How to do Monoline Calligraphy

Richard Wideman
Last Updated on May 14, 2021

What is Monoline Calligraphy?

Monoline calligraphy may not be something you have heard of but odds are, you have done it. Let me explain. When a word is written in a ‘monoline’ style, it means that every line, letter and connection are written with the same consistent thickness. Though calligraphy is in the name, it is technically hand lettering (more of an explanation here). Simply put, monoline calligraphy is handwritten lettering written with a consistent thickness. Some common monoline alphabets include: decorative printing, cursive and some modern scripts.

Types of Monoline Calligraphy

Tools for Monoline Calligraphy

Monoline Calligraphy Tools Logo

These scripts can be achieved with normal pencils, pens, or any round tipped writing tool. There are many kinds of calligraphy that don’t need fancy tools, and this is one of them. This is what makes monoline calligraphy a great “gateway” script, it teaches all the basics that you can build on if you want to learn pointed pen scripts like modern or copperplate. Although it’s totally unnecessary (and a little ridiculous), my favourite monoline calligraphy tool has to be the glass pen, which makes a beautiful gift for any calligrapher.

Monoline Calligraphy with a glass pen
A glass pen doing what any ballpoint pen can, but its very pretty 🙂

Below are some other calligraphy dip pen nibs that you to write in a monoline style.

Monoline Calligraphy Examples
Monoline calligraphy nibs doing Modern Calligraphy on the left,
Broad edge nibs doing Blackletter Calligraphy on the right

Some Styles of Monoline Calligraphy

Cursive

Cursive writing is any handwritten script where all letters are connected together to allow easy and faster writing. Since cursive is typically written with a pen or pencil, all strokes are of the same thickness. Due to this fact, cursive is technically monoline calligraphy.

When cursive is done with other tools, like brush pens, the strokes are different thicknesses and creates brush calligraphy. You can learn all about it in my post below:

Learning cursive can teach you the structures of letters so that you can later thicken them to create something called “Faux Calligraphy.” Faux calligraphy is lettering where instead of writing the letters with a brush tool, you sketch the brush letters as if you wrote them. Faux calligraphy is the only way to create brush calligraphy on chalkboards, murals and any other large scale projects, due to the size limitations of brush tools.

Cursive thickened in the right places makes “Faux Calligraphy”

Serif Printing

Monoline calligraphy - Serif Printing
Basic printing with added serifs for a decorative effect

Another type of monoline calligraphy is when you add serifs to normal printing. Serifs are the “feet” on letters that help make the letter more decorative and dignified. But where do you add them you may ask? Well look no further, because there are a few easy guidelines to follow to add serifs to your printing to really step up your lettering game.

Monoline calligraphy - How to add serifs to printing
Adding serifs to normal uppercase letters.
  1. First things first. Serifs will always be parallel or perpendicular to the baseline. They will not be on any other angle than 90 or 180 degrees.
  2. The first place to put serifs are on any unconnected strokes at the top or bottom of a letter (see the V, E, R, & Y in the image above).
  3. The other place to put serifs are on are the corners of letters (see the E & R in the image above)

Monoline Practice Sheets

Practice is the key to learning anything. No one starts out amazing at anything, so investing the time into the skill you want to learn is absolutely key. One of the ways to invest the time with structured learning is to complete practice sheets. Completing practice sheets allows you to practice the strokes and movements to help solidify the scripts in your mind. I have created a monoline and faux calligraphy practice sheet set to help learn the scripts.

These practice sheets helps calligraphy beginners who don’t have tools start learning calligraphy with 2 basic monoline scripts: Serif and Cursive. From there, the sheets teach you how to thicken those two scripts into different kind of lettering and calligraphy: Faux calligraphy and Serif lettering (Pictured below). These sheets are a great way to break into calligraphy, even if you have no prior practice. If you are interested check them out here: Master Class Monoline and Faux Practice Sheets

That’s All Folks

Is there something I missed? Please leave a comment to mention any gaps on this topic. I read ’em all!

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