Basic Brush Calligraphy Strokes
Welcome to the next part of the series! I am so please you have made it this far.
So far in this series we have looked at:
- Basic Rules
- Brush Pens for Beginners
- Best Paper for Brush Calligraphy
- Writing Calligraphy with a Regular Pen (Faux Calligraphy)
- The Basic Strokes (Part 1)
Now we are up the second group of strokes and I am so excited for you! Here we are going to look at 4 strokes: the overturn, the underturn, the ascending stem and the descending stem.
Basic Brush Calligraphy Strokes: Underturn
The underturn stroke simply looks like a little bit like a lowercase “u”. This stroke is used in u, w, and as an exit stroke for a lot of other letters (see the next post for more on exit strokes). It’s such a handy stroke to master!
To create it, we start at the waistline with a full pressure stroke towards the baseline, easing off the pressure to a thin stroke as we curve around the bottom and finish at the top right still using a thin stroke.Key point: You want to be already transitioned to a thin stroke before you get to the baseline.
Try practice this on the sheet in your workbook (download link towards the bottom of this page if you don’t already have it with you). Bonus points if you mess up and make it wobbly, because that is all part of learning.
Basic Brush Calligraphy Strokes: Overturn
As you can probably tell overturn looks like an upside down “u” and instead of turning “under” you draw up and curve the letter “over”. This stroke is used in n, m, h, and a few others.
We start at the baseline this time, with a thin upstroke towards the waist line, and curving around to the right. After we have curved, we then put the pressure on and do a thick downstroke back towards the baseline. Key point here is that you want to wait until you are on your way down to make it thick. This will give you a nice clean stroke.
Basic Brush Calligraphy Strokes: Ascending Stem
The ascending stem is used in a lot of the letters that have an ascender – which is the tall part of letters like k, t, l, b. You could (of course) do a simple downstroke for these ascenders, but to make it cursive we often use this stroke.
We start at the waistline (although it’s not strict with this stroke, it depends on your style) and draw an upstroke towards the ascender line, curving around to the left. After we have curved, when we begin our descent we increase the pressure and draw a thick downstroke all the way to the baseline, crossing over/passing the start of the stroke.
Ta-da! You can now add an underturn stroke to make it a h, or a reverse oval to make it a b. You could try it again but instead of finishing at the baseline, transition into an underturn stroke to create a cursive l. See how many uses this stroke has?
Try it on the workbook and let me know how you go!
If you need a little bit of extra help creating this stroke, make sure you watch this video where I demonstrate it and explain it in detail:
Basic Brush Calligraphy Strokes: Descending Stem
This is the long tail that the letters g, y and a few others have. It can also be used in a cursive p and z, depending on your style!
It starts a the waistline with a thick downstroke to the descender (transitioning into a thin stroke as you get there) curves around to the left, and up towards the baseline, crossing over the stem.
This is a great stroke to experiment flourishing on (more on that later) and it’s length, size of the loop etc will all change as you develop your own style.
So now you know the basics of the Underturn, Overturn and the Stems. In the next post we will learn about the Compound Curve and the Entry/Exit Strokes. You’re nearly at the end of the strokes, which is amazing! Keep going!
If you are wanting to revisit the previous parts, here are the links:
- Basic Rules
- Best brush pens for beginners
- Best paper for brush pens
- Calligraphy with a regular pen (faux calligraphy)
- Basic strokes (part 1)
Just a reminder, if you still haven’t downloaded the worksheets to practice alongside these lessons, head to the resource hub to print them out! If you don’t have the password yet, grab it here: