What is Faux Calligraphy?
Everyone loves some gorgeous calligraphy. It’s almost like the appreciation of this beautiful art is baked right into our bones. Perhaps its just a human thing. It’s easy to look at brush lettering and calligraphy and think that it’s only for the artistically elite. No regular person can pick up a pen and create gorgeous lettering like that. The truth is, it’s not that hard to do. In fact, mastering the art of faux calligraphy is surprisingly easy.
Faux calligraphy is essentially the same as normal calligraphy, except you can do it without all the fancy nibs or brush pens. Any old pen or pencil will work! That’s what makes faux calligraphy so alluring – there is no cost to getting started. You can practice with abandon using whatever old pen you have lying around. However, I would suggest you invest in some simple dot grid paper. Here, I use a Rhoida dot grid notepad. This is my go-to lettering practice paper because the dot grid allows structure without getting in the way.
While any old pen will work, I suggest that you grab a pen that doesn’t have lots of goopey ink that sits on the page. Something that has a quick-drying ink is ideal, like Prismacolor Illustration Markers or perhaps a felt tip pen. You don’t want to smear your faux calligraphy all over the place!
The Basic Idea
After you have your pen and your paper, you are ready to begin. First, write out a word. I would recommend cursive, but that certainly isn’t a requirement. Leave plenty of space between each letter. Here, I’m using one of my Staedtler Triplus Fineliners, which are perfect for this technique!
After it is written out, it’s time to put some weight on it! Using your pen, go through and thicken all the down strokes. Not sure which ones are the down strokes? Hold your pen over the page and write the word in the air. Every time your pen pulls down toward the bottom of the page counts as a down stroke.
Thickening up the down strokes while leaving the up strokes light creates a lovely variation. That is the effect that is desired in brush lettering and other calligraphy. Adding weight to these lines mimics the effect, leaving a finished result of faux calligraphy!
Here is another example, but with a slightly different technique. You can also go through and mark where you plan on thickening a line, leaving a hollow letter. Then, simply go through and fill in the gaps.
This variation is a great way to visualize the finished product. Bonus tip – you can even fill in the letters with a different color, or simply leave it hollow.
Let’s try yet another, but with a Crayola marker instead – and let’s do it in print! Like I said, I think it turns out better with cursive, but it can still be lovely with print.
As you can see, the faux calligraphy technique is incredibly easy. Literally anyone can do it with just about any pen or pencil they want!
How it Compares
You may be curious how it compares to non faux calligraphy. Here’s how it stands up to a Tombow Dual Brush Pen.
The top was created using the brush tip, and the bottom was created using the bullet tip. Obviously, it’s not quite the same. The brush tip is smoother, thicker, and has a gorgeous gradient in color. The faux calligraphy doesn’t look quite as neat compared to its pure blood counterpart. However, the draw to faux calligraphy is how easy it is to do for anyone, so it all levels out in terms of pros/cons. Really, it’s completely up to you.
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There are times that faux calligraphy is a better choice for a project. For example, in my Master Grocery List, I use faux calligraphy for all the subheadings because they are too small for my big Tombow brushes. This might especially be true if you want to amp up the lettering in your bullet journal, since the page would likely be smallish. Basically, faux calligraphy is extremely useful and flexible!
Isn’t that a ton easier than you expected? Faux calligraphy is a great launching point for anyone who is interested in hand lettering but isn’t sure where to begin. It’s cheap, simple, and relatively quick. And while it isn’t quite a substitute for the real thing, it will definitely do the job in a pinch and serve as great practice for more complex lettering down the road.
I need to warn you though – this is the gateway drug right here. This is how I started. Faux calligraphy might seem like all fun and games, but you will thirst for brush pens soon. After that, you are lost to the cult of hand lettering. You become one of us. So join us and see where all the fun’s at! If you want to dive deeper into this weirdly addictive craft, pop over to my brush lettering 101 post to see how to begin with proper brush pens! You’ll be whipping together beautifully lettered pieces of art in no time flat. What are you waiting for?
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