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How to Write in Calligraphy with a Pencil

how to write in calligraphy with pencil
Writing in calligraphy is a fun hobby or interest to have. You can impress your friends with how nice your handwriting is, or you can do it just for yourself. But writing with different mediums is a cool skill to have. Do you know how to write in calligraphy with a pencil? This post will teach you the basic techniques that will serve as the foundation of this skill. We will tackle the essential tools you need, how to write primary lines, then move on to the more advanced letters and more.

Using a Pencil to Do Calligraphy

Here is the easy-to-follow guide to doing calligraphy with a pencil:

Get the Right Tools

First things first, you got to choose the right tools to do the best calligraphy possible. With pencils, your focus should be on the hardness or softness of the lead. Pencils have graded softness-to-hardness scales ranging from 9B to 9H. 9B pencils have the softest lead, and 9H pencils have the hardest lead. In the center is F, which stands for firm.

Choosing the softness or hardness of your pencil lead is a matter of preference. To get to the best decision, it’s advisable to try them all out and see which one works for you. However, most beginners find that the softer the lead is, the better thick strokes it makes.

The next part of choosing the best tools is what paper you want to use. There are numerous types of paper you can use. The factors you may want to consider are texture, weight, color, and lines.

Texture determines whether the paper is smooth, rough, ridged, and more. The weight measures the thickness of the paper in gsm (grams per square meter). Different types of papers may be lined, have a grid, or have no lines at all. For beginners, I suggest using lined writing platforms to keep a consistent writing size. Another option is to use a ruler to keep your writing consistent, but that adds more work to the process.

Lastly, an eraser plays a vital role in getting your strokes and lines right. Although you can create perfect calligraphic works with enough practice, it is sensible to have an eraser handy while learning the basics. Since we are focusing on how to do calligraphy with a pencil, graphite erasers are sensible.

Learn the Basic Rule

Calligraphy is all about keeping your writing as consistent as possible. But to add spice to your handwriting, you can vary the thickness of your strokes. The general rule I adhere to is to keep upward strokes thin and downward strokes thick. As the pencil moves farther away from your wrist (upwards), the narrower its line should be. As it moves nearer to the wrist in a downward stroke, the thicker the line will be.

This technique may sound complicated, but it’s just a matter of shifting the pressure on the pencil as you write. As you write upwards, keep the pressure on the pressure light. As you move the lead downwards, add more pressure on it. Softer leads respond more noticeably to this technique.

Some guides suggest doing the downward strokes with a bit of an angle. But that technique is not sustainable when you write a long block of text. Changing how you hold the pencil with each change of the direction stroke is tiring. I suggest maintaining a comfortable grip on the pencil at all times.

To help make the thin and thick lines more contrasting, I suggest using a somewhat dull pencil.

how to do calligraphy with a pencil

Start Small

Get the hang of changing the pressure on the pencil as you write but still maintain consistency. How do you do this? I suggest focusing on a small aspect of writing first, either the downstroke or upstroke.

Repeatedly write upstrokes with consistently light pressure. Keep doing it over and over again until it becomes muscle memory. As you keep doing it, the lines should look more and more similar until you make the same lines over and over again. Their thickness, length, angle, or curves should be precisely the same.

When you develop the perfect upstroke consistency, move on to downstrokes. Repeat the process of finding the right pressure consistency, length, etc. Don’t try to move on to downstrokes until you get the upstrokes movement perfect; it will only hinder your muscle memory from setting in.

When you get these basics right, you can move on to writing curves, like those found in the letters p’s, b’s, or d’s. Do these curves in upstrokes and downstrokes, paying attention to each direction until you develop the consistency necessary for calligraphy writing.

Combine the Specific Details

Once you get the perfect pressure, length, slant, and shape of the different strokes, combine them in the form of letters or symbols. If your muscle memory has effectively memorized each stroke’s appropriate pressure, shape, slant, or length, combining them to form letters or symbols should be easier. Writing letters in a calligraphic style should only come naturally.

From there, you can move on to words and, later on, sentences. If you’ve appropriately laid down the basic foundation of calligraphy writing, your writing should be consistently beautiful.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Although learning the basics gets you started writing calligraphy with a pencil, practice allows you to develop techniques independently. In my opinion, calligraphy is an art form. And to express yourself accurately on this art form, you have to keep practicing and improving on your techniques.

You may choose to add extra flourishes to your letters. Loops before the first letter and after the last letter of the words are good options with enough practice and experimentation. Unique shapes of your letters or your own versions of writing them to make your calligraphy more distinct. You can’t develop these specific aspects of your calligraphy without constant practice and experimentation.

Practice, practice, practice is the way to develop the calligraphy writing that is ultimately yours.


Learning how to write in calligraphy with a pencil is similar to doing it with other writing mediums. You have to choose the right tools then develop excellent skills in using those tools. Calligraphy writing is all about consistency, so making the same strokes repeatedly is crucial to building a perfect foundation. Keep practicing, and you will have a calligraphy handwriting of which you will be proud.

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