5 things I wish I knew when I started out

Let’s face it – at first glance Copperplate Calligraphy can seem pretty intimidating! There’s loops, curves & flourishes that look as if you need a drawing compass to make them. Some of the letters aren’t recognisable to anyone that went to school after the ’80’s – the lowercase ‘r’ looks funny, and the uppercase ‘J’ is odd. It can all seem too overwhelming before you’ve even attempted your first downstroke.

There’s also an underlying sense that it’s reserved for members of some elite club. It can sometimes feel like you’re Taylor Swift gatecrashing a classical music convention.  A bit out of place.

Add to that being completely new to Procreate … pretty daunting to say the least!

I think a lot of people feel intimidated to learn Copperplate Calligraphy due to a few common misconceptions. They never even start, and that’s a shame!

Taylor Swift at a classical music convention

There’s things that would’ve made it a less daunting endeavour had I known them when I first started out. I wanted to share a few of these with you today in case they help push past some common misconceptions. Five of them to be exact.

1. Copperplate is made up of 8 basic strokes. The entire alphabet (apart from a couple of letters) can be composed from these strokes! That suddenly makes things seem a lot more achievable, doesn’t it?!

2. It is ok to trace. In-fact, it’s even encouraged! Tracing can sometimes be frowned upon in other art forms, but that is not the case here. Tracing is an important component for learning how the letters are composed. It helps you get a tactile feel for the angle, spacing and curves. The goal is always to move forward to writing on your own of course, but tracing helps establish your muscle memory in the early days. (And I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s SUPER RELAXING and I totally zen out in a drill session)

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3. Some people think that if they learn Copperplate, more modern styles will be closed to them. This isn’t true. Learning Copperplate to start with and then transitioning into a more modern script once you build stability in the foundations.

You’ll notice your taste changes along the way too. By spending time with these beautiful curves, it will influence your style, train your eye and give you a much broader perspective.

4. You don’t need to learn every Procreate trick in the book in order to use it for lettering! It’s tempting want to try every awesome effect you see on instagram and fill your library with a tonne of fancy brushes.

But as far as Procreate goes, all you need is one pressure sensitive brush and some guidelines to help with size and slant consistency. There’s a bit of learning needed around layer actions, but that is very straight forward and easy to pick up! Focus on the foundational stuff first.

5. Another big one is thinking that it’ll take a long time to see any results (like months). Also not true, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you start to see progress (even as little as a month if you are practicing regularly). Of course you still need to put in the time, but it can happen a lot faster than you might think!

So can relate to any of the points in this article, I hope this has helped ease your mind. You totally CAN do this – it’s completely achievable (and lots of fun)!

I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment below if any of these resonated with you.

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