Beginner Modern Calligraphy | Erica Tighe | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

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

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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Supplies and How to Use Them


    • 3.

      Basic Line Strokes and Common Mistakes


    • 4.

      Letterforms and Connecting Letters


    • 5.

      Final Project


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class


Two years ago, I couldn't find many resources to learn modern calligraphy. The resources that I did find were so lengthy that I had a hard time sifting through them. Over a six month period, I bought a lot of the wrong supplies and just kept trying new things until I finally had an ah-ha moment when it all clicked. Six months after that, I quit my job and embarked on a new business venture with my new skill. 

Now I spend my days doing calligraphy for wedding invitations, events, book covers and more. In addition, I love to share what I learned so that others can learn it more cost effectively and efficiently. 

You will learn my favorite tools, how to use them, common mistakes that I see in my students and be able to practice with my Beginner Modern Calligraphy Workbook. 

Come and learn with me!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Erica Tighe

Calligrapher / Hand Letterer / Maker at Be A Heart


Erica is the owner and artist behind Be A Heart, a design studio based out of Los Angeles. She was so moved by how beauty positively impacts the soul on her travels through Europe post-college. She then moved to Brazil and used an arts based curriculum in the schoolhouse she managed in a small village that took care of those outcast by society. Upon returning to the States, she sought a creative practice to integrate into her every day life.

This is where calligraphy entered her life and Be A Heart began. While it began as a hobby, she was soon enlisted to do custom work and wedding stationery. She moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn and decided to do design work full time.

Now she has a bustling business that has been featured in ELLE magazine, named one of the best stati... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: hi America be a heart design and I'm here to teach you today. Beginners, modern calligraphy. I'm really excited to share all that I've learned over the years with you because when I first started learning calligraphy had a really hard time knowing which supplies to purchase and then how to use those supplies. The funniest story that I have for six months, maybe, maybe not six, maybe four months. I was using the wrong side of the pen and I could not figure out why I was not getting thick enough lines on my down stroke. So I can't wait to share everything with you. I started be a heart and you're half ago when I moved to Los Angeles from New York City. My Etsy shop has been growing and growing, and so I decided to take the lead and do this full time. Now we do a lot of different things with my calligraphy. I do brush lettering. I tell myself how to do graphic design with all of this so I can now create custom wedding invitations, book covers, logos, all sorts of things, things you had no idea that even used calligraphy. And after this class. If you post your work on Instagram, you can be sure that one of your friends is gonna call you to see if you can do their wedding invitation envelopes. So be ready for that. It's a lot of work, but it really is a beautiful payoff to show some of my work today. Just so you get a sense of what is even possible with clicker fee. There's so many different things that you can dio, especially once you learn to digitize and hopefully in the next few weeks will be coming out of the class and how to do that. This wedding invitation was for Jacqueline and Tyler. They wanted to dio both the traditional calligraphy along with brush lettering, to match the watercolor pieces that I painted for them. And then we let oppressed everything onto really beautiful 50 per can. A shame how to more traditional wedding. And so we did full everything in calligraphy, this thinking out so beautifully. Then Nikki and Zach. I wanted to bring in their beloved city of Washington D. C, into their invitation, and so we repaired some calligraphy pieces with different monuments that I painted Heather and Aaron wanted something Teoh vied with their farm wedding. That was gonna be a weekend long extravaganza. And so we had a lot of different pieces here, creating Mab Treaty on back. And then most recently, I completed Christine Doug's wedding invitation that can so well with just a sparse amount of calligraphy paired with graphics and a really nice gold painting. So those are just some things to get you excited about what you're doing, what the possibilities are. I can tell you it took me a lot of time in a lot of patients to get this craft. But, you know, I was working full time in New York and I needed something to do that was creative after work, and my roommate liked everything very tidy. And so I needed to come up with something that was not gonna make a mess all over the house . So I pulled out a book that my mom had given me about calligraphy, and at first they started with those calligraphy pens. Have the square nan if you go on Amazon and by Kit. But that's really not the look that I was going for. And so I ended up wasting a lot of money in a lot of time trying to figure out what's purchased, and I went through a lot of different things, and at the end of the day, I got to figure out what was best for me. So I'm here to share this with you so that you don't have to do the same thing in spending a lot of money on things you'll never end up using. 2. Supplies and How to Use Them: so we'll start with the supply list. What you can do is go to my website, be a heart dot com slash shop and purchase our modern calligraphy book that's in print form . Or I have provided for you just for the skill ship class on online download. That's in the class material section so you'll have the pages that you can print out on your own to practice. Now the thing about computer paper and just our basic paper that we often have lying around the house. It's a little bit too poorest, and your ink is going to bleed into it. So what I finally discovered is this paper called Marquis Cooper and Marker Paper is great because it's pretty inexpensive and it's very, very smooth. My all time favorite thing about it is that it's see through, so you'll be able to see through the paper to the letters to be able to write another paper that have you like especially for my final pieces. Is Bristol smooth surface. Now, When I first went to buy this, I just saw Bristol on to grab the paper, and then I was still confused because with money, my ink was still splattering. But then what I realized is that they're two different kinds of Bristol paper. There's a vellum surface in a smooth surface for calligraphy. Really wants a smooth surface, because it's not gonna make your new catch. So this paper is pretty expensive, and I generally only use it for final pieces if I need something to really be nice. If you purchase our kid online, it will come with market paper and both calligraphy pens that you need nips and ink so you can go there and just get everything in a one stop shop. If not, first we have the oblique pen holder. This pen holder is probably what you've seen. How does this little elbow? It's used the same way as the straight pen holder, which is here, and a lot of times I think it just has to do with preference. I started with the oblique pen holder, but now I prefer the straight punch holder. So I really suggest trying both and seeing what feels best for you. Then I have two different names for you. There are so many different kinds of news that you can find. It's about what look you're going for this oneness, Nico G is going to give you a really thin, elegant look on. This one is going Teoh. Give your pretty thick down stroke on, and it's pretty touchy with the pressure that you put on it, whereas the Negro G is very stiff, and so you have to put a lot of pressure to get him to come out. Something that I really learned over time is that sometimes when you first get a new need, it doesn't flow very well. And this is because the manufacturers put a little coding over the name to protect it from resting. But that also limits the flow out of it. So one of the tricks that I learned is by taking the nail polish from your medicine cabinet and Q tips and just dad drinks and nail polish remover on two Q tip and then wiping it onto your new, and this is gonna help remove some of that coding. But don't forget now your new doesn't have the coating Teoh, not rust. So you have to make sure that when you're finished with it, that you really right off so that it doesn't rest, not ready to go over the last thing that we have. It's still think this is what the bottle will look like if you get it in art store. This would. This large bottle would probably last you, maybe even a year. I use it all the time, so I go through a little bit more. But this little jar will go probably six months. The thing that I really love about it is that it's It flows really smoothly, but when it drive it dr thick on the paper, and so when you go over it once you're lettering is dry, you can feel the letters on top of the paper. So it's really nice if someone receives an envelope with your riding on it and they can feel that it wasn't just printed Ellen, and it was actually hand done, so to discuss the properties of a nib. This is your nib, and they all look different, depending on which kind they are. But they have the same properties, so this is your base. This is what is going to go into your pen holder, and these front things are called the Times, as you can see if you press really hard. The times open, and that is what lets out your then you have a little design. Each one is different, as you can see between these two, and that's your well, that's the vent hole in your well, that is what's gonna hold your ink. So to put it in, I'll show you both the strait and the oblique at the same time, so you can decide when you prefer to use. All names are interchangeable, so I could put this one into this pen holder, this one into this holder, or vice versa. That's not going to matter so much. So you take your pen holder and you look at it where there's a little circle and you place your your need inside their first. It feels really weird, like you're gonna break something. You kind of have to give it a shop to get it in there. Now I have this one. As for this, if you're right handed, you're going to take the elbow and have fixing your left hand side. And if you're left handed, you can slip it and have the elbow facing your right hand side. If you're left handed, here's a real trick. This one is going to be a lot better for you, this oblique pen holder, because it will keep your hand out of the way from smearing your letters. Most of my students are successful with this With the left hand. I'm right handed. So I'm having elbow to my left. And then same thing You stick your nude in to that little oh into the ridge around there. So now you're supplies are ready, and we're going to move on to looking at how the ink is held in the nude and out to your paper. 3. Basic Line Strokes and Common Mistakes: so open your charming and keep it on the side Where you of the hand that you write with so it's easy for dipping. Take your pain holder in your hand. You hold it far down you did into the ink until the ink is covering that little well covering the in discovering the mental. I like to dad mine on the side, just like you would a paintbrush that it's not totally full and going to create a huge blob on your paper. Now, the thing that I didn't know when I first started is that it seems like you would hold your pen holder this way so that it hold in the ink. The drink is that you flip it over and that faces down in the technology of the dead. It's going to keep the ink in that mental. So to put your pens paper, you have to have about a 45 degree angle from your hands to the paper. I really like to rest my full arm on the table that I have a lot of stability, and then the name has to be straight onto the paper. A lot of times, people like to turn it. They like to do all sorts of things. If it's too far up like this, which is how maybe you would write with your pencil or pen. It's not going to let the Inc out, so you have to really train your mind to hold it differently than you would in normal pen. So then you're upstroke any time that you're moving upwards now in the beginning, sometimes the ink doesn't really flow out, so you have to prepare it. So when you may be up, the times are not separating, which is going to give you a really thin line. However, when you moved down the times open and let out a secret line of thing of strokes are thin in down, strokes are thick. I don't have to put too much pressure for it to be for it to have enough ink to come out now just so that you can see how the times are now. I don't have much Inc and here this means this would be a point where I would read it my pen. When they open the times, you can see how they create two parallel lines when there's Incan. There that's what's letting out the you see. So I have my 10 full of ink and I go up and down, up and down. No in your workbook or the shapes that you print it out. There's a page of different lines strokes. So many people want to skip this step. They want to go straight to the letters. That's what you're starting a leader for. However, I promise you that if you spend some good quality time on your loins strokes prior to getting into your letter forms, your letters air gonna come out much better because you have an understanding of how the final ax So you like, I said, with the mark or paper it's see through so you can place it literally on top of your paper of my workbook, and you can see the lines through. Now you're just going to practice all of these different lines strokes, really focusing on the upstroke and the down stroke upstroke. I had a down stroke. Some things that I see quite often with students is that they're holding their hand to the side and trying to do it. But if you're doing this, see how those times really just don't open. And so it's not letting out any because ties aren't really opening because it's to the side or if you hold it like I said before really high up, like me, it's going to scratch and really not let out anything. Call your down stroke. Then, as students get towards the bottom of the page, they really start to hold their pen really close to their body. It's quite uncomfortable and not very stabilizing toe. Hold it this way. So what I always do is push my paper up so that I can then and rest my arm fully on the table again and have enough space to create the proper lines. Now, if I were to do this with your league pen holder, it's very similar. You did your ink tapping on the side. And this Nico G unit likes to Pool Inc Sosin Hundreds either work drops out those you can see. My thin lines are even thinner than with the other name, so create something really elegance. If I get a spot here where the ink is run out, I finished all the waiting for my upstroke and then I can easily go back in and fill in. We're in the line. I stopped. Another thing that I noticed is pressure. We feel that we have to press really hard for them to come out. But you have to remember that the native is made to let Inc out on your down stroke. So if you're holding your pin correctly, your upstroke, it's going to create a thin line. Your down stroke. It's going to be thin. You do have to put a little bit of pressure, but it's really not as much as you think. So if you're getting big pools of ink, it probably means you're pressing too hard. And on Europe's stroke, if you're getting splatters, it means you're pressing too hard as well. The upstroke. You barely have to touch the paper. It's just gonna let out the proper amount. I'm going to create your really thin line 4. Letterforms and Connecting Letters: Once you feel comfortable with your lines strokes, you can move on to letter forms in the workbook. There are lower case letters, uppercase letters and then their numbers. I put two different kinds of letters for a couple of the letters because if I want something super feminine, I might do do a letter with more loops. But if I don't want something super feminine, I might do something with less loops. So I've given you a couple of options to play around with. The other thing that I always suggest to my students is after they get going with letters, Teoh practice their own writing. How I started my letters is really creating a calligraphy with my own cursive writing. And then, if I didn't like a certain letter of mine, I go look around and find different people who were doing calligraphy and find something I did like and integrate it into my own alphabet. And this has really given me something unique and original to me instead of directly copying someone else's writing. But that's for down the line. Once you get more comfortable with how the calligraphy pen is going to work, The other thing that I really advise you is that if you start to get stressed out about this, Teoh, get a take a walk, go to the bathroom, get a drink, do anything but stay stressed. It should be something really relaxing, So don't stay in and say I have to get it today. It does take time to learn, because it's a completely new way to write that you've never done before, dipping the ink and getting it to flow out of your pen. So just don't get frustrated. Give yourself a break, take a walk and then come back and start again with fresh eyes. Same thing with the letter forms, as you just did with your lines strokes. You place a new piece of paper over my awful bet, and you can practice your letters. I also suggest to go plenty slow. My students always want to write as fast as they would with a pen, but the thing about it is that calligraphy is just noted faster. You really have to give it time so you can practice all of your letters a through Z in the lower case, and then you can move to a through Z and upper case, then you have numbers, - and lastly, you have ways to connect your letters together so you can practice different letter pairings like a teenage, which are often times found together in any. And then you could move two words. I have a few at the end of the workbook for you to practice, but hopefully by now you may be feeling comfortable. Come up with your own words. 5. Final Project: for a final product. All we're gonna do is write one word Could be your name. It could be a word that inspires you something Teoh be proud of and to show the rest of your classmates what you've learned in future classes will be going over all letter forms as well as getting into brush lettering and then how to ultimately vector rise your our work in the computer to create your final piece. You can choose a word. I'm gonna choose scale share just because it has a lot of great letters to show you. You can trace your word onto your paper with pencil first. The great thing about studying is that once it's dry, it's really easy to race the pencil underneath without taking any of the black ink away. So generally will do something in pencil, and then he raised it. Then you take your pan either one that you prefer and you can trace over your letters. You will probably run out of ink more often here just because you're writing so much larger than in the workbook. And if you don't want to write this big, you can't is right. We're small to see thing. I love about modern biographies that there just aren't that many rules, so you really can come up with your own lettering. You can make things on the same line you can go off of the line could really use a lot of room for creativity. Then, once this is dry, you'll be able Teoh, erase your pencil line and have a really clean word. With this, you can upload it onto skill share and into the class project so that we can all see and give feedback. If you have any questions, along the way can shoot me a message. I prefer, if you can any way take a film of what you're doing, said Aiken, troubleshoot directly with the issue. Or you can try and describe it to me, and I mean, I know the answer to it. But most important thing here is to really have fun since something great to do when you're watching TV at the end of the night to wind down from a long day, it's fun to be able to make place cards and bring them to your next dinner partying really impressive friends, or even just to hand letter B outside of an envelope for a snail mail pen pal letter. Thanks so much for joining today. Again. I'm Erica. Be a heart design. Www dot be a heart dot com. You can also tag us on instagram with the at symbol be a heart design.