When you first start practicing modern calligraphy, it’s so easy to try and write like a calligrapher you admire. And that’s OK when you’re starting out! You need some kind of example right? Plus the thing is, you’ll never been able to 100% create letters like another person. Which is even better because that makes your lettering unique to you. Trust me, being unique is a good thing. However there are some exercises that help you hone in on your personal style.
Different Angles & Baselines
Easiest way to switch things up, see what you like, what feels natural to you or try something you’ve never thought of? Mix up your baselines and angles. I naturally write at a slight slant. Not quite the traditional 55 degrees of traditional copperplate, but not straight up and down. So the first thing I do when I want to try something new is play with angles.
My favorite way to mix something up is to play with my baselines. Over or under, super exaggerated or not. When you extend your letters even lower than normal or maybe even extend letters that don’t “normally” go below the baseline (and I say normal in quotes because this is modern calligraphy and there are no hard rules), you create “bounce” calligraphy. You’ve now created a fun and playful script.
Add a wider space between letters and you’ve created something that seems to have more movement or flow. Combine a few of these exercises – slant, bounce, changing width – and you may have just discovered a new style.
Another way to develop your style is to play around with variations of the same letter. Again, because modern calligraphy has no set rules, there’s more than one way to write a letter. Play around with what you like, what looks aesthetically pleasing to you. It’s another way to bring your uniqueness to your personal style.
Try out different ascending and descending heights. Maybe change up the entrance stroke. Flourish your letter a bit more. A part of your letter may go over or under the x-height when it typically wouldn’t in a more traditional script.
A few of my personal and favorite letter variations are above. I like to keep a small notebook on hand in case I see a letter style I want to try out in the future. This is also helpful for when you’re feeling stuck and need some inspiration.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve tried any of these exercises. Till next time friends!
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