I curated a collection of beginning calligraphy resources for you.
Since I started playing with calligraphy, people have asked me questions about my materials and where I’m learning techniques. I put this list together for other beginners, and have included some calligraphy from a letterer I like, Maria Montes. Enjoy!
Most of these are the standards I keep coming across in multiple tutorials and classes, but I’ve added a few of my favorites.
Pens & Nibs
- Nikko G nib
- Speedball Pen Holder
- Tombow dual-ended pen
- Pentel Aquash brushes—You can fill with ink or water.
- Recollections Metallic Markers—Not on others’ lists, but I added because I love it for monoline lettering.
- Sumi ink
- Dr. Martin’s Bleed-proof white—You have to add a TON of water to this to get it to flow properly.
- Rolling ruler
- Slider Liner Laser Liner—I haven’t tried this but if I keep doing calligraphy, I seriously want this!
- The Lettermate—I had one of these but I stupidly gave it away before I realized its use for calligraphy.
I’m a paper fanatic. Everybody has their own paper they recommend, so it’s pretty much whatever you find that you like and that seems to work well for you. Brush calligraphy is far more forgiving, so you can use just about any paper you find. Nib calligraphy can bleed, and the nib can get stuck on a toothy paper, so you have to be choosier with paper for that.
- Boris 9×12 Layout Pad—Semi-transparent and works well for layout ideas and practice. Would not put a finished project on this.
- French Paper—I recommend literally any of their paper or envelopes. They are my favorite paper mill. You can get a sample pack with all their papers in all the colors and weights for $30!
- Neenah Paper—You can order samples of their paper (used to be free, but now is $1.55+ shipping per 5 sheets of large paper).
- Strathmore Watercolor paper—Specifically for brush calligraphy.
- Strathmore Marker Paper
- Canson Mixed Media Sketchpad
- Rhodia Dot Pad—Works really well for layout ideas
Classes and Tutorials
Many more classes and tutorials exist. These are the ones I’ve taken or used and have found helpful.
- Waterbrush Lettering Essentials
- Calligraphy I: Introduction to Modern Script Calligraphy
- Calligraphy II: Finding Your Personal Script Style
- Calligraphy III: Experimenting with Layouts, Surfaces, and Digitization
- Choosing the Best Paper for Your Calligraphy
- Watercolor Calligraphy
- How to Get Started with Calligraphy
- Intro to Brush Lettering, Basic Strokes
- How to Blend Ink and Watercolor for Brush Calligraphy
- A Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy
- Free Brush Calligraphy Worksheets
- Modern Calligraphy Workshop (book)—I haven’t gotten this yet, but it looks amazing.
- Modern Calligraphy Starter Kit
- Easy Calligraphy Anyone Can Do
Script & Brush Typefaces
Every calligraphy class or tutorial that I’ve taken tells you to look at typefaces for inspiration, or even to practice by printing out a sheet of a typeface and tracing it.
Not going to lie: there are a LOT of bad script typefaces out there—especially with the boom of modern calligraphy. What makes these typefaces bad is they only have one option for a letter connection and spacing (Wildera is a perfect example), which results in weird spacing. As a hand letterer, you get to correct those things even if you’re inspired by one of the bad typefaces I’ve included. Some of the bad ones are actually great inspiration because they can show you interesting ways to add flourishes or your own style.
If you have access to Adobe CC, take a look at Bickham Script. People hate this typeface, but I find it hugely inspiring for calligraphy because it shows a lot of ways to make flourishes and ligatures. Free versions don’t include the flourishes, unfortunately.
Anyhow, here are some fun calligraphy typefaces to look at for inspiration.
Included for free with Adobe CC
Paid ($20 or less)
Whew! That’s a ton of information.
I hope this is helpful if you’re interested in calligraphy!