Basic Hand Lettering: Learning Faux Calligraphy | Amy Latta | Skillshare

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Basic Hand Lettering: Learning Faux Calligraphy

teacher avatar Amy Latta, Author & Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Class Intro

    • 2. Learning About Downstrokes

    • 3. Practicing Faux Calligraphy

    • 4. Easy Embellishments

    • 5. Making Your Project

    • 6. Next Steps

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About This Class

Do you love the look of hand lettering and wish you could write in that style yourself? You will be lettering like a pro in no time as we explore the basics of Faux Calligraphy together! Learn the difference between downstrokes and upstrokes and how to create the look of brush script using any kind of writing tool you want. Plus, master a few basic embellishments to make your written art even more beautiful. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Amy Latta

Author & Artist


Amy Latta is passionate about inspiring her online community by sharing honest inspiration for everyday life. On her award-winning blog, you'll find easy-to-follow hand lettering tutorials, along with all kinds of craft and DIY projects anyone can create. She also loves teaching in-person and virtual workshops all across the United States through Michaels Community Classroom, Pinners Conference, and other venues.

Another of Amy's favorite avenues for sharing creative tips is doing segments on the lifestyle television shows Good Day PA, Midday Maryland, KSL Studio 5, and Hallmark Home & Family. And, of course, you can learn from Amy by reading one or all of her five books on hand lettering, the most popular of which, Hand Lettering for Relaxation, has sold o... See full profile

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1. Class Intro: Hi, I'm Amy from Amy ladder creations, and I'm so excited that you're joining me for the speak in her hand lettering, faux calligraphy class. Hand lettering is one of my favorite ways to do art. And in this class, my goal is to teach you how to do gorgeous faux calligraphy that you can use in all kinds of projects, both on and off the page. Hand lettering is a huge topic that encompasses lots of different fonts and embellishments. But the thing that most people think of first and foremost is what we call Brush Script. It's a style of writing where like in this letter a, you can see that some of the letter is composed of thin lines, while some of it is composed of thicker lines. That contrast within each letter is what gives the style its characteristic. And it's what most people want to learn how to do. First, there are two ways to accomplish this. Look. One is actually by using something called brush technique to create the Brush Script. This is where we use a special tool called a brush pen. And we control the pressure that we apply to the tip of that pen. And that's what gives us thin lines or thick lines. However, that's definitely an artistic technique that takes a lot of time and practice to master, will be looking at that in another class down the road. However, in the meantime, what I like to do first in all of my workshops all across the country is I like to introduce folks to something that I like to call faux calligraphy, which is what I used here on this journal. This is what I call the fake it till you make it way to get the brush Script look without any special tools or any particular skill set. All we're gonna do is use your regular handwriting and then we're gonna go back and make some of our lines thicker than others. Are you ready to join me? Here's what you need. Any kind of writing utensil or tool. You can use a marker with a bullet tip. You can use a pen or even a pencil will work as we're learning the basics of faux calligraphy. Eventually, the project at the end of our class is going to be that you are going to create a monogram, that journal, or if you don't have a blank journal that you want to use, you can also do it on a canvas or on a piece of Bristol board or paper that you can cut out and frame. You're just going to need some kind of surface that you're gonna do your monogram lettering on. And you're going to need either a permanent marker or a paint pen, whatever you would like to use on that non paper surface. I recommend the Tambo mono twin, which is a dual tipped black permanent marker. You can get this by itself or it comes as part of tumbles beginner lettering kits, or you can use a paint pen if you prefer. So in the meantime, all you're gonna need is any writing utensil you have around the house and some scrap paper. Are you ready? Let's dive in and learn some faux calligraphy. 2. Learning About Downstrokes: Friends, it's time to get started with our folk calligraphy lesson. Grab any writing utensil that you have available. I'm going to be using a Tambo dual brush pen. This is a water-based marker that has two different tips. Under the colored cath is a brush pen, and under the black cap is a fine tip, bullet tip marker. And that's what I'm going to be using for the spoke calligraphy, lessen any kind of writing utensil you have along with some paper, is all the supplies that you're going to need. You can use computer paper like I have a sketchbook or a journal, whatever you like. Let's get started. To begin, we're going to look at a short simple word, joy on your paper. We're just going to write that word in cursive or script handwriting. Use whatever kind of style you like yours doesn't have to look exactly like mine. But now what we're gonna do is we're gonna go back into this word and remember how we said hand lettering, Brush, Script. What sets it apart is that within each letter we have thin lines and thicker lines. We're going to go back into this word and make some of the lines in each letter thicker than others. But the question is, where do we do that? Anytime that you're pen is moving across the paper, it's going in one of three basic directions. It's going up away from you, which is what we call an upstroke. Sometimes when you're writing like this part of the j, your pen is coming down toward you on the paper. This is what we call a downstroke. And occasionally you're gonna have your pen moving across the paper. For example, when you cross a t or a letter like a capital H, this is just going to be a horizontal stroke. The basic rule for our thick and thin lines is that downstrokes are always thick. The other lines remain thin. You may want to make a note of this for yourself so that you can refer back to it later. Now what we're gonna do is go back to the word joy and find our downstrokes so that we can make them thicker than the rest of the lines. When we wrote our j, we were going up away from ourselves, then we transition to moving down. So right here on the downstroke, we're going to draw a second line for the, oh, it was on the left side here we were going down with our pen. Then we switch to go back up. And then on the loop, we came back down for the Y. We came down on the left side, went back up, and then we came down again on this right side. So every one of those downstrokes gets a second line. Then all we're gonna do is go back and color them in. And you can see that as we do this, we're gonna get that beautiful hand lettered book that everyone once, where some of the lines are thicker and others are thinner within every letter of the word. I also like to go back and make the top of my j a little bit brighter and darker too, so that it matches the thickness. So remember, all we did was we wrote our word and the script. We went back and found the downstrokes, drew a second line and then colored them in. Take some time on your paper to write the word joy and do the same technique a few more times. You know where the downstrokes are. So the next few should be easier. You're just gonna go right back. Make your double lines, and color them in. Play around with writing your word a little bit larger, a little bit smaller, so that you get a feel for it and see what you like best. If you're someone who's normal writing is very close together, you may find that you need to leave a little bit of extra space in between your letters so that you have room to make those lines thicker. Take some time on your own and practice this rating, joy, joy, joy, so that you get comfortable with the technique. And then we'll be ready to move on. 3. Practicing Faux Calligraphy: Hi friends. In our last video, we learned the first basic rule about doing faux calligraphy, which is that in order to get the contrast between thick and thin lines, we want to make downstrokes that guard. Remember, downstrokes are anywhere that your pen was moving down towards you on the paper as you were writing your original word. We went back, identified the downstrokes than the word joy, drew a double line and then colored in between one of the questions that I always get it this point in a workshop when I teach this is do my double lines go on the left or the right of the lines that I've already drawn. And the answer is yes. It actually has no hard and fast rule. What it matters is where that's going to look best based on the way that you've spaced out the rest of your words. So for example, when I wrote this word joy, I left a little bit of extra space here in between the o and the y. Sometimes things like that happen when we, right. So I want to close up that space a little bit. So my Y, I'm gonna go to the left of the line that I already drew. When I go over here from my J, I'm also gonna go to the left. And on the, Oh, I'm gonna do the same, but over here on this side of my y, I'm going to come on the right. So there's no hard and fast rule for where your double line goes. You just need to look at the way that your letters have been spaced out and try to make it look as good, imbalanced as you can. So now that you've practiced the word joy, it's time to practice another word. You can practice your firstname. You can practice your dog's name, or you can try your spouse or your kids. You could do the word love, any word that you want to practice. And we're gonna do the same thing that we did with the word joy, which is fine. The downstrokes, draw a second line and color the men. So for the word love, if you happen to choose that one, it's going to be that left-hand side of the L, the left-hand side of the o, left-hand side of the V and the loop, and the left-hand side of the e. So that's pretty easy. Those downstrokes in the word love, in my name. I have a downstroke on both sides of the a. Then for the m, I have sort of the stick there as well as the right side of each bump. And then the y we're already familiar with from the word joy. So one of the things that comes up a lot is that folks want to know, how do I know where to put the double lines? And the answer is just find those downstrokes. When you write your name, think about what your pen is doing. Where is it going down for an a? It's in these two spots. If I'm writing a b, it's going to be here on the stem. And the way that I form my B, it's going to be over here on the right. For a C, we've got this left-hand side, and so on as you go through the alphabet. So you're just going to stop and think, where was my pen moving down? And everywhere that it was, you're gonna go back and do that double line. One thing that I like to do when I teach workshops, as I like to give folks a handout that they can reference so that you know where the thick and the thin areas are supposed to be. So on my website, I have free practice pages. I actually have different practice pages for each letter of the alphabet, as well as a set of practice pages that's the entire lower-case alphabet and the entire upper case alphabet. So you can certainly go to Amy ladder And right in the top menu, you will see where it says free practice pages. And you can grab those free practice pages, print them out. And it will be a guide for you for exactly where the downstrokes are in each letter because that's the hardest part is figuring out where do those thick lines go. You don't have to form your letters exactly the same way that ideal. If you, for example, write your o without a loop at the top, there's nothing wrong with that. Each person has their own individual style, so does each lettering artist. So write your letters in any way that works best for you. And then you can just use the guide to help you figure out where those downstrokes are. So I want you to, in your sketchbook or on your scrap paper, you're just going to practice any words that you like. You can practice. Especially I'd encourage you to do your monogram because that's what we're going to use in our project at the end of the class, um, but you can just practice any series of words. And I do have this sample alphabet here for you as well that I've just written. So if you want to replay this video, you can replay it as many times as you like. And you can go back and look at my letters as a guide and you can watch me draw them so that you can see where those downstrokes goes. So once you've practiced your alphabet and your monogram and some words, then we're gonna go ahead and move on to the next step. 4. Easy Embellishments: Welcome back friends. Hopefully by now you've had an opportunity to practice your monogram as well as any other words that you would like to try in faux calligraphy. Remembering that anytime that we're writing our pen as either making an upstroke, a downstroke, or a horizontal stroke. And it's those downstrokes that we're gonna go back and thick. And you can do this faux calligraphy technique with a pen, with a pencil, with any kind of marker that you like, as well as with a paint pan. Any of those types of things are going to work great for faux calligraphy, which means that you can do this on all kinds of surfaces. Wood, canvas, leather. You can even do it on your walls. So to go along with faux calligraphy, I wanted to give you a few basic embellishments because when we Him letter, it's great to make our letters pretty and some make art with our words. But what can be even nicer is when we take that same letter and we embellish it with fluorine rolls with a wreath, with vines or any kind of simple little drawings that you'd like to do. So today, I wanted to show you a few simple ones. And all of these have sort of a nature theme. And the first one that I want to show you is what we call a leafy vine. And this is just going to be an arch that you draw with a little tear drop at the end. And then we're gonna go down the line and you're just going to add some leaves. So I kind of think of these as almost heart shapes, if you will. But it doesn't have to be that way. There's lots of ways that you can do variations on this. You can make your leaves more pointed if you like. And you can also vary the size. So if you want your leaves to get bigger as you go down the vine, you can do that. If you want to add veins on your leaves for detail, you can do that as well. So there's lots of different options for how you can do this. Another way that you can change the same basic thing is by alternating your leaves. You can see here my two leaves meet in the middle where the vine stem is. But you can also have one on each side and kinda go down alternating them on the stem like this. And when you do that, that opens up possibilities for you to put things like dots or like little buds, little flowers, things like that on your stem. So lots of different possibilities. Another way to change this up is instead of making the arch, we can make any shape buying that we like. For example, you can do a wavy line. And when we do our project, this is something that you might want to consider. This is what I did on my journal. You can see that I went down the right side with just one of those wavy lines and I alternated leaves and put little dot accents. So that's very easy to do and it makes a nice border embellishment for a piece of paper or something like the journal project. And finally, you can take this and you can turn it into a simple wreath. And to do that, all you're gonna do is make what I call a messy circle. So all I did was draw a sort of a circular shape and a taste over it a few times. Not really trying to stay in exactly the same place. Then you're gonna go back and you're just going to add your leaves around your circle. And before you know it, you're going to have a leafy reef. And of course, if you do this with green and you go back in and color it, it's really going to look a lot like an actual natural reef. And again, you can vary the leaf shapes. You can put several types. The one that I was showing as an example earlier on my canvas is one that I did at Christmas time. So you can see I also added in some holly leaves, some little berries, some pined. So anything, any kind of leaf or flour or things like that that you want to do. You can add in as well. In addition to the leaves and vines Do you can add some little flowers. One of my favorite flowers to draw is what I call the messy flower, which is that same messy circle idea that we used for the wreath. And then you just go back and put some little dots on the inside to be the pollen in the center of the flower. And I like to do these insects. And then you just add a few leaves. And you have some pretty little flowers which you can also put on your wreath. So lots of possibilities here, lots of options. But those are just some really easy nature themed embellishments that go with just about anything you want to letter. We had the vine and we have the wreath and the messy flowers that were going to use in conjunction with the monogram for our project coming up next. 5. Making Your Project: Well friends, you've made it through the faux calligraphy class and now it's project time. One option for your final project is to take a journal. I actually got this from my local Michaels store. And they come just totally plain art minds journals. And I thought this was a fun project because when you're finished with it, actually got dot paper inside that you can use for practicing your lettering. So one option for your project is to do a simple, basic monogram. Just take whichever letter you like for your first or your last name. And you're going to use a permanent marker or a paint pen to write it on the front of your journal. Go back, find the downstrokes, and then you can do an embellishment like the vine. You can see I added a few little lines and dots for visual interest. And there you have it. A monogram journal. If you're feeling ambitious and feel like, hey, I got the hang of this. You could try writing something a little bit longer, like on this one, I used faux calligraphy to write practice makes progress. And you can see my little leafy vines there. If you don't happen to have a journal on hand, you can also use a canvas like the one we were looking at in the previous video. Where you put your monogram and the center, you can put a wreath around it. And we also looked at my little messy flowers, which you can use as well. This is a larger canvas that I did where I put our whole last name instead of just the monogram. And the year that we got married, I've got the wreath and I have the messy flowers there to accent it. So to do your project, because we're not working on paper, we're going to use either the canvas or the journal, whatever it is that you're going to write on. And you're going to need a permanent marker or paint pens. Or you can use alcohol-based markers like these Tambo ABT prose because all of these things are permanent and not water-based. I'm going to do a canvas using my letter a for Amy. And I'm going to start out by writing my a. And if you prefer to do this in pencil on either your journal or your canvas first, you certainly can. Some people prefer to do that so that they're sure that it's centered. And then I'm going to go back, I'm going to find my downstrokes and I'm going to color them in. If you decide that you want to do your positioning and pencil first, just make sure that you use a very light touch because that way it will be easy to erase. I recommend the Tambo mano a resource for when you're going back. And then they'll erase any pencil that you can still see after you've traced over everything with your markers. So I have gone back and done my downstroke. Now on the a, there aren't any other downstrokes, but what I like to do is just add a little bit of thickness to the end of each line because they think it adds some visual interest. And I'm also going to add just a few little lines and dots. Once again, just to make it a little bit more interesting to look at. And there's no role for where you need to put these. It can go anywhere. So I'm going around the curbs of my a for mine. Now, I want to do my messy flowers and a little wreath. So what I'm gonna do is take my TOM DO ABT pros. And remember those messy flowers are just going to be a few circles. So I'm gonna do three of them together and some dots in the middle. And it's that easy. You have flowers. And I'm gonna go back and I'm going to color them in so that I have some pretty little roses or peony is, or whatever flour you think they might look like. And I'm going to take Green. And I'm going to add some leaves. And I've got my little flower bunch and I'm gonna go back and color in my leaves as well. And then my last step is going to be to add one of those reels around my a. So I can do this step first to if you want an, if you'd rather draw the whole circle, you can do that, but I'm just gonna do my messy a little circle here around my monogram. And then I'm going to draw some leaves around my reef. Like so. And if you would like to sketch out your reef with pencil, of course you can do that too. I recommend doing the monogram first and then doing the wreath around it. I find it easier that way than doing it the other way around. And then the last step is that I'm going to go back and I'm gonna color in my leaves with that later green because I liked the pop of color that ads. And you can do as much or as little when it comes to coloring or embellishing as you like. But that's just going to give me a pretty little floral embellishment around my monogram. And then once you have this canvas or this journal, you can use it, you can display it, you can give it as a gift. But this is just a simple little project that you can make with very few supplies in very little time using the new faux calligraphy skills and a few embellishments. So I hope you enjoyed your project and I can't wait to see it. 6. Next Steps: Thank you so much for watching this class and joining along with me in this hand lettering journey to learn faux calligraphy. I hope that you enjoyed learning it as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you. I would love to see how your final project turned out, whether you did a canvas, a journal cover, or anything else. Please share your photos with me. If you are on social media, sharing pictures of what you made, you can tag me at Amy ladder creations and I'll be sure to see it. You can also help over to Facebook where I have a private group called Amy ladder and friends. You can ask to join and jump right into our weekly sharing thread where people share pictures of whatever creative projects they're working on. And you can share this as well as anything else that you might be making. For more hand lettering and inspiration, please come visit me at Amy ladder I have tons of hand lettering tutorials, projects, and those practice pages that I mentioned earlier for every letter of the alphabet as well, with lots of other things as well. So come on over and continue your hand lettering journey with me. In addition to my website, I have five books on hand lettering. The first of which is hand lettering for relaxation, that's perfect for everyone. Then I have express yourself, which is designed for kids ages six to 18. I have him lettering for laughter, which is full of funny quotes for you to learn to letter. And I have him lettering for faith, designed for Scripture and Bible journaling. My newest book, which just came out in November of 2020, is called him letters and off the page. And that one focuses on taking your lettering off of paper like what we did in this project and putting it onto 25 different services surfaces including chalkboard, slate, metal, leather, plastic, acrylic, ceramic, all kinds of different things. I'm so make sure to check that out as well. All of the books are available on Amazon,,, local bookstores, Barnes and Noble, and pretty much anywhere that books are sold. I hope that you had a really great time learning to him, letter with me and please stay tuned here on skill share for the next class coming soon. Thanks friends.