Hello fellow letter lover! Did you know that you don’t need to go out and buy anything to start learning brush calligraphy techniques today?! Grab these materials and follow these tips & tricks.
Materials: Crayola markers, printer paper*, and Lyss Tyler Letters FREE practice sheet bundle.
*Because you are using Crayola markers, you don’t need to worry about smooth paper. If you are using brush pens, I recommend Premium32 or Rhodia paper.
You will be using the printer paper to trace over your practice sheets. This will allow you to reuse your practice sheets over and over. If you’d prefer, you can write directly on the practice sheet!
Step One: Basic Strokes
The Crayola marker has a pointed tip. This pointed tip gives it the ability to create both thick and thin lines. When looking to create thick lines, you will use the side of the tip of the pen and add pressure. When looking to create thin lines, you will use very little pressure and tilt the pen so that you are using the tip of the pen (rather than the whole side).
Did you print out that free practice sheet? Grab it HERE and let’s get started! (It will be sent to your email right away!)
Calligraphy is all about balancing between thin and thick lines. To start, you will practice creating thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes. Anytime you are moving UP a letter, you will be using a thin stroke. So, when you practice your thin strokes (like those above) be sure to move your pen UP. Anytime you are moving DOWN a letter, you will be using a thick stroke. So, when you practice your thick strokes (like those above) be sure to move your pen DOWN the paper.
Thick Downstrokes: Use the side of the tip of the marker and add pressure. You will be moving down a letter – start at the top of the stroke and move down toward the baseline. The baseline is the line upon which most letters “sit”. With the practice sheet, you can start by tracing the first stroke.
Thin Upstrokes: Use the tip of the pen and apply little to no pressure. Let the tip of the pen glide across the top of the paper. You will be moving up a letter – start at the baseline and move up toward the top of the stroke. Start by tracing the first stroke.
The next basic stroke to practice is the transition stroke. This stroke focuses on the transition between thick and thin. It has a rounded shape at the top. Practicing this stroke will prepare you for letters like m, n, h, u, and y.
Thin to Thick: In this first stroke, you will begin with a thin stroke moving UP and round your way to a thick stroke moving DOWN. As you reach the top of the stroke, begin to tilt your marker so that a greater amount of the pen is touching the paper and apply pressure. This will create a thicker stroke.
*Remember, you create a thick line by using the side of the tip of the pen.
Thick to Thin: In this stroke, you will begin with a thick stroke moving DOWN and round your way to a thin stroke moving UP. As you get about 3/4 of the way down the stroke, begin to relieve pressure and tilt the pen upward. This will allow less of the tip of the pen to touch the paper. Glide up to the top of the stroke and relieve pressure. This will create a thinner stroke.
Using the same techniques from above, try these next two strokes. In these strokes, you will create a pointed v effect rather than a rounded transition. This practice will be useful in letters v, x, and z.
Focus on transitioning well between thin and thick lines. Don’t be discouraged if this is really challenging for you. You are just starting out! Though it may look like this is easy, it is NOT easy! Keep practicing and getting more comfortable with these basic strokes. If you want, you can focus on only one basic stroke until you have it mastered before you come back and try another!
Oval “o” Stroke: This first stroke is a basic oval shape found most popularly in the letter o (obviously). I start my o stroke with a thin line approximately where the Crayola marker is positioned in the photo above. This allows me to create the thin line moving up the letter and transition into a thick stroke. When I get about 3/4 of the way down the thick stroke of my o, I start to lift the pen and move up to meet the point where I began.
Oval “a” Stroke: This oval stroke is a little bit italicized because it is the stroke seen in the beginning of a, d, g, and q. I start in the same place that I did for the oval “o” stroke, but create a more lopsided o shape. I feel that this gives these letters more character – if you like straight, circular letters, then the first stroke may be better for you to build your oval shaped letters from.
Opposite Oval Stroke: This oval stroke features the thin strokes on the left side and thick strokes on the right side. You will find this stroke in letters like b and p. It is very similar to the first oval “o” stroke, but you mirror it. Start with the thin stroke moving upward, transition to a thicker stroke down the right side of the oval shape, lift pressure at about 3/4 of the way down the right side, and meet back at the original point.
All of these oval strokes will help you to build stronger letters so be sure to practice these A LOT! The more comfortable you are wit these strokes, the better your letters will be!
Descender: A descender is the part of a letter that extends below the level of the base of a letter such as x (as in g and p). This descender stroke is meant to help you create a “tail” for letters such as g, j, y, and z. Create a long, thick line down and loop around using a thin stroke to create a “tail”. You can add more flair to this as you continue, but I would focus on this simple version as you’re getting started.
[Other descenders to practice: f and p]
Ascender: An ascender is the part of a letter that extends above the main part (as in b and h). This ascender stroke is meant to help you create the beginning of letters such as b, f, k, and l. Begin with a thin stroke, loop around the top, and move all the way down to the baseline with a thick stroke.
[Other ascenders to practice: d and t]
You did it! These basic strokes, when put together, will create almost all of the letters of the alphabet. You’ll find even more basic strokes in my Brush Calligraphy Guide.
Did you try this tutorial? I would love to see your practice! Snap a pic and share it in the comments below or tag me on Instagram @lysstyler.letters!
More Crayola Calligraphy Tutorials coming soon! Looking for more brush calligraphy help? Check out my other posts HERE!