How to Use Calligraphy Worksheets to Boost Your Practice


Lettering practice sheets are everywhere, but do you know the best way to use them?

Learn how to use calligraphy worksheets so you can make the most of your practice time!

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I recently made some new calligraphy alphabet worksheets (shown above), and I thought I would write a post about how to use calligraphy practice sheets in general.

I hope this will help you feel comfortable using calligraphy practice sheets so you can use them to improve your skills!

Why should I use calligraphy practice sheets?

While it’s totally possible to teach yourself calligraphy, using calligraphy practice sheets gives you an advantage and helps you learn faster.

They give you a guide to follow so you aren’t just guessing!

Here are some great reasons to use calligraphy worksheets:

  • Guidelines. The calligraphy guidelines are already set up and ready for you to use so you don’t have to make your own.
  • Traceable strokes. It’s so much easier to learn when you can trace over the strokes and use them as templates. No need to freehand!
  • Muscle memory. Repeated practice with worksheets helps you build muscle memory so it’ll get easier to form the letters over time.
  • Instruction. Most calligraphy worksheets will include at least a few instructions and recommendations so you can get started in the best way.

When you use practice sheets, you’re tracing letters based on another artist’s style and experience.

This gives you a head start in developing your own calligraphy skills!

Calligraphy worksheet setup

Let’s go over how worksheets are set up.

Calligraphy guidelines are usually set up like you see below, although it can vary for different styles:

how calligraphy guidelines are set up

Slightly different names are used for the lines, but the basics are the same. (The guideline proportions can change, too.)

A set of calligraphy worksheets will be designed to guide you through learning. It typically looks something like this:

  1. They usually start with some basic strokes or exercises, which are great for warming up and getting used to controlling the pen.
  2. Most beginner worksheets will guide you from forming basic strokes to building letters and the whole alphabet.
  3. After each traceable example, there may be space for you to practice doing it on your own.
  4. Once you’ve learned an alphabet, you’ll learn how to connect letters and write words. There might also be other designs to trace.
  5. A blank sheet of guidelines is usually included so you can practice doing calligraphy without tracing.

Here are some things you should pay attention to when using calligraphy worksheets:

  • How the letters sit on the guidelines
  • Directional arrows (where to start and end strokes)
  • How letters are built up of individual strokes
  • Adding pressure for thick lines and lightening pressure for thin lines
  • Lifting your pen after forming each stroke

How to use calligraphy worksheets for beginners

Here are the basics of how to use calligraphy worksheets.

  1. Choose a pen to use.

    There are several types of calligraphy or regular pens you could use, but it’s best to use the pen that is recommended for the worksheets you’re using.

  2. Choose paper accordingly.

    Choose a paper that works well with the pen you’ll be using.

    If using brush pens, use tracing paper or marker paper over the worksheets.
    If using regular pens or markers, you can use any paper.
    If using a pointed pen, print the worksheets on a quality printer paper like HP Premium.

  3. Print the worksheets.

    Print out the worksheets on quality printer paper or regular printer paper, depending on the pen and paper you plan to use.

  4. Follow the instructions.

    A good set of worksheets will include instructions or tips for how to use them. Make sure to follow any specific instructions for the best results.

  5. Trace the worksheet examples.

    Trace over the calligraphy examples with your writing tool of choice. Go slowly, focus on forming each stroke, and turn the paper if you need to.

    Add pressure for thick lines and lighten pressure for thin lines. For the biggest benefit, practice each stroke multiple times until you feel like you’ve learned it.

When using calligraphy worksheets, remember that you can turn the paper any way you need to so it’s comfortable for you!

And don’t worry about tracing the examples perfectly – they’re just there as a guide.

What pens should I use?

The best pen to use with calligraphy practice sheets depends on what type and size of pen the worksheets were made for.

Some worksheets are made for small pens and others for large pens.

The creator of the worksheets should mention what pen(s) are best to use with the worksheets.

If not, you’d have to figure out what pen is similar to the size of the examples. It’s fine if your pen ends up being a little bigger or smaller.

Calligraphy worksheets are usually meant to be used with pressure-sensitive calligraphy pens like brush pens, pointed pens, or broad-edge pens.

Pressure-sensitive pens allow you to get thick and thin strokes. Or, if you wanted to, you could practice calligraphy first with a pencil!

If you don’t have any special calligraphy pens, here are some alternatives you could practice with:

  • Crayola markers
  • Pencil
  • Fountain pen
  • Ballpoint pen

You can get a thicker line with even regular pens and pencils if you press hard enough!

Of course, depending on the thickness and size of the letter examples, some pens will work better than others.

a calligraphy alphabet worksheet page
I made these particular worksheets for small brush pens.

You can get the worksheets shown above in my shop.

Pen position

To get a calligraphy pen to work like you want it to, make sure you’re holding it correctly!

The best way to hold a pen varies depending on what type of calligraphy pen you’re using.

With any pen, you’ll want to hold it fairly close to the tip so you can control it.

  • If you’re using a brush pen, hold it to the side of your writing and at roughly a 45 degree angle to the paper. (More about how to hold and control brush pens in this post.)
  • Pointed dip pens should generally be held at a 45 degree angle to the paper and with the tip pointing up towards the top or upper corner of the paper. (So the pen will be held below your writing instead of to the side like brush pens.)
  • Broad-edge or chisel tip pens should be held with the tip at a 45 degree angle to the baseline that you’re writing on. (Here’s a video that demonstrates that.)
  • If you’re using a regular pen or pencil, there aren’t really specifics for position. Just make sure you can get the strokes you want to get!

Don’t hold a calligraphy pen straight up and down like you might normally hold pens, since that doesn’t work well with pressure-sensitive pens.

Just make sure your grip and pen position allows you to get thick and thin lines, control your strokes, and doesn’t make your hand uncomfortable.

Best paper to use with calligraphy worksheets

If you’re using regular pens or pencils, it doesn’t matter what paper you use, but some papers damage calligraphy pen tips or cause ink feathering or bleeding.

Here are a few practice papers that should work well regardless of the type of pen you’re using:

There are a few ways you could use calligraphy paper with worksheets:

  1. Place paper over printed worksheets. If the paper is thin enough, you can put it over practice sheets and still see the guides underneath. (Also great for using lettering books.)
  2. Print worksheets on a quality printer paper. You can also print worksheets on a better quality printer paper like HP Premium or Xerox paper since those will work better with calligraphy pens.
  3. Use a light box. Put the printed worksheet on a light box and put a piece of good paper over it. This would also work well if you want to trace some finished work onto nicer paper.

Brush pens in particular fray easily, so it’s important to use smooth paper with those. Tracing paper is a great option!

For more about the best paper for brush pens, read this post: Best Paper for Brush Pens: A Complete Guide

For more about general calligraphy papers, here’s an article by Lettering Daily that has some good information.

How to pick the right worksheets for you

There are lots of both free and paid calligraphy worksheets available. But how do you know which ones are best for you?

There are several things to consider when deciding which calligraphy practice sheets to use.

(Looking for some free worksheets to get you started? This practice guide will get you off to a great start.)

Style

First, pay attention to the style of calligraphy that worksheets are teaching (or the style of the calligrapher who made them).

Is that style something you really want to replicate?

If not, look further until you find someone whose style you really like and want to learn.

Some worksheets aren’t the best for beginners to follow, so look for someone who has plenty of experience!

Pen type

You should also look for the right worksheets for the tool you want to use.

Some calligraphy worksheets are for pointed pens, some for brush pens, and others for chisel tip or broad edge pens.

Always pay attention to the pen type and size that worksheets are made for so you know what you’re getting.

If you don’t know which tool you want to use, just look for a style of calligraphy that you want to learn and follow the instructions.

In my opinion, brush pens are the easiest to start with! I recommend starting with small or medium brush pens.

(My favorite brush pens are listed on my resources page.)

Skill level

Another thing to consider is what skill level you’re at currently.

Are you brand-new to calligraphy? Start with the basics! Look for worksheets for absolute beginners that have plenty of information and instructions, and that go over the basic calligraphy strokes.

Have you mastered the basics but want more? Try looking for more intermediate calligraphy styles you want to learn, alternative alphabets, or maybe worksheets for a larger pen size.

Are you ready to expand your skills? Look for practice sheets for advanced techniques like flourishing, layouts, more complicated styles, or try learning with a different writing tool.

Printed or digital?

Printed vs digital calligraphy worksheets: which is better, and which should you use?

Whether they’re physical or digital doesn’t really matter. Use the type of worksheets that you’re most comfortable using.

Do you prefer working digitally or with pen and paper? Any worksheets should be both printable and useable on an iPad, so you can do both if you want.

Probably the most popular iPad app for calligraphy is Procreate, but there are other apps too (here’s an article about calligraphy apps).

I do calligraphy using both pen and paper and Procreate, but I first learned with physical worksheets and brush pens.

In my opinion, it’s better to start doing calligraphy with real pens and paper if you want to be able to do both, just because it’s easier to transition from paper to digital calligraphy than vice versa.

(But again, use whatever method you prefer!)

Style, pen type, and skill level are the main things to pay attention to when you’re looking at calligraphy practice sheets.

Free worksheets are great, but sometimes don’t include any tips or instructions, so keep that in mind, too.

several pages of fall calligraphy practice sheets

(You can get the above fall word practice sheets in my shop.)

How much should I practice?

The best way to get better at calligraphy is to practice a lot.

Worksheets help you with this because they guide your practice, but it’s up to you to get serious about how much you practice!

Most calligraphy worksheets only have you practicing each letter for one or two lines.

That doesn’t mean you should limit it to that, though!

Want to really master those strokes? Fill an entire page with each stroke/letter that you learn.

That kind of repetition will help you build muscle memory faster than if you just do the minimum amount of practice.

The more you practice, the easier it will get to form the strokes!

If you only have ten minutes a day to practice, try practicing just one letter or stroke repeatedly during that time, instead of trying to do as many as you can.

Slowing down and purposefully practicing each stroke will get you further than going through everything quickly.

And if you put some music on while you do it, that could become really relaxing!

Quick Tip

Put the date on your practice pages so you can keep track of your progress.

Worksheets are one of the best ways to learn and practice calligraphy, so now that you know how to use them, I hope you’re feeling ready to start practicing!

You might also like: 3 Calligraphy Tips to Instantly Improve Consistency

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how to use calligraphy worksheets

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