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Calligraphy for Beginners

How To Learn Calligraphy At Home in 5 Easy Steps, Even If You Are


A Beginner!

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All Rights Reserved


Feel free to email, tweet, blog, and pass this eBook around the web to anyone you think
would find this useful... but please don’t alter any of its contents when you do. Thanks!

www.howtodocalligraphy.com

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Contents

Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 4
Step #1: Gather the Supplies You Need .............................................................................................. 10
Markers............................................................................................................................................. 14
Step #2: Mastering the Pen ................................................................................................................. 19
Step #3: Getting the Letters Right........................................................................................................ 23
The l” Family ..................................................................................................................................... 24
The “n” Family .................................................................................................................................. 25
The “o” Family .................................................................................................................................. 27
The “v” Family .................................................................................................................................. 28
The “x” Family .................................................................................................................................. 28
Step #4: Correcting Your Errors & Perfecting Your Craft..................................................................... 30
Step #5: String Letters Into Words ....................................................................................................... 33
[BONUS] 7 Surefire Tips to Learn Calligraphy In Record Time! .......................................................... 38
Tip #1: Kill Your "I Can't” Mentality ................................................................................................. 40
Tip #2: Don't Skip The Basics............................................................................................................ 42
Tip #3: Spot And Correct Mistakes Early ......................................................................................... 44
Tip #4: Use Calligraphy Guidelines .................................................................................................. 45
Tip #5: Slow and Steady Wins the Race ........................................................................................... 46
Tip #6: The Magic Is In The Grip ....................................................................................................... 47
Tip #7: Don't Develop Your Own Style ............................................................................................ 51
Now, Persevere! ............................................................................................................................... 52

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Introduction

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The Italic script is a semi-cursive, sloped style of calligraphy that was
developed during the Renaissance in Italy, which explains its name. It
is one of the most popular styles used in contemporary Western
calligraphy, and is often a script that most beginners and
calligraphers start out with.

Lots of people admire the beauty and versatility of Italic calligraphy.


Its letters are lean, dynamically stylish, and extremely versatile and
can be styled in a variety of ways.

Today, hand-written Italic alphabets remain extremely popular for


quotations, wedding invitations, and art calligraphy.

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These are just a few of my personal pieces which demonstrate the
beauty and versatility of Italic calligraphy:

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With all its wonderful properties, Italic calligraphy (I’ll just refer to it
as calligraphy from now on for fluency sake) must be really difficult
to learn Italic calligraphy… right?

Wrong!

In fact, it is one of the SIMPLEST styles you can ever learn. With a
step-by-step guide and a decent amount of practice, you’ll definitely
master it.

You could very well be writing that Shakespearean sonnet you’ve


always wanted to in calligraphy, address wedding invitations or
create stunning calligraphy masterpieces of your favourite quote...
All just within 30 days!

In this Ultimate Guide, I will outline the 5 steps that you can follow,
which will enable you to produce the calligraphy that you have
always desired!

This proven system has been meticulously formulated through not


just my personal experience but also the experience of hundreds of
people over the years.

And I guarantee that it will help you too.

So, let’s get started!


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Step #1:
Gather the Supplies You Need

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The first step to even start learning calligraphy is to get all the
required supplies. This chapter will tell you more about the supplies
you may need to get started:

Pens
The best writing tool for a beginner to who is learning calligraphy is a
calligraphy pen (which has a broad-edged nib, and not a pointed
one).

A broad-edged nib allows us to create the effect that we want in Italic Calligraphy

The broad-edged nib of a pen creates the variations in thickness of


the letter strokes and gives it life.

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There are primarily two kinds of calligraphy pens:

a. Cartridge-loaded pen
b. Dip pens

As the name suggests, the cartridge-loaded calligraphy pen is refilled


with ink cartridges. They are generally much more convenient,
portable and mess-free.

You don’t have to worry about ‘refilling’ the nib of your pen halfway
through a stroke, unlike a dip pen.

Synonymous with its name, the dip pen is refilled by dipping the nib
into an ink bottle, although most people prefer to refill it by dipping
a brush into ink and then applying it evenly on the nib of the pen
itself.

Using a dip pen allows for a larger variety of inks to be used for
different effects. The nib can also be sharpened or shaped in a way
which suits the calligrapher.

(If you are interested in learning more about dip pens, here’s a
wonderfully detailed article on what a dip pen looks like and how to
use it.)

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However, I would not recommend it at this point in time.

I would recommend that a cartridge loaded pen (e.g. Pilot Parallel


Pen) or a pre-loaded one (Zig Calligraphy Marker) be used first. It’s
better to start off simple and there are some distinct advantages of
using cartridge-loaded pens over dip pens at this point in time when
you are just starting out.

*Recommended Pen: The Pilot Parallel Pen. Beginners and experts


alike love this pen because:

o Ink flow is superb


o It’s easy to use
o Inexpensive pen and cartridge refills
o Come in a variety of nib widths and ink colours
o It’s mess-free, portable because it is a cartridge-loaded pen

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Markers

A Water-based Zig Calligraphy Marker

Markers are a great choice when time is a concern but quality isn’t.

They are wonderful for practicing your strokes and also perfect for
small tasks that don’t require a high level of intricacy, such as writing
a casual note to a friend or co-worker or posting a reminder to
yourself on a Post-it note.

They are also mess-free, and you can carry them around with you
everywhere.

They have these advantages:

 They are fuss-free and mess-free. You can just buy them,
use them till they’re out of ink, throw them away and buy a

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new one again. They are inexpensive, too.

 They are good for practicing the right strokes. Markers are a
cheap and easy way to practice your strokes and
fundamentals before you start using a calligraphy pen.

However, there are some significant drawbacks to using markers:

 You can’t do nice, sharp calligraphy with a marker. The


writing tip is simply not fine enough to make the sharp edges
and fine hairlines that a calligraphy pen will give you. You
might be able to still make thicks and thins of the letters
with a marker, but it will not be as crisp and as desirable as
letters produced with a pen.

 Markers are not suitable for larger tasks. For example, you
wouldn’t want to letter a certificate or a heartfelt gift to a
friend with a marker.

 Markers tend to dry out quickly, and you might only be able
to use them only for a short period of time.

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 The tip blunts, even with really careful use. This is because
the pressure that you put on the nib of the marker causes it
to deteriorate and blunt after repeated usage.

 Markers might encourage bad pen-holding habits. This is


because markers will write no matter what angle you hold
them at. On the other hand, a calligraphy pen (dip
pen/fountain pen) will not.

Paper

Ensure that you have a good supply of paper, preferably thick, good
quality paper.

What you want is paper which does not cause ink to feather (bleed).
There are many factors which contribute to feathering, but changing
the paper you’re using to stop the feathering of ink is the easiest
way.

Just for demonstration sake, here is what I mean by feathering:

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Ink feathers when written on cheap / overly absorbent paper

Ink does not feather when written on thicker paper

You can start out with inexpensive printing quality paper (for e.g.
Double A Printing Paper) – they are good and smooth enough.

If you don’t mind investing a little more for better quality paper, you
can try out Rhodia pads, Kokuyo Campus Paper or Maruman Paper.

There are many other brands but these are a few of the popular
ones.

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Additional tools that you may want to get before starting out:

1. Pencils. You’ll need a few good-quality pencils.


2. Eraser. Get a white eraser that erases well but doesn’t cause
abrasions to the paper. I particularly like Staedtler erasers.

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Step #2:
Mastering the Pen

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You should pay the most attention to this step.

If you do not get this step right, all your effort in mastering steps #3 -
#5 will be in vain. You won’t be able to write calligraphy even if
you’ve finished step #5.

This will be the single most important step you will learn. Screw it up
and you can forget about ever doing beautiful calligraphy!

But if you master it, your calligraphy will look amazing.

Sounds like this must be a really complicated thing to learn right?

Fortunately for you, sometimes the most important things can be the
simplest things too.

I’ll just let you in on it:

Whether or not you can write beautiful calligraphy all boils down to:

Maintaining A Consistent 45-Degree Pen Angle

In calligraphy, maintaining a consistent 45-degree angle is absolutely


critical!

This is because the angle at which your hold your pen determines the
look of your letters. Hold it at the correct angle and you’ll get your
“thicks” and “thins” at the right places.
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Figure 1: At a 45-degree angle, the thicks and thins appear magically as you write.

If you want to know if you are holding your pen at the correct angle,
draw a horizontal line 45 degrees to your right. If you’re holding your
pen at the correct angle, you would be creating the thinnest line
possible with the pen.

Figure 2: Hold your pen such that your nib is at a 45 degree angle
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Let’s illustrate this using a diagram:

If your pen is gripped in a manner such that the nib is 90 degrees,


your vertical strokes will be very thin and your diagonals will be thick.

If you hold it in a 0-degree angle, your "n" will be the one on the
right - thick vertical and diagonal strokes.

However, what you want are thick vertical strokes and horizontal
strokes but thin diagonals. That can only be achieved with a 45-
degree pen angle. The "n" on the left best demonstrates that.

You have to master Step #2 before you can proceed to Step #3.
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Step #3:
Getting the Letters Right

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The next step on the list is to begin to form letters following a
template as a guide.
There are six basic letter families: l, n, u, o, v, and x.

The l” Family

The letters in this family are: i, l, j, f, and t.

The main characteristic of the letters in the “l” family is the


downward stroke.

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The “n” Family

The letters in this family are: n, m, r, h, b, k, and p.

The main characteristic of the letters in the n family is the pull-down,


bounce-over stroke.

**Notice that the “n” shape consists of two vertical lines connected
by a branch that extends out midway from the first vertical.

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The “u” Family

The letters in this family are: u, y, a, g, q, and d.

The main characteristic of the letters in the u family is the pull-down,


swing-under, and pull-down stroke.

Notice that the “u” shape is a vertical inversion of the letter “n” –
just turn “n” upside down and you get a “u”!

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The “o” Family

The letters in this family are: o, c, and e.


The main characteristic is their oval shape.

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The “v” Family

The letters in this family are: v and w.


The important thing about getting these letters right is to ensure that
the diagonals of these letters are straight, not curved.

The “x” Family

The letters in this family are: x, s, and z.

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Some additional tips for you to note:

1. Practice first with a pencil (get the strokes right first).


2. Each letter has its own order of strokes and a certain shape and
way that you should write it.
It is absolutely important that you follow the correct order of
strokes. Following the diagrams above or having someone to guide
and help you along the way or is the best and fastest way to get it
right and to create the most professional finish.

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Step #4:
Correcting Your Errors & Perfecting
Your Craft

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There are many types of errors that you can make in calligraphy, and
it is very important that you are able to identify them, or at least
have someone there to help you to identify them so that you can
advance quickly in your practice.

Many beginners waste a lot of time practicing the wrong things


unknowingly. As much as calligraphy is a really simple art, beginners
still make mistakes, and it is very important that these mistakes are
rectified early before you start “perfecting your imperfections”.

Here are just a few of the many common mistakes beginners make:

1. Overly rounded letters

These letters are too fat and rounded and are too wide for Italic
text.

Letters on the left are too round. They should be narrower like the ones on the right.

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Solution: Keep the letters more compact; keep them narrower.
When you practice your letters, compare them to the letters
shown in Step #3 and make sure that your letters are not overly
rounded.

2. Overly rounded arches

The arches are too rounded and not sharp-looking enough.

Archs are too rounded (like a bridge); they should inch towards the top then drop

Solution: Branches should be nicely branched 45 degrees to the


vertical, joining the vertical stroke at the top.

With proper practice and by identifying your errors as you


practice, you will be able to master calligraphy in no time!

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Step #5:
String Letters Into Words

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Now that you know how to form beautiful calligraphy letters, it’s
time to string these letters together to form words.

The best way to practice this is to write out pangrams.

A pangram is a sentence which contains all 26 letters of the alphabet.

Writing out pangrams in calligraphy is good for practicing your words


because you get to practice every letter of the alphabet while still
being able to learn how to regulate the spacing between letters in a
word.

An example of a popular pangram would be:

“A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”

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Some things to take note of here:

1. Don’t forget to always keep your pen angle at a consistent 45


degree angle!
2. Continue using your calligraphy guidelines so as to keep your
words consistent in size. When you feel more confident, you
may try writing without any calligraphy guidelines.

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Now It’s Your Turn To Do It!

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I have given you the five basic steps that you can take, and now that
you know the five steps, you will be able to learn calligraphy in the
comfort of your own home. All it takes from here is to practice italic
calligraphy the right way and before you know it, you will be able to
write beautiful calligraphy anytime, anywhere, and for any occasion.

Now it’s your turn to do it!

To Your Success,
Henry
www.howtodocalligraphy.com

P.S. If you have any questions or comments regarding this eBook,


feel free to drop me an email at henry@howtodocalligraphy.com and
I’ll reply you once I get to it!

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[BONUS]
7 Surefire Tips to Learn Calligraphy
In Record Time!

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Everyone wants to learn calligraphy, and everyone wants to learn
it fast.
But, not everyone can, because they might not know how to.
Here are the 7 proven and effective tips below
will significantly accelerate your progress and help you learn how to
write calligraphy in the shortest time possible.
However, just before I let you in on the 7 tips which you would
definitely find useful, you will find NO magical techniques or tricks
here which will enable you to learn calligraphy overnight.
Zero. None.
If you are looking for that magical technique, I'm afraid I'll have to
disappoint you.
The fast and easy way to learn calligraphy is to practice. There's no
way around that.
But trust me, these 7 tips will make a world of difference to your
practice and learning of calligraphy.
Now get ready for these 7 Golden Tips:

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Tip #1: Kill Your "I Can't” Mentality
This is the first thing you've got to do.
One of the largest hindrances to your learning calligraphy is you
believing that you can't learn it. Some of the common reasons I've
heard are:
I cannot learn calligraphy because…

 I have no artistic talent


 My handwriting is atrocious, hideous, and messy
 I have no background in calligraphy
 And so on…

When you adopt a “I can never do calligraphy” mindset, you are


making learning calligraphy unnecessarily tougher.
You're going to doubt every stroke that you make - Oh no I'm
probably not doing this right... I’ll probably get this wrong again.. It's
going to affect your confidence and progress.
You have to make a decision to ditch this mindset that will do you no
good!
If you don't have such a mindset or have already conquered it, good
on you! But if you haven't, you're probably thinking, "how?"
Now, you just have to know this:
If you can write, you can do calligraphy. It's just that simple.
Just like how dancing is just moving beautifully, calligraphy is
beautiful writing. In fact, calligraphy originated from the greek
words kallos which means beauty and graphein which means writing.
So, calligraphy essentially means beautiful writing.
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Till this date, anyone who has followed the right steps has been able
to learn calligraphy, no matter how bad their handwriting is, or
how little artistic talent they have. But don't just take it from me, the
lengendary master calligrapher, Lloyd Reynolds, said it too.
I used to believe that I could never learn calligraphy because I had no
artistic talent and bad handwriting too. But when I started believing
that I can (since so many people just like me were also able to learn
calligraphy), I started to truly see myself enjoying earning and writing
calligraphy.
Time has proven again and again that anyone can learn calligraphy if
they can write. So stop worrying, ditch that "I can't" mindset, grab
your pen and start learning!

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Tip #2: Don't Skip The Basics

NEVER skip the basics!


Skipping the basics is a big mistake because the basics are
what you need to know if you want to write beautiful calligraphy.
They are the foundation of the house that you are going to build. If
you don't lay the foundations correctly, no matter how nicely you
build the rest of the house, it's always going to be wobbly.
If you want a good house, you've got to lay the foundations straight.
The same goes to calligraphy - if you want to be good at it, you've got
to get the basics first.
I remember being really excited about learning calligraphy and tried
writing calligraphy the moment I got hold of a calligraphy pen.
Guess what happened?
Well, you probably guessed it right: instead of the beautiful, elegant
calligraphy that I was expecting, lopsided, ugly letters turned out
instead.
As calligrapher Fred Eager said, there's nothing more destructive
than practicing the wrong thing.
And the thing is, if you skip the basics and go straight to writing
calligraphy, chances are that you will waste a tremendous amount of
time making unnecessary errors and frustrating mistakes.
Moral of the story: Don't skip the basics!
But what's the solution?

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Learn a step-by-step method. Get an online calligraphy guide,
whatever. There are many good books out there that would give you
a good head start.
Here's a list of good books that I would recommend:

 Learn Calligraphy: The Complete Book of Lettering and Design by


Margaret Shepherd
 Calligraphy For Dummies by Jim Bennett
 Calligraphy (First Steps Series) by Don Marsh
 The Italic Way to Beautiful Handwriting: Cursive and Calligraphic
by Fred Eager

If you prefer a more visual step-by-step guide that takes you along
every step of the way, you may want to try our Easy Calligraphy e-
Learning System™, which uses the proven 5-step method. It is
broken down into 5 lessons, where each lesson contains a series of
compact tutorial videos to get you maximum results in the shortest
time possible.

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Tip #3: Spot And Correct Mistakes Early

You're bound to make mistakes as you practice and learn calligraphy.


But when you don't spot them early and continue to make them
unknowingly... then there’s a problem, because when you
practice these mistakes diligently, you're going to 'perfect’ them,
which isn't really what you want!
Well the good news is, this is easily avoidable and it need not be a
long and unnecessarily frustrating process for you if you want to
learn calligraphy.
Get your model examples (exemplars), and constantly refer back to
them. You'll be quicker to identify where you went wrong and it's
easier to figure out how to make it right.
Sometimes figuring that out will be a process of trial and error but
with a little bit of persistence, you will definitely get there.
There are many common mistakes made by beginners and it would
be immensely helpful for you to spot them and correct them
instantly. It will save you a ton of time, effort and unnecessary
frustration.
You can look at Step #4 again for more examples.

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Tip #4: Use Calligraphy Guidelines

I can't emphasize this point enough:


Always Use Calligraphy Guidelines!!
Calligraphy guidelines are your naggy teachers, that thing that always
reminds you to keep your letters in line and with consistent size.
Here’s an example of a calligraphy guideline:

Like it or not, calligraphy guidelines will be your best friend during


calligraphy practice, and it is one of the most effective techniques of
learning how to do beautiful, consistent calligraphy.
Preparing calligraphy guidelines is not hard and will take you only 3
minutes at most.
Here's a wonderful post by Joyce Teta on how you can create
beautiful calligraphy guidelines.

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Tip #5: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Slow down!
Calligraphy is not a race, but it's sad that not many people see that.
The quicker you write, the more ugly habits from your handwriting
will surface.
Instead, don't rush through your letters. Focus on making every
stroke as perfect as possible. Make sure that they look as perfect as
the model examples.
Concentrating intently on every stroke will increase your chances
of producing a sharp, clean stroke. Letters will also look uniform.
As you slow down and become more meticulous and aware of how
you’re writing, you will realise that you are doing much better
calligraphy than before.

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Tip #6: The Magic Is In The Grip

The essence of calligraphy is in the way you grip pen.


Writing with the nib at a 45-degree angle is what creates the
beautiful calligraphy alphabet, with the "thicks and thins" at all the
right places.
Therefore, your pen angle is one of the most important things that
you have to take note of, because it makes or breaks your
calligraphy.
Here's a picture to illustrate how to hold your pen at a 45-degree
angle:

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Let’s illustrate this using a diagram:

If your pen is gripped in a manner such that the nib is 90 degrees,


your vertical strokes will be very thin and your diagonals will be thick.
If you hold it in a 0-degree angle, your "n" will be the one on the
right - thick vertical and diagonal strokes.
However, what you want are thick vertical strokes and horizontal
strokes but thin diagonals. That can only be achieved with a 45-
degree pen angle. The "n" on the left best demonstrates that.
So, hold your pen in a 45-degree angle at all times – if you ever want
to write beautiful calligraphy!

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Pen Contact
When the edges of strokes turn out jagged and uneven, instead of a
nice, smooth and thick line, it’s a sign you’re not holding your pen
properly.
It can take time getting used to the broad nib of the calligraphy pen
which can be honestly be quite difficult to write with compared to a
regular pen.
You have to make sure that the nib of your pen is flat against the
surface of the paper at all times when you are making the stroke.

You can hold it this way: let the pen rest on the side of your middle
finger, with the thumb securing it. The index finger then rests on top
of the pen, gently pressing the pen flat against the paper.
Practice this with exercises like these:

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Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see your strokes come out nice
and clean!

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Tip #7: Don't Develop Your Own Style

"What?? Don't develop my own style? Seriously??"


"Isn't calligraphy all about personal expression?"
Well there's no need to panic just yet, what I meant was:
don't consciously try develop your own style now, especially so if
you are just a beginner.
Your style will come to you sooner or later, as you grow more
confident, smooth and better with your calligraphy.
Now, note what I said: it will come to you naturally. You won't even
have to go out searching for a distinctive personal style.
Do you think Pele could have developed his graceful style of dribbling
without having learnt the basics of dribbling first?
Probably not, right?
If he hadn't known the basics of dribbling a soccer ball, I'd doubt that
he'd be concerned about trying to develop a graceful style of playing
soccer, because it isn’t the right thing to learn at that point in time.
Similarly, you should just concentrate on learning the basics of
calligraphy - how to form basic letters, how to hold the pen etcetera.
As you proceed on and start learning how to write words and
sentences, you will subsequently develop a style that you would find
most comfortable.
So, don't try to consciously develop a style now. You will develop it
in time to come.

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Now, Persevere!

The creative discipline of calligraphy is a wonderful source of calm


and pleasure - not just to the one doing it, but also others.
And like all other satisfying personal skills such as cooking, dancing,
or playing the guitar or piano, calligraphy

 can be learnt easily step by step


 gets better with practice
 comes to life when there's an audience

Calligraphy may be a little more difficult at the start, but as with all
worthwhile pursuits, the pleasure and calm that you get is
definitely worth the effort and the practice.
And good news, just like running downhill, it gets easier and easier as
you go on.
So, now that you know these 7 proven and effective tips, put them
into action! Practice and persevere! You will be able to develop a
deeply satisfying personal skill which will be worth every second
spent learning.
Please feel free to share your thoughts with me – you may email me
at henry@howtodocalligraphy.com anytime! 

To Your Calligraphy Success,


Henry

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