One of the main skills I always enviously admired in other bullet journalists when I began keeping my own journal was their amazing lettering and calligraphy abilities. Now I am able to pick up a brush pen and write simple calligraphy rather quickly, but this is after much painstaking practice! Starting to learn calligraphy can be really daunting, so here is a simple guide on how to create titles that look like they’ve be done in the traditional method, but are in fact super simple! This is how I started to learn more complex lettering – give it a go and very quickly you will get to grips with the main concepts of calligraphy.
The first step is to practice your joined up lettering. Try to leave a little space between each letter and use the square or dotted grid of your journal to guide the size of your letters. Don’t be afraid to bring tall letters, like L or T up nice and high, and let the loops of G’s and Y’s drop down. The taller and wider the letters the more space you’ll have to work with later, so don’t worry too much about them looking dainty or delicate.
I have used a red pen here to distinguish the new lines drawn on top of step one. This is when we start to widen parts of our letters. The basic rule of calligraphy is that any pen stroke downwards should be thick and any pen stroke upwards should be thin. Using a black fine liner hover above the letters you’ve written and imagine rewriting them, for every downward stroke draw another line to thicken that part of the letter, almost like a little shadow.
This is such a simple step and will see the biggest transformation for your lettering. Simply colour in the drawn shadows from step two to create your calligraphy! You can leave your word as it is here or you can move on to step four to add a final finishing touch!
Once again I have used the red pen to demonstrate the new markings on my letters. The aim here is to create more of a 3D effect. Pick either the left or the right side of your letters to add an extra line to. Imagine you are looking at your word at an angle from that side. This will help to create more depth. If you’ve used a colour other than black for your calligraphy, then this is a nice opportunity to colour in these new sections in a darker shade to create a shadow effect.
Here I’ve written the word ‘hope’ – each letter demonstrates each part of the process. I thought this would be a very clear, visual way to understand each step! It also shows that if you struggle with the joined up writing there is no reason why you can’t practice these steps on individual letters too!
My advice is to start nice and simple, like the image of ‘March’ below, but gradually begin to experiment with fading colours into each other, adding more shadows, and outlining the word to create more variation and vibrancy. See below for some examples of my calligraphy for ideas!
That’s all for now folks! You can always email me or DM me on Instagram if you have any questions. If you do have a go at the calligraphy I’d love to see what you come up with, tag @goodlookingjournal on Instagram.