Calligraphy is becoming more popular thanks to social media apps, where users can share a daily quote or phrase that they write by hand. Brush and dip pen calligraphy is well worth learning, but if you’re not ready to invest in supplies for it, faux calligraphy is a great place to start. Maricar Ramos gave a helpful step-by-step demo on how to write the word “hope” in faux calligraphy, so let’s give it a try!

Step 1: Know the Basic Penstrokes

In calligraphy, the downstrokes are wide and the upstrokes are thin. We simulate this in faux calligraphy by colouring in the “downstrokes” to make them wide. Practice making straight wide lines and curvy upstrokes until you are confident.

Now, draw these basic shapes and widen the lines where you were pulling the pen downward. These shapes are the building blocks of the letters, so once you're able to do this, you can create letters for real.

Step 2: Practice Writing the Word

Next, it’s time to write the actual word and shade the downstrokes. When you pay attention to which parts of the letter you were pulling downward on the pen for, it’s easy to know where to shade and widen the line afterwards. Before you shade, outline how wide you want the line to be.

Here’s a comparison between the faux calligraphy effect and regular cursive. Don’t worry if your handwriting isn’t neat. You can use your default cursive to make faux calligraphy, and it will give a more personal look.

Step 3: Preparing the Page

Once you’re ready, we'll begin the final picture. Start by making pencil lines on the page, like the lines on a piece of ruled notebook paper. You will need lines for the top of the tall letters, the top of the lowercase letters, the baseline, and the place where the letters that go below the baseline stop.

Step 4: Basic Cursive

Using the guidelines you just made, write the word “hope” in cursive. Once again, if your cursive isn’t as neat, that’s okay. Just use your authentic handwriting.

Step 5: Widen the Lines

Don’t colour anything in yet, because we’re not doing this whole picture in pencil, but outline the areas where the line is supposed to be thicker. Make sure everything is aligned the way you want it to be before we introduce ink and watercolour.

Step 6: Ink

Take any pen you like, and trace your writing. Colour in the wide lines, and there you have it! It’s a beautiful faux calligraphy word. We’re not quite done yet though - it’s time to embellish!

Step 7: Flowers and Leaves

Now we are going to add some very simple watercolour botanicals around the word. We’re not going to sketch first, we’re just going to use intuition. Start by painting flower shapes where you like them.

They can be any kind of flower. Add some colour to the centre if you would like; I decided to make a wet-on-wet gradient in the centres of my flowers.

Once you have the flowers in place, you can draw in some vines and leaves with green watercolour. Try not to get too close to the words. You want your composition to have some breathing room, but don’t worry too much about precision because this is just supposed to be fun.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Step back and look at your work to see if it needs anything else. I decided that mine needed more yellow to balance the composition, so I added more yellow petals here and there.

I also used the purple marker to add detail to the centres of the big flowers and tie them into the main colour more. I also made some of the leaves darker so they would show up better. Now, the picture is done!

You can use faux calligraphy in so many ways. You can use it to make cards, gifts, or to decorate your home! Maricar Ramos likes to make custom notebook covers as gifts for her friends. If you’re like me, you might find an inside joke and write it all pretty in faux calligraphy to make it extra silly for your friends.

If you found this demo as valuable as I did, you’ll enjoy Maricar’s 90-minute class! Also, you are welcome to subscribe to our email newsletter and get exclusive updates on new classes in the future!

Elsa Wahlstrom is an illustrator/writer living in the south Idaho hill country. She  loves to create cozy, homey pictures and populate them with funny little creatures  having surreal little adventures. Her biggest inspiration is the music and comedy that  came out of England in the late 60s. When she’s not busy making art, she goes for long  hikes, plays a few instruments, and collects vinyl.

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