Archives

Welcome to the archives. Here are all the past blog posts for you to browse through. If you prefer a text only list, please scroll down to the bottom.

The right amount of pressure on the nib

The question of applying pressure on calligraphy nibs comes up a lot, especially beginners have a hard time figuring this out. Don't worry, you can't break the nib until you really, really try. And you should actually press down a bit to make these thick-thin...

Book review: Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber-Thorpe

This popular book is the starting point for a lot of modern calligraphy enthusiasts. It provides a wealth of inspiration for letterforms and projects to try out. Yet I would only recommend it to students who already had some kind of basic calligraphy training. Read on...

Video: Ink flow problems

In today's video I show different factors that contribute to ink flow problems. Here's the video: https://youtu.be/Hb5Tsr8PqFw Reasons for ink flow problems can be: - not preparing the nib - having too much ink on the nib - having too little ink on the nib - wrong...

Calligraphy and brush lettering tips for left-handers

Left-handers often have the challenge of needing to make their writing techniques fit the rules and requirements of calligraphic writing. In this post, I want to compile tips and general guidelines for left-handers when it comes to calligraphy. Different hand...

Different calligraphy nibs in action

Pointed pen nibs come in many varieties, and it’s often a bit difficult to choose between them. Today you’ll get a demonstration of my most favorite nibs and what I like to use them for. I cover the following nibs: Nikko G Zebra G Brause Steno/361 Brause EF 66 Brause...

Book review: Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy by Eleanor Winters

This is a book review of an absolute classic in the calligraphy world. If you’re interested in learning classic Copperplate or even just looking for some good foundational knowledge, this is a good book to have in your shelf. Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy Let me...

Traveling with art and calligraphy supplies

Recently, I’ve been on the road a lot, and that meant finding a way to pack at least a few art supplies for each trip. I’ve developed a few packing techniques that I’ll share with you today. Usually when I pack for a trip, I try to think of one or two techniques I...

Tombow brush pens and pencils review

Today I’m going to review some art supplies by the Japanese art brand Tombow. If you’re into brush lettering, you maybe already know the Tombow ABT brush pen with its big tip. The brand also carries a smaller brush pen as well as some pencils. Tombow ABT brush pen...

What to learn first: brush lettering or pointed pen calligraphy?

I’m getting this question a lot, so I wanted to address the differences and similarities of the two, and collect facts to help you decide which technique to learn. The differences - why brush lettering is really brush pen calligraphy Brush lettering and pointed pen...

Survey results, new directions for the blog, new courses

First off a a big thank you to everyone who took the time to respond and type their answers in the survey I posted last week. I really, really appreciate you! I was honestly a bit overwhelmed, as there were almost 500 individual responses. I didn’t really have...

Be a part of what this blog looks like – Reader Survey 2017

As I’m planning what to write about in this space, I’m always seeking a balance between what you, my readers, want to know more about and what I can tell interesting stories about. I’ve created a short reader survey that will help me create better blog posts for you,...

Why I keep a daily sketchbook and why I don’t share it online

Today I share some details about my artmaking routine and why I don’t share everything I create, even if I think it’s good work. I also talk about what is necessary to get in the mood for artmaking (and calligraphy practice even more so). Making art is hard Making art...

My Favourite Tools right now (February 2017)

I wanted to share a few of my currently favorite lettering and drawing tools - either new discoveries or tools I’ve had for a while and have rediscovered. Zebra G nib This wonderful nib is one of the standard supplies I recommend for beginners, and actually a lot of...

A look at the basic strokes

Today I want to take a look at all the basic strokes you need to construct your lower case letters. If you master these you’ll be equipped to write beautiful, well-formed letters, which is the foundation for good calligraphy. Like I already mentioned last week, it is...

The importance of learning the basics of modern calligraphy

Do you sometimes get frustrated with your progress when learning modern calligraphy? This might be because you’re not following one important step, that’s learning the basic strokes. Today I want to embark on a little series to show you the importance of learning the...

From my desk – video demo and changes in 2017

One of my goals this year is to share more of my work - actual projects that I have on my desk, and to share insights and progress from these. I hope you enjoy this departure from strictly educational posts about calligraphy all the time, to more personal insights and...

New calligraphy workbooks: Style no. 1 & Style No. 2

Since my free worksheets are such a popular resource for learning modern calligraphy, I’ve decided to create an extended premium version for those of you who want more detailed instructions and guidance. The workbooks are perfect for anyone who's just getting started...

How I organize my art and calligraphy supplies

We all know that there is such a thing as creative chaos - when I’m in the middle of working on a piece, I don’t care about the order of things, I try to keep the ideas flowing, and this works best by having all the necessary tools right beside me. This quickly...

How to make your own pomegranate ink

After making walnut ink last year I wanted to do something different - mainly because I still have several liters of walnut ink…so I started researching on how to make iron gall ink. Turns out you’ll need oak galls, which I couldn’t find in nature around here. I’m not...

How and when to use a lightbox

When creating a calligraphy or a lettering piece, I frequently use a lightbox. It’s quite the handy tool when you can use it. Today I’m going to explain how and when I use my lightbox. For a lot of calligraphers and lettering artists using a lightbox is part of their...

New resources section in the blog

Today will be a post about the blog itself: There will be a new section for all the resources I offer to you on the blog - PDF worksheets, guidesheets, a list of my favourite tools, and a link to the blog archive. With the blog growing and things getting more and more...

7 Places to Find Inspiration (that are not the Internet)

Today I want to share 7 places to find inspiration for your creative pursuits. It can be a bit difficult to think of things or places that inspire you when you’re lost in daily life, but often it’s the little experiences, places or escapes that can fuel you again and...

Brush Pen Lettering – Alphabet Worksheet Style No. 1

Continuing from last week’s basic intro on how to write with the Tombow brush pen, today I have a free resource for you: the alphabet worksheet for my free style no. 1 - one of my most popular pointed pen calligraphy worksheets adapted to work with a big brush pen....

Brush Pen Lettering – Writing with the Tombow brush pen

Brush lettering, or brush calligraphy, is very similar to pointed pen calligraphy. The principles of letter construction are essentially the same. I’ve written a bit about different brush pens quite a while ago, but I realized I haven’t shown the basic strokes and...

9 ways to use your calligraphy skills

Here are some ideas on how you can use your calligraphy skills for different projects. 1. Letters & Envelopes This is the absolute classic and I can’t think of a better application of calligraphy than envelope addressing. It’ll make someone happy before they even...

How to clean a nib after use, Calligraphy Essentials Ep. 010

Today I show you how to clean a nib after use.   Episode Takeaways: When you’re finished with your practice for the day, or if you take a break of a few minutes, you should clean your nib. Otherwise the ink will dry on the nib, form a crust and even rust after a...

Am I creative enough for calligraphy?

While some people seemingly don’t have a problem coming up with new, creative work and stunning writing, others feel stuck and even intimidated from the very beginning, and often wonder if they’re creative at all. Well, this is for you. I’m here to tell you - no...

How to dip in a nib, Calligraphy Essentials Ep. 009

Today I show you how to dip in your nib in the right way   Episode Takeaways: In calligraphy you have to dip in your nib every few letters. Make sure your ink jar stands somewhere where you don’t knock it over accidentally, and where you can reach it with ease....

The difference between Calligraphy, Lettering, and Type Design

There is a lot of confusion about these terms and what they encompass. Knowing the differences can help you grasp a deeper understanding of typographic work, of which calligraphy is just a part. Calligraphy Calligraphy is essentially the art of „beautiful writing“...

How to prepare a nib, Calligraphy Essentials Ep. 008

Today I show you how to prepare your nib before using it for the first time.   Episode Takeaways: You’ll have to prepare a new nib before using it: the surface of a factory new nib comes with a thin coating, and that means the ink will form puddles and make blobs...

Tools for the intermediate calligrapher

If you’ve spent a little bit of time with calligraphic practice, you may want to expand your tool kit to try out new things. Let me show you some of the tools that I find useful and use on a daily basis. Trying out a new tool can bring a gust of fresh air into your...

3 Essential Tools for Getting Started with Calligraphy Practice

Lately, I get a lot of questions from readers who have just begun their calligraphy journey and want to know all about the essentials tools. Well, I’ve written about that here and here, but since a lot of new reader come to this blog every week, it can’t hurt to give...

How to position your Paper, Calligraphy Essentials Ep. 007

Today I show you how to position your paper in the right way so that you can practice comfortably.   Episode Takeaways: First off, you should have enough room around yourself to move your arms and hands freely Then you position your paper on the surface. In fact,...

Getting Your Ideas Onto Paper

Do you often find yourself stuck right at the beginning, staring at the blank page and not sure how to get any idea down there? Well, you’re not alone. Let me tell you what to do when you don’t feel confident about your ideas, or don’t know how to bring an idea from...

What to do When the Ink is Bleeding, Calligraphy Essentials Ep. 006

Today I show you what it looks like when ink is bleeding into the paper and what you can do to prevent it. Episode Takeaways: There are different possibilities that can make ink bleed on paper: It could be a problem with the paper. Don't use usual printer paper, it's...

Getting Nibs started, Calligraphy Essentials Ep. 005

In this video, I talk about how to get certain nibs started that may be difficult to write with. Episode Takeaways: Some nibs, like the Brause Rose or the Brause EF66 are known for being a bit difficult when it comes to getting them to write. When the nib is loaded...

How to Develop Different Writing Styles

Many aspiring calligraphers are struggling with developing and differentiating their style. They are working in their basic style, but just don’t know how to proceed when developing styles of their own, or find it difficult to switch between styles. Here are a few...

Calligraphy Essentials Ep. 004: The Right Amount of Pressure

In this video, I talk about how much pressure you should apply on your nib. Episode Takeaways: Start with a more rigid nib. It’s more likely that you write through your paper than destroy a Nikko G for example. If you apply to much pressure, your nib will spring:...

Letting Go of Your Perfectionism

A lot of people write me they are are having a hard time embracing their mistakes and letting go of their perfectionist mindset - and how this hinders their calligraphy. Today I want you to give some thoughts about how perfectionism relates to precision, how to spot...

Calligraphy Essentials Ep. 003: Up and Downstrokes

In this episode, I'll show you how to practice upstrokes and downstrokes correctly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sJ65y9hJ1k Episode Takeaways: The pointed nib has flexible tines, so whenever you apply pressure, the tines will spread apart and more ink will flow...

Creating a Good Layout For Your Calligraphy

When you’ve mastered the basics you’ll want to write out a quote or a sentence on a piece of paper. It’ll look more harmonious when you pay attention to the basics I’ll show you in this post. You’ll start with your pencil, first you’ll give some thought as to how the...

Taking Action: How you get from Learning to Doing

Often we are presented with so many options to learn new details and techniques (even when only looking at the „limited“ field that is calligraphy) that that we forget to put this information to use one step at a time. If you sometimes feel overwhelmed with your...

How to Add Color Gradients to Your Calligraphy with Different Inks

Creating a calligraphy piece in multiple colors by using different inks can look quite lovely: you’ll get a color gradient or an „ombre effect“ as it’s often called. Today I’ll show you how to create such a gradient effect. Steps to Create a Calligraphy with a Color...

A Beginner’s Guide to Brush Pen Lettering

Brush Pen Lettering follows the same principles as pointed nib calligraphy, so you’ll be in charted territory if you have any experience with calligraphy. But even if you don’t - it’s a super easy technique and you can achieve beautiful results with it in no time. Use...

Troubleshooting Calligraphy

Learning something new never goes without setbacks, be it calligraphy or something else. And that’s fine, those little things show us where we have to pay more attention. Also, everyone experiences troubles with their writing tools from time to time. In fact, this...

What to Do When You Mess up Your Calligraphy Piece

So you’re in the process of creating a special calligraphy, let’s say a card or a long poem, and you’re down to the last line of text…and you mess up. Ink splatters all over your piece. What do you do? Read what I have in store for you. Strategies to Deal with...

Setting up Your Workspace for Calligraphy

A workspace set up in a practical way is one of the requirements for good calligraphy. Plus it’s much more fun to write in a tidy environment that’s set up to suit your needs. Today I’ll share how you should set up your workspace and why. Workspace Basics The first...

Free Practice Sheets for different Calligraphic Styles

I’ve recently redesigned all of my calligraphy practice sheets, so this is my holiday present for all of you. Simply choose your favorite alphabet and get started with pen and ink! I’ve assembled these worksheets for anyone who wants to get started with modern...

Envelope Calligraphy Tutorial

For a beautiful, hand-calligraphed envelope you don’t need a lot of calligraphy skills. I’ll show you how to use simple gel pens to get that calligraphic look. That way writing (and getting) letters is really fun! What you need: Envelopes 2 metallic gel pens pencil,...

The Best Pointed Nibs for Modern Calligraphy

I often get the question how the various pointed nibs differ from each other und which nibs is suited for which calligraphic application. There are indeed some differences between pointed nibs. I’ll teach you some basics about pointed nibs and what to look for in a...

Selfmade Oblique Holder for Calligraphy

If you don’t have access to buying a hand-friendly oblique holder or simply want to get crafty, here’s the solution for you: a step-by-step guide to assemble your own oblique pen holder. Oblique holders are for writing slanted scripts. They ease writing by changing...

Improve your Calligraphy by Changing the Way you Practice

Today I want to write about practice. Everyone who writes calligraphy knows that it is indeed an ongoing practice, not just a theory you have know, it has to be practiced continuously so that you keep your level or get better. This is actually true for a lot of...

Modern Calligraphy Starter Kit

I get a lot of questions what the ultimate starter kit for calligraphy is, which supplies one should buy and where to get them. Premade calligraphy kits often come with weird choices for nibs (not beginner-friendly) and bad paper, or cheap ink. Please don’t buy those,...

Writing Calligraphy with Gold or Silver ink

If you want to make your calligraphy shine and sparkle für a special occasion, try gold or silver ink. I’ll explain which ink you can choose for calligraphy in gold and silver and how to use it. General rules for calligraphy in Gold and Silver Words written in gold...

Writing with an Oblique Holder

Writing with an oblique pen holder can be a bit intimidating at first because of the very strange look of this writing instrument. But don’t fear this, it’s easier than you think and actually very useful for certain calligraphy styles. Writing practice with an oblique...

Approaching Long Texts – Tips for your Calligraphic practice

Long texts in calligraphy look difficult, but with enough preparation you can succeed fairly easy with a certain amount of concentration. I’ll show you what to keep in mind when approaching longer texts. Long texts - Suited for Poems or Wedding Vows At some point in...

How to Create Faux Calligraphy

Faux calligraphy or „fake“ calligraphy is a great way to achieve the visual effects of modern calligraphy if you’re not accustomed to the pointed nib pen yet or if you want to write on materials that are not suited for nibs. I’ll show you this easy to learn technique...

How to make your own Walnut Ink

If you gather walnut husks in autumn, you can make your own walnut ink for calligraphy. This ink has a beautiful gold-brown color and you can write very fine lines with it. Today I’ll show you a recipe for making your own walnut ink. Of course you’ll need an actual...

Tutorial: Light on Dark Calligraphy Greeting Card

A black card with white calligraphy on it looks very elegant. In the last post I showed you how to mix your own white ink, today I’ll show you how to use it in this tutorial for a light on dark calligraphy greeting card. You’ll need black cardboard, a pencil, a ruler,...

Where to get calligraphy supplies

I’ll share the places where I shop for supplies and what I recommend them for. Please note that I’m based in Germany, so this post is more German/Europe-centered. I'm not affiliated with any of these shops, just sharing my experiences. johnnealbooks.com One of the big...

Calligraphy – Flourishing Techniques

Flourishes and embellishments can give calligraphic writing further elegance and festiveness. Today I’ll tell you how to create flourishes and what things you should pay attention to. I’ve also created a PDF practice guide for you to print out. Different Places for...

Different Kinds of Calligraphy Nibs

There’s a vast majority of different nib types which are used for different calligraphic purposes and writing stiles. In this post, I’ll show you the different nibs and explain what they’re used for. 1. Pointed nibs Pointed nibs are used for script, for example the...

Writing a Quote with Watercolor Calligraphy – a Tutorial

Today I’ll show you how to write a card with a quote in calligraphy with watercolors. With Watercolor you can add really a beautiful rainbow effect to your writing. All you need are a few watercolors, a nib and a pen holder, a small brush and a light box. Plus, of...

Calligraphy with Watercolor

In the last post I already mentioned how you can create calligraphy in color. Calligraphy with watercolors is just as simple, the only difference is that it appears a lot more translucent, which goes very well with calligraphic writing. Writing with watercolor...

Which papers are good for modern calligraphy?

As with nibs, the choice of papers is almost overwhelming when you first look at it. In fact there are relatively few papers that are suitable for calligraphy. I'll talk you through them in the following post. Smooth paper works best No matter how how heavy your paper...

Which inks can you use for calligraphy?

In this blog post I'll talk about different inks and which ones are best for certain calligraphic uses. The differences between inks Usually you associate a pen holder with an inkwell. In fact ink has been made and used by man for 5000 years. The Latin word tincta can...

How often should you practice calligraphy?

I've collected some general rules for practicing calligraphy, and how you'll get better results in no time from your practice. Practice makes perfect Everyone knows that saying - practice makes perfect. I think there's a second part missing to that saying, and that's:...

6 Reasons to Learn Calligraphy

Apart from saying "I really want to do learn calligraphy, it sounds fun" here are a few reasons to get you motivated. Calligraphy has an relaxing effect To me it feels like meditation. It can be very calming to sit down with a pot of tea, your favorite music, your...

A Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy

If you want to learn modern calligraphy, but have no idea how to get started, then you've come to the right place. I'll guide you through all the necessary steps to learn calligraphy: choosing nibs and paper, setting up your workspace, and the best practicing routine....