Somehow, September has become Brush Pen Calligraphy 101 month! Which is pretty cool. So far, we’ve covered supplies and the 8 basic strokes, plus some big mistakes to avoid, so today, it’s time to start actually drawing some letters and learn the brush pen calligraphy alphabet.
So quick refresher. Lettering is not the same as cursive. You don’t join up the whole thing.
Instead, you draw individual strokes to form letters, which then form words. Here, we’ll break down each letter into their strokes.
If you’re looking for a structured way to practice your brush pen calligraphy alphabet, I recommend following the order I laid out here. Master each set of letters before moving on to the next. I grouped them starting with letters that only use one basic stroke first, before moving on to those that have more than one. This way, you can build on what you learn.
The underturn is my favourite place to start because it’s possibly the only stroke that can form so many letters by itself.
The #1 tip to remember for underturn letters is to lift as you turn BUT you may want to make variations. Take for example letters like V and W — the ’turn’ is pretty pointy, so you could start lifting earlier to make the turns sharper!
Ascending Stem Loop Letters
Next up, letters that primarily use the ascending stem loop and no other basic strokes. The ascending stem loop is basically the letter L in lowercase. To connect it, you’ll have to turn it the end of the stroke into an underturn stroke, but that’s about it!
It is pretty similar to a capital I, but I like to make that loop bigger — little variations to differentiate the letters.
With B and K, you need to get creative with forming the other half of the letter. Everyone has their own style to it. The only ‘rule’ (which you are free to break) is to press down on the downstrokes.
The oval stroke is one of the last ones covered in the Brush Up Basics challenge, but it is so commonly used that I had to introduce its letters first.
Letters like lowercase A and D just need an underturn stroke placed beside an oval. Cs and Es are pretty much open ovals, while Os and a capital Q involves a bit more looping after you close up the oval!
Descending Stem Loop Letters
Here’s where things get complicated! So far, it’s all been pretty straight forward — using the basic strokes — and you can keep doing that for some of these letters like Ys, Js and a lowercase G.
Other letters though, require a bit of variation and creativity, though you can still see where the basic strokes come into play. Take for example the letter P: The first stroke is a simple downstroke. The second stroke though, is a bit like an overturn stroke that twists into a descending stem loop — only there is no stem!
This set of letters took me ages to get right simply because they were such a headache!
Similarly, these curve letters are a mixed bag. Lowercase H is a downstroke or ascending loop —depending on which you prefer — then a compound curve. Ms and Ns, are simply a combination of the turn/ curve basic strokes!
What about the rest? Again, they need variation and creativity. I think of lowercase R in classic cursive (#1) as an aborted underturn stroke, plus a full one, while the loopy one (#2) is just a skinny loop and an underturn stroke.
And lastly, the oddballs. Phew! We finally got here! These letters aren’t truly similar to any basic strokes, so I lumped them all together. As you may have noticed, they are all uppercase letters too. I don’t use these much in lettering, so I tend to wing it with these.
And there you have it, your alphabet. For easy reference, I created a printable of these letters. You can print it out, stick it on your wall or into your planner, and check against it.
How does your brush pen calligraphy alphabet look?
Are they similar to mine or really different? Tag me on Instagram (@lyssycreates) — I’d love to see it!