Basic Strokes Modern Calligraphy

The 8 Basic Strokes You Need to Know to Start Learning Modern Calligraphy

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Let me start by making one thing clear. MODERN CALLIGRAPHY IS NOT CURSIVE! There are two major things that make modern calligraphy and cursive different. First, in modern calligraphy your downstrokes (the strokes where you are moving your pen downwards on the paper) are thicker than your upstrokes (the strokes where you are moving your pen any other direction- up, diagonal, or horizontal). To achieve this you have to go much slower than you would when writing in cursive where speed is often the goal.

The second difference between modern calligraphy and cursive is that modern calligraphy, much like print, is made up of individual pen strokes combined to form letters. In cursive the focus is on not lifting your pen. In modern calligraphy you can lift your pen between each stroke even if it’s only part of the letter. In fact I recommend lifting your pen between each stroke because this will give you the most consistency and control as you reset after each stroke.

So what in the world am I talking about when I say there are only 8 basic strokes?! I know it seems a little crazy since there are 26 letters in the alphabet. But I promise, once you master the 8 basic strokes, you will be well on your way to becoming a modern calligraphy pro!

The 8 Basic Strokes of Modern Calligraphy

  1. Full Pressure Downstroke
  2. Entry Stroke
  3. Underturn
  4. Overturn
  5. Compound Curve
  6. Oval
  7. Ascending Stem Loop
  8. Descending Stem Loop

The most important thing to know about getting better at modern calligraphy

The most important thing to know about getting better at modern calligraphy is that you MUST practice! The more you practice the more muscle memory you will have and the easier it will get. You will move from having to really think about when to put pressure on your pen and when to ease up to focusing on layouts and flourishing. Start by practicing these basic strokes. Get free access to my practice sheet to get started!

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