Different types of Calligraphy

As a beginner in calligraphy and lettering, it would be overwhelming to process different terms and information available on the internet. Calligraphy is a wide umbrella term that contains many different styles of writing. In this article, we are touching the tip of the iceberg and decoding the basics of calligraphy, types of calligraphy, scripts involved and the tools used. The article ends with a quiz by The Postman Knock to help you decide which type of calligraphy is best for you.
Calligraphy is the artistic process of forming beautiful symbols by hand. Calligraphy literally means beautiful handwriting or elegant penmanship or the art of writing aesthetic words. It is considered a part of art because it commands skills and patience to learn and practice.
 The purpose of calligraphy is to show integrity, harmony, ancestry, rhythm, and creative fire. In calligraphy, integrity is represented by admirable proportions and the design of letters and symbols. Harmony means a beautiful relationship/composition between the words, characters, and blank spaces. Ancestry refers to preserving our heritage of letter shapes, materials, and techniques used while composing the artwork. Finally, rhythm is a deliberate repetition in calligraphic writing that creates feelings of pattern and emphasis within the eyes of the viewer. Creativity means finding the proper pen movement or brush strokes to express artistic personality.
Calligraphy has evolved over time all over the globe. In fact, this form of artistic handwriting can actually fall into a number of different styles based on the location, tools used, and script. Essentially, there are three main types of calligraphy
  1. Islamic/Arabic
  2. Eastern/Oriental
  3. Western
Within each style, there may be several lettering sub-styles or hands.
  • Islamic Calligraphy
Islamic calligraphy or Arabic Calligraphy are interchangeably used terms when talking about this holy form of art. Islamic Calligraphy makes use of Arabic alphabets in its scripts and styles and is usually written with broad-edged nibs or dip pens. Islamic calligraphy is also a geometrical and artistic expression of the beauty of God and the Quran, usually found in Islamic architecture. This art form has two major types of script:
      1. Kufic Script: the original form of Arabic Calligraphy, focuses heavily on horizontal motions and geometric patterns.
      2. Naksh Script: a cursive script, replacing difficult Kufic Script, involves delicate thin lines and is easy to read.
  • Eastern Calligraphy
Eastern or Oriental Calligraphy is an ancient or revered art form, it offered men and women prestige and honor. Oriental form mostly uses brushes as their tool and uses Chinese, Korean, and Japanese alphabets in their art. Artisans produce this type of calligraphy using a small, tapered brush instead of a pen and nib.
  • Western Calligraphy
Western Calligraphy uses roman alphabets and pointed-edged pens or nibs are used for creating the art form. Western Calligraphy can further be divided as:
      1. Broad Edge: Flat tip nibs are used to practice this particular calligraphy form. All the thick and bold writing styles like Blackletter, Italic, Uncial, and Foundational/Bookhand fall under this calligraphy type. To learn more about Broad Edge Calligraphy, you can visit: www.lalitmourya.com


      1. Pointed Pen: This type of Calligraphy is mastered with a pointed pen nib in an oblique or a straight holder. Thin hairlines and thick up-strokes can be easily achieved in a pointed pen. Flourishes add aesthetics to this calligraphic artform. The scripts in pointed pen calligraphy are Roundhand, Spencerian, Engravers, and Copperplate. For detailed information on Pointed Pen Calligraphy, visit iampeth.com.
      2. Modern: Modern calligraphy is any calligraphy style that does not follow the fundamental rules of traditional calligraphy scripts such as Copperplate, Spencerian, Italic, Blackletter, etc., and provides with more creative freedom. Tools needed for modern calligraphy are brush pens, dip pens, markers, broad-edge pens, and pencils. For more information about basics of Modern Calligraphy, refer to https://thepostmansknock.com/beginners-guide-modern-calligraphy/ by Lindsey (The Postman Knock)
      3. Faux: Faux Calligraphy can be practiced with different writing instruments including chalk, marker, or even the ballpoint pen. Writing words in cursive or imitating the calligraphic style by adding thickness to the downstrokes is faux calligraphy. This type of calligraphy can be used on various material surfaces like wood, glass, and walls. To learn more about faux calligraphy, check out this detailed blog by Max at Lettering Daily. Blog link:https://www.lettering-daily.com/faux-calligraphy/

To sum it up, calligraphy is an ancient artistic handwriting art form divided by location and tools. Not all calligraphic styles are the same. Calligraphy can be practiced with a number of tools including a pen, pencils, markers, brushes, and nibs. This is a therapeutic and calming artform.
To understand which type of calligraphy is right for you, take on this short quiz by The Postman Knock. Answer these simple questions that will lead you to the calligraphy script of your dreams.

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