How to do Faux Calligraphy to Create Unique Lettering Styles | Sarah Ensign | Skillshare

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How to do Faux Calligraphy to Create Unique Lettering Styles

teacher avatar Sarah Ensign, Hand Letter 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

7 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Welcome!

    • 2. Faux Calligraphy Basics

    • 3. 1- Shape

    • 4. 2- Weight

    • 5. 3- Spacing

    • 6. 4- Bonus

    • 7. Your Class Project

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About This Class

Hello lettering friends! Are you looking for a fun way to change up your lettering style? Maybe you want to learn hand lettering but you don’t want to just learn one person’s font? You’re in the right place.

I’m Sarah from Ensign Insights and in this class, I’m going to show you how to do faux calligraphy to create unique lettering styles. In case you don’t know what faux calligraphy is, it’s basically using any regular pen to get the look of calligraphy without any fancy calligraphy tools. If you’ve never heard of this before, don’t worry, I’ll show you all of the basics of faux calligraphy in the first lesson.

I will also give you faux calligraphy practice sheets so you can build your foundation. These practice sheets can be found in the resource section of this class. *This can only be found on desktop, not on mobile.* And on top of that foundation, we’re going to go even further.

Because faux calligraphy is such a simple trick, it’s really helpful in creating different, unique styles. I’m going to break this down for you in 3 easy steps to creating a unique style. Once you know these steps, you’ll be able to apply this to all of your lettering, no matter what lettering pens you use.

It feels so good to know that you can create your own lettering styles without relying on anyone else. This class will give you the tools to feel that way. At the end of this class, you’ll be lettering your name in all different styles. I’m so excited to share this with you and see what you come up with. Let’s get started!


Meet Your Teacher

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Sarah Ensign

Hand Letter Artist


Hello, I'm Sarah Ensign! I'm a hand lettering artist and creator of Ensign Insights where I teach hand lettering. I started hand lettering during a difficult time in 2016 as a way to remind myself how to be happy. I'm passionate about helping you create hand lettering that feels like your best self.

In 2021, I experienced extreme burnout. I started a hand lettering journal simply to make it through each day. It has been an amazing creative outlet and a tangible way to use my hand lettering to feel like my best self!

I can't wait to share more about a hand lettering journal to inspire you to create your own!

Remember, the way you create right now is exactly where you need to be. You're doing great. :)


Did you already take all of my Skills... See full profile

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1. Welcome!: Hello, Lettering, Friends. Are you looking for a fun way to change? If you're lettering style, maybe you want to learn lettering, but you don't want to just learn one person's font. You are in the right place. I'm Sarah from an sign insights, and in this glass I'm going to show you how to do folk calligraphy to create unique lettering styles. In case you don't know what faux calligraphy is, it's basically using any regular pen to get the look of calligraphy without any fancy calligraphy tools. If you've never heard of this before, don't worry. I'll show you all of the basics of folk calligraphy. In the first lesson. I will also give you folk Allegra free practice sheets so you can build your foundation. The's practice sheets can be found in the resource section of this class, and on top of that foundation, we're going to go even further because vocal a graffiti is such a simple trick. It's really helpful in creating different unique styles. I'm going to break this down for you in three easy steps to create a unique style. Once you know these stuffs, you'll be able to apply this to all of your lettering. No matter what lettering pens you used in this class, I will be using the Tommo twin tone pens, but you can use any regular pen, even a pencil. It feels so good to know that you can create your own lettering styles without relying on anyone else. This class will give you the tools to feel that way. At the end of this class, you'll be lettering your name in all different styles. I'm so excited to share this with you and see what you come up with. Let's get started. 2. Faux Calligraphy Basics: in this lesson, I am going. Teoh show you the faux calligraphy basics. Focal a graffiti is also known as holography. I love photography. This is how I started learning lettering, and it really helped me to understand that then up strokes and thick down strokes when I started using a brush pen one off. My favorite things is that you can use any pen. No more excuses of not being able to buy brush pens that are really expensive. I totally get that because that's where I was when I started. But you can even use a pencil for photography, so make sure you have paper and a pen or pencil and let's get started, all right, getting right into vote calligraphy. First, you're going to write a word. It could be script style or print style. It doesn't matter right now. And second, add a line to the down strokes. If you don't remember where the dumpster eggs are, you can follow your word with your pen to see where the pen went down. We only want the down strokes. Leave any sideways strokes or up strobes. We wanted down strokes to be all the same angle and third fill in the down strokes. If you don't want very thick down strokes. The second and third step here maybe combined for you, and I'll talk about that a little bit. Maurin a minute. The main goal is to make sure all of your down stocks are the same thickness to keep it consistent throughout your word. When I teached my hand lettering workshops, the first thing I teach is vote calligraphy. Most people hesitate because they say they're cursive doesn't look like mine. This is true first because we all have different styles. And second, because lettering is not cursive, you can see here I tried writing in cursive, and to be honest, I don't remember how to do Chris it very well, since I'm just do lettering. But the main thing is that your pen never lifts the paper with cursive. This is OK for some of the letters, but it's really going to mess up other letters. For example, the E in cursive doesn't have much of a down stroke because you just loop your pen around with lettering. You pick up your pen so the E gets its full down stroke. You can see when I tried to add the Fulla Griffey down stroke. It looks like a really soggy bottom which you don't want. Also in the G, you have the line going through the oval of the G because you don't lift your pen as I tried to add the down stroke. It's really squished in there, whereas the G, when you pick up your pen, has the full oval to just add the down stroke too. So when my students ask if you can just write a word in cursive for Fulla Griffey, it only sometimes works. I'm going to break down each letter of the alphabet here to show you how you would use vocal a graffiti to thicken the down strokes. Each letter is made up of different strokes. You may or may not have seen those strokes for him. Lettering and calligraphy. If not, it's okay, I will show you right here. And they are also in the worksheets for this class right here. You can see me using these different strokes to make each letter. Unlike cursive, you actually get to pick up your pen between each stroke. If you are really used to cursive, this may be hard. At first, it takes a lot of patients to slow down and break down each letter. Of course, if you enjoy a more cursive style, don't pick up your pen style. I'm sure you could make that look good. I just know that for me and most of my students, it is easier to break it down like this. I like that. I can pick up my pen and breathe for a second while I'm getting ready for the next stroke. It is very therapeutic, and it helps you to get more consistent strokes so you can have good quality. Lettering it by just breaking it down and focusing on the little details. And as for adding the down strokes, you can see I normally added thickness to the right side of the stroke. That's just a general rule. However, you have to decide letter by letter and word by word. If I'm going to cover up a loop too much, then all added to the left side. And sometimes I add a little to the right and a little to the left, depending on how much room I left for myself. The main thing is that it looks natural like a brush pen did it, and you have the same down stroke with throughout your word on the P. I did it on the left side of the down stroke and on the Q, waited on the right side of the down stroke. And that is just because that's the size of the stroke that I wanted. Once you have the basics of full Iger feet down, there are so many different things you can do with your letters, and it's much easier to do with photography, and that's what the next few video lessons are going to be about. But first, if you have not yet downloaded the worksheets, go to the resource section of this class and make sure that you download those that will help you to practice with the very basics. And with that, let's move on to changing the style 3. 1- Shape: in the next few lessons, we're going to start changing the style of your letters. I know that creating your own style can feel like some big, unknown impossible thing, and it is going to take some time. But I'm going to show you the tiny little details of how to start thinking of letters and practicing letters in a way to make them more unique and work with the things that make you happy specifically, instead of the things that somebody else likes. Because that's how you start creating something unique is working with the little details that you enjoy and picking out those things from all different sources that you see. The first trick is the shape. Think of drying different boxes that your letters have to fit into a square, a tall wreck, single and a wide rectangle. The letters that fit into these boxes are going to look different from each other, even though it doesn't feel like you're changing that much. When you use a penned a letter it first, it can help you focus on the letter form instead of how to use your brush pin or to get the right down stroke and upstroke with just a regular pen. I can go back in and think in the down strokes using faux calligraphy. But the most important thing right now is to focus on the letter form. If you need help with the Fulla Griffey parts, you can go back to the previous lesson. What would each letter look like if it had to fit into a square? You can draw 26 squares if you want, or you could even use some graph paper. Or you could just picture an imaginary box as you let her, like I'm doing here my ascending and descending loops. So, for example, in a B H k the want the A sending loops or the descending like G J. Q. Why you can see that these loops are not very long because I wanted them to fit into this square and in my alphabet, each of the squares moved up and down. That's why my letters aren't all exactly in line, meaning the A sending stroke still goes above the A. But if you wanted to, you could draw all of your squares right next to each other, and then you're a would be a stall as the a sending loop of your B and you could try that and see if you like that. What do you like about it? What do you not like about it? This alphabet that fits into the square is probably one of the more simple styles, so there's not that much crazy change happening to it. Some people may think that creating your own style is like reinventing the wheel. You're coming up with something super unique. But really, in the end, you might find out that your style is just something really simple. Just like this and the next alphabet I imagined fitting all of my letters in the tall wreck Single. And remember, there is no right or wrong in this. You are creating it for yourself. So, yes, when you do this alphabet, it may look similar in having tall letters. But yours may look totally different. If you think of a different way, it might fit into the rectangle. So that's the goal of this. Not for yours. Toe look exactly like what mine looks like, but for you to create those letters that might fit into a tall rectangle so you can start pulling around with the different shapes of your letter forms. There's no right or wrong answer, and that may feel a little bit crazy to some of you rule followers out there. And if you are a rule follower, maybe you should just learn one font, and that will make you happy. If you want to learn different styles, different fonts, this is the way to do it for me personally. This is what makes him lettering so fun, because I get to choose what it looks like instead of sticking with what somebody told me. It's supposed to look like there's nothing wrong with just learning one funds, for example, like Spence Irian script. That definitely takes skill. But I'm assuming if you are taking this class, chances are that you enjoy breaking the rules like me, and the last one is the wide wreck single. I just wanted them to be almost flattened out. It looks like they kind of got squished or something. And while I'm finishing this alphabet, I will explain the homework for this lesson. Now that you've seen all of my alphabets with these different shapes on your own paper, try out three alphabets using the square, the tall rectangle and the wide rectangle. Use a pen so you can focus on the letter form first and then fill in the down strokes. After that is why we're doing faux calligraphy. After you have your three alphabets, look at all of them side by side and decide which one you like. The best pick out specific reasons why you like it or don't like it. For example, I like when letters are tall, but I don't like them to be so squished together. There's no space in between them. So I would maybe try using the tall Rex single but giving more space between my letters and once I would trade that alphabet, then I would see what I like or don't like about that, the more specific you can get about what you like, the easier it will be to start creating your unique style. And remember, yours is going to be different than mine. So maybe you don't like tall letters. Maybe you like shorter letters. So once you finished your alphabets, feel free to share them in the project section below. If you'd like and then let's go ahead and move on to the next section, which is weight 4. 2- Weight: in this. Listen, I'm going to show you the second trick, which is weight with weight. I'm talking about the thickness of your down strokes. This seems like a tiny detail, but it really changes the style a lot. It can have a huge difference. So first I'm going toe letter three A's with my pen, and we're gonna use Fulla graffiti to show you the difference in changing the thickness. So in the 1st 1 I'm just going to leave it blank so we can see the monoline style without any thickness in the down stroke in the stick. It one I'm going to despair, Lee, give it a little bit more thickness. And in the last one, it is a very large contrasts with much thicker stroke. And now I'll show you these examples in the word. Hello. So, in this 1st 1 once again, I'm going to just leave it the monoline look, you may find that you really like the monoline lettering, and you wouldn't even need to use Fulla graffiti or a brush pin in the second. Hello. I'm going to add a very small wait. So this would probably be just adding one pen stroke to the site of the down stroke being the smallest amount of weight that you can add. So there is not a very big contrast between the upstroke and down stroke in this one. And in the 3rd 1 I am going to give it a little bit more than the 2nd 1 So it's like to pen strokes and you will see me doing it on either side of the down stroke. So this is where you need to decide. Normally I would put it on the right side. But in this instance, sometimes I'm putting it on the left and the right because I don't want to squish the loop . So it depends on how much room you left yourself for those down strokes. In this particular word, I realized that I hadn't loved myself that month room for a thicker, chunkier down stroke. So in the next hello, I am going Teoh, letter it out with leaving more space in between so you can see that the word itself is longer on the page, so that now I have much more room to fill in those down strokes in a really chunky way. So with calligraphy This is great because you can just use the same pen and get any of these different styles. If you were using ah, brush pen, then you would need to get different types of brush pins to get the smaller down stroke or the thicker down stroke. So your homework for this lesson is to let her the word hello. Or you could choose a different word if you want in these different weights. And just like in the last lesson, choose which one you like the best. Why do you like it? Why do you not like it and feel free to share in the project section below, if you'd like, and then let's move on to the spacing. 5. 3- Spacing: in this lesson, I am going to talk about a simple trick of spacing with spacing. I'm talking about the space in between the letters. So where you are connecting your letters? If you really struggle with lettering connections, I do have another skill share class, all about lettering, connections and how this affects your style. So if you want to delve deeper into that, definitely check out my other skill share class. But for now, I'm just showing you the first a b. C D. I did. There is just a very basic spacing, and then the 2nd 1 is really squished together. So a lot less space and then the 3rd 1 I'm doing has a lot more space in between each letter. So there are so many different things you can do in changing the connections. But we are just keeping it really simple with these very basic ones. I'm going to let her the word connect to show you these examples. The 1st 1 is a very simple connection. It's almost like the square of the shape lesson. Each letter has their own space, but they aren't spread out, and the 2nd 1 is a lot more squished together. It's like those letters are trying to give each other hugs. They really love each other a lot, and they just really want to be close to each other. And then in the last one, it's really far apart. And those letters don't want anyone in their personal bubbles. I hope you can look at these three different spacings and already know which one you are drawn to. Which one speaks to you, which one you really like and which, when you don't like and remember to describe why getting into that habit can really help you as you are creating your own style. So all of this has done in real time because I wanted you to see that even though it's full a graffiti, it still is pretty slow. I know some of you have seen me do brush lettering in real time, and it is very slow, and so is Fulla Griffey, because you want to make sure to get those smooth down strokes that connects. So it looks like it's just one line, and you can also see that the thickness of the down strokes are kind of determined by the spacing. So for example, the 2nd 1 I couldn't really get a very thick down stroke. It couldn't be much thicker than what I did because they're so close together in the 1st 1 I probably could have been a little bit thicker because there was still a little bit more room. But then that takes us back to the weight lesson where we're exploring what kind of weight you like. And with the last one, I want to show you how you can change it even more by changing the weight that we talked about in the previous lesson. Because there is so much room between the letters, you can give it a chunkier look with extra thick down strokes. Even though the base of this word looked the same, changing up the full A graffiti weight made a huge difference in changing the style. You could use all different combinations of the three techniques I've shown you in shape, weight and spacing. This is why I had you choose which one you like the best in each lesson, because you could take the one you like the best and try combining them and see what comes from it. So that's your homework from this lesson. First letter. All three different spacings. Choose which one is your favorite and try to describe why and then start combining some of the different techniques and have fun with it. There are so many variations you can do with this. And of course, there are lots of other ways to change his style. But these air just some basic so it doesn't feel overwhelming to get started. And in the next listen, I have some bonus techniques to add even mawr uniqueness to your style. 6. 4- Bonus: in this lesson. I have a bonus trick for you that you can use with any of the previous styles the shape, weight and spacing to really change a pure lettering and to really make it pop this one, there are so many things you can do with it. I'm really excited to share this with you. And the trick is to leave it open. So the down strokes instead of filling it in, making it look like it is was done by a brush pen. You are going to leave it open and there are so many different things you can dio, and I'm gonna show you a few different things here with this one, though you do need to you have a little bit more space. So the really squished spacing wouldn't work very well. And even how I wrote this, it's kind of hard to tell that some of them are open. So even this leave it open. Probably needed to be whiter, apart. Probably my favorite font to do this with is a print style. Whether that's upper case or lower case on, I'm just showing you an upper case example here so you can get an idea when you do it in a print style instead of doing the cursive or the script. The letter first. Instead, you are writing the letter with the block form of the Fulla Griffey down stroke before even finishing the letter. And that's why it's easier to leave it open because you don't have something crossing through it. You are intentionally starting with the open down stroke. I really love how it looks. This uppercase style of a font can go really well with a script lower case font that you would maybe filling all of the down strokes. So there is quite a big contrast between the two funds. And that is what is really great about combining funds is when they have a big enough contrast that you can tell that they are supposed to be different. So maybe one of the words stands out over the other one. If you like this uppercase font style that I'm doing here, feel free, Teoh, practice this and use any of these letters. And then you could even try coming up with your own uppercase font and see what yours would look like in this style, leaving open the down strokes, and this next one that I'm going to show you is a really fun trick. I know they're all really fun, but I also really like this one. So first I am lettering My word in just a print style, but in lower case. So you could do this in the script style as well. But you might want Teoh pencil it out first so you don't have any of the lines crossing through the down strokes because that's what I wanted here. I wanted my down strokes to be completely open. So in that e, if I had just drawn the E first and then did the down stroke, there would have been the cross stroke of the in the down stroke. And I did messed it up a little and do it in the tea. But it's okay, cause I kind of fixed it in the design that I did in that one. So now that I have all of my letters return out, I want to do little doodles and patterns and shapes inside each letter. So I'm giving you some ideas of different ones you could do. But the possibilities are really endless. You could dio all different colors inside. You could do little rainbows of different colors. You could do stripes of different colors. You could do florals. You could do little letters, insider letters. There's so many different things that you can do. I love the look of the different colors here, next to each other in the word create, because this was a very creative, unique way to letter the word create coming up with different doodles inside each letter. And, you know, this may be too busy for you. You might not like all of these different things together. You might not like all of the colors, and that's okay. Just recognize what you like, what you don't like and why. And in the next one, I did pencil this one out first because it's that script style, and I am doing a rainbow blend inside. If you are interested in how to do a rainbow blend for your lettering, I do have another sculpture class focused just on that, because that is its own topic. So definitely take that one out if you're interested in that. And here is an example of where I did the script e style and then the upper case print style with the letters open in viola, graffiti and how? Because there's such a big contrast, it looks really great together and next I am using a brush pen, and this is one of my favorite things to do because I love brush lettering. I love using brush pens, but I also love leaving open my full a graffiti. I love holography in general, and so this combination was so perfect for me And a lot of my friends and followers have also been interested in this style, So feel free to use this if you are interested in that. But basically you do the down stroke thick, and then you do the holography stroke, leaving it open so it almost just looks like a highlight inside your letter It it doesn't even seem like photography, cause it's like fake filmography since you're using a brush pen. And then I wanted to show you that in a little bit more here. So I was using Karen markers, and this right here is favorite Castel, and I'm just showing you that there are so many different styles you can do. Even with this technique, you can still change up the style of the base of the word. And a lot of these come from changing the shape, weight and spacing and then getting really creative with it and seeing how far I can push it and what different things I can do. And really, that's what it's all about. Is just having fun, being creative, coming up with different things. The more you do it, the more you are going to find the specific things that you like and don't like. And we're going to explore that even further in the next lesson, as I describe the class project. 7. Your Class Project: for your class project. This is going to be really fun, because the goal of this class is not to leave it having your one style that will never change again because I think we all know that styles change and grow with us and they evolve over time, and it really does just take some time to start honing in on the style that you use most consistently. Because of that, I want you to explore. And that's what this whole class has been about. His exploring different styles. And so all in one piece, you are going to do a collage off all different types of styles, using the techniques that you have learned in this class. So you can see I've just taken a small paper. It's probably four by six inches, and now I'm going to go through, and I am going to come up with all the different styles that I can think of. Looking back at the different techniques that I liked and didn't like and doing different combinations. It's good to choose a size and then have to fill that size because it can really push you to come up with more things as you have to feel the whole sheet and I am doing my name. So if that's easiest for you, that's what I want you to do. Just twos your name and start lettering it in all different styles. If you don't want to do your name, that's okay. You can choose a different word, but it is kind of fun to see your own name and be ableto letter your own name in all of these different styles. If your name is one of those, that's really hard toe letter. This could be a great technique to try out different styles and find something for your name that you really like. And you can change the shape, the weight, the spacing. But you can also try out in the bonus less than leaving it open and adding all different kinds of things. On the inside. You could do a rainbow blend. You could do all different colors. Or maybe you don't like all the colors like I do. Maybe you just like one color and you want to leave it at that. But you are just using one pen, just a modeling pen so you don't even need a brush pen. You could even just use a pencil for this so that you can get all of the different styles. And remember, we are focusing on the letter form here first on, then going in with the down stroke second. And in this collage that I did, I originally wanted the Sarah in pink, the very middle one to be kind of centered and to have everything around it. But then, in the end, I didn't really love that. It's almost like I wish I had just done kept with all of the stripes in the Rainbow Stripes instead of having a pink one in the middle. But that is how we learned. That's how we know for next time. So I left it for this piece, and I tried to do some blending because I wanted to see if that would look cool. And I am using watercolor paper. So that is another thing. I normally wouldn't use brush pens on watercolor paper, but with holography, you can use thes pens on watercolor paper and not worry about the brush nib fring. So that's why these blend really, really nicely. But like I said, I wished that it may be was a different color so that I could have kept the stripes of the Rainbow Hombre going down instead of having pink in the very center. But that's all right. I really like this piece. It's really fun to see your name in all different styles. So I hope you have fun with it as well and see what you can come up with. I am so excited to see you share your pieces because this is so fun for me to see these different styles. I know that you're going to be able to come up with some different styles that I maybe haven't even never thought of using different combinations and using the things that you are drawn to you because you are unique. Something that makes you happy is going to be different from something that makes me happy . And that's what makes it so great that we can share in that. So take a picture of your piece and share it in the project section below. I'm so excited to see it. Thank you so much for taking this class with me. Check out my other sculpture classes if you haven't had your fill of lettering yet. And if you liked this, give me a follow. So you'll know when I post my next class and I will see you in the project section.