You want to learn calligraphy, but you aren’t ready to invest in all the supplies. Well, guess what? You can actually learn calligraphy and hand lettering with a pencil. Not even a super fancy pencil! But there are different types of pencils you should be aware of when learning how to do pencil calligraphy. So get ready to pull out your pencil because I am going to walk you through how to practice hand lettering calligraphy with a pencil.
What to Know About Pencil Calligraphy
The first thing to know about learning modern brush calligraphy with a pencil is that you will be manually creating the downstrokes using faux calligraphy. The downstrokes are wherever your pen is going down as you are writing your letters. To create faux calligraphy with your pencil, you need to pick up your pencil between strokes, not just in between letters. If you haven’t heard of that, I have a YouTube video that goes into more detail. Simply know that it’s okay to pick up your pencil a lot within a word. This will help you get a more even look as you are slowing down and focusing on each stroke.
Now to give your word the calligraphy style, you thicken the downstrokes by adding another line to them. You can leave the space open if you like that look, or you can fill it in to make it look like you were using a brush pen. One of my favorite parts about faux calligraphy is that you can customize it to be however you like. If you want a thicker, chunkier look, you can fill in wider downstrokes.
The Best Pencils for Pencil Calligraphy
Does the type of pencil you use for pencil calligraphy matter? Yes and no. Because you’re doing faux calligraphy, you can use any fine tip writing utensil. But there are a few different types of pencils that you’ll want to be aware of so you know what might work best for you.
The lead of the pencil is what makes the difference when doing pencil calligraphy. The first pencil I recommend is just a regular pencil which usually is called HB. The H and the B tell you if your pencil has hard or soft lead. H stands for hard, and there is a scale of 9 different levels. B stands for black, and the scale of 9 levels will tell you how black it is. The higher you go, the softer the lead will be. You can try a pencil set with all the different levels so you can see what you like.
My favorite to use is a Blackwing pencil. It’s a very soft lead, so I can get thick downstrokes by giving it a little more pressure, which I can do with a regular pencil. If you like to have thin lines or are doing small lettering, using a mechanical pencil would be perfect. My favorite mechanical pencil is from Pentel because it feels sturdy as I’m lettering or sketching.
As you choose a pencil to practice with, it may be helpful to ask yourself if you like a hard or soft pencil? Do you like a thicker or thinner line? Are you sketching a quote where you’ll be erasing a lot? Or are you just wanting to practice? And lastly, do you want to buy an expensive pencil or use one that you have? You absolutely don’t need to buy a costly pencil to be able to practice your modern calligraphy.
How To Do Pencil Calligraphy Tutorial
Pull out a pencil and paper and start lettering with me. The quote that we will practice lettering is from my book party YouTube video, “no one is perfect, that’s why pencils have erasers.” I love the subtle lessons we can learn from something like a pencil. I especially always love the message that you don’t have to perfect, and that’s the lesson I always try to send to my hand lettering beginners. Grab a pencil that’s closest to you right now, and we’re going to practice!
- Start by hand lettering the alphabet using my book Hand Lettering for Beginners
- Use tracing paper to trace the faux calligraphy practice worksheet
- Break down each stroke by picking up your pencil in between the letters
Your hand lettering is exactly where it needs to be right now. You like certain styles for a reason, which is why people like your version of hand lettering. They don’t want to see more of the same style as someone else. You have something unique to offer, and I am so thankful that you choose to share your hand lettering journey with me!