Brush Calligraphy Basic Strokes

Calligraphy was widely used in the 16th century. You may have heard of scripts like Copperplate, Spencerian, Italic, Roman etc. Those are classified in the Traditional Calligraphy family and are heavily structured by rules. So today I want to explain modern calligraphy which are more flexible in rules and we use brush pen, markers to execute lettering. Let’s begin!


Just like how we do warm up exercises before any sports, we do the same when we start working on calligraphy. Warm up drills are important to set your mind and muscle memory. You also get to understand the tools you use, for example, which pen provides a thick strokes and which tool provides a thinner stroke, ink flows etc.


  1. Push and pull

Aim to maintain a straight line for the upstroke and downstroke (basic strokes will be explained later in the basic strokes section).

2. Thin to Thick

Start with no pressure and gradually increase the pressure, this exercise helps to control pressure of the tool you use.

3. Thick to Thin

This is the opposite of the above warm up drill in which you first start with heavy pressure then gradually lift and release at the end of the stroke.

4. Ovals – Clockwise and/or Anti-clockwise

A circular oval motion to work on the oval strokes (again the basic strokes will be explained in a later section)

Please keep in mind that there are many more drill exercises to work on particular results. I will be posting more soon.


All the alphabets are made by these basic strokes, you will excel in your calligraphy journey once you have mastered these strokes.

  • Upstroke

Light stroke in upward direction. In calligraphy one of the rules you need to remember is up light down heavy.

  • Downstroke

Heavy stoke in downward direction, again with the calligraphy rule of up light down heavy.

  • Overturn

It is similar to an upside down ‘U’, you start with the left side upward and heavy curve down.

  • Underturn

Heavy pressure right at the beginning and light weight as you curve up.

  • Compound curve

It is the combination of stroke 2 and 3.

  • Oval

The thickest part of the shade should reside in the middle of the left oval.

  • Ascending loops

The ascender loop going upward and a downstroke with pressure.

  • Descending loops

Begin with pressure downstroke then lighten weight when you begin to curve.

As I remember when I first started calligraphy, my teacher kept repeating this, it is better to practice daily for 15 minutes than practicing only once a month for 2 hours. Remember the key for calligraphy is to be consistent which is quality.

If you would like to learn, I offer workshops through Goboomerang on a regular basis in different levels.

Introduction to Calligraphy – Basic strokes and lower cases

Intermediate Calligraphy – Basic strokes and upper cases

Connector & Spacing in Calligraphy – How to connect letters, what is bounce letters

Calligraphy & Flourishing – Decorative strokes to elevate calligraphy skills

Calligraphy Beyond Paper – Once you have mastered calligraphy on paper, there are infinite projects you can do to execute lettering beyond paper (such as mirror, glasses, wood etc)

I can’t wait to see you in one of my workshops and the pleasure to share my passion with you!

Tag me and use #tutorialwithsincerelybo when you follow my tutorial.

I’d love to see your work and connect with you!

Visit my Instagram @sincerelybo to see more calligraphy projects!