Beginner Series - Part 3 - Making an Alphabet in Calligraphy

Updated: May 25, 2020

The letters of the alphabet are a selection of shapes. That’s why we are beginning by learning how to make these shapes with a nib.


Drills teach you how to make your pen move from thick lines, to thin and back again. This repetition means that you will gain muscle memory. This is when you automatically do something, in the case of calligraphy it is when you no longer need to think about the pressure and release of the nib, it becomes an automatic response.


A fancy word for changing the amount of pressure between an upstroke and a downstroke. By going slowly and changing the pressure gradually, you get a smooth transition. Making loops is a great way to work on getting smooth transitions. Keep releasing and re-applying the amount you push your pen down. Don’t feel you have to keep the pen on the paper, calligraphy is different from writing in this way. Lift your nib off to review what you’ve done and where you’re going next, and to dip into more ink of course.

Alphabets are Shapes

Thinking of the letters in a calligraphic alphabet as different shapes that require different pressure will help you to slow down, and to create each part of the letter with care. You are designing the alphabet, so think of calligraphy as drawing rather than writing.

The Ups and Downs

Downstrokes, upstrokes, across strokes, diagonals, arches and ovals. Notice that the thick downstroke moves to a different side of the oval, depending on when the downward stroke is made. This is decided by how the letter is formed, and so where you are working downwards and making a thick stroke.

Doodle! Not all calligraphy practice has to be letters or strokes. Try doodles using your nib, keeping the change of pressure consistent. Always heavy downward and light when going up. Transitions gradual and slow. All these rules remain the same whether you're forming letters, doodles or drawing illustrations.

You can watch all of this here, and if you need a beginners calligraphy set, follow the link here.

Hop over to our YouTube channel for a free downloadable alphabet guide.

Happy Lettering!


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