Creating Calligraphy with Crayola Markers: Basic Strokes

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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!

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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.

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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]

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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

May

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!

MAY PROMPTS

WEEK ONE: YOU ARE ENOUGH

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.

WEEK TWO: PICK A LETTER AND CREATE IT 8 (OR MORE) DIFFERENT WAYS

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. 

WEEK THREE: USE THE WORD BLOOM SOMEHOW

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!

WEEK FOUR: CHOOSE ANY WORD – USE A DIFFERENT COLOR FOR EACH LETTER TO SHOWCASE LETTER CONNECTIONS

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!

Tips for Conquering Creative Block.

Creative Block

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

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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.

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August 2015

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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!

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