Learn Calligraphy Techniques

Creative Team | June 26, 2017

Discover these tools for creating unique, personalized calligraphy for a variety of purposes. This tutorial will cover the basics of calligraphy with dipping pens and inspiration for making your own hand lettered creations. 



You will need: A nib, holder, bottle of ink, and paper with a smooth finish.

Always wash your new nibs with soap and water before you use them. They come with a layer of oil on them to avoid rusting in storage. Attach the nib to the holder. Hold the dipping pen at an angle, so when you look down at it, the nib appears as a half-moon shape. 


Dip the nib into the ink, covering about halfway up the nib. If you don't dip the nib far enough to the ink, it will not fill the reservoir, but if you dip too far, it will be messy when writing.


Begin experimenting with letters and lines. Notice how when you apply pressure, the ink line gets thicker. Make thin strokes letting the nib lightly touch the paper rather than pressing down. When writing calligraphy, down strokes are thick and upstrokes are thin. This creates contrast within the word and makes it easier to distinguish letters.


Add interest to your lettering by drawing decorative swirls into the composition. These are called “swashes.” To draw a graceful swash, start with a thin stroke and use a sweeping motion with your hand, applying pressure when you reach the middle part of your line, and at the end, lighten the pressure again to finish into a thin line.


It’s fun to experiment with different lettering styles and moods. There are many ways to draw each letter, and it’s up to you to decide what style you like best. The art of traditional calligraphy has a rich history of many different alphabets with specific styles and letter shapes for each. Modern calligraphy is less stylized, and encourages a more casual, personal look.


IC also provides Art White Ink, which you can use with the dipping pens to create beautiful lettering on dark paper. Try it next time you address an envelope or make a place card for the dinner table! I hope you enjoyed this beginner’s guide to using dipping pens for calligraphy! Be sure to check out the IC online store!



Topics: Illustration, IC

Creative Team
Creative Team on June 26, 2017

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