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beginner calligraphy mistakes

Common Calligraphy Mistakes You Might Be Making (& How To Fix Them)

Calligraphy can be a tricky matter for beginners but the common calligraphy mistakes are to be expected.

No one is immediately perfect at calligraphy unless you’re a genius but it takes time to learn how to use the equipment itself so it’s not a surprise if you might be making these less obvious calligraphy mistakes.

If you’re only starting out with learning calligraphy, then you have to ensure that you take the necessary steps to become accustomed to everything and this will take time and practice.

However, if you want to avoid those sneaky calligraphy mistakes and become aware of them sooner, here’s the most important ones you need to pay attention too.

I’ve also included a few helpful ways to fix calligraphy mistakes that you can try.

Let’s get on with it.

Related Post: How To Teach Yourself Calligraphy Fast: 9 Easy Tips

Calligraphy Mistakes

1. Not Using Guidelines

One of the easiest mistakes a beginner makes is not using guidelines when learning calligraphy.

Guidelines are useful in helping you keep form and make sure your words are in alignment.

It’s a good idea to lightly sketch these guidelines before you begin your calligraphy.

When it’s completely dry, erase the lines away or keep some of it to show the progress.

That could have a certain charm to it too.

If you would like to do calligraphy without any lines but make sure everything is aligned, then try practicing rewriting that sentence without the guidelines immediately after you finished the previous one.

The memory of your hand movements will be embedded and this will help your eyes and hands familiar when you’re writing something without guidelines. Your words will look straighter.

If you’re interested in practising more with guidelines, here are a few practice sheets you can use.

2. Not Learning The Basics

calligraphy mistakes for beginners

Knowing the basics but of calligraphy is absolutely important and you should focus more on that than anything else before you move on to more complicated aspects of calligraphy.

When you nail the basics, this will make you more equipped to handle other calligraphy techniques when it’s required.

Learning calligraphy takes time and practice and the more often you practice these basics, it will only help you in the long run.

3. Nibs (Type and Prepping)

There are different nibs and sizes but some of which you may feel more comfortable using than others.

You’ll want to try using a nib that is best suited for the type of calligraphy that you plan to do and ensure that you prep them correctly before starting.

Although flexible nibs are quite popular it can be a challenge for beginners since they spread apart easily which can lead to ink splatters.

You’ll want to find a nib that isn’t too flexible and this will make a huge difference!

cleaning calligraphy nibs

Another mistake you may be making is not cleaning the nibs before using since a lot of new nibs may have oil on them that will hinder your efforts when you start your calligraphy project.

Here’s a helpful tutorial that will show you how to clean new calligraphy nibs with the use of a potato:

4. Brush Pens

If you’re using a brush pen for calligraphy and you’ve noticed that your lines look messy, it’s probably frayed at the ends and this is mostly due to the wrong use of paper.

You have to use the right type of paper that is meant for brush pens otherwise you will find your pens getting frayed much sooner than need be.

Another mistake you could be making when using brush pens is holding it like a normal pen. Brush pens have to be held at between your two fingers at an angle.

This will give you better control of the pen and smoother down strokes.

Here’s my favorite tutorial that demonstrates how to hold a brush pen:

5. Posture

Your posture is one of the key factors to calligraphy and most of the time you’ll notice yourself being stiff and tense.

With calligraphy, the usual writing position will not work but rather sitting straight will your shoulders relaxed will help you make easier strokes.

This may take some work in being attentive to your position and carefully being aware of how you sit and hold the pen but this will show quite a huge difference in your calligraphy work.

Besides your posture, one of the other mistakes a beginner can make that will affect your artwork is the way you hold your calligraphy pen.

6. Lift Your Pen

The next common mistake that you might not realise you are doing is not lifting your pen when writing.

This can easily make your letters and strokes look misaligned and inconsistent.

To avoid this, you will need to stop after each stroke and lift the pen rather than doing them all at once.

7. Cleaning Your Tool

Not cleaning your calligraphy pen will make your pen ware out faster. After each use, it’s important to clean nibs and the pen holder and rinse them under cold water separately.

If you’re using a brush pen for calligraphy, then you don’t need to be concerned with this one since they don’t need to be cleaned.

8. Find The Right Paper

As would any other art medium, to ensure that you have an enjoyable time with the activity, you need to have to correct type of paper.

For example, if you paint on anything below 300gsm paper for watercolors, you will often be faced with issues of the paper bleeding through or just being difficult to handle the paint in general.

beginner calligraphy mistakes

With calligraphy, if you use the wrong paper, it can make your brush pens fray or your calligraphy nibs will keep catching on the paper.

This will make it difficult to control your strokes and create beautiful artwork.

Different Papers You Can Try:

  • Bristol Paper (For Brush Pens)
  • Strathmore STR-50 Calligraphy Pad
  • Juvale Calligraphy Paper Pad

You’ll have to try a few different papers to find out which one works for you best.

9. You Need To Take It Slow

One of the biggest calligraphy mistake a bigger can make is rushing through their strokes and work.

If you don’t take the time to think about how you want your strokes to look, it can easily look messy.

Take the time to practice your strokes and if need be, sketch your words out in pencil before you ink.

This way you can make adjustments if you see something that is off or places you can make quick improvements.

10. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others

The last calligraphy mistake is a big one and you have to pay attention to this.

You might have a few calligraphy works that really inspire you but it’s easy to start comparing your beginning to their middle.

However, you need to keep reminding yourself that they were beginners at calligraphy too at some point and probably made similar mistakes to the ones you might be making.

To do not be discouraged or disheartened if your calligraphy projects do not turn out looking like theirs.

With more practice and learning calligraphy correctly will get you to where you want to be in the future.

Recognise your mistakes and keep going.

To recap, here’s a video I made that summarises all these key points:

How To Fix Calligraphy Mistakes

Now that you know of the many calligraphy mistakes a beginner can make, you might be wondering how to fix them.

how to fix calligraphy mistakes

Here are a few quick fixes you can use if you want to same your calligraphy piece:

Add Flourishes

Flourishes are a great way to hide mistakes especially if you have sudden ink spots or a stoke that is a just a bit too big.

These flourishes can make your project look pretty and your mistakes not noticeable.

Make It Work

If you feel that your calligraphy project is doomed, don’t freak out just yet. Try to go for it and make it work in some way.

If there’s an ink splatter or spots on the page, turn it into a pattern with more spots and splatters.

You’ll be surprised at the artwork you create without being intentional. Sometimes being loose can work in your favour.

Paint Over The Mistake

If all hope is gone, then your last be would be to just paint over the mistake and try again.

This will be slighting noticeable if the paint is not the same color as your paper or if you just paint that one specific area but you could continue painting more places to make it seem like a pattern.


Making a calligraphy mistake is bound to happen even if you’re really good at it but as you can see, there are sneaky ways to cover them up if you do.

But most importantly, being aware of these common calligraphy mistakes as a beginner will only benefit you in the long run.

You work and projects will definitely see a difference if you can identify your mistakes and make the necessary changes to avoid it.

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