Faux Calligraphy - A Tutorial

Faux calligraphy is a really fun technique that allows you to achieve the look of calligraphy using almost any writing tool (different pens, pencils, etc.) with a variety of mediums (mirror, tables, different types of paper, etc.).  When I say the look of calligraphy, I am referring to the stroke variation in calligraphy where you have thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes.  Take a look at the quote below that I wrote using a traditional dip pen and nib:

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Now, what if you want to achieve that look but on a chalkboard or a mirror?  Or you simply want to write something quickly and don’t want to wait several hours for ink to dry.  That is where faux calligraphy comes in!  In order to write in faux calligraphy, you start by drawing the skeleton of the letter.  Then wherever you had a downstroke (your pen moved towards you when writing), you add an additional parallel line to thicken the stroke. Take a look at the letter a below.  I used the color pink to highlight an upstroke (pen moves away from you) and green to highlight a downstroke.  Once you draw the parallel lines to the downstrokes you can choose to fill it in completely for a more traditional look or leave it uncolored for a fun modern look!

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Below is another example of the strokes broken down using the letter h:

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The technique is super fun even when you are lettering on paper and you can create variations like using different colors or designs to fill in the downstrokes like I did below:

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Now, I want to talk about a few do’s and don’t to help you achieve consistent and beautiful faux calligraphy.   These are some basic rules that I follow most of the time.  I saw most of the time because sometimes you may want to “break” these rules due to style preference!   Don’t let them limit your creativity but use them as a guideline as you are learning the technique.

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First, its important not to cross two thick lines.  There are some letters, like x, where depending on how you write it, you may have two downstrokes.  If you run into that, just pick one stroke to thicken and leave the other one as a thin stroke.

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Second, keep the thickness of the downstrokes consistent in each word.  If you look at the word on the right of the picture above, it looks very messy.  The one of the left is easier to read and has a cleaner look.

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Third, if the stroke of the letter has a curve (such as c, o, e, a, etc.) follow the curve.  Take a look at the letter g on the left and see how I follow the curve of the round stroke for the g and of the stem as it comes down?  Now look at the g on the right side.  See how awkward it looks when I create a more square/hard edge instead of a soft edge? 

I wanted to end this post by showing you some of my completed works that I used the faux calligraphy technique on.  I would love to see your work as well, please tag me on Instagram at calligraphybysana.

In this card I used the faux calligraphy technique but chose not to fill in the strokes

In this card I used the faux calligraphy technique but chose not to fill in the strokes

In this envelope I combined both a script font in faux calligraphy and a Sans serif style.

In this envelope I combined both a script font in faux calligraphy and a Sans serif style.

This leaf was written with the faux calligraphy technique using a marker.

This leaf was written with the faux calligraphy technique using a marker.

This chalkboard was almost written using chalk markers and the faux calligraphy technique.

This chalkboard was almost written using chalk markers and the faux calligraphy technique.