You have found the first part to a 10 part series all about learning brush calligraphy from scratch! Welcome.
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Brush calligraphy is a great starting point to learn any form of calligraphy or lettering. You don’t need lovely handwriting to create beautiful calligraphy pieces – it’s all about knowing the foundations and then putting them into practice.
Follow along with me and this series, and soon you’ll be framing your pieces and giving them as gifts to loved ones or decorating your walls with them.
Foundational Rules In Beginners Brush Calligraphy
Firstly I want to quickly explain a couple of foundational rules to you. Once you learn these, the rest will come easy.
Thick Down, Thin Up
This is arguably the most important piece of brush calligraphy information you will ever need to know, which can be summarised to those 4 words.
I’m talking about the strokes – the building blocks of every letter in brush calligraphy.
Every letter in the brush calligraphy alphabet is made up of different strokes. A lowercase “b” for example, is made up of 2 strokes – a tall line (which we call an ascender), and an oval.
When we learn brush calligraphy, we first learn the basic strokes (or shapes) of each alphabet. Then we put them together to create the letters.
As we write these strokes, we go by the general rule that when our pen is moving towards the bottom of the page (which is a downstroke), we increase the pressure on the page and (thanks to our beautiful brush pens which we will see in the next post) that stroke becomes thick.
When our pen moves towards the top of the page (in an upstroke) we decrease the pressure and our stroke becomes nice and thin.
Thick down, thin up.
So if we are to draw the letter “n”, we would draw the line on the left first, moving our pen from the waistline to the baseline. This we do with a bit of pressure, and that part of the “n” becomes thick. For the next stroke, we lift the pressure, draw a nice thin stroke from the baseline up towards the waistline, curve around to the right, and then increase the pressure to draw a thick stroke down to the baseline again.
Don’t fret if you got lost in those examples, we go through everything step by step in the next few articles.
All you need to know is that every single letter is made up of strokes, and the ones that go down are thick, the ones that go up are thin. So as you’re following along, simply remember thick down, thin up.
The Lines in Beginners Brush Calligraphy
Writing on lines seems like a pretty simple statement – but you would be surprised how important it is to know this.
Lines help you create beautiful consistency in your letter heights, your slant and your spacing.
So, most of the time when we write, we use guides.
We have 4 lines to help:
- The baseline: This is the line that all the letters sit on.
- The waistline: This is where the body of most letters reach. The smaller letters like m, n and o stop here, as well as the height of the round parts of b, g, and p. The space between the baseline and the waistline is called the “x height”.
- Ascender line: This line shows the height of all the tall letters, like t, l and d. The ascenders on these letters are the little lines that stick up.
- Descender line: This is where the descenders reach to. A descender is essentially a letters “tail” that letters like y, p and q have.
Another line that people often draw is the slant line. This repeats diagonally across the guides, to help the writer have the same consistency in the angle of their letters. It can be any degree, as long as they are all the same or else your letters will just look wonky.
Of course, you could sit there, ruler in hand, drawing line after line just to get started on your journey… however, I know how annoying that would be, so I have made it a little easier for you. I have compiled my practice sheets and resources for this series into a resource library. All you need is the password.
Pop in your details and get it delivered to your inbox for free!
Now that you know the basic rules, it’s going to be a lot easier for you to follow along with the rest of the series.
Coming up, we have:
(Use these links if you would like to skip ahead)
- Best brush pens for beginners
- Best paper for brush pens
- Calligraphy with a regular pen (faux calligraphy)
- Basic strokes (part 1)
- Basic strokes (part 2)
- Basic strokes (part 3)
- Putting the strokes together
- Connecting the letters
- Flourishing basics
Thanks for following along, and I will chat to you in the next part of the series.