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how to create fake calligraphy (tutorial + practice worksheets)

I have always loved beautiful calligraphy.

calligraphy writing on envelopes(via)

Years ago, my former boss brought me back a calligraphy pen and ink from her trip to Italy. I was so excited to try it out and figured it would be super easy to turn my handwriting into calligraphy with just the flick of a nib (that’s the technical term for the metal pieces that go in the pens – not to be confused with my go-to treat, the Twizzlers nib).

It didn’t go so well.

Then I met Lindsay and figured since she’s a pro, surely she could give some pointers and it wouldn’t be too hard.

Again, the pen and ink proved too complicated for my impatient hands. Have you ever tried it? The ink sure does splatter!

I have yet to learn how to use a real calligraphy pen (although it is on my list of skills to master someday) and have just stuck with my tried-and-true fake calligraphy technique.

I thought I’d share it with you today. Here’s how to create fake calligraphy.

how to create fake calligraphy

Step One: Choose a good fine tip ink pen

good handwriting pens

Your choice of pen is mostly based personal preference, but I do think a good quality pen makes a difference in the quality of lettering. You don’t have to go super fancy; there are hundreds of great pen options at your local office store. I prefer an extra fine tip and a rolling ball head to make the pen glide easily. I like the pilot precise extra fine pen the best, but just bought the foray stylemark at the office store and it’s a good one too.

STEP TWO: Write any letter of the alphabet

fake calligraphy letter A

You can do this in pencil first if you prefer, or just freehand with a pen. Cursive works great, but so does regular printing.

STEP THREE: Fill in the downstrokes

downstrokes on letter A

Every time your pen stroke goes downward (as seen with the arrows above), you will draw a line right next to it and fill it in. This will give your letter the calligraphy look with some strokes being light and airy, and the downstrokes slightly thicker. A fancy calligraphy pen will do this automatically – as you press on the nib, the tines open and allow more ink to flow through, creating a thicker line. When you press lightly (as you do on all upstrokes) the tines stay closed and only a small amount of ink passes through. With this fake calligraphy method, we’re trying to achieve the same thick-thin stroke look, but without the fancy tools.

See how easy it is?

The beauty of fake calligraphy is you can do it on any lettering style, and you can vary the width of the downstoke as much or little as you wish.

Here’s another example.  I wrote the word love in cursive:

cursive love

then filled in the down strokes:

fake calligraphy love

Doesn’t it look fancy?  You can transform your handwriting to make it look like calligraphy very simply and easily with just a few extra pen strokes.

To help you out, I created a set of worksheets for practicing and perfecting your fake calligraphy.

free fake calligraphy practice worksheets

Enjoy and happy lettering!

109 thoughts on “how to create fake calligraphy (tutorial + practice worksheets)”

  1. Thank you for posting this fake calligraphy guide. I took a lettering class in college & just loved it. I created gifts for family & friends & then real life took over & I didn’t have time for calligraphy. That was 30 years ago & just recently my daughter got engaged & asked me to address all the invitations & save the date cards, around 120 envelopes. She sent me a book, practice paper & nibs. I have been so overwhelmed with the thought that I’m going to ruin this important aspect of her big day, that I haven’t even taken the nibs out of their package & today I found you, thank god, I can do this, you actually make it sound fun
    I don’t know what to say, except Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this tip! It makes my calligraphy look 100 times better! I really appreciate you sharing this tip with us!

  3. Pingback: The 5 Steps I Took to Teach Myself Calligraphy » MJ Creative Co.

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  6. This is my new favorite font! I adore it and am using it on my Thanksgiving cards. Thank you for posting it AND for your wonderful blogs/tuttorials! I discovered you on a fluke and am so glad I did.

    I didn’t read through all the comments so this may have already been mentioned and do apologize if this is a repeat… A portion of the top of the uppercase “S” is missing – just wondering if that’s purposeful or if it’s been “cut off” somehow.

  7. I know this post is an old one but I searched how “write pretty” and your post popped up! :-)
    I took a calligraphy class my senior year of high school. It was offered at my school as an elective that lasted the whole school year. How great is that? (Okay, so most of my classes that year were electives but that was the great thing about being a senior in 1996!).
    Anyway, we all had to practice over and over again using the nib. I despised that thing at first. It was challenging and the ink was messy. But I haven’t forgotten some of the styles and I was able to do fake calligraphy with a pen on my wedding invitation envelopes in 2005. I just pulled out one of my old sheets and went to work. I still have some of my calligraphy work from my senior year too. I just can’t get rid of it.

  8. thank you for this wonderful quick and easy tutorial, and the generous freebies.
    Will give this a try this evening. I love trying to master lettering fonts,

  9. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I used the fake calligraphy to make a sympathy card, and it turned out great! ^^

  10. can anyone please tell me how to download the beautiful font? i mean i have downloaded it but what do i do after that? this would be super helpful! can someone please tell me a step by step to using the font…

    any suggestions?

  11. love this! it’s so perky and sweet. i just downloaded to use for a blog header. love your archives! your seasonal prints are taking turns in my house this year. :)

  12. I realize this post is a couple years old so this may not get seen, but I wanted to say that your writing is beautiful. Since calligraphy means “beautiful writing” in Greek, I think you’ve accomplished your goal, even if it isn’t a classic script. No need for “fake” calligraphy!

  13. Hello All,
    While I love the “fancy” font and am eager to use it for a home project, I have been unsuccessful in dowloading it. I am attributing this error to my machine, not the user! Would anyone be willing to convert the font on my document to the fancy font? Please and thank you!

  14. Learned a couple of new things trying to get the “oh so fancy” font downloaded. First it is called “Fancy” and not oh so..although it is OH SO! Ha. Also, never knew about the symbols associated with the font set. Do many font’s come with symbols??? I’m obsessed with fonts and am always seeking them out. Appreciate you sharing.

  15. Love this!!! Is there any way to use the symbols in photoshop? Trying to design a birth announcement and would love to use this font for the name with the swooshes:)

  16. It looks nice and very fanciful, but for “crying out loud” how did you do it? I have to be able to see and replay again, and again to get it. Is there anyway you can do a video one day?

    Also what paper are you writing it on?

    I think your blog is or has become my favorite blog. It is just like my morning cup of coffee…I have to have it. I get very happy when I look in my inbox and see mail from you. You seem to be so authentic, genuine, and sincere. I like you a whole bunch :-)

  17. Ooh, I love this! It’s funny how sometimes the simplest tricks can create the most beautiful things. I used this for some DIY wall art, and now my living room looks gorgeous! Thanks for sharing. :)

    -Amanda
    DecorStyleFood on Pinterest and Twitter

  18. I had about 6 weeks of calligraphy instruction in 6th grade, and promptly forgot everything!

    I know at this point in life, I don’t have the time for “real” calligraphy, and your fake calligraphy tutorial is so clear and helpful. Thank you for posting!

  19. I’ve been doing this for years and years, just for fun! Nice little tutorial for those who haven’t discovered it yet. :)

  20. Go online and find a free tutorial on how to do calligraphy. It is so much easier than “faking it” and faster. And did I mention it is fun. All you have to master is how to hold the pen right and if you can do all these steps to fake it then you can learn how to hold the pen right.

  21. Love this! I am using this to address my wedding invitations,and I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten on it already! So worth the time and practice. It’s beautiful :)

  22. Simple and CUTE! I’m always looking for ways to embellish my correspondence (yes, I actually MAIL through the post office… it’s a dying art)! Thanks for the tutorial :D

  23. Hi Emily!

    I’m sure you hear ALL DAY how much everyone loves you and your creativity. Well, add me to the masses. :) I absolutely adore your ideas, ambition and all of your TUTORIALS!!! I love trying (ok, telling myself I’m going to try) your ideas.

    That being said, I purchased your wonderful Fancy Font and I adore it. I simply have 1 request: Pretty please…is it at all possible to fix the S? The top is cut off and it makes me CRAZY. Lol! I know, I know…it’s just a silly little thing but I find myself not using it for things if I can’t manually correct the missing piece. If you’ve already done this, or can, please email me the link or download.

    Thank You!!!
    <3 Gina

  24. I love fonts and when I tried to learn calligraphy I found it to be too regimented for me. I now wing it and do my own fake calligraphy too….so nice to find a kindred spirit!

  25. Hello,
    I purchased the pens and have been practicing because I have a basic knowledge after taking personal calligraphy lessons. I was wondering if you have some practice sheets that I could get from you?
    Bee

  26. You know, I began practicing the Old English alphabet (using nibs categorized as “brush”) when I was in grade school. Now I can knock it out anywhere-with calligraphy nibs, felt tip calligraphy markers or with a regular pen. Your down stroke technique is basically how I fake it too when my tool lacks a flat edge.
    Well, I wanted to share this. All calligraphy tools are not created equal. Not by a long shot. I have never met a self contained, cartridge or ink well draw, instrument that was worth a darn. Cost a fortune and never work for me. When I was a girl, I collected a lot of supplies from all over. (There used to be stationers.) Now I buy nips from my art supply store, and one at a time.

    So consider:
    Few calligraphers get it right all of the time.
    and
    the most important thing for doing calligraphy: , good pen tip
    the most important thing for doing professional calligraphy: extra blanks

  27. Hello, I just bought your font. I love it! But I dont know how to access all the extra symbols, doodles and words from microsoft word. Any help?

    1. i also want to know how to access the rest of the characters.. i can only figure out the regular characters like the question mark. please let us know how to access them. Thanks!

  28. The blogger who runs acharmingoccasionblog is getting tons of traction on a recent post of her that looks eerily similar to yours. Kind of odd that her post is almost identical! Just letting you know.

    1. Unfortunately this happens all too often – when someone’s work is copied and not linked to the original source. I certainly did not make up ‘fake calligraphy’ and so I can not take full credit for the technique, although I will say that this post is original to me. Thank you for the heads up and while it frustrates me, I realize that there is little I can do about it.

  29. Jess @ Spool and Spoon

    I just found your site through a Pin and I am obsessed. This article is the one that caught my eye and I can’t wait to try your method out. Now I need some time to go through your shop!!

  30. That is really pretty!! Just wanted to share that there are also calligraphy markers with chisel shaped points, to avoid ink splatters etc. (if you want to know more just google Sharpie calligraphic)

  31. Emily, Would you laugh if I told you that when I saw your post (via pinterest) I wanted to learn how to do fake calligraphy?

    Ink splatters, light boxes, acrylic spray, more ink splatters, hours multiplied by hours multiplied by hours of practice, preparation and trial and error. Hey, this is why I get paid the big bucks, right?

    My advice, purchase this font and support your local calligrapher when you need real calligraphy. xoxo, Katy

  32. wow, you brought back some memories: I used to do this in Architecture school when doodling (no PC back then) …thank you..I think I just may do it again and make myself an alphabet to use for my posters and paintings…love your site and your creative generosity …God bless!!

  33. I like Martha’s tutorials on copperplate calligraphy, and I also bought practice books on Amazon (they are like handwriting books, with little arrows and all). I taught myself so I could address my wedding invitations. Now I look at etsy and think of the hours I spent. I have never busted the skills out again, but I may for a b-day party someday. A light box is really helpful. The ink does spatter sometimes (for us amateurs) which is frustrating when you are on the zipcode… The paper shouldn’t have too much of a “tooth” (my envelopes soaked up the ink, so I actually sprayed them all with a light coat of matte finish clear coat). Anyhoo, that’s what I know.

  34. I purchased both of your fonts, but didn’t receive links to download them. I have my PayPal receipts and can forward them to you, if necessary. Thank-you!

  35. If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, you don’t have to wait to take a calligraphy class and learn. Just download my Learn Italic Calligraphy and get more than 50 stroke-by-stroke videos of every letter and number of the alphabet, with variations, in your pocket, ready to practice on paper whenever you have time.

  36. this is exactly how i do calligraphy!
    my hubby got me some calligraphy pens for christmas and i got SO frustrated trying to use them. it was awful.
    i still really want to learn how, but for now i use my cheater version :)
    i posted a tutorial similar to this on my blog a while ago…but yours is MUCH better.
    love your talent!
    {love} lauryn @ lovenotesbylauryn.blogspot.com

  37. Love this idea, I am a bit of a font freak I studied typography whilst training to be a graphic designer. I can only see one flaw in this, your handwriting has to be lovely in the first place, sadly mine is not, in the UK we aren’t taught to write cursive the same way as in the states :(

  38. LOVE THIS! Just tried it out and it worked amazingly!!! I’m using it for my boyfriend’s Valentine’s Day “coupon book” ;) I will link your page to my blog when I post my final product. Thank you for sharing!!!

  39. So here is some of my randomness…do you watch the television show Downton Abbey? The second season is on PBS now ( you can catch up online). The first season is on Netflix. It is a great show and I just thought you might like it.

  40. Thank you, Emily! You always share the best tips! I love beautiful handwriting and will try this for sure! Your fonts are all so fun, and fancy! :)

  41. I took a calligraphy class before my wedding then addressed 250 invitations. They were beautiful but would never do it again. People have even offered to pay me to do theirs. Too painful…hand, back, eyes, head….
    Your version is really pretty.

    .

  42. Oh, I LOVE this! Thanks so much for creating and sharing. I’m using this font for party labeling at my daughter’s 1st birthday celebration. Your creativity and beautiful spirit are such an inspiration.

  43. Fantastic – thank you! I love calligraphy too, and while I’m okay with the calligraphy pen, I appreciate the tips on how to fake it. I never knew about how to highlight the downward strokes!

  44. I purchased the other font collection from Emily and was unable to use the symbols in Microsoft Word {I have a mac}. Before I purchase this font, I want to make sure the symbols in this collection will work with my mac. Does anyone know if they do? Thanks!

    -Taylor

    1. I will post a tutorial on Monday for inserting symbols using a mac … it is done much the same as on a PC in word. You will need to click INSERT > SYMBOL > ADVANCED SYMBOL. Then be sure to select the correct font and the symbols will appear in the grid. Click on the symbol you would like and click insert.

      In Adobe Illustrator, open the Gylph panel and the extra characters will show up.

  45. Thank you for being so very generous with all your beautiful talents. I can’t wait to go get the right pens to start practicing ‘fake calligraphy’!! Your posts in my email are becoming a daily highlight. God bless you.

  46. Great idea!! I had to share a link to this post on my Facebook photography page – great idea for all of my brides who want to address their own wedding invitations ; ) Thanks for all the fun tips!!! I love your blog and look forward to your updates! Enjoy the day!!

  47. Just purchased this “fancy” font…. love it! Thank you for making it available! I also purchased the “emily” font a while back and love that, too!

    Like Nancy I had a hard time finding the special symbols/words and I’m using a mac. But thanks to your response I was able to pull them up easily!

    However, “with, from, the” are not showing up under symbols and also a few of the swirls. Is there another place I can find them or should they be showing up in this same spot?

    Thanks so much!

  48. Love the tutorial…thank you so much! You creativity is inspiring. I’d love to hear more about how you create your own custom fonts.

  49. This is awesome. But what I really want to know simply for curiosity sake – HOW IN THE WORLD DO PEOPLE CREATE FONTS?! I’ve always wondered.

  50. I will be give this a try. Thanks so much for the tips I have always want to be able to do this. Off to get your front….If I can’t write I can at least type.
    Thank You!

  51. Hi Emily,
    I love your blog and I love your generous and creative heart. I just purchased and downloaded the calligraphy font, but it seems that the only thing that downloaded were the upper and lower case letters, but not all of the fun squiggles, etc. I had downloaded another font from you some months back and the same thing happened. What do I need to do to fix this? Thanks so much!

    1. Are you using a mac? If you are typing in word, you can insert a symbol by clicking INSERT then SYMBOL then ADVANCED SYMBOLS. Then just change the font to be the fancy font and the grid of available symbols will show. Then you can insert the design you’d like. Please let me know if this doesn’t work or you need extra help … I created a short tutorial on how to insert symbols here {https://jonesdesigncompany.com/create/my-handwriting-font/} but it was on a pc. Should I create a tutorial for a mac?

        1. I’ll see what I can do. It looks like the extra symbols are not showing up in the symbol grid, so I’ll do a little more research to figure out where they are hidden. If anyone discovers where they are first, please let us know!

      1. Your new font is sooo Fancy! :) I love the Emily font and I can not wait until I get home to my computer to download this new one! I am getting married soon and I definitely want to try out your calligraphy technique on some of my thank you letters.

      2. How great is this! Thank you so much for the tips. I remember when my mom purchased a little calligraphy kit for me for Christmas one year. I was writing on anything I could get my hands on! I’ve always wanted to relearn some of it so I could have pretty gift tags, etc. this. Is perfect for me, and I’m pinning this ASAP.

      3. Emily,
        This is beautiful! I do hand lettering and have taught calligraphy to children. Have you tried the felt tipped pens? That is what I use when working with children. Also, the cartridge pens don’t spatter as bad as the “real deal” ones. Of course, you don’t get the wonderful choice of colors with the felt tipped and cartridge pens, but they are easier to handle. I just may have to buy your lovely font for the computer! something to look forward to for the weekend!

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