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Easy Calligraphy Exercises To Perfect Your Handwriting

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Published on: 22 Dec 2020

So finally you have made up your mind to discipline those wayward letters by learning calligraphy. Good choice! But now as you sit with all those new calligraphy tools and gear, looking for easy ways to master hand-lettering at home, it is only natural, to begin with, some easy warm-up exercises. 

This meditative age-old art form is the most satisfying hobby and activity on the internet currently. There is nothing better than the expressive visual experience of calligraphy. While there are fabulous ways to improve your calligraphy skills, some beginner calligraphy drills will surely be helpful. 
Pull out all those fancy pens and brushes. It is about time you impress people with beautiful hand-lettering. 

We have assembled a bunch of basic calligraphy exercises to ease you into the process and set a foundational understanding of the art.  

What are Calligraphy Exercises?

What are Calligraphy Exercises

Source: Justine

Calligraphy exercises formally called "calligraphy drills" or "lettering" are the foundational, repetitive practice strokes when you start learning how to do hand-lettering. These include zigzag, oval, loops, chains, and straight-line strokes. 
No skilled athlete makes the mistake of going for a sprint without a good warm-up session. Therefore, warm up with a couple of warm-up calligraphy drills is quintessential. 
These warm-up or elementary calligraphy drills are useful to practice because they:

  • familiarise and connect you to the art, and the tools (pens, brushes, pressure, ink, markers, etc.) 
  • build consistency and establish the flow 
  • loosen the arm and hand to adapt to calligraphy motions and prepare you mentally as well

It's important to know that you don't rush into the process. But in fact, dedicate somewhere around 15-20 minutes to each calligraphy warm-up session. Devoting adequate time to warm-up practice drills is a fundamental tip coming from all the major players in the creative #KoolCommunity. 

Utilise this warm-up session to establish the ink flow, play around with different nibs, adjust the thickness of your strokes and acquaint yourself with the paper. When you practice the warm-up calligraphy drills, you remove the initial shakiness and hesitance to make your final output much cleaner and better.   

Warm-up Calligraphy Drills to Practice 

Now that you are ready to step into the warm-up calligraphy session, get your tools ready to indulge in some high-intensity artistic workout.

Since calligraphy is a major play of thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes, you might want to practice transitions, going from thin to thick. The better your strokes, the smoother your transitions will be. 

To improve your strokes, start out with the basic strokes that make up the script that you are working on. All scripts, be it Copperplate, Italic, Blackletter, Spencerian, etc are made up of basic strokes and your warm-up must comprise of practising the upper and lower case letters of the script style in question. 

After practising the basic strokes, go for various shapes. These include trying various basic shapes like the S shape, ovals, Xs and circles. The goal should be to maintain uniformity between lines, spacing and curves of each stroke. 

While there are plenty of practice sheets to exercise your calligraphy strokes, it's always beneficial to learn under the guidance of a skilled individual. Moreover, seeing the progress of your fellow learners is always a motivational nudge. Look no far as we have come up with a micro learning app to cater to the needs of avid learners and seasoned professionals. 

Easy Calligraphy Exercises to Practice Hand Lettering

Now that you spent enough time doing the calligraphy warm-up, here are some basic exercises you can adopt for more structured or traditional calligraphy practice. Give yourself some time. Maybe wait for the creative juices to flow. When you find that right comfortable spot, kick off with the following drills:

#1 Circular Strokes

Calligraphy Exercise - Circular Strokes

The oval or circular stroke is one of the seven basic calligraphy strokes. It is fundamental and is incorporated in lettering. Therefore, practice the oval stroke by: 

  • Holding the pen or marker at an angle.
  • Rotating the pen in a circular grinding fashion by using more of your arm. 
  • Ovals are extremely important for they are exhaustively in use for alphabets like g, b, d, p, etc. 

As a beginner, you are probably tempted to learn the copperplate script calligraphy for it is easy to follow and aesthetic. But this calligraphy script is also all about basic oval shape. So, attempt this drill to develop a thorough foundational understanding. 

#2 Line Strokes 

Calligraphy Exercise - Line Strokes

Making horizontal and vertical lines is how artists warm up during initial drawing lessons. 
But you calligraphy learning creative minds are no less. Start your warm-up by making straight lines. Here are a few tips:

  • Etch some straight like in a horizontal, vertical, and at an angle. 
  • Put some arm work into it to glide the pen. 
  • Adjust the weight on the lines by tightening the grip. This is an excellent calligraphy technique to add contrast. 

#3 Loops and Chains

Calligraphy Exercise - Loops and Chains

The goal of this calligraphy exercise is to become consistent with loops. This is super helpful for modern calligraphy. Begin by:

  • Making loopy cursive alphabets like the letter L.
  • Try making both ascending and descending loops. 

Calligraphy Handwriting by Justine

Source: Justine

Calligraphy is also about making chains. Practice making ovals in a continuous series so that your hand gets used to the pattern and remains consistent. The idea is to know how to increase and decrease pressure for a thick or thin effect. The same principle applies when you use Procreate for calligraphy or hand lettering

Calligraphy Tips To Try

To perfect your game, here are additional calligraphy tips by a talented member of the #KoolCommunity - Halimascalligraphy 

  • Getting the basic shapes down is one of the most important things there is.
  • Practise doesn't equal perfect! It does help progress though.
  • Mindful practising is a lot better than doing pages and pages of the same shape/letter. So feel free to critique your work as you practise.
  • If all else fails you can always do faux calligraphy! 😉
  • Don't be afraid to try calligraphy on different surfaces or even use different tools. You can do calligraphy using a simple HB pencil!

Are you intrigued by these practices? They will certainly get the creative juices flowing and will get your hand prepared to create those marvellous flowery alphabets. 



How can I learn calligraphy at home?

You can easily learn calligraphy at home all by yourself without enrolling in online courses. Here is how you begin:

1.Research the different types of calligraphy and pick the one you feel is easy to learn.
2.Select the right beginner tools like nibs, pens, and ink.
3.See videos and read blogs to look for free sources of learning.
4.Start from scratch and begin by learning how to write each alphabet.
5.Give attention to individual loops and curves that come by practicing the pressure on the pen.
6.Print out practice sheets and exercise daily.
7.Analyse your progress and identify gaps.
8.Get in touch with fellow calligraphers on social media to get first-hand information, tips and hacks.

Is calligraphy hard to learn?

Calligraphy is not hard to learn when accompanied by rigorous practice and calligraphy drills. Once you get the hang of it, you will easily curate your own style, reflective of your creativity.

What is the easiest calligraphy to learn?

As a beginner, roundhand is the easiest calligraphy to learn. It is the simplest and the most basic place to start with your calligraphy journey.

How many days will it take to learn calligraphy?

The time taken to learn calligraphy depends on the script you choose to learn. Since each script is unique in itself with different stylistic attributes, your calligraphy progress is defined by how well you practice and the type of calligraphy you choose. As a beginner, practising calligraphy at least five hours a week for two months will do the trick.

What are the top 3 lettering styles?

The three most common types of lettering styles include:

1.Modern calligraphy
2.Brush lettering
3.Watercolor lettering

What are calligraphy drills?

Calligraphy exercises are formally called "calligraphy drills". They are the foundational, repetitive practice strokes for people who start learning how to do hand-lettering. These may include zigzag, oval, loops, chains, and straight-line strokes.

How can I learn calligraphy for free?

With one google search, you will find tutorial videos and free printable details on how to create faux calligraphy. After you have practised this technique for a few weeks and feel comfortable with it, you can start dipping pencils and calligraphy.