If you’re a user of social media websites like Instagram and Pinterest, then chances are, you have already seen really beautiful calligraphy works done with brush pens shared by different artists. Heck, you might even be wondering how to use brush pens yourself.
Calligraphy is really trending right now. Whether that be quotes from popular movies or soulful bible verses, calligraphy art is everywhere. And we can’t stop looking at them.
That’s because they’re beautiful and very satisfying to look at. These works also make you sort of wonder if you can actually take on this amazing skill. Then again, there are times when you think that the entire process seems a bit complicated and intimidating.
If that’s how you feel, then don’t worry. In this article, we are going to walk you through the whole process of using a brush pen for calligraphy. We are going to show you that prowess in calligraphy can be achieved by anyone, even by you.
Let’s Start With the Tools
As with all forms of art, you will need proper materials in order to get you started. Before we start, please bear in mind that we are targeting this article towards absolute beginners. Hence, we are only going to feature the basic materials you need and some helpful alternatives for those who don’t want to invest in more expensive calligraphy tools just yet.
Professional calligraphy artists usually use a fountain pen with a flexible nib. However, a fountain pen can be quite expensive for the beginner calligrapher. That’s why we recommend starting with a brush pen.
There are a lot of brush pens available so you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding one. If you already have a brush at home, then you can use that as well, for practice.
Brush pens are easier to control, though, that’s why we recommend that for beginners. But if you already have a brush, then that would do too. Don’t worry; we are going to talk more about how to use brush pens in calligraphy later on so just keep on reading.
The second tool you’ll need is, of course, the ink. If you are going to use a brush pen, then you shouldn’t worry about the ink anymore. If you’re going to use a brush, however, then watercolor is a fine medium to start with.
Finally, you need some clean paper. There are lined papers specifically made for calligraphy practice, which you can easily download online for free and then print at home. They also usually come with practice strokes, which can be very helpful.
Otherwise, you may use a clean blank paper that is thick enough to handle your liquid medium (watercolor or ink) or can simply accommodate your brush pen without it bleeding through the paper.
How to Use Brush Pens: The Basics of Calligraphy
Now that you have all the tools lined up, let’s start practicing. Calligraphy can be done in different styles. In fact, as you develop your skills, you can go on and discover your own style of lettering, and create your own font if you’re up to the challenge.
You can start your calligraphy journey with this basic rule, though: apply less pressure for upward strokes and apply more pressure for downward strokes. As you hold your brush pen in an upright but slightly angled position, apply each pressure according to the strokes of the letters you are forming in cursive.
For example, the word “hello”. The downward strokes of each of the letters will be thicker than the upward strokes due to the added pressure. The upward strokes are usually used as letter connectors (the lines that connect each letter in cursive writing), thus these links should be fine lines.
As you get more confident in this basic rule, you can simply adjust your angle of writing for more fluid strokes. Each person varies in terms of grip and angle so don’t stress yourself too much. What’s important is that your hand, especially your wrist, is comfortable and free to move fluidly.
Practicing Calligraphy Everyday
As with all skills, your calligraphy can get better with daily practice too. You can practice in two ways: by writing all the letters of the alphabet in both lower and uppercase, and by writing pangrams.
Pangrams are phrases that contain every letter of the alphabet. Here are some of them:
- Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.
- The quick onyx goblin jumps over the lazy dwarf.
- Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.
- The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
You may not be able to notice any changes immediately, but we challenge you to practice writing one of these pangrams 50 times each day for 30 days without fail. Within a month, we are sure you have already tremendously progressed—and all on your own too!
Don’t forget to keep your earlier practice sheets, so you have something to gauge your progress on.
Taking Your Calligraphy to the Next Level
Once you have mastered the basics, it’s now time to turn your calligraphy phrases into works of art. You can do that by adding details and flourishes.
Flourishes are the extra curves you add to letters in order to accentuate them. When done properly, they can significantly improve the look of your lettering and make it look more professional.
Here are a few tips on adding flourishes to your work:
- You can add flourishes to letters with loops. Some of these are the lowercase letters of “L” and “H” (with ascending stem loops) and the lowercase letters of “G” and “Y” (with descending stem loops).
- You can also add flourishes to the beginning and end of your phrase (or word if your words are not all in a straight line).
- Finally, you can add flourishes on top or at the bottom of your phrase to underline certain words and accentuate them.
Aside from flourishes, you can also add other details to your work. Here are some ideas:
- You can add a shadow to your lettering.
- You can blend and use two colors in lettering (perfect when you’re using watercolor brush pens).
- You can draw small images around the word, such as hearts, arrows, and birds, in order to give your lettering work more life and interest.
- You can mix different fonts into a single phrase or quote, as long as they complement each other.
Of course, just like your basic calligraphy skills, you would need to practice each of the techniques we have shared above before you get good at them and before your work looks professional and Instagram-worthy.
But don’t worry, with dedicated practice, we’re sure that you’ll get there soon enough. Probably even sooner than you think. Good luck!