Learn the basic strokes of modern calligraphy with Vera Silva

Posted by Gavin Burrell on

Success at modern calligraphy starts with the basic strokes

Love at first stroke

Guest blog by Vera Silva

I fell in love with modern calligraphy while I was still learning the basic strokes - the building blocks that form every letter and flourish. When I started learning modern calligraphy, the first exercises I made were pages after pages after pages of basic strokes. They are a great way to build muscle memory, and to learn how to use a new tool - in my case, it was a dip pen.

Writing the basic strokes so many times can seem like a pointless and boring exercise but it will be doing its work in the background, and the results will soon appear. They are also a great way to warm up before doing actual calligraphy work. Many professional calligraphers still do it even after many years of practice!

Some of the basic strokes that form all modern calligraphy characters

The building blocks of letters

These basic strokes will turn into letters and words when they are joined together. Using this technique to write before you loosen your script, and find your own style, is a sure way to guarantee good quality results consistently. And this is why, to me, they are so important! I will be honest - I don’t always write the letters by lifting the pen after each stroke, which you really ought to, and that happens mostly when I am either in a hurry, or when I want to achieve a more cursive look. However, I can wholeheartedly say that, because I practiced those basic strokes so much, and still do sometimes, I can write a bit quicker without lifting my pen and still achieve letter shapes that I’m proud of!

Using the strokes to write will ensure you get beautiful letters, independently of your tool of choice. You can achieve an amazing monoline style by using a bullet tip pen or glass pen, or you can create a beautiful piece in modern calligraphy by using a brush pen, paintbrush or dip pen. Using the strokes as a basis, and adding a special flair with the right tool, can be quite the combo.

Once you've practised the basic strokes you can join them into letters and words


About the author
Vera Silva is the face behind The Preposterous Pigeon, a regular contributor to Simply Lettering magazine and has always loved to write and draw letters. The pointed pen is Vera's favourite medium but she really enjoys learning new ways of using her lettering knowledge and mixing it with different crafts. Vera runs online brush lettering workshops where you can learn the basics for yourself.

Follow Vera on Instagram at @the_preposterous_pigeon and on Facebook here


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