Creating Calligraphy with Crayola Markers: Basic Strokes


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

acs_0092How is a Crayola marker similar to a brush pen?

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!

May Prompts


The best way to get better at something is through consistent practice.
Grab a brush pen and get ready to practice at least once per week!

Use whatever pens you have on hand, create something beautiful, snap a picture, and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #lettermore2018!

In my experience, it can be intimidating to think of what to write with your new, fun pens. It’s also a lot of fun to find other people who are learning alongside you. There is only one prompt per week because life can be busy sometimes.
You can do all of the prompts or just the ones that you have the time for –
it’s totally up to you!



Whether you believe it to be true or not – you are enough. Who you are is enough! Don’t compare yourself to strangers on the internet. This is a message that we need to spread. Remind those that you know and love that who they are is enough! Feel free to tag some special people in your life who have helped you to realize this on your own.


When you are first starting to learn calligraphy it can be difficult to determine your own style. One of the best ways to move through this is to attempt each letter many different ways. In this exercise, you will create the same letter over and over. You can use different pens, colors, or simply just different styles of each letter. 


Choose a phrase that has the word bloom in it. I recently came across the phrase “There is nothing in nature that blooms all year, so don’t expect yourself to do so either.” You can always search for phrases on PinterestYou get to be creative with this one!


One way to really slow yourself down and practice letter connections is to alternate between pens. Here is an example to help give you an idea of what to do! 

Be sure to post your work to Instagram, use the hashtag #lettermore2018, and tag me (@lysstyler.letters) in your post as well!
I can’t wait to see what you create!

Are you joining in?!
Come tell us on Instagram & see who else is joining, too!

#lettermore2018 April Promps


Looking for some help to practice your new hobby more regularly?

Join in on these fun weekly prompts!
Use whatever pens you have on hand, create something beautiful, snap a picture, and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #lettermore2018!

It can be really difficult to know what to write when you’re getting started with calligraphy (well, and when you’ve been doing it for a long time too).

April Prompts

Week One: Use the word SPRING somehow

Choose a phrase that has the word spring in it. You can always search for phrases on Pinterest. Think, “Spring is in the air” or “A kind word is like a spring day”.
You get to be creative with this one!

Week Two: Community Over Competition

If you’ve been following along for a while, then you know I’m all about community over competition. I want us all to say a big fat NO to the comparison game. So, in your caption be sure to share about your experience with the calligraphy community (or any community that has had an impact on you!). Think positive!

Week Three: Practice a word with double letters (ex. happy, coffee, good)

This is a good exercise that should challenge you a little bit! Double letters have a way of challenging the way you think about connecting letters together. Bonus points if your word has more than one set of double letters, like coffee!

Week Four: Post your lowercase alphabet.

I have a feeling that some of you may be avoiding some of what I call the “dreaded letters”. You can’t avoid them forever! Create, photograph, and post your FULL lowercase alphabet. You can write all the letters connected together in one line or create a page full of colorful letters. Once again, you get to be creative!

Be sure to post your work to Instagram, use the hashtag #lettermore2018, and tag me (@lysstyler.letters) in your post as well!
I can’t wait to see what you create!


Are you joining in?!
Come tell us on Instagram & see who else is joining, too!

Tips for Conquering Creative Block.

Creative Block

Learn to rest, not to quit.
Easier said than done, am I right?!


If (or should I say when?) you get exhausted and creativity becomes a struggle or frustration, step back. Don’t give up! You can always take a break, try something different, and search for more sources or inspiration.

Here are some things to try when you feel like quitting:

-Look for new inspiration in other artists, in nature, or on Pinterest.

I feel that I should start this off by saying that I am not suggesting you copy anyone else’s art. I am suggesting that you find inspiration. I prefer looking for artists with different mediums or styles than me, but a similar heart or purpose. For example, I mainly do brush calligraphy but I find a lot of inspiration through illustrators, graphic designers, and style bloggers. I search for colors, designs, photography, and words that speak to me!

I feel that searching for other types of artists helps me to think out of the box, but it also helps me to stay away from comparison. I have found that comparing my work to other people has always drained my creativity. It has made me feel less than and taken the joy out of art. As Lara Casey says, “Living on purpose turns comparison and coveting into compassion and cheering on. When you are living on purpose, it doesn’t matter what someone else’s journey looks like. We are all in this together.

-Look through some of your earliest creations

Even if you’ve only been working on calligraphy (or whatever creative outlet you’ve been trying!) for a few months, if you look back at all you’ve created you will find some progress! Notice that what we are looking for here is NOT extreme progress, advanced skill level, or perfection – we are only look for SOME progress.

Here is an example from my own brush calligraphy experience.


August 2015


February 2018

-Revisit the goals/purpose of your creative business or hobby

Sometimes when I’m feeling frustrated or drained of creativity, I find that I’ve lost focus on what’s important. It’s easy to get caught up in so many different things: Instagram followers, Etsy sales, Facebook likes, and so many other things. But none of these things are the reason you started this creative endeavor in the first place.

Pause and think about it. Why did you start this hobby? What has kept you pursuing it?

For me, I started calligraphy in an effort to relieve some stress. Over the last few years, it has consistently been a wonderful way for me to relax. I started teaching other people the art of brush calligraphy because I want to share that joy and rest with as many others as I can! This is the focus. Think back on why you started and revisit those initial moments of joy!

-Try a new/different hobby

Another great way to fuel creativity is through trying something new. Once I started my career as a first grade teacher, I started to lose some enthusiasm for calligraphy and focus on the wrong things. I would post my creations and wonder why no one liked what I was making. It was stripped of joy and I felt like there was nothing I could do.

I decided to take a watercolor floral class (and ended up also going to a Monvoir Workshop!) and found a renewed excitement for color theory and design. I also signed up for a cookie decorating class, which used my skills in another way. It also showed me that it was fun to challenge myself (I’m not a very consistent baker). I’ve also recently signed up for the #HOMwork challenges, which is full of prompts meant to challenge you creatively.

And, in most cases, I came running back to calligraphy because I’ve found it’s something that I’m good at. But I come back with a new variety of skills and understandings that can be used to improve my art!

-Step back, don’t create, and come back when you’re ready!

There is nothing wrong with taking a break. Especially when you really need it. Don’t push yourself to create when you are totally drained. Come back when you feel that joy again. This might be a week, it could be a month, or even longer.

Taking a break will remove a lot of that pressure that you keep putting on yourself. You don’t need to choose the length before you start. When you feel ready, pick it back up again!

None of these methods are perfect, but they are good to try when you’re feeling creatively drained. It takes a lot of energy to be creative. Don’t let yourself burn out!

I’d love to hear from you!
What are your favorite ways to conquer creative block? 
Leave a COMMENT below or come SHARE on this post!

The party is on Instagram!
Come hang out on Instagram for more brush calligraphy tips & pep talks!




5 Tips For Starting Up An Etsy Shop

When I originally started calligraphy (in 2015), I had no idea that I would eventually start an etsy shop, blog, or website. I actually started out by posting my practice on Instagram. When I got my first supplies, I wanted to post pictures of my calligraphy without my friends and family seeing it. I can be really shy about learning something new and I’m also kinda sensitive. I didn’t want anyone to tell me I wasn’t very good at it and I was fine with having a “secret hobby” anyway.

I started to post my practice and found out there were a lot of other people learning calligraphy online as well. I fell into a random community that I never knew existed. I started getting followers and #calligrafriends from all around. After a few months of practice, I decided to try and make some greeting cards. I downloaded a free trial of Adobe Illustrator and scanned some of my lettering. I made an ice cream cone that said “melt my heart”. A lot of my friends started to find my calligraphy instagram and multiple people told me they wanted a copy of the ice cream cone print. This is when I thought I might be able to open up an Etsy shop!

In my first year on Etsy, I sold a few things. I had a lot of different cards and prints. Ones that I made randomly and simply posted up there, hoping someone would magically find them and buy them. I continued to post on Instagram, but I also had no idea what I was doing. A friend of a friend asked me to calligraph addresses on her wedding envelopes. This was both terrifying and amazing to me. I was still in school at the time and it was just crazy to me that I might be able to make money just by writing on things!

It wasn’t until the beginning of 2016 that I started to learn and understand how to build up an Etsy store and how to market your work properly! I feel there is a fine balance between focusing on selling your artwork and continuing in your own creative process. Because I have experienced highs and lows on Etsy, I wanted to share some tips for those of you who may be thinking of starting your own shop in the future!


  1. Start with a narrow focus.
    I think one of the biggest issues that people have starting out on Etsy is an unfocused product line. You may think that the more things you have on your Etsy, the more things you will sell. This is not necessarily true. Don’t overdo it. Pick a few things and start with those. I would not start with more than ten items in your shop. The more focused you are, the more you will be attract your ideal client.
    If you are a beginning calligrapher, you can start with greeting cards, prints, or wedding calligraphy services. You might start out with specific listings – for example a basic print option with a set verse or phrase that you like. You can always set your Etsy shop to allow requests for custom orders. You may even add in your listing, “send me a message if you are interested in a similar style, but with a different word or phrase”. This allows you to make less items up front and still offer what your potential customer may be looking for.

    You may think that the more things you have on your Etsy, the more things you will sell. This is not necessarily true.
    The more focused you are, the more you will attract your ideal client.

  2. Build your following on other platforms.
    It’s important to build up a following online before (or while) you start up your Etsy shop. There are many different places and ways to build up your following and it all depends on what you’re hoping to accomplish. Here are some of my favorite platforms that I’ve been able to use the most to build up potential clients:Email List. An email list is a great way to keep people connected with your products and services. The most efficient way to get people to sign up for an email list is to offer something that would be valuable to a potential customer. For example, I offer a free alphabet practice sheet because the people that I help the most are those who want to learn brush lettering on their own.
    I created my email list on MailChimp and 100% recommend it. Use this link to sign up for your MailChimp account and receive a $30 credit!

    Instagram. Instagram is totally free and a very simple way to start finding others interested in what you’re making. It’s important to post regularly, authentically, and with the focus of your overall brand on your Instagram account. Focus less on finding new followers and more on showcasing who you are and what you want to sell. It can take a while to build up a following on Instagram, but don’t be discouraged. Connect yourself with other calligraphers on Instagram and put on a giveaway together. This is a great way to gain new followers, especially ones that are interested in what you are creating!
    I’ve found that the more authentic, real, and consistent I am on Instagram, the more followers I gain. Don’t get greedy about followers- you can have thousands of followers and still make no sales. Remember that you are hoping to attract potential clients and you don’t need to have a million followers to do that.

    There are two different ways to utilize Facebook.
    Pages – Create a page for your business. This gives you a way to connect your followers with new products and sales. You can also run adds specifically toward potential clients easily through Facebook (though I personally am not a fan of these).
    Groups – You can find groups to be a part of or create your own. I created a group for brush lettering beginners, which has been a great way to help others build up their calligraphy skills. It’s easy to connect with others and share ideas. I have also been a part of multiple other groups like ones for small business owners and calligraphers. These have really helped me to learn new tips and skills from other small business owners and formal calligraphers!


    Another great way to gain momentum (especially for a blog or visually appealing small business) is Pinterest! Pinterest is all about beautiful images. You’ll need to create some pin-worthy content to hold your own out there.
    I think it’s important for your pins to trigger some sort of a click – whether it takes the reader to a blog post, your email list, website, or a product. Your goal in using Pinterest is to bring people to your website – ideally your potential clients. You can also pin all of the images from your Instagram feed onto your Pinterest as well. This gives you even more content to share and will direct people to your Instagram feed.

  3. Give it time.
    I’ll be the first to say: I understand that you might feel like your Etsy shop will never take off and you’re frustrated with the progress (or lack of) so far. You honestly just have to be patient and keep at it!
    It takes consistency and diligence to build up a brand. It’s not going to happen over night.
  4. Don’t charge less than you deserve to attract customers.
    It can be tempting while you’re starting up your Etsy shop to have low prices. You might feel as though you aren’t experienced enough to charge very much or you may feel like the low prices will draw in sales. Regardless of your reasoning, be very careful about your pricing!
    Be sure that when you’re pricing a product you look at these factors:
    – The average cost of similar products and services
    – The cost of the materials used to create the product
    – The amount of time it took (or takes) to create the product
    – The cost of shipping + packaging materials
  5. Try new and different things – stick with the ones that work!
    As you’re building your brand and starting an Etsy shop, don’t be afraid to try different products. You might start out with greeting cards or prints, but you may later offer envelope calligraphy, chalkboard signs, or custom mugs. Don’t be afraid to try something new! This will help you to find the products that do sell. (If this seems like it doesn’t go with #1, I simply mean to slowly add in and try different items. You don’t need to try them all at one time!)

I hope that these tips have been helpful for you as you’re starting out your creative business. This is not an exhaustive list of all the things you need to do to be sure that your Etsy shop will thrive, but these are five things that have worked for me. I would love to hear from you, please to leave a comment with your Etsy questions!