Site Breadcrumb

Learn from my mistakes!

Hi there! Welcome back to the World of Calligraphy and Design! In this blog, we are looking at some tips and tricks to improve your pointed pen calligraphy style.


Calligraphy like any other artform requires keen understanding of the technique behind the art of handwriting. As a beginner, I faced many challenges while trying to improve my calligraphy strokes. This was because of two aspects, one is the lack of complete understanding on the technique and the second most important aspect of being a calligrapher i.e., patience.

Here, I wish to share with you my special tips and tricks towards improving one’s calligraphy style so that you can learn from my mistakes.

1. Notice the position of the thick and thin stroke

Analysing an exemplar is a very important but often forgotten aspect of calligraphy learning. We get so caught up with our writing that we forget to go back to the roots! During workshops with my favourite teacher Ms. Heather Victoria Held, she would often repeat that it’s important to spend at least 5-10 minutes on reading, analysing or just simply staring at an exemplar.

Shown below is an exemplar of Dr. Joseph Vitolo’s copperplate calligraphy for the lowercase letters.


Similar to the above, choose any exemplar of your choice and spend a few minutes observing the strokes.

Let us consider for the sake of an example, the technique of writing lowercase letter “o” in classic copperplate calligraphy.

We start with a point on the header and continue as a hairline stroke (using the pointed tip of the nib) in counter-clockwise direction. At 1/3rd distance of x-height from the header, we begin to apply pressure and create the shade stroke. At 2/3rd distance of the x-height, we drop the pressure to a tip to create a hairline and continue around all the way back to the starting point. That’s how an oval is created in copperplate calligraphy.

This technique is based on the position of the thick and thin strokes in a letterform and you may apply the same to other letterforms too.

Hence, analysing the exemplar for these variations is a crucial aspect of learning calligraphy.

2. Slow down

Speed and Calligraphy go hand-in-hand. The slower you write, the better the script looks. Calligraphy is associated with slow and careful consideration of individual strokes. Hence, it is extremely important that you write at an extremely slow pace in order to achieve good strokes and variations.

3. Ensure pen lifts

One other common mistake that I frequently made during my beginner days is continuous writing. Unlike cursive, calligraphy is defined by pen lifts. This simply means that the individual strokes are made in a contiguous manner.

Hence, it is imperative that you stop at the end of every stroke, lift the pen tool off the paper and return to create the adjacent stroke. This practice greatly influences the end result making the script look elegant.

Refer to the video below where we create the lowercase letter o with all the above considerations:

4. Practice regularly until muscle memory is developed

Last but not the least, only regular practice can improve your calligraphy skill. Since it’s a practicing artform, reading books on calligraphy and watching videos alone are not sufficient. The proof is in the pudding!

We would like to close this blog by sharing with you our excitement of launching a new product, Stamp ‘em: personalised name stamps. There are four different styles to choose from! You can order for yours using the link below:

See you again in our next blog!

Leave your thoughts below

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *