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In this tutorial, I will teach you how to write calligraphy with a normal pen.
Faux calligraphy (also known as fake calligraphy) is a fun and simple way to practice calligraphy.
The best part is that you can do faux calligraphy with any sort of writing tool that you have.
In this tutorial, I will show you everything you need to get started, and I’ve also included some worksheets to help you with your further practice.
Here is a quick overview of what you will be learning –
- What is faux calligraphy?
- What tools do I need for faux calligraphy
- The 3 core rules for faux calligraphy
- Faux calligraphy in 5 simple steps
- FREE downloadable practice sheets!
- Final words
Without any further ado, let’s get started!
What is faux (fake) calligraphy
Faux calligraphy, or also known as fake calligraphy is a technique of imitating the look of calligraphy by using any kind of writing tool. Hence the name. The effect is created by adding an additional stroke to the downward strokes.
Let me give you a bit of context so you have a better understanding of the topic.
As I said several times in my previous articles, calligraphy is the art of beautiful writing, and depending on the script (style), it requires specific tools.
Faux calligraphy is simply a fun and easy way of imitating the look of these specific tools.
The best part,
Is that you can use any writing tool that you have!
Whether it’s a pencil, marker, fineliner, pen, chalk – you can use it to create faux calligraphy.
Faux calligraphy is also a great technique if you want to emulate the calligraphic look on surfaces where you can’t really use regular calligraphy tools.
Surfaces such as –
On top of that, faux calligraphy is a great way for beginners to learn about the basic letter structure and the way they interact with each other.
That will make more sense once we get to the actual step by step tutorial part.
But first, let’s have a quick overview of the needed tools.
Tools needed for faux calligraphy
As mentioned earlier, one of the best parts about faux calligraphy is that you can do it with nearly any writing tool that you have.
For this tutorial, we will use a few additional items (besides just a pen) that will help us achieve better results.
Here is a list of items that I will use (links to amazon) –
- Paper – I am using the HP Premium, but I also recommend using a Rhodia dot pad.
- Rolling ruler – drawing guidelines can’t be more comfortable than this.
- Mechanical pencil – A pencil is a must tool for any lettering/calligraphy artist.
- Eraser – we all make mistakes…
- Fineliner – Sakura micron are my favorites, but you can use whatever you have or prefer.
- Pencil, or any other writing tool that you might have.
If you are wondering why I included the pencil and the ruler on the list,
Here is why –
We are going to use the pencil and the ruler for two essential elements in the process.
- Guidelines – No matter what style or technique you practice, guidelines are always helpful – especially if you are just a beginner. It takes you just a few seconds to draw a couple of lines with a ruler, and it helps to keep our letters nice and consistent.
- Sketching – often perceived as something tedious, sketching is an excellent way to prep your letters. I will show you how simple and effective sketching can be, and if you then decide to skip this step, it’s totally up to you. Just remember that graphite can be erased while ink can’t.
Ok, now that we covered the needed tools for faux calligraphy – it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work!
The 3 core rules for faux calligraphy
Before we jump right into the writing part, I feel it’s essential to cover a couple of fundamental rules – especially if you are just getting started.
The better you understand the basics, the easier it will be for you to learn, improve, and gradually expand your skills.
Remember – Your house is only as strong as It’s foundation!
To keep things simple, I will just mention 3 core rules that you should keep in mind when practicing faux calligraphy –
- Basic strokes
- Where to add the thick downstrokes – leaving enough space
1. Basic strokes
Writing calligraphy (at least this particular style) is a combination of upstrokes and downstroke motions.
The most important thing to always remember is –
Upstrokes are thin
Downstrokes are thick
Like so –
The best way to learn and practice calligraphy is by using the basic strokes.
There are 8 basic strokes that you can use to combine and form nearly every letter of the lowercase (minuscule) alphabet.
Using these basic strokes, we can achieve a much cleaner and more consistent look in our calligraphy.
I’ve already covered this concept more in-depth in my modern calligraphy guide, and I definitely recommend you check it out.
I also created a whole in-depth tutorial specifically for the basic calligraphy strokes and how to use them.
Here you can see an example of the basic strokes, and how to combine them in order to achieve different letterforms.
Consistency is a crucial element for calligraphy.
In short, consistency makes the difference between good and lousy calligraphy – one that is pleasant to look at and one that it’s not.
Here is an example –
The word above – I firstly drew the guidelines using my rolling ruler and then laid down the letterforms.
The word below – I wrote the word without guidelines and then added the guidelines afterward. This is just to show the inconsistencies of the letters.
Sure, the basic strokes help us with consistency, but another super helpful way to achieve consistency is by using guidelines.
Guidelines will help you to keep your letters at the same height and angle.
I created a whole separate tutorial on calligraphy guidelines and how to use them.
Here is an example of guidelines and their terminology.
Another super important mention for consistency when it comes to faux calligraphy is to keep your down-strokes with the same thickness.
Of course, you don’t need to go crazy with mathematical precision.
Still, at the same time, you want to avoid a noticeable difference in the thickness of your downstrokes.
Here is an example –
3. Where to add the thick downstrokes – leaving enough space
One particular thing I see beginners struggling with faux calligraphy is – adding the downstrokes.
You have to be mindful about which side you add your downstrokes, otherwise you end up with inconsistent spacing.
What I do and recommend is – always add the thickness to the inside part of your letters.
On some letters you may want to leave a slight gap (like the letter p in the example below) – but this isn’t a must.
Check out the example below –
By always adding the thick part on the inside of the letters, we ensure consistent spacing between the letters.
Note – if you wish to add them on the outside, that’s totally fine as well. The important is that you are aware of spacing and consistency.
Faux calligraphy in 5 simple steps –
Step 1 – Draw your guidelines
For this example I will write out the word – Beauty
Grab your ruler and draw your guidelines like so –
This is precisely why I like to use the rolling ruler – it makes this process so easy!
If you are wondering at what angle your slant lines should be – you decide!
What matters is that your letters actually follow these guides.
Step 2 – Sketching time!
Quick note –
Sketching is purely optional. I recommend it because I believe it helps – especially if you are just getting started.
If you feel confident enough, you can grab a pen/marker straight away.
Using the mechanical pencil (or just a regular pencil) and the basic calligraphy strokes, start writing your word.
For now, the word will be in a monoline, and as mentioned earlier, make sure to leave enough space for your downstrokes.
Don’t rush it, it’s not a race.
It’s better to take your time and get it right.
Try to be mindful about your guidelines – maintain the same heights and angles.
If you make a mistake, it’s all good!
That’s why we use the pencil first, so we can fix these mistakes and get it right.
Step 3 – Identify your downstrokes
Remember what we previously said –
Up is thin while down is thick.
We also said to add the downstrokes on the inside part of each letter.
That being said, on each downstroke, I will add weight, like so –
Step 4 – Ink it and fill it
Now that we have our sketch ready, it’s time to ink it and fill the downstrokes.
If it doesn’t look perfect the first time, don’t be surprised.
This is something that requires consistent practice.
If you want some tips on how to improve your outlining and inking, I wrote a separate article for that, and you can check it out here.
Step 5 – erase the pencil marks
Give it a few minutes for the ink to completely dry off.
This way, you avoid getting those pesky ink smudges all over your fresh piece.
I really like to fill my letters with this line pattern.
You can do the same, fill them with a solid color or try something totally different.
Faux calligraphy in a nutshell!
Once you get more comfortable with the very basics, you can start tweaking things and even develop your own style.
But remember, to make better and faster progress – you must have a good foundation!
Before we wrap things up for this tutorial, here are a couple of bonus tips.
Bonus tips for faux calligraphy beginners
1. Get yourself a proper work environment.
If you plan to practice while lying on the couch and watching Netflix – don’t have high expectations.
You need to sit with the correct posture on a table with the proper height along with adequate light.
When it comes to getting a proper setup, I always recommend everyone to watch these three videos on YouTube by my friend Paul.
I HIGHLY recommend you watching them!
This is essential for all calligraphy styles and techniques.
2. If you are starting out stick to shorter single words
A common mistake I continuously see beginners make is that they tend to rush too much.
After a couple of attempts, they immediately jump straight to long quotes, layouts, flourishing, details, etc.
You gotta slow down, chief!
I’m not saying that you should never try to practice anything besides the basics.
At the same time, if you only practice for 30 minutes a day, you shouldn’t spend most of your practice time on trying to create something you are still not ready for.
Take it one step at a time and enjoy the process – I guarantee that you will see much better and faster results if you gradually expand your skills.
3. Practice, practice, practice…. And more practice!
You’ve probably heard it so many times already, but it’s true!
The more you practice, the better you will become.
However, consistent practice will beat intensive practice pretty much always.
By that, I mean that it’s better to practice every single day even if it’s just 15-20 minutes than practicing twice a week for two hours.
3. Practice is important but…
It is obvious that by practicing you will improve, however, the way you practice makes a tremendous difference.
Don’t just spend your practice sessions on scribbling randomly on a piece of paper.
Here is how i usually structure my practice sessions (it varies depending on styles and techniques) –
- Warm up with drills. Getting into the zone. The fewer distractions you have, the better.
- Pick a word or a phrase (quote) and only write that for a practice session. I make several attempts and sketches before choosing the final one.
- Create a final piece. I find this step crucial. By creating a final piece, you really push yourself to a whole different level. It puts you in a high-focused state of mind, and you give it your best shot. Of course, you keep each piece for future comparison.
- Analyze your work. Try to be critical to yourself even if you believe you did great. There is always room for improvement and by analyzing your work you can pinpoint your weaknesses and improve them in your next practice session.
This is of course, a very brief overview, and I will make sure to write a separate post for it.
FREE Downloadable Faux Calligraphy Worksheets
I created free printable worksheets so you can practice Faux calligraphy by yourself.
They include –
- Faux calligraphy capitals
- Faux calligraphy minuscules (lowercase)
- An empty sheet with guidelines for word practice
Drop your email below, follow the instructions, and you will receive instant access to all of the worksheets inside the Lettering Crate.
Stay updated with my tutorials and get instant access to the Lettering Crate –
A growing library of free lettering & calligraphy resources that includes –
There you have it folks!
Faux calligraphy for beginners 🙂
To learn more about the various calligraphy styles, check out this article.
I hope that this tutorial managed to shed some light on the subject.
Remember – a house is only strong as it’s foundation!
Stick to the basics, be consistent and mindful about your practice and I promise – you will make progress!
If you some questions or you need some help you can always reach out to me.
However, I would highly recommend you join our official Facebook group.
It’s a place where you can –
- Share your work
- Get constructive feedback
- Network with fellow lettering & calligraphy artists
- Ask specific questions about lettering & calligraphy
- Much more!
Thank you for checking this tutorial out, and until the next time –
- Using the rolling ruler and the pencil, start drawing your guidelines. Like so -
- Using the pencil along with the basic calligraphy strokes, write down your letters. Try to keep a light hand so it will be easier to erase it later. For now keep it in a monoline style, as we will add the weight later on.
- Using the Sakura Micron, go over the pencil sketch.
- Now that we have our base laid down, it's time to identify our downstrokes. As mentioned in the tutorial it's best to add them consistently to the same side. I choose to do that on the inside part of the letters. This way I will be sure that all my letters are consistent. For now i will add the downstrokes using the mechanical pencil, like so -
- Take your pen and go over the pencil marks.
- Fill your letters and delete the pencil marks. I really like adding this line pattern to my letters. You can do the same, or you can do something totally different. There you have it, folks, Faux calligraphy in a nutshell 🙂
About the author
Lettering Daily is an online community that provides educational and inspirational content for hand lettering and calligraphy beginners. Our mission is to help artists and enthusiasts from all around the world to learn and improve their hand lettering and calligraphy skills.