Modern Calligraphy: The Very Basics

Calligraphy is something new I’ve been trying out so I wanted to share with you the very basics of what I’ve learned as a beginner. I’ve taken a class and done a bit of practice on my own to get started. So far it’s something that I’ve found challenging (especially being left-handed and smudging ink constantly) but it’s something I’d like to practice and pursue further to gain a greater understanding of lettering!

What is Modern Calligraphy?

Modern calligraphy relies on dip pens with pointed nibs to create thick and thin strokes. Although there are some basic strokes and rules to abide by, this type of calligraphy allows the calligrapher a lot of freedom to experiment and develop their own style.


As a beginner, I can’t tell you what the best tools out there are. But I can definitely tell you what will get you started!

Getting Started

Before you use your pen nibs, you have to clean off the coating left by the manufacturer. You can do this by polishing them with toothpaste (weird, I know) and then cleaning them with water and a paper towel. Don’t forget to clean the nibs with water after each use!

Next, you can begin by assembling your pen and dipping it in the ink until the ink reaches the cut out circle. Getting the right amount of ink is hard to master (and I’m far from mastering it) which is why you probably want to test your ink on a scrap piece of paper before getting started. Basically, if you’re getting ink blobs all over your page you’ve got to much ink and if your pen is creating two thin lines then it’s time to dip your pen again!

Some suggest trying out “faux calligraphy” with a basic pen or pencil before graduating to the real thing. You can do this by taking a pen, making two separate strokes for the thick lines and then filling them in.


There are some basic strokes you’ll want to practice before you get into building actual letters. Use grid paper and/or worksheets to help you out with this. What you want to remember that all thin strokes are upstrokes, and thick strokes are down strokes. Tilt the paper to the left if you are right handed and to the right if you are left handed to help achieve a nice angled script. Above are some pictures of some of the strokes that I’ve practiced. These are pictures from my first try so they look a little rough, but with practice I hope they’ll improve.

Once you’ve mastered this you can put these basic strokes together to create letters. There are tons of online worksheets you can download to help you out with this. Begin connecting letters and having fun with it to create your own style!

Above all, mastering basic strokes is what will help make your calligraphy better. Which means a lot of practicing (which hopefully I’ll have some more time to do over Christmas break). I hope this helped for anyone who is curious about getting started.

Thanks for reading!



The Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy

Modern Calligraphy




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