibs have some chemical residue from manufacturing and you want to remove it so that you don’t get any problems later on. You simply dip the nib into alcohol or scrub it with some soapy water. Rub it with a cloth to remove the entire oil residue as well.

You need a lot of room so that you move your arms around freely. As you are moving a lot your arm, elbow including, it’s best to place the ink to your right (if you’re right-handed). Place the guide sheet under your layout paper and use some tape to fasten it.

Take your time, breath in and dip the nib into the ink so that it’s covered evenly, halfway up the nib’s well.

Practice makes perfect

This may sound oversold, but in modern calligraphy is very true. You should practice as much as you can the strokes, the curves until you get to the letters and words.

Calligraphy practice

Here are some useful tips:

  • You need to apply the pressure on the down strokes and not on the upstrokes
  • You control the weight of the down strokes with the pressure you’re using
  • It’s important to hold your pen at 45degree angle from the paper
  • Your upstrokes need to be thin and consistent
  • Make sure that the Baseline is always consistent
  • Always take a look at the ascender/descender height
  • Maintain the x-height and the cap height constant

Take time and practice the basic letter shapes and how to connect them together. Try to group them in familiar looking shapes. It’s easy to see the similarities between g, j, p, q, y, z (down strokes) or between b, d, f, h, k, l, t (upstrokes).

Be patient with the round letters (a, c, e, o ) and make sure that m, n, u, v, w look also nice every time.