The Scratchy Nib

7 ideas to up your modern calligraphy game this year

Learn CalligraphyJuhi ChitraComment

If you picked up hand lettering in 2017 and have stuck with your new awesome hobby until now—yay! you made it so far! Getting started is the hardest part but if you're not constantly pushing yourself, you'll soon find all your brush calligraphy pieces looking just “good enough”.

To that end, I always keep a handy supply of lettering inspiration in an Instagram Saved collection—things that I consciously want to try more of. Here are my best picks for modern calligraphy ideas. Some have an interesting style to be tried, some are part of recent lettering trends, each can help you bring a new aspect to your lettering.


1. Inconsistent stroke thickness

When you start learning calligraphy, most instructions (including me at my workshops) tell you to keep your strokes the same thickness and thinness—maintain equal contrast. But once you've learned the rules, have fun breaking them.

2. Try calligraphy with an ornamental nib

Ornamental nibs have big flat round tip that gives you thick strokes of perfectly uniform thickness. Because you can use them with inks, you can try all sorts of colours and blending.

3. Try calligraphy with fat round-tipped markers

These will also give you uniformly thick lines in calligraphy, which will result in different styles than brush tips. A different tool can sometimes force you to try out different lettering styles. You can use markers from Posca or Brustro or Zig.

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4.  Try writing on surfaces other than paper

The world can be your lettering canvas! You can do calligraphy on leaves, mirrors, shells, jars, coffee mugs and walls. While it depends on the surface you choose, you will likely need permanent markers to do this. And if you want your artwork to last longer, get some Mod Podge.

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5. Try embossing powders

This lettering technique has caught on recently and I'm hoping to give it a try in 2018. It looks so damn stunning. You'll need an embossing pen and embossing powder.

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6. Try black on black or use all the colours of the rainbow

Colour is one of the easiest ways to experiment in lettering. For multi-coloured pieces, you can use Camlin (cheap) or Ecoline (expensive) drawing inks or watercolours.

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7. Try digital calligraphy with an iPad Pro or graphic tablet

I bought an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil over a year ago and have spent countless hours practicing calligraphy, playing around and even creating final client work on the Procreate app. So much so that now I've created packs of custom calligraphy brushes (for the Procreate app) that simulate real-life calligraphy tools.

If you want to try a cheaper option (iPad aren't famous for being affordable), get a basic graphic tablet by Wacom or iBall.

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Crayola markers

Casual, informal styles