Basics of Calligraphy

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Calligraphy is like any other hobby you learn to do. First you say "Ooh! Ooh!" Then you say "I'd like to learn that!" (Okay barring the story I just told but going ooh! is the usual way), And then you either try to learn it or don't.

Like wood shop or baking and cooking though, you have to know the tools you're going to use and the products you will be working with and then you have to learn how to put these pieces and parts together. Once you learn these basic principles you can make just about anything.

Here is my class that covers what I think are the basics of calligraphy.

Basics Class

When you go to use your ink you need to keep in mind what ratio of Nib widths to use and what angle to hold your pen at. Here is a quick diagram explanation for you.

Angle and Ladder

Sometimes it is very helpful to know just how tall you need to make your lines. You are able to figure out how wide to make your line if you know how wide your nib is and how many nib widths your "X height," is. So a nib two mm wide with 4 nib widths X height would have a line that is 8mm high. I made a handy dandy excel spreadsheet for nibs from Speedball, Brause and Mitchell. I hope it is of some use to you.

Nib Widths by Brand

And here are my drills and examples that I use. Make a few lines of each. Even as an experienced calligrapher I do these drills before I start doing calligraphy just to warm myself up.


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