HOW TO GET STARTED WITH CALLIGRAPHY FLOURISHING

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily
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What’s the quickest way to make your lettering look more impressive?

The answer: Flourishing!

Adding flourishes to your lettering can completely transform the look of the piece.

It can take a piece from “basic” to eye-catching with only a few extra curves and loops.

For this step by step beginners tutorial we’ve teamed up with the talented calligraphy duo – Loveleigh Loops!

Here is a sum up of what you will be learning in this tutorial – 

  1. What is Flourishing?
  2. Flourishing A Word
  3. The 5 Best Spots to Flourish
  4. How to Create Beautiful Flourishes
  5. The magic formula
  6. Drills and Rules
  7. Flourishing Drills
  8. 3 Rules of Flourishing
  9. Putting it into Practice
  10. Upper loop flourish examples
  11. Lower loop flourish examples
  12. T-crossbar flourish examples
  13. End of the word flourish examples
  14. Under the word flourish examples
  15. Flourish Variations
  16. 25 ways to flourish the letter y
  17. Entry and Exit Swashes
  18. Free downloadable practice sheets!
  19. Takeaways
  20. Free one-week flourishing online course

Before we get started we would like to thank both Jillian & Jordan of Loveleigh Loops for creating this absolutely amazing step by step tutorial that is just jam-packed with value!

Jillian & Jordan, the founders of Loveleigh Loops, are twin sisters who teach calligraphy through online courses.

They’ve created a highly engaged and supportive online community around the shared interest of lettering & calligraphy, years after taking their first calligraphy class at age 11.

Their background in analytical fields (Jillian studied data analytics and Jordan studied engineering) have influenced their teaching methods.

They’re able to breakdown the complicated discipline of calligraphy into a step-by-step system that even complete beginners can understand.

The sisters are passionate about helping letterers of all levels become the artist they know they can be.

Without any further ado let’s get down to the tutorial!

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How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

What is calligraphy flourishing?

Flourishing is another word for embellishing.

Adding embellishments to the letters can make a word look more fancy, decorative, and noticeable.

Here are a few examples:

Top: not flourished, Bottom: flourished

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

Left: not flourished, Right: flourished

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

Flourishes can range from simple to complex.

Simple ones are made of basic curves and loops, while complex flourishes have curves that cross over themselves multiple times and can even have small loops inside larger ones.

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

You can flourish a single word or an entire layout to interlock the words together.

For now, we will focus on flourishing a single word.

Flourishing a word

Let’s see exactly how this works.

Here’s the word “flourishing” written in its most basic form:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

And here is the same word written with embellishments:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

The purple lines are extensions off the letter base.

They add style to the letters and fill up space around the word.

So now you might be wondering, how do I make flourishes?

And how do I know where to put them?

Let’s start with the “where”.

The 5 Best Spots to Flourish

Some areas within a word are better for flourishing than others.

Why?

Because adding a flourish extends a letter beyond where it normally “lives”, and you want to make sure legibility isn’t compromised.  

Here are the 5 best spots to add flourishes to your lettering:

  1. Upper loops
  2. Lower loops
  3. T-crossbars
  4. End of the word
  5. Under the word
How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

And here’s what it looks like when you flourish all 5 spots:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

Adding flourishes to these 5 places (rather than random spots in the letters) helps make sure the word remains legible.

You may gravitate towards 2 or 3 of these spots, so don’t feel like you have to use them all!

In fact, a word might not even have a loop or t-crossbar which would take away that opportunity.

But if you’re stuck, think about these 5 places to get you started.

How to Create Beautiful Flourishes

Now that you know where to add flourishes, the next question to answer is how do you make them?

And even more importantly, how do you make them look beautiful?

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

Let’s take a closer look.

In the image below, the base letterforms are highlighted in blue:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

So that means everything leftover (not in blue) makes up the flourishes.

Here are the isolated flourishes:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

What do you notice about these shapes?

The magic formula

All of the lines are smoothly curved and based on an oval shape.

Oval-based shapes makes the flourishes appear graceful and consistent rather than choppy, irregular, or random.

You can fit small ovals within the loops and curves:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

And there are also larger, overarching oval shapes:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

The trick is to think about tracing, or “wrapping around”, an oval as you make a flourish.

To put it all together, the blue represents the base letter forms, pink ovals are small ovals within the loops and curves, and purple ovals are overarching shapes:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

When you break it down that way, flourishing seems more manageable!

The rules and drills for calligraphy flourishing

The drills –

Before you jump in to flourishing letters, it’ll help to start with some drills.

The first set of drills will get you used to creating oval shapes from all directions and orientations.

Use a pencil and do them as many times as you can until you feel comfortable!

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

In addition to complete ovals, the c-shape and s-shape are also very commonly found in flourishing.

In fact, they are based on the oval!

The c-shape is just half of an oval, and the s-shape is formed by two ovals next to each other.

These drills will get you comfortable making the c- and s-shapes:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

When you’re able to make smooth, consistent ovals, c-shapes, and s-shapes on their own, you’ll feel much more confident using them in your flourishes.

3 Rules for calligraphy flourishing

Here are 3 important rules to keep in mind:

  1. To reiterate, flourishes are based on ovals:
How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

2. Lines should cross at (approximately) 90 degree angles:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

3. Do not cross two thick lines.

You can cross thin-thin and thin-thick:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

If you keep your flourishes based on the oval shape, cross at 90 degrees, and avoid crossing two thick lines, you’re setting yourself up for successful flourishing!

Putting it into Practice

Let’s go back to the top 5 spots to add flourishes to your letters:

  1. Upper loops
  2. Lower loops
  3. T-crossbars
  4. End of the word
  5. Under the word

Now we’ll look at some examples for each of the 5 types. Remember, the flourish acts as an extension of the base letterform.

Pay attention to the 3 rules you learned above (oval shapes, 90-degree angles, and crossing thin/thick lines) as you look at the examples.

Upper loop flourish examples:

On the left is a basic “h”, followed by 4 flourished h variations:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

You can use these upper loop flourishes for any letter in this group: b, d, f, h, k, and l.

Lower loop flourish examples:

An un-flourished “g”, followed by 4 flourished g’s:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

The flourishes used in the “g” can also be used on the descending loops of: f, j, p, q, y, and z.

T-crossbar flourish examples:

A standard lowercase “t” is crossed with a straight line. To flourish, cross the stem with a simple s-shape or extend with more curves:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

Another option to flourish a t-crossbar is by combining it with a nearby “h”:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

The “tail” of the h-flourish becomes the crossbar of the “t”.

End of the word flourish examples:

Here are 7 end-of-word flourishing examples shown on the letter “a”:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

You can use theses shapes at the end of a word or line as long as it doesn’t interfere with the legibility.

For instance, the upper loop letters wouldn’t easily be able to use these because the flourish would run into the letter.

Under the word flourish examples:

These word flourishes work best on non-descending letters that naturally dip down at the end, like r, m, a, and n. Avoid using on letters that finish upwards to complete the letter shape, like e and c.

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

So now you have a toolbox of 25 different flourishes to draw from!

A word of caution:

It can be tempting to flourish every possible letter in a word.

But, it’s very important that the letters are still legible, and sometimes less is more.

Do not sacrifice legibility when adding style.

Flourish Variations

Let’s dig a little deeper on the lower loop flourish. Here are the 4 flourishes we already learned:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

There are endless ways to create new flourishes by changing up the shape of these examples.

Some things you can change:

  • Loop size and angle
  • Size of the “tail”
  • Number of intersections
  • Spirals
  • Adding inner loops

Now let’s put these into practice.

25 ways to flourish the letter y

Here are 25 ways to flourish the letter “y” by experimenting with the variables listed above:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

You can apply the same concepts (changing up the loop size and angle, size of the “tail”, number of intersections, spirals, and adding inner loops) to other flourishes as well!

Use this as inspiration, and be creative with your own letters.

Entry and Exit Swashes

A bonus way to add flourishing to your word is by using entry and exit swashes.

This works best when you have a single word or short phrase centered on a page with room on either side.

You can add these to a plain, non-flourished word to give it some extra embellishment, or add on to a simple flourished phrase.

Here are some examples of swashes to add at the beginning and end of a line:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

Here’s what the word “week” looks like with these entry and exit swashes:

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

FREE downloadable practice sheets for calligraphy flourishing

Drop your email below so we can send you the practice sheets.

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Takeaways

Flourishing can transform a piece from “basic” to eye-catching.

It’s an easy way to add style to the letters and fill up space around the word.

As you begin this exciting journey of flourishing, remember:

  • The 3 main rules of flourishes are:
  1.  They’re based on oval shapes
  2.  Cross lines at 90 degrees
  3.  Do not cross two thick lines
  • The 5 best spots to flourish are:
  1. Upper loops
  2. Lower loops
  3. Lowercase t-crossbars
  4. End of the word
  5. Under the word
  • You can create endless flourishes by experimenting with loop size and angle, size of the “tail”, number of intersections, spirals, adding inner loops

A few more things to keep in mind as you continue to practice:

  • The shapes should be large enough that the flourish looks intentional. A tiny loop might look like a mistake or a distraction.
  • Maintain overall balance by placing flourishes evenly around the word.
  • And most importantly: do not sacrifice legibility when adding style!

But wait, there is more!

How to get started with calligraphy flourishing - Lettering Daily

Loveleigh Loops have created a free one-week online course that will take your flourishing skills to a whole new level.

The course is open to everyone no matter your skill level, so don’t dwell on this amazing offer and learn a new awesome skill!

You can join the course by clicking the button below.

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29 thoughts on “HOW TO GET STARTED WITH CALLIGRAPHY FLOURISHING”

    1. Lettering Daily

      Hey Gen, yes it is 🙂 If you are struggling with the sign-up, be sure to send me an email. I will be happy to assist you!

  1. Hi other tutorials are very helpful and I love them thanks. But don’t know what happened these days I’m not getting mails from lettering daily, I have check in all folders. Can u please send me these flourishing tutorial??
    TIA

  2. Thank you so much. I wanted to try flourishes… But I didn’t get any proper websites to start with the basic…. You just made it so easy and simple… thank you. 🙂
    And I also started to share the link of this page with friends so that they can also start with the basics of flourishes..

    1. Lettering Daily

      Hey Kavya, thank you for your feedback – really means a lot! Im really happy to hear that you found the tutorial useful and easy to follow 🙂

  3. Respected ,
    can you help me what letters in the signature I need to write calligraphically to open money through signatures. My name is Franca Lesic, and I was born on March 8, 1962.

    Franca

  4. Thank you so very much for explaining this so well. I really appreciate the hard work that has gone into this.
    Thank you also for making this course available for free, I can’t wait to start it!!

    1. Lettering Daily

      Thank you so much for the kind words, it really means a lot! Really glad that you liked the tutorial!

  5. Pingback: Attempt #1: How to flourish – Caitlin's 14 Day Project

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