Lately I have been teaching a lot of Beginners in my Facebook groups and in person, and I have been telling them that lined guide sheets are a very important part of practice. Actually, I have come across a very common question of “How do I write straight on blank paper?” My answer is “Don’t use blank paper.” People watch my Instagram videos and think I am always writing straight on blank paper, but 98% of the time, I’m slanting down to the right.
Calligraphers and lettering artists always use lines and guidelines. It might be a laser type of tool like the Slider Writer or even a hardware item like the Black & Decker Laser Level. (These images that you can click on are affiliate shopping links to Amazon).
I actually haven’t used lasers for my calligraphy because I have a lightbox which works great for me to trace over final projects. Plus I place a lines or guidelines below the blank paper I’m working on and the lightbox works so well, and I can easily see my lines through. (Image below is an affiliate Amazon shopping link to click)
But when it comes to learning and practicing, every calligrapher and lettering artist uses paper with guidelines. There are 3 options for guidelines:
- Use pre-designed grids, like Rhodia dot or graph pads
- Draw guidelines on your paper with a ruler and pencil or marker
- Download and print practice guide sheets
And the good news is…..I have designed some free practice guide sheets for you to download and print! There are 3 options: grid, lined, and 55 degree angles. Just click on any of the worksheet images below and you will be able to download them right from here.
Even with guide sheets and lines, people still struggle with the angle of their letters and words. What is the correct slant to write calligraphy? Some traditional hands have very specific angles that are taught as a rule. For example, Copperplate is written with a 52-55 degree angle. That is why one of my guide sheets has those diagonal lines at a 55-degree angle….to help those of you who want more structure when practicing.
But honestly, I believe that modern calligraphy and lettering is more relaxed and is an expression of the individual writing. So I tell my students to follow their natural slant inclination. While you are learning, the only recommendation I have is that you try to be consistent. If your slant is upright, then try to write all your strokes upright. Then later on, you can be more playful with your angles and change things up.
Here is my new YouTube video tutorial where I explain and demo guidelines and angles of writing calligraphy. What’s your angle? It’s time to find out!