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Meet June's guest blogger, Kate from The Paper Botanist!
05 Jun 2015

How to Fake Calligraphy

by kate@thepaperbotanist

The classic and elegant technique of the calligraphy nib is evocative of a certain timelessness and old world charm, making it a desirable stationery style among brides. Unfortunately the customised nature of calligraphy along with the high demand for experienced calligraphers means that it can also be a bit on the pricey side. But before you disregard it as an unattainable option there is a quick and easy DIY solution that is relatively easy to master.

Traditional nib calligraphy uses varying pressure on the up and down strokes to create the beautiful variance of thick and thin lines. Lighter, finer lines are used on the upstrokes and heavier, thicker lines are applied on the downstrokes. Mastering a calligraphy nib pen is something that requires concentration, patience and a lot of practice. By using the faux calligraphy technique below you can quickly achieve a similar result without the frustration (and without all of the inky mess!).

Choose a sample calligraphy typeface. Unless you already have an elegant hand it would pay to get your hands on a sample script to use as a guide to form your letters. There are a number of free resources online for this.  A quick Google search will yield hundreds of options.

Using your sample script as a guide, draft out your desired name or phrase in pencil. You can keep this as simple or intricate as you like depending on your desired style and ability. Add flourishes if you want something a little more elaborate although you may want to stick to the basics to begin with. If you are more confident with your handwriting style you can skip this step and go straight to step 3.

Once you have lightly written out your phrase in pencil, trace back over the pencil lines with your choice of marker or brush pen, using a light pressure. Sharpies are a budding calligrapher’s best friend and are available in a variety of nib sizes and colours including metallic gold, silver and bronze for an elegant look. For large lettering use a generous sized nib. For small lettering use a finer nib. I would recommend trying a few different pens until you find one that suits your style and application.  The pens I used in the examples below are  the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner in black and a Uniball Signo in Gold.

To replicate the characteristic stroke variance of calligraphy you will then need to thicken the line of each downstroke. To do this go back over the letters by adding another line alongside every downstroke and fill in any gaps with ink. Make sure you wait until the ink has fully dried before rubbing out any pencil lines.

This faux calligraphy technique is a great way to personalise your invites, envelopes or table place cards and can be used on various materials. For something a bit more interesting consider using leaves or even flat pebbles to use as place cards. Sharpies can be applied to most surfaces so this is your chance to really get creative. 

I first discovered this technique on Lindsey Bugby’s blog The Postman’s Knock which has become a bit of a go-to resource for my own creative lettering projects. For those of you that are keen to pursue the art of calligraphy further I would definitely recommend checking it out as her detailed calligraphy tutorials contain a wealth of knowledge. And while you are wandering around the World Wide Web don’t forget to head over to my own blog The Paper Botanist for more paper related and hand lettering inspiration.

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Published 5 Jun 2015 0:05 by kate@thepaperbotanist