Are you learning calligraphy, a hand lettering beginner, but don’t know where to start? This faux calligraphy or fauxligraphy basics tutorial is for you! I LOVE fauxligraphy. This is how I started learning lettering and it really helped me to understand the thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes when I started using a brush pen. One of my favorite things is that you can use any pen! No more excuses for not being able to buy expensive brush pens. I totally get that because that’s where I was at when I started. But you can even use a pencil for fauxligraphy.
For this tutorial, I used the Tombow Twintone pens, although you can use any pen. They have such pretty colors! I have two packs of these Tombow Twintone pens I got from Amazon (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases).
If you would like to also watch this tutorial with demos, see my YouTube video here:
Faux Calligraphy Basics Tutorial
1. Write a word.
It can be a script style or print style. It doesn’t matter right now. I will talk about how lettering isn’t cursive in a little bit, but for now, just write any word.
2. Add a line to the downstrokes.
If you don’t remember where the downstrokes are, you can follow your word with your pen to see where the pen went down. We only want the downstrokes. Leave any sideways strokes or upstrokes. We want all of our downstrokes to be the same angle.
3. Fill in the downstrokes.
If you don’t want very thick downstrokes, the second and third step may be combined for you and I’ll talk about that more in a minute. The main goal is to make sure all of your downstrokes are the same thickness to keep it consistent throughout your word. I shared another faux calligraphy tutorial in my post The Secret to Fake Calligraphy if you want even more inspiration.
Faux Calligraphy isn’t cursive
When I teach my hand lettering workshops, the first thing I teach is faux calligraphy. Most people hesitate because they say their cursive doesn’t look like mine. This is true. First, because we all have different styles. Second, because lettering is not cursive. With cursive, the main thing is that your pen never lifts off the paper. This is ok for some of the letters, but it’s really going to mess up other letters. For example the e in cursive doesn’t have much of a downstroke because you just loop your pen around. With lettering, you pick up your pen so that the e gets its full downstroke.
Also in the g (also happens with the letter a), you have the line going through the oval of the g because you don’t lift your pen. As I try to add the downstroke, it’s really squished in there. Whereas the g when you pick up your pen has the full oval to just add the downstroke to. So when people ask if you can just write a word in cursive for fauxligraphy, it only sometimes works.
Fauxligraphy Basic Strokes Alphabet
I’m going to break down each letter of the alphabet here to show you how you would use faux calligraphy to thicken the downstrokes. Each letter is made up of different strokes. If you have never heard of the basic strokes for hand lettering and calligraphy, see my post Hand Lettering the Basic Strokes. Basically, you pick up your pen after each stroke to form your letters.
Unlike cursive, you actually get to pick up your pen between each stroke. If you are really used to cursive, this may be hard at first. It takes a lot of patience to slow down and break down each letter. Of course, if you enjoy a more cursive, don’t pick up your pen style, I’m sure you can make that look good. I just know that for me and most of my students, it is easier to break it down like this. I like that I can pick up my pen and breathe for a second while I’m getting ready for the next stroke. It’s very therapeutic.
And as for adding the downstrokes, you can see in the picture, I normally add the thickness to the right side of the stroke. That’s just a general rule. However, you have to decide letter by letter and word by word. If I’m going to cover up a loop too much, then I’ll add it to the left side. And sometimes I add a little to the right and a little to the left depending on how much room I left myself. The main thing is that it looks natural like a brush pen did it, and you have the same downstroke width throughout your word.
Faux Calligraphy Styles
This is another great aspect of faux calligraphy. You can choose the style. Do you want it to be thinner downstrokes with very little contrast between your upstrokes and downstrokes? Or do you want really thick, chunky downstrokes with a lot of contrast? With fauxligraphy, you get to choose. If you were using a brush pen, you’d have to choose the right brush pen for thin or chunky and some brush pens have good flexibility that allows you to get some variations. But with fauxligraphy, you can be doing this with any pen.
And that leads to my new Skillshare class I created for you. How to do Faux Calligraphy to Create Unique Lettering Styles. Creating your style can seem like this big vague mystery. But I’m going to keep it really simple for you and show you how fauxligraphy can help.
In the Skillshare class, you will get these free practice sheets with each letter broken down into strokes and plenty of fauxligraphy practice. If you don’t want to take the class, I also have Faux Calligraphy worksheets with lowercase, uppercase and several words to practice in fauxligraphy. If you’ve never heard of skillshare, it’s really awesome. When you sign up, you can take any class you want at no extra cost. Plus I have a special Skillshare link you can use to get two months free so you could take all of my classes and any other classes for free.