Category: Calligraphy tips & tricks

My top 3 Modern Calligraphy tips

Want to learn Modern Calligraphy but you don’t know where to start, and how to start off on the right foot? Here’s my top 3 things I wish I’d known when I first started practising calligraphy.

#1. It all about practise, practise, practise
What I hear a lot in my workshops or when I tell people what I do, is ‘Oh I could never do that, my handwriting is terrible!’. But your handwriting really doesn’t matter! Calligraphy is the art of drawing pretty letters, it doesn’t have anything to do with your everyday writing. And as long as you keep practising, your hand will get used to the strokes and remember how to draw the letters. So just make sure you practise a lot, keep practising the strokes and really get to know your nib. And be patient, real skill doesn’t come overnight!

#2. Materials matter. A LOT.
When I first got started I bought a nib and some ink at a department store. Needless to say I didn’t get the results I wanted, tossed my supplies aside and stopped practising. I wasn’t until I got some good calligraphy supplies that I actually started to enjoy my practice and get better at calligraphy. So yes, materials really matter. And luckily good calligraphy supplies aren’t crazy expensive, you just need to know where to find them. Which is why I created this list of my favourite supplies and where to find them.

#3. Enjoy and get into the flow
Find the joy in your practice, because if it’s not for the joy then why start creating anyway? If you find that relaxing, enjoyable flow in your calligraphy practice, you will want to go back to your nib and ink time and again, and practising will come easy to you! So don’t expect to much from yourself, put on your favourite music, light a candle and just enjoy. It isn’t always about the result, enjoying the process is just a important.

And of course, if you really want to learn modern calligraphy and get the best tips, tricks, practice sheets and pro tips, sign up to my online course or book a workshop in my studio!

Mini tutorial 14: Here’s a hug

It’s day 14 and today I’m sharing the last mini tutorial.

During this time of social distancing it’s such a blessing that we can stay in touch with each other virtually. Can you imagine this world right now if we weren’t able to have video calls with friends and family, stay informed online and build community with people around us?

That being said, I really miss hugging people! It was always such a given that you see friends and family in real life and when you do, you give them a big hug! Now that that’s out of the question you realise how nice it is to be able to hug and hold people, and how as humans we’re social beings that are made for that connection!

But we also have the heroes of PostNL that can still deliver hugs on paper! As much as I love to be able to stay in touch virtually, an actual physical card in the mail is something special and a real mood lifter. So today we’re making a water colour & fake calligraphy card to be sent to someone you love.

Supplies I used:

Start with the text on the card. Micron pens are waterproof and don’t smudge so you can write the text first and then add the water colour straight away. Write the words joint up and slightly cursive, then make all the downstrokes thicker so it looks like actual calligraphy. If you need a more in depth explanation of fake calligraphy, have a look at this mini-tutorial from a few days back

The ‘messy’ hearts are just 2 strokes of the brush. Load your brush with water and pigment, make sure to cover the full tip and body of the brush, then lay the brush down diagonally on the paper so that the body of the brush touches the paper, and repeat for the other side of the heart. No need to be really precise, the messy look of the hearts give the card character and creates a nice contrast with the neat text!

I hope you enjoyed this one and that you will suprise a loved one with a hand made card! If you want to receive free tutorials in the future and stay informed about upcoming creative workshops and online courses please register for the newsletter below!

Lots of love,

Mini tutorial 13: Somewhere over the rainbow

So today I’m painting a water colour rainbow. Kids all over the world are putting rainbows in their window as a little sign of hope and to brighten up the world a little. So if you have the kids at home and you’re running out of ideas to keep them entertained then this might be a nice one! 

And it’s such a lovely symbol, a rainbow. It stands for community and inclusivity, but also for hope. It signifies the sunshine after the rain but it’s also a sign of the beauty that is still there even though we’re in the midst of a storm. 

These are the supplies I used today:

So with just 3 hues of paint I was able to create 6 different colours. By offloading pigment of your brush you’re weakening the colour and creating a lighter value of the same colour. Leave a little bit of white space in between the arches, but let them touch in a few spots to create that lovely water colour effect.

I hope you enjoyed this one. If you haven’t signed up for the tutorials in your mailbox yet then you can do so below. Take care and stay safe!

Lots of love,

Mini tutorial 12: Fiddle fig plant drawing!

So we’re at tutorial 12 already!

I ordered some plants for my apartment today, and one on them being a fiddle fig I decided to draw and paint one! I combined pen drawing with watercolour. Micron pens are great for this, because they’re waterproof and they dry very quickly, so you can do the drawing first and then straight away colour it in using watercolour.

So I sketched the plant first, then traced the lines with a Micron pen. I will explain how to draw the plant in another tutorial, as it would’ve been a really long video otherwise!

The most important technique here is the shading, so creating darker parts where the object that you’re drawing would have more shade, by using a lot of pigment in those dark parts and then just fade that pigment using just water on your brush to fill in the rest!

As you can see in the video today was a crazy hair day, haha! I’m not really used to filming myself while I work yet, so in some parts of the video the hair gets in the way! I’ve even had to edit out some parts where it was literally just my hair, haha, I’m sorry for that!

These are the supplies I used today:

I hope you enjoyed this one. If you haven’t signed up for the tutorials in your mailbox yet then you can do so below. Take care and stay safe!

Lots of love,

Mini tutorial 11: Fake calligraphy

So this is how I first ever started with calligraphy!

Did you know you can get that elegant calligraphy look with just a simple pen? If you know this trick you can use any pen to write calligraphy style, and you can write on any surface! Plus, this is a perfect first step towards real calligraphy with a nib pen because it teaches you where the heavy downstrokes are, so where to put pressure on your pen when working with a nib pen.

Start by writing your word in a cursive joint writing style. Make sure to give the letters enough ‘breathing space’, don’t write your letters too close together!

Next, determine where your downstrokes are. So where did you go downwards with your pen while writing the word? Give these downstrokes a double line so that an open thick line forms. Make sure the second line follows the same curve as the first downstroke so that it looks natural. Make all the thick lines about the same width!

Now, just fill in the open thick lines with your pen. And that’s it really!

In the video I used a Micron pen size 01. Micron pens are my favourite fineliners because they come in lots of (really thin!) sizes, they don’t bleed, write very smooth and they dry very fast. But you can try this with any pen really!

I hope you enjoyed this one. If you haven’t signed up for the tutorials in your mailbox yet then you can do so below. Take care and stay safe!

Lots of love,

Mini tutorial 10: watercolour rose

Today I will show you how to paint a simple loose style watercolour rose.

Basically, a rose is built of lots of petals around a core in the middle. In the middle, the petals are quite tight around the core while towards the outside of the flower they become looser and there’s more air between the petals. This is exactly what you should keep in mind while painting a rose: darker, smaller and more condensed petals in the middle and bigger, lighter more ‘airy’ petals towards the outer edge of the flower.

But how do you do this? Start building your flower from the inside out, with little c-shaped curves that are all circled around the same center. Make them quite thin in the middle, hold your brush in an almost 90 degrees angle. Then start using more of the body of the brush as you make your way towards the outside of the flower, make the petals bigger and wider by applying more pressure and holding your brush in a slanted angle. Keep positioning the petals around the same core!

Don’t put new pigment on your brush while you work towards the outside of the flower! We want the petals to get gradually lighter, so just swish your brush around your water to release pigment and go back in with just water and some left over pigment on your brush.

As you can see in the video, after I finish all the petals I pick up any excess water with a dry brush. If there’s too many ‘puddles’ left, these might dry with harsh lines around them, making the flower look patchy. I also put in some more dark pigment in the middle to give the flower a bit more depth.

These are the supplies I used today:

I hope you enjoyed this one. If you haven’t signed up for the tutorials in your mailbox yet then you can do so below. Take care and stay safe!

Lots of love,

Mini tutorial 9: a burst of joy

This is a very simple trick. Just lay down a wet swatch of a quite saturated colour. Then rinse your brush, put clean water on your brush (use two separate glasses) and lay a swatch of just water underneath. Let the two meet in the middle and watch the magic happen!

You can add some more pigment if you feel like it! Also notice how at the end of the video I picked up some wet puddles on the coral swatch with a dry brush. If you leave very wet puddles of pigment, these will dry up with hard dark lines around them, so try to notice which spots are too wet still and pick up the excess water with your dry brush.

These are the supplies I used today:

I hope you enjoyed this one. If you haven’t signed up for the tutorials in your mailbox yet then you can do so below. Take care and stay safe!

Lots of love,

Mini tutorial 8: simple watercolour leaves

For day 8 it’s back to watercolouring again! I’m showing you how to paint simple leaves with just 2 brush strokes!

The round brush that I use for these has a very thin tip and a wider body. This makes it perfect for painting leaves because you can use the tip for the stem and the thin top part of the leaves, while the body of the brush can be used for the wider bottom part of the leaf.

For the branch and stems of the leaves, use the tip of your brush. Hold your brush upright, almost in a 90 degree angle, and make a curved line with smaller curved lines coming from it.

Then, for the leaves themselves it’s literally 2 strokes! Start at the bottom of the leaf with pressure on your brush to create the wider bottom part. Then move your brush slowly towards the end of the leaf and gradually release pressure towards the end, until you’re at the very tip of the leaf an the tip of your brush. Then do the same thing again starting from the same point but move your brush lower to make the bottom part of your leaf, release pressure again and meet up with the tip of your first stroke to form the tip of the leaf. Anyway, I explain it all in the video!

These are the supplies I used today:

I hope you enjoyed this one. If you haven’t signed up for the tutorials in your mailbox yet then you can do so below. Take care!

Lots of love,

Mini tutorial 7: Silver linings

I’m a big believer in positivity. If you can’t change certain situations or the things that happen to you then try to look at those situations in a positive way and you will automatically get more positivity in your life. Or like writer Wayne Dyer used to say: ‘If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change’. 

Now some days that’s easier said than done though! The past week alone was a rollercoaster of fear, hope, anxiety, peacefulness and everything in between. So to keep that positivity coming I decided to list my silver linings of this corona crisis.

– Time to learn new skills, read, make art and decorate my new apartment
– Community: there’s a growing sense of community and taking care of each other these past few weeks
– Looong video calls with friends. Somehow I feel like there’s deeper conversation and connection going on in a one-on-one video call than there is in a real life conversation. Or maybe it’s the current situation that creates that deeper sense of connection.
– The joy of anticipation! So many things to look forward to after we all come out of our ‘caves’. 

So those were mine, I’d love for you to share your silver linings in the comments on this blog or on Instagram.

*Insert bridge* to today’s creative tutorial: I used the words ‘Silver Linings’ for a little Modern Calligraphy & flourishing tutorial. If you’ve joined one of my Modern Calligraphy workshops before then you might be at the point where you’re ready to get a bit more fancy with your calligraphy. If so, then this one is for you!

In short: flourishing is the embellishment of letters with loops underneath and above. Flourishing can make your calligraphy really impressive and it can also be used as a way to balance an artwork out. Did you put a word a bit too far to the left on your paper? Balance it out with some nice flourishing on the right!

There’s a few rules to keep in mind when you’re flourishing:

  • Base all your loops on and oval shape. Basically you should be able to imagine an oval in the middle of all your loops, be it horizontal, vertical or diagonal. So rather than making your loops very circular, stretch them a little so they have more of an oval shape, but don’t make them too long and thin! There should always be enough ‘air’ in your loops.
  • Never let two thick lines cross, it should either be two thin lines or a thick and a thin line that cross each other
  • Make the angle at which one line crosses the other about 90 degrees. Now this isn’t always possible of course, but try not to make the angle a lot smaller than this because this would mean your lines are very close to each other and the result will look too cramped.
  • Pencils are your friends when flourishing! Lay out the words and flourishes first so you can make sure the flourishes are nice and balanced. As you can see in the video I laid the words and flourishes out in pencil first too.

These are the supplies I used today:

I hope you enjoyed this one. Take care and sign up for the daily tutorials below if you haven’t done so yet!

Lots of love,

Mini tutorial 6: 2 colours abstract art work

It’s day 6, and we’re making an easy abstract watercolour artwork!

I figured we can all do with a little bit of art therapy to take our minds of things right now, and watercolours can be so soothing and mesmerizing to watch. The way the pigments move and interact with each other is like a little bit of magic. So we’re going to make a very simple artwork using the wet-on-wet technique so that the watercolours run into each other and creates a lovely mesmerizing effect.

Just paint circles in two different contrasting colours and let the circles just touch each other slightly so that the pigments run into each other. I sped the video up a little bit because it was kinda looong. So no explanation on video today, just play around with it and keep in mind the following tips & tricks:

  • Make sure to use enough water so that the pigment stays wet.
  • When you let circles touch, make sure to do so at a spot where the first circle is still wet. There’s usually a bit of a puddle in one spot, that’s the side of the circle where you want to let the circles touch.
  • Make your artwork more interesting by using different grades of each colour, make some circles really dark by using a lot of pigment, and others really light by using a lot of water and not so much pigment. Or add another shade of the same colour, like I did in my artwork by using both Prussian Blue and Cobalt Blue.
  • You can let colours overlap by waiting for a circle to dry first before you paint the other one partly over it. Don’t use too much pigment because you won’t see the overlap on our through a really dark saturated colour!

These are the supplies I used today:

The links above link to Van der Linde, which is one of my favourite creative heavens in Amsterdam and they also deliver!

I hope you will try this one, it’s such a fun, easy and rewarding technique! If you haven’t signed up for the tutorials in your mailbox yet then you can do so below. Take care!

Lots of love,