Do you have a modern calligraphy book wish list like me? Even if you have gone to in-person classes or have taught yourself modern calligraphy, it’s always good to have a few good books to refer to whenever you need help. Do take note though, that these books are all about pointed pen modern calligraphy and NOT brush lettering. I’ll have a roundup on that soon!
Here are some common things that you need a modern calligraphy book for, from my experience:
GETTING STARTED IN MODERN CALLIGRAPHY Have you forgotten how to prepare your tools? Do you need help on how to write your strokes? A book for beginners will more often than not have an overview of how to get started.
FINDING ALTERNATIVE WAYS OF WRITING A LETTER This is one of the reasons why you need a book—for the exemplars! Some books have multiple alphabet guides that you can replicate when you’re stuck in a rut.
GETTING INSPIRATION FOR CALLIGRAPHY PROJECTS I adore calligraphy books that have beautiful pictures and instructional how-to’s. Aside from teaching a beginner how to write in modern calligraphy, a good book also gives inspiration on how to use the newly-learned craft!
Here’s a list of books on modern calligraphy that helped me get started, peppered with some that are high on my wish list. You might see that there are a couple of books by Molly Suber Thorpe, because I just absolutely love how she shares calligraphy in her book. This list is not sponsored and is purely my honest opinion. Enjoy!
It’s exactly seven days before Christmas, and I’m giving away a free hand-lettered printable wall art with all the holiday feels. We surely need it here as it has always been warm and humid all year round! I’m sure you’ve already decorated your living room with holiday decorations, but here’s a free printable for that icing on the cake.
This year has been an amazing ride, and calligraphy has always been a highlight. I’ve learned Spencerian script this year from Mike Ward and Master Penman Michael Sull, and I’m looking forward to another year of learning. At the same time, I’ve shared my love for contemporary script with a lot of amazing people here in Singapore and that will definitely continue on to the next year.
My kids have grown and I’ve grown with them as well. Husband and I couldn’t be happier just staring at them (if you’re a parent, you’d know what I mean).
Thanks for hanging around the Happy Hands Project! I’ve had readers and followers who have been in this calligraphy journey with me for years, and all I can say is thank you! So here is the free holiday printable I’ve promised. As always, this is free for personal use and is not for sale and may not be redistributed. Link backs are welcome and feel free to share via the link to this post. Ciao!
December is a month of giving, most specially because the holidays are just around the corner. This year, December’s pretty special, because I made a hand lettering piece that is now up for auction for Pay Ink Forward 2018, an annual art exhibition where artists unite to help paediatric cancer patients.
This event was set up by Cancervants PH, an organisation of child cancer awareness advocates in the Philippines.
I can be pretty emotional when it comes to the big C, with my mom being a breast cancer survivor herself. I’ve seen firsthand how it was like to take care of a family member undergoing chemotherapy. Imagine how more challenging it will be if it is children who are inflicted, and medical costs are too high.
I believe that if you are thinking of doing a good deed or two this holiday season, this could be one of the best investments you can make.
Bidding is open on Instagram for this original hand-lettered piece and will end on 5 December 2018 at 11am (GMT+8). Starting bid is PhP1200 / US$23. I honestly think that for an original artwork, this is definitely a steal! Bid in the comments section with the price and use the code #G18CSG17. For the winning bidder outside the Philippines, shipping will be arranged and will be paid for by the bidder.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to share the love!
Halloween is coming! Here’s a free download for you, my lovely readers—5 wicked Photoshop brushes for Halloween, plus 2 bonus ones to make your artwork more interesting. These are hand-lettered words converted into high quality Photoshop brushes.
You can use these brushes as overlays for your digital photos. You can use these on your blog post and Instagram photos, Halloween party invites, Halloween greeting cards, or as gift tags to go along with some hostess gifts. Calligraphy and lettering makes everything look more personal, so how about adding these hand-lettered brushes onto your design?
Installing the Photoshop brushes in your computer is easy-peasy. On a Mac, I just double click the .abr file or drag it into Photoshop, and it’s installed. More detailed instructions can be found on this post on Creative Market.
Can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with! As with everything that’s on the house, this Photoshop brush set is free for personal use and may not be distributed or sold. If you’d wish to share these goodies (thank you!), just link back to this blog post.
Hello brush lettering beginners! How do you make your brush lettering pieces unique? You have mastered the technique of using the brush pen and you’re even able to write beautiful lettering with it. The next step now is to make your brush lettering unique and different from your usual pieces.
I started out just writing in straight lines. I would centralize the words then that’s it. That’s what beginners normally do. But how do you make your brush lettering unique? Here are 3 ways that I use to give my pieces a bit more oomph:
FORM A CURVE
Sketch some curves lightly on your paper so you can plan where to place your words. Keep the hierarchy in mind—the most important word should be biggest to create more impact. Write your words in a slight curve to make it more interesting. Make the curve a bit wide for easier readability. Steeper curves might be more difficult to write on and read.
Draw your guidelines either freehand or with a ruler. You can position all your words in the middle or stagger them slightly. The most important thing is to pack your words close enough so you don’t create big gaps that would be noticeable. Fill those negative spaces!
BOUNCE YOUR LETTERS
If you haven’t tried this before, it may seem tricky because you would need to create a balance even when the letters do not touch the baseline. Draw your straight lines first. These will serve as a guide so you will still have letters that touch the baseline. The first letter of the word should touch the line first, then try raising and lowering the next few letters. Stop every so often to check the balance. If your letters seem to be going up, lower the next letter.
Bouncing letters requires some getting used to, but it’s a fun way to make your usual brush lettering style into something different.
There are endless styles that can make your brush lettering even more unique, so I’ll make sure to compile a new set next time. Now it’s time to practice! Looking for brush pen recommendations? You can hop here to see my favourite pens.
I have a free download for all you hustlers out there. I haven’t done a desktop wallpaper freebie in a while, and I think it’s high time to give one away! It’s time to give our desktops a makeover and at the same time have a reminder in plain sight to slay the day. Oh, and eat and love too, of course.
Have you thought about taking online classes to learn lettering, calligraphy or any other creative skill? I’ve rounded up 4 of my favourite online creative classes that I’m sure will kickstart your journey on lettering or calligraphy!
I’m excited to let you guys know that Happy Hands Project has partnered with Skillshare to bring you 2 MONTHS OF FREE PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP! With a premium membership, you can stream more than 18,000 online classes on subjects like design, business, and tech. What I like most about Skillshare is that students are learning alongside more than 3 MILLION members who are as passionate as we are. Members can share their work, give each other feedback and share insights and learnings through group discussions. And I’m telling ya, it could be a pretty great experience.
Use the gift code HAPPYHANDS2 when you register to get 2 months of free premium membership.
I have taken some classes on Skillshare when I was starting out with modern calligraphy. Each class has a project to be completed at the end of the course which makes it exciting. You’d want to learn as much to be able to get that project done the right way.
After learning the basics of modern calligraphy, it’s time to make something digital out of them! Digitized calligraphy can be used in print and online in the form of logotypes, advertising, title treatments, printed stationery, and beyond. In this course Molly will walk you through four steps—sketching, flourishing, inking and finally, digitising.
The distinct Mary Kate style will be taught by her in this beginners’ class. In this 2-hour class, Mary Kate reveals the first steps of hand lettering and shares how to concept, design, and letter phrases for any use—a poster, magazine, t-shirt, or anything else you might imagine. There are very useful downloadable resources, too, which will help you in conceptualizing your very first lettering piece.
I’ve been following Martina’s lettering work for a few years now. This class is all about different lettering techniques and styles and is perfect for beginners or advanced students of lettering that want to expand their stylistic palette when drawing letters.
If you’re interested in any or all of these classes, it’s definitely worth it to check out Skillshare. Skillshare’s giving away a free trial to my lovely readers. Just sign up using my link, or use the code HAPPYHANDS2 and you’ll get 2 months of unlimited online classes for free. No commitments and you could cancel anytime.
I have attended a few creative workshops in the past 5 years, and they have been nothing but amazing. I tend to be picky and only attend classes that are of my interest, so that means it’s mostly calligraphy, and these classes have taught me so much more than what I can teach myself in a year.
I have taught myself creative or modern pointed pen calligraphy, but what really got me going was after I attended Maybelle Imasa‘s class here in Singapore. I’m all for self-study, but nothing beats an in-person workshop, based on my experience. Here, I have put together 6 reasons why going to an in-person workshop is good for you.
1 :: It speeds up the learning process
It took me 2 years to teach myself pointed pen calligraphy. If only there were workshops here in Singapore back in 2012, it would have taken me just a few months! I had Eleanor Winters’ Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy book for ages, and I could just follow the instructions if I allowed myself to learn from the book. But when she came here in 2014 and taught our class how to write the strokes, I had so much insight that I could not wait to get home to practice.
Same thing with Spencerian. This is a hand that I’ve been wanting to learn for years. I bought the Spencerian Workbooks by Platt Rogers Spencer. I’ve had it for a year and have only begun on the first workbook (it had 5). I could not even master the entrance strokes.
Last month, I attended a 2-day beginning Spencerian class with calligrapher Michael Ward. After the class plus weeks of practice, I can already write monoline Spencerian in lower case (while using his exemplar as a guide). It would have taken me years if I depended on my time management skills and the workbooks.
2 :: Someone points your mistakes (and commends you when you’re right!)
Eleanor slightly adjusted the nib on my plastic oblique holder during class. It has been angled wrong all along! During the classes I teach, we were able to address minor issues right away—scratchy nibs, ink blobs and usually the most challenging—connecting letters to form words.
You will be inspired and encouraged when your teacher tells you you’re doing something right, and it’s something you won’t forget that easily. The most effective teachers I’ve met were those who point out mistakes but were never patronizing nor condescending. I wouldn’t say everyone’s a snowflake, but it sure feels good when students receive a little encouragement.
3 :: You learn tips and tricks that you wouldn’t learn elsewhere
When the teacher is right there in front of you, you can just ask a question and receive instant feedback. It’s hard to judge your work when you’re alone. I remember a question I posed to Mike Ward during class. I showed him my uppercase B’s and asked, “these look right to me, but something’s off. Can you tell what it is?”, and he took my sheet and marked the first loop. It had to be a tad rounder.
Calligrapher Paul Antonio taught us the importance of good posture and a breathing technique to make writing easier. And I have applied it to the way I write.
4 :: You will find the value of practice
These teachers give lessons because they are experts in their own field. You will realise the hard work they’ve been through to get better in their craft. Nobody becomes an expert overnight, and after learning from these experts, I have found the value of practicing in order to refine my writing.
You can spend so much money going to different classes but without practice, you will never get better at it. It pays to flex those (hand and arm) muscles and put on paper what you’ve learned so that the workshop fees you’ve paid for truly is money well-spent.
5 :: Your passion will be ignited
Being around people in a creative environment is enough to super-charge your passion. Writing calligraphy, lettering, or even painting, can be a solitary activity. But spending hours or days with people who share the same passion as you will trigger a certain passion inside you. It is up to you to do something about it!
I love hearing the teacher’s creative journey—how they started and how long it took them to be where they currently are. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t all roses and sunshine, but hearing how they got better at their craft was enough to inspire everyone in the room to keep going.
Have you ever gone to a painting class and could not wait to get home and get your painting tools out? If you have, that’s exactly what I was talking about.
6 :: You make new friends
During those breaks during class, you’ll end up chatting with those around you. You’ll exchange Instagram handles, or plan the next art jam, or ask each other which class you’re going to next. Either way, you’ll get to know those like-minded individuals and you might just hit it off with one (or even two) of them!
So there you have it. I hope this year you’ll decide to go to a class and learn something new. The next blog post will all be about online workshops—and why they’re good for you, too—specially when in-person classes are out of the question. Let’s all keep on learning!
A few weeks ago I made the ultimate calligraphy checklist available for download. Now it’s time to practice, so whip out your beginners’ tools because it’s time to start writing! Here’s another calligra-freebie—guidelines you can download for free and print so you can practice on your letter forms.
True story: I was teaching a workshop where the participant did not care about the guidelines on her practice sheets. I told her that for starters, making the base of the letters touch the baseline would make her writing legible and the sizes consistent. She replied nonchalantly, “I’m trying to bounce my lettering”. I insisted that she MUST follow the guidelines provided (nicely, of course). Let’s start by following the basic rules, people.
These free guidelines come in 2 sizes—A4 and letter. The x’s on the sides mark the x-height of the letter (which is the size of the lower case x) and the slants are based on Copperplate‘s 55° angle. It’s a challenge to keep your slants consistent, hence the slant guides. The best way to use these guidelines is to print them on your practice paper, or print one sheet and place tracing paper over it. Use paper clips to secure the sheets in place.
Is learning calligraphy one of your goals for 2018? No time to waste then, my friends. Download these guide sheets for free.
Send me the calligraphy guidelines, please!
Oh, and if you’re looking for a modern calligraphy exemplar, you can download one here.
The first rule in learning pointed pen calligraphy is this: PRACTICE WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS. This blog post has a free download of the ultimate calligraphy supplies checklist, and I have listed the tools I used myself when I was starting out. Nobody taught me at first—I was at my wit’s end—and so I’m passing to you what I’ve learned so you wouldn’t be pulling your hair in frustration just like I did so many years ago.
Practicing with the right tools saved my (calligraphy) life.
See, 6 years ago, modern calligraphy wasn’t so popular yet. There were no workshops to go to, even online classes were zilch. I had no choice but to read blogs and scour Pinterest for any little tip I might find. I ordered some of the basic tools on top of the kit my husband got for me. It was from Paper and Ink Arts (circa 2012, before they updated their website!) and I had to wait more than 2 weeks to receive the items.
When I learned about the right tools for beginners, I was able to practice and make progress. I realised that having the right tools is the key to getting started. The paper, nib, ink and holder you choose need to work well together so you can concentrate on your letter forms.
Calligraphy beginners, let’s get started, shall we? I have prepared the ultimate checklist for calligraphy supplies, and it’ll be delivered straight to your inbox! Don’t forget to check your Bulk or Marketing folders just in case that’s where it ends up (ouch!). Here ya go!