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The basics of calligraphy – Part 2: “Our tools and the secret to success: practice.”

For calligraphy to be a success, certain tools are used like pens, brushes and the right paper. In this blog we show you which equipment is suitable for this.

Brush pens on a pen shelf

Tools

Pens

Brush lettering can be written using various pens, the main thing is that the pen can respond to different pressures. The pens therefore need a flexible tip.

Brush lettering can be written using classic brushes or water brushes, or with brush pens that have a soft felt tip or similar material. There are different types of brush pens in different sizes too.

Fude pen and brush lettering example

My personal favourites are little brush pens that are known as fude pens. The Pentel Sign Pen or Tombow Fudenosuke with soft or hard tip (the Twin version with black and grey is also highly recommended) are my three favourites. They also cover the range of different hardnesses. I often recommend that beginners start with the Pentel as it is in the middle between the Tombows. Depending on what you are doing, you can then change to a harder or softer tip.

Examples with big brush pens

The Tombow Dual Brush Pens are probably the most popular ones among the big brush pens. They are among my favourites, although these tips tend to fray in inexperienced hands. I would therefore only recommend them if you have a bit of experience. By contrast, the Ecoline Brush Pens or Bic Visaquarelle are ideal for beginners. The Bic are designed for children and therefore extremely solid and practically indestructible. The Ecoline Brush Pens are very soft but tend to fray a bit more than the Bic, although the tip can be pulled out and reversed with these so you can use a new tip as soon as you have a bit more experience.

Handmade paper, hung up to dry

Paper

Felt brush pens are somewhat sensitive as far as the paper is concerned and should therefore be used on very smooth paper. A favourable option here would be the DCP paper from Clairefontaine, for example, or the marker paper from Canson, Rhodiapapier or Tomoe River are also good options. One very good thick paper is the Premium Papeteria paper from Migros. And the Coop Bon Prix Block is also a highly recommended, cheap alternative.

iPad Pro Lettering

Digital

Brush lettering can also be written using an iPad Pro and the Procreate app. The Apple pencil responds to different pressures and can therefore reproduce the same effects digitally.

Exercise book

Exercise book

The principle of brush lettering is very simple. The pen is held virtually completely upright. With the lines written downwards pressure is exerted on the tip and with the lines written upwards no pressure is exerted and just the tip is used. At the start this is a bit difficult as many people don’t find the hairlines easy.

Hand position for hairlines

My tip here is to imagine that you don’t want to touch the paper. If you deliberately keep the tip virtually away from the paper, the fine lines are a bit easier. It is also recommended that you do not draw the lines from the wrist but write using the whole arm right from the start. It is therefore also important that you sit as straight as possible and the whole lower arm can be placed on the table. And as with any creative activity, practice makes perfect. Calligraphy has to be practised. And anyone who thinks they are not suited to it because they don’t have beautiful or very neat handwriting, should take a look at my notebook. I was once reproached for having the most illegible handwriting in the class. And this didn’t improve after school either and also hasn’t changed due to my focus on calligraphy.

Notebook and fountain pen

There are basic strokes in calligraphy for the English style of writing (also known as Anglaise or Copperplate) as many modern styles are based on this style, these basic strokes can also be found in a modified form in the style that I practise in my exercise book.

The basic strokes are the foundation for the small letters. Once you know these strokes, the small alphabet is a piece of cake.

Basic brush lettering strokes

I always recommend practising the small letters first and then continuing with the capital letters as the small letters are more simply and clearly structured. There are various options for practising lettering.

You can find a wealth of talented people on Instagram who sell practice sheets in their shops so that you can practise this person’s style, just like the fancy joined up writing in school.

I have created a few of these practice sheets myself, which can be bought in my shop and then printed out, although my usual style is somewhat more complicated and more suitable for dip pens. I have therefore put together new brush lettering practice sheets as an introduction and had them printed as a spiral-bound photo book. The practice book’s ring binder allows for the book to be laid completely flat on the table so that it is pleasant to write in the book. The silky matt paper does not absorb the ink so you can write wonderfully in it without putting too much pressure on the tip.

Lettering on transparent paper

Alternatively, you can lay transparent paper on the pages and trace the letters so that the individual pages can be filled as often as you like.

I often recommend that beginners use the Pentel Sign Pen with brush tip or the Tombow Fudenosuke pens. I personally favour the black Tombow with the soft tip, many people find it easier to write with the hard tip though. The Twin Tombow is also very pleasant and filling the pages with grey ink may be more fun for some people. The Pentel Sign is also available in many colours, which increases the fun factor even more.

Example of lettering with the Bic Visaquarelle pen

The practice book also has larger lines at the end so that you can also practice with big brush pens like the Ecoline Brush Pens, Tombow Dual Brush Pens, Edding Brush Pens, Online Calli.Brush Pens, Kuretake Brush Pens, Caran d’Ache Fibralo Brush Pens, Bic Visaquarelle and many more.

myriam

Myriam from halfapx

Myriam calls herself a logophile and cannot stop experimenting with words. It doesn’t matter what form the words take. She loves writing prose for fictional stories, personal blogs and Instagram captions that go way beyond any maximum length. Professionally she is an author of words that dress the Internet, a front end developer, website seamstress, whatever you want to call it. And nearly three years ago she became addicted to beautiful letters in the form of calligraphy. Since then she has been sharing her love of words online with a touch of her enthusiasm for photography and an extra large portion of obsession with coffee in her Blog, on Instagram and on YouTube. She has also dedicated 1,513 words to the topic of calligraphy in her own blog (in English) for anyone who would like to know even more!

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