(Skip the lengthy explanation & head straight to the Easy Fake Calligraphy Tutorial by Clicking Here.)
Hand lettering is all. the. rage. right now.
Like, when was the last time you saw someone’s blog logo that wasn’t either 1) hand-lettered or 2) typed from a hand-lettered font?
Yeah, not since 2008.
And when I say hand-lettered in this post, what I’m actually referring to is what I like to call modern calligraphy.
It looks kinda like this:
And today, I’m going to show you how anyone & everyone can write like this without any special tools or skills. Yep, you heard me: ANYONE, even you!
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to easily & quickly fake calligraphy.
Tools for Modern Calligraphy
First things first: what tools do you need?
The professionals use a brush pen, or even a paintbrush. To achieve the thick strokes, they apply more pressure with the pen on the down-stroke of the letter. On the up-stroke, they apply less pressure, and they get a thinner line. The finished result looks gorgeous, but the skill takes a lot of time to master. If you want to get technical, mastering calligraphy is down to muscle memory, which requires a lot of practice, and patience, and time, and did I mention practice?
The good news is that for fake calligraphy, there is no brush pen required. And you don’t need to worry about varying pressure or muscle memory, either. You can apply the techniques I’m about to show you to any style of penmanship, print or cursive.
And – you can use any writing utensil you have.
Tools You Need for Fake Calligraphy
- No. 2 Pencil? Good.
- Ballpoint Pen? Good.
- Crayola Crayon? Good.
- Sharpie? Good.
- Sidewalk chalk? Good.
Ready to get started?
Before we start forming our fake calligraphy letters, there are three simple characteristics of calligraphy to know.
When forming letters, you move the pen up (up stroke), down (down stroke), and across (cross stroke).
Calligraphy Characteristic #1: Down Stroke = Thick Line
The down stroke is a thick line. Notice the down stroke in the letter A, as illustrated below:
Calligraphy Characteristic #2: Up Stroke = Thin Line
The up stroke is a thin line. Again, notice the thin up-stroke in the capital letter A, illustrated below:
Not all up & down strokes are as obvious as in the letter A. Think about the letter C. This one is a little tricky, but just visualize writing a letter C in your head. You’ll start in the upper right corner and move the pen up just a little, then pulling the ink left, you’ll round the top of the letter and stroke down. Finally you’ll round the bottom of the letter towards the right and do a little swoop back up. So, in the letter C, there are two small up-strokes.
Calligraphy Characteristic #3: Cross Stroke = Thin Line/Add Style!
And finally, the cross stroke. Cross strokes happen when you’re moving your pen from left to right, or east/west instead of north/south. The cross stroke is usually thin.
Again, I’ll demonstrate with the letter A:
It’s worth noting that a cross stroke is a great place to add style. So if you’re going to draw a fancy A, you might have a cross stroke that is both thick and thin, like the ones below:
These cross strokes don’t just move east to west, they are up and down and even loopy, so they take on the characteristics of up and down strokes, too.
How To “Fake” Calligraphy
Understanding those 3 characteristics of calligraphy strokes is going to help us understand where to draw in our thick lines and where to leave our line thin as we fake it… because faking calligraphy is all about faking the down-strokes/thick lines!
Ready? Let’s do this.
How to Fake Calligraphy Step 1: Write out the Whole Word
Write out your whole word, whether cursive or print. I’m going to write out the word “hello” in both script and print. See the two examples below:
How to Fake Calligraphy Step 2: Draw in the Down-Strokes
Think about which parts of the letters are “down” strokes, and now you’re going to draw in a line to help thicken that stroke. Below, I’ve drawn the down stroke lines in purple so it’s easy to see:
How to Fake Calligraphy Step 3: Color in the Down-Strokes/Thick Lines
Now that you’ve drawn in the down-strokes, you need to color them in to get the visual effect of a thick line. I’ve colored in the strokes in blue, so it’s easy to see what I’m talking about:
How to Fake Calligraphy: Finished Word
When you’re finished with Steps 1-3, you’ll have a finished result that looks like this:
& Voila! That’s fake calligraphy.
How to Fake Calligraphy: Letter Reference Sheets
For reference, here’s a list of Capital Letters in both print and cursive/script, so you can see where the down-strokes should be. For some of the letters, I left a secondary down-stroke thin, like with the letter H. This is my personal preference, but it’s up to you how to form the letters and where to put your down stroke.
Remember, your letters don’t have to look exactly like mine.
For reference, here’s a list of all Lower-case letters in both print and cursive/script, so you can see where the down-strokes should be drawn in. Unlike with the upper-case letters, I pretty much added all the down strokes possible to these letters. Again, this is a personal preference, so if you don’t want to add another downstroke on the arch of the little “h,” that’s cool, too.
Fake Calligraphy – Numbers
Guess what? You can apply this hack to numbers, too. You’re bound to need them. Here’s a list of faux-calligraphy style numbers, so you can see where the down-strokes should be.
A Note About Making the Most of Your Handwriting
While this is an easy hack for faking calligraphy, you may not end up with wedding invitation-worthy modern calligraphy just yet. If you don’t like the way your handwriting looks, just keep practicing and let it evolve over time. Find your own style of lettering!
Free Download: Modern Calligraphy Reference Sheets
Download my FREE Hand Lettering Practice sheets, available in my Free Resource Library. You’ll need a password, but you can get it by entering your email in the box at the bottom of this post, or in the sidebar. The letters you’ll be practicing in my Lettering Guides were made with a brush pen. However, you can also use them to practice fake calligraphy. Just use the hacks we learned in this blog post!
So what words or letters are you eager to get started with? If you decide to try this tutorial out, send me a picture of what you come up with!
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