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DIY Calligraphy - Introduction to the Copperplate Style

Doris Fullgrabe, Lettering & Calligraphy, Freelance

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23 Videos (1h 32m)
    • Introduction

    • History

    • Tools

    • Prep Your Workspace

    • Characteristics

    • Lowercase Component Strokes

    • Group 1 - Lowercase i t u w j y

    • Group 2 - Lowercase n m v p r

    • Group 3 - Lowercase l b h k f

    • Group 4 - Lowercase o a d g q e c

    • Group 5 - Lowercase r s x z

    • Uppercase component strokes

    • Group 6 - Uppercase T F B P R

    • Group 7 - Uppercase I J L D H K

    • Group 8 - Uppercase A M N

    • Group 9 - Uppercase O C G Q E

    • Group 10 - Uppercase S V W

    • Group 11 - Uppercase U X Y Z

    • Numbers

    • Punctuation

    • Critique Your Own Work

    • Thank You & Wrap Up

    • Bonus

17 students are watching this class

About This Class


Learn the fine art of writing beautifully by applying specific tools and rules - no matter what your handwriting looks like

In today's digital environment of emails and text messages, sending handwritten notes and invitations really shows you care, and helps you stand out from the crowd. But many of us may have forgotten our cursive skills, and some may never have been taught.

Whether you're getting married, want to impress your boss, or use this skill for letters to your friends and family, this class will help you unwind from your hectic schedule. Take some time to collect your thoughts, and learn to write beautifully and with intention. 

What we'll cover:

  • Brief history of Copperplate, its tools, and characteristics
  • Setting up your practice for success
  • Basic letterforms and component strokes
  • Lowercase and uppercase alphabet
  • Numbers and punctuation
  • Critiquing your own work & Troubleshooting


These specific tools need to be purchased ahead of time, and should be available in any well-stocked art supplies store. For US residents, I get my supplies at John Neal Books. I have added their product numbers for your convenience:

*for right-handed students*

  • H23 Oblique penholder (1)
  • N113 Nikko G Nibs (2)
  • I08 Higgins Eternal (1)
  • S934 Dinky Dips (1)
  • P53 Rhodia Blank (1) 

*for left-handed students*

  • H69 Speedball Plastic Pen Holder (1)
  • N113 Nikko G Nibs (2)
  • I08 Higgins Eternal (1)
  • S934 Dinky Dips (1)
  • P53 Rhodia Blank (1)

In addition, please have a few sheets of printer paper, a small jar of water, a few paper towels, and a lighter ready. You'll also want to print out one copy of the Copperplate Guidelines (download on "Your Project" page).


I have terrible handwriting, will this class be a waste of my time?

Since we're going to use specific tools and will be writing according to specific rules, your handwriting doesn't really come into it. Your handwriting is how you normally write, it usually flows quickly and might look inconsistent and haphazard, right? 
Hand lettering, which is another term you may have heard, is the practice of drawing letters.
What we'll be doing is Calligraphy, and calligraphy literally means "writing beautifully". It is a mix between writing and drawing your letters, because you'll go about it in a much slower, more consistent, and more intentional way. 

If we're all using the same tools and following the same rules, won't it all look the same? 

To a certain extent, yes. The beauty of calligraphy rules is that they allow us to write evenly and consistently. Copperplate is a style, also called a "hand", and the point is to make it look similar no matter who writes it.
At the same time, each person is of course an individual, and therefore their script will look slightly different. We hold our pens slightly differently, our pulses nudge the nibs slightly differently, and we add our own flourishes and details in different ways. In the end, no handmade calligraphy is completely identical, it's not a font after all, so your personality will absolutely shine through. I have been practicing Copperplate for three years, so it isn't looking like that of my teachers, who have been practicing 30 years, either. 

Which beverage pairs well with this class?

Personally, I love a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, but depending on the hour of the day, a cup of Earl Grey will do nicely. Just make sure to keep it separate from the ink, or you might accidentally dip your pen in the wrong liquid. 

18 of 19 students recommendSee All

I may have marked this class ‘completed’, but I’ll definitely continue to use it as a reference for continuing my copperplate practice. The tips at the end for troubleshooting and critiquing your own work are very helpful. Doris breaks down a complex topic into manageable sections
This a very enjoyable class full of clear explanations to understand the Copperplate Style. And the teacher is extremely kind to answer every question and to encourage us to keep trying and improve our handwriting skills. I simply love this class.
Eréndira Espinosa

Teacher and selflearner.





Doris Fullgrabe

Lettering & Calligraphy, Freelance

From custom stationery to large murals to teaching workshops, I love drawing letters to help you visually communicate your message in a way that is true to you.

Born and raised in Germany, I have lived and worked in Scotland, England, Spain, the Canary Islands, Mexico, and Texas, before moving to New York City. I was a student and a secretary in my 20s, an MBTI(r) and Cross-Cultural Trainer in my 30s, and am pursuing lettering and calligraphy in my 40s.

I'm a Myers-Briggs Mast...

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