Mastering Faux Calligraphy: A Beginner’s Guide

Last Updated on March 7, 2024


Calligraphy is a beautiful art form that has been practiced for centuries, but not everyone has access to the tools and skills needed to create traditional calligraphy. However, there’s a fantastic alternative if you don’t have calligraphy tools called faux calligraphy that allows anyone to achieve stunning calligraphic effects using basic writing tools like pens and pencils. It isn’t exactly calligraphy, it’s more of a style of lettering, as you draw the letters instead of write them, but it looks just as nice when done correctly. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll explore what faux calligraphy is and how you can get started on your own creative journey.

What is Faux Calligraphy?

Faux calligraphy, also known as “fake” or “cheater’s” calligraphy, is a technique that mimics the elegant, flowing style of traditional calligraphy using everyday writing tools. With faux calligraphy, you can create beautiful lettering with the illusion of varying line widths and intricate flourishes, even if you don’t own calligraphy pens or have any prior calligraphy experience. It’s an accessible and fun way to add a touch of artistry to your handwritten projects, like bullet journaling.

Materials You’ll Need

To begin your faux calligraphy journey, you won’t need specialized calligraphy tools. Here’s a list of the basic materials:

  1. Pencil and Eraser: These are handy for sketching your letters before inking them. It helps correct fixable mistakes, especially if you’re new to letterforms.
  2. Pen or Marker (Optional): Select a pen or marker with a simple rounded fine point for tracing your sketched letters. If you are feeling confident in your hand lettering skills, you can skip the sketching step (though I wouldn’t recommend it at first).
  3. Paper: Choose smooth, quality paper that won’t absorb ink too quickly when using markers. This will help you achieve cleaner lines and better results.

Getting Started with Faux Calligraphy

Faux Calligraphy - Cursive to Faux Calligraphy
Cursive to Faux Calligraphy

1. Select a Script Style:

There are various calligraphy styles to choose from, such as cursive, italic, or gothic. Decide on a style that appeals to you and fits your project’s theme.

2. Write Your Text:

Start by writing your text in regular cursive or print handwriting. Leave some space between each letter to allow for the faux calligraphy effect.

3. Identify Downstrokes:

Basic Strokes of Modern Brush Calligraphy
Upstrokes & Downstrokes

In traditional calligraphy, downstrokes are the lines that are thicker and more prominent, while upstrokes remain thin. A downstroke is named for the direction the thicker stroke is completed when doing brush calligraphy (More info in my brush post here). In faux calligraphy, you’ll manually thicken the downstrokes.

4. Add Thickness to Downstrokes:

Go back over the downstrokes with your pen, making them thicker by applying more pressure. You can also fill them in completely to create a solid, bold appearance. Keep the upstrokes, which are the lines moving upward in your letters, thin and delicate. This contrast between thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes creates the illusion of calligraphy.

5. Embellish and Decorate:

Once you’ve thickened the downstrokes, you can get creative by adding flourishes, loops, and decorative elements to your letters to make them uniquely yours.

6. Erase Guidelines:

After your ink has dried, gently erase any pencil guidelines you initially sketched.

Faux Calligraphy Video Tutorial

Modern Faux Calligraphy Tutorial

Practice, Patience, and Perseverance

As with any art form, mastering faux calligraphy takes practice. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you embark on your journey:

Practice Regularly:

Premium Practice Sheets:

Dedicate time to practice regularly. Start with simple words and phrases, and gradually move on to more complex lettering projects. For a detailed and structured approach, I would recommend my Master Class Faux sheets.

Free Faux Calligraphy Lowercase Practice Sheets

Faux Calligraphy Practice Sheet
Modern Faux Calligraphy Lowercase

Above is a set of free faux calligraphy practice sheets showing simple monoline letters that when thickened in the right locations simulate modern brush calligraphy.

Study Other Calligraphy Styles:

How to Learn Calligraphy - Complete Beginners Guide

Familiarize yourself with different calligraphy styles and fonts to inspire your faux calligraphy creations.

Seek Inspiration:

A #Calligrascape from our Instagram

Follow calligraphers and lettering artists on Instagram and Pinterest to gather inspiration and learn new techniques.


Monoline Calligraphy with a glass pen

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different pens, paper, and colors to find your unique style. A good example is the glass pen to do faux calligraphy.


Faux calligraphy offers a wonderful entry point into the world of decorative lettering and adds a personal touch to your handwritten projects. With a little practice and creativity, you can master this technique and create stunning faux calligraphy designs that impress and inspire. So, grab your pens and paper, and start your journey towards becoming a faux calligraphy artist today!

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