Calligraphy 101: The Basic Strokes

This one’s dedicated to my girl Lindsay. You may be like this magnificent woman yourself: tired AF because life kicks your butt every day, and you need a creative outlet. You’re interested in calligraphy and handlettering, you’ve pinned a few things and followed a few Instagram lettering artists… but it’s all overwhelming and you don’t know where to start.

Let me get you started with the basics.

And because I’m tired and busy, too, I’m going to curate for you. Instead of adding to the noise on YouTube and Instagram, I’ll distill the most useful resources for you and give you my suggested steps to learning the art of handlettering.

I’m planning on this being a short series to introduce you to the basics and get you started on your lettering journey. I’ll keep it under five resources so that you can consume, then go ahead and start practicing! Today, you’ve only got three to get through. So let’s get started!

Lesson #1: Learn the Basic Strokes.

Calligraphy is different from cursive. Cursive is all about efficient writing in one fluid motion. Calligraphy and handlettering is about drawing — so that means you’ve got to pick up your pen between strokes, and really practice the shapes of lettering.

All the letters can be formed with the following basic shapes:

3-strokes-2-basic-miniscule-strokes

You don’t need to know the names. Just the shapes.

Now, before I show you some videos, let me give you a disclaimer: I’m cheap. I don’t have the money to spend on all the cool tools that these videos will recommend.

My suggested tools:

That’s it. At least until you feel like you’ve gotten the hang enough of it.

Today’s Top 3 Resources

#1: The Basic Calligraphy Strokes

Watch how Becca forms each of the shapes, then try it out yourself! I promise, this works well with Crayola markers. You don’t need to spend a ton on Tombow markers.

#2: Common Mistakes

Maybe this is a 102 lesson, but if you’re like my friend Lindsay, you’re probably ready for this lesson.

#3: Drill Worksheets

There are tons of free worksheets on the internet. It’s the magic of the internet. Here’s a good one to practice your basic strokes. It’s from Dawn Nicole – check out her full blog post on drill basics here!

Two Bonus resources:

  • Becca at The Happy Ever Crafter has an entire Teachable course on practicing your drills (for free!). If you have the time to watch her videos on each of the strokes and practice each slowly, go to showmeyourdrills.com.
  • I learned by watching a ton of videos on Instagram, then trying it out myself. I also needed the videos to be silent, or easy to follow if muted… I was watching them while I was putting my daughter to sleep or feeding her during her first year. If you want to see simple, mute-able videos that show you how to do each of the basic strokes, stay tuned to my Instagram stories this week! Find me @nerdladydraws. I’ll save the demonstrations to my stories in case you join me later.

That’s it, friends! Now go and practice! Next up, I’ll share resources to help you learn how to put the basic strokes together so you can draw the letters. But as Mr. Miyagi showed young Daniel, you’ve got to learn how to wax on and wax off before you can kick ass. Learn your drills!

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