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Learn the 8 basic brush strokes of calligraphy and brush lettering and download your free practice sheets.

If someone where to ask you today what the 8 basic strokes of brush calligraphy were, could you answer? No? Well that’s why I’m writing this post, just for you.

When I started to teach myself brush calligraphy, I had no idea there were basic strokes that I should focus on learning first. I just dove right in and started writing letters. But if I were to go back, and really learn and practice these basic brush strokes, I think I would have been better off.

So if you are just starting out, and want to start right, brush up on those basic brush strokes first (see what I did there ;)? ) and grab the free worksheets at the bottom of this post.

8 Basic Strokes of Brush Calligraphy

There are 8 basic strokes of brush calligraphy. Practicing each stroke is essential to learning brush calligraphy, so join me as I walk you through each one.

Upstroke

An upstroke is the stroke of each letter that the pen is naturally moving in an upward direction. Straightforward right? In traditional and brush calligraphy, upstrokes use less pressure on the pen creating a thin, clear upstroke.

Basic Brush calligraphy strokes worksheet on ipad

Downstroke

The opposite of an upstroke is the downstroke. Every stroke of the letter that the pen naturally moves in a downward direction is a downstroke. Downstrokes use more pressure on the pen, creating thicker lines.

Overturn

Overturns are another type of brush lettering stroke which involves moving the pen in an upstroke and transitioning to a downstroke. This is achieved with a curve in the transition. The trick to getting clean overturns is to go very slowly in transitioning from thin to thick. The thickness of the downstroke should not start at the top of the curve, but rather at the end of the curve.

close up of overturn calligraphy brush stroke

Underturn

The underturn stroke is similar to an overturn, but starts with a downstroke curving to transition into an upstroke. This creates a “u” loop. The same holds true for getting a clean transition from an underturn as with overturns, but the transition from thick to thin should start at the beginning of the curve.

Compound Curve

A compound curve combines both an overturn and an underturn. In practice this is done with one stroke, to help build muscle memory for transitions from thin to thick to thin again.

Read Also: Simple Lettering Terminology

Ascending Loop

An ascending loop is the same loop that helps create the loop and trunk of a “b” or “h”, among others. It starts with an upstroke at the x-height that loops up and over, with a thick downstroke to the baseline.

close up of ascending loop calligraphy stroke

Descending Loop

The descending loop is the same loop that helps create a “j”. It starts with a downstroke that loops around with an upstroke finishing at the x-height (or at the baseline with a lower case letter).

Oval

An oval is also a basic brush calligraphy stroke, and for me is still one of the more difficult to get right. It seems pretty straightforward, and it is, but for me the trouble comes with meeting back at the starting point. Practice is the only way to get better!

Now that you know the basic strokes of brush calligraphy, it’s time to get practicing. Practice is the only way to improve at a new skill! So I’ve created a free printable worksheet for you to download and print or use on your iPad to start practicing.

brush strokes practice sheets on desk with markers

To download your free practice sheets, you’ll need to subscribe to the subscriber library. Sign up below with your name and email address. Once you’ve CONFIRMED your subscription (IT’S Totally FREE!) you’ll be sent an email with the link and password to the library where you can download the free practice sheets.

Need a little more help? Check out this video below of each stroke demonstrated in real time.

I’m using a Pentel Sign Pen Touch in this video.

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5 Comments

  1. I don’t find the place where I have to subscribe for getting the free brush calligraphy worksheets ??!
    Can you tell me what I’ve to do, please ? Thank you very much 🙂

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