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5 Ways to improve your calligraphy (by going outside your comfort zone!)

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

Looking to improve your calligraphy? We all have a calligraphy comfort zone and going outside of it is a great way to improve your calligraphy. As you learn calligraphy you'll develop a go-to style; you'll create individual letters in a certain way, have preferred colours and tools, etc and it's great that you have some sort of established style buuuut you could develop that style further if you try new things. In this post I'll be breaking down 5 ways to go out of your comfort zone and improve your calligraphy.

Shake up how you create individual letters

With time, you'll have a preferred way of creating each individual letter but for this exercise I want you to analyse each element of the letter.

Consider the entry stoke, are there any flourishes, is it curved, is it straight? For example, my go-to A has a little flick in the entry stroke, so going out of my comfort zone would be adding a flourish or having the entry stroke straight. Then look at the top of the A, is it curved or pointy? Consider trying the opposite. Now look at the line that crosses through the A, is it straight, is it at an angle or is it curved? Consider doing something different.

Create as many versions of that letter as you can until you can no longer think of any other variations.

calligraphy a - calligraphy alphabet

Try different colours

My go-to colours are either black or vibrant colours, I don't tend to go for anything else. So outside of my comfort zone would be using more muted colours. Another thing to consider is the number of colours that you tend to use, is it one colour or multiple? I tend to either go for black or black with one other colour, it's very rare that I use multiple colours unless its a rainbow design.

I recommend that you analyse your go-to colours and numbers of colours and try something different.

which colour to use for calligraphy and calligraphy colours


What is your go-to pen, the one that you instinctively go for? Mine is the Pentel Fude Touch Brush Pen. Out of my comfort zone would be larger brush pens such as Tombows; I can use them but I can't use them as easily as the Pentel. Other examples of outside of my comfort zone would be extra flexible brush pens as Faber Castell brush pens.

If you're like me you may have a large collection that you don't really use but now is the perfect time. Test them out, maybe rearrange the order of your pens so that the ones you don't often see because they're buried under the rest of your pens are now on top.

You could go even wider, for example recently I started trying watercolour lettering with a paintbrush. You could also try creating calligraphy on different materials such chalkboards or digitally. There are so many different mediums for calligraphy which is great as it means there's lots for you to try.

Actual style

My go-to style is bouncy calligraphy, I love it and I can now pretty much create it in my sleep. Flourishing however... not so much. Flourishing feels very unnatural to me because it's not a go-to style and I need to practise it to create in this style. There are several different styles that you could try out - traditional, flourished, spaced out, block.

I also create my calligraphy at an upright angle, but it's common for calligraphy to be creating at a slant. Whichever angle you create your calligraphy at, try out the opposite.

Finally, when creating larger pieces of calligraphy, do you create them using only one style of calligraphy or do you use a couple of different styles? Which styles are they? If you only use one style, consider sprinkling in another style to add a bit of variety. If you already use two or more, consider changing one of the styles to another style to go outside of your comfort zone.

different styles of calligraphy and bounce calligraphy

Find a buddy

One way to go out of your comfort zone is to partner with a buddy. You can create a piece of work in your own style and then recreate the piece observing how your buddy has created the piece, paying attention to spacing, colour, tools, anything listed above really. You could keep it even simpler, and create your own alphabets and share with each other. When you're feeling stuck you could refer to your buddy's style.

You could both also work together to learn something outside of both of your comfort zones. For example, you could both try creating on new surfaces.

finding a calligraphy buddy

Which idea did you like best? Let me know in the Calligraphy Community Facebook Group.


Want to learn how to create a bouncy modern calligraphy style? Pop your name and email below to get a FREE 10 page bounce calligraphy guide.


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