Did you know that the easiest tool to learn the basics of calligraphy is right in your desk drawer? Pencils are perfect for getting started in lettering and calligraphy… especially for left-handers.

It’s a common misconception that lefties cannot letter or learn calligraphy; this is definitely not the case. Lettering and calligraphy are skills with technique and strokes that can be learned and picked up through practice and muscle memory. When I first started lettering, I picked up a brush pen and was super frustrated when I had no idea how to create a word that resembled anything close to calligraphy I had seen posted by other artists on Instagram. I wanted to quit right then and there, but after further practice, I figured out it wasn’t that I couldn’t do calligraphy, but rather that I didn’t know how to correctly use the tools that I was trying to work with.

Since the pencil is something most people have used often, it’s a logical and safe choice when trying to learn how to do calligraphy and lettering. Pencils are great tools to practice the basics of brush calligraphy: understanding how to hold a brush pen, applying pressure to create thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes, achieving consistency in letterforms, and adopting a unique style. Practicing these skills with a pencil first can make learning how to use a brush pen much less intimidating.


Calligraphy is the art of creating beautiful lettering with thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes. These different kinds of strokes are created through applying a certain amount of pressure. Starting with a brush pen can be difficult, especially if you are unsure of how to hold the pen and how to apply pressure to make the thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes that form the letters.

Practice strokes are great for learning pressure; use a pencil and start drawing simple thin lines with light pressure upward and thick lines downward with heavy pressure. Doing this is a great way to feel comfortable with what it will feel like to create calligraphy with a brush pen and the skills it will require.


After learning how to use pressure to create the thick and thin strokes that make up the letters in calligraphy, the pencil is a great tool to practice letterforms and styles to build muscle memory and consistency.

Consistency can be a huge issue for lefty calligraphers because of the obstacles they face with smudging and seeing what they are writing. Pencil doesn’t smudge as easily as the ink of a brush pen and is simple to manipulate on any kind of paper that you may have lying around for practice. Practicing letterforms and experimenting with different ways of creating them can help you be more consistent in your spacing and technique.


It’s so easy to feel intimidated by all of the amazing calligraphers and artists out in the world of social media, but finding your own style will set you apart from the crowd and make your work unique.

After practicing consistency, writing a variety of words and trying new and different styles is a great way to see what you are good at, what you like, and what you want to achieve when you are creating calligraphy. Picking up a pencil is a risk-free place to start lettering because everything you create is erasable. It will also help you get comfortable with a style before attempting it with a brush pen, so when the time comes, you’ll be able to focus on applying the right pressure and not on smudging.


Learning calligraphy basics with a pencil first makes transitioning to other tools, like the brush pen, super simple and much less scary. But there are still a lot more tips and tricks for learning lettering and calligraphy as a lefty.

In my Brit + Co online class, Lettering for Lefties, I walk you step-by-step through solving common lefty problems and acquiring the skill of calligraphy, starting with a pencil and branching out to other media like brush pens, pointed pen, and watercolor.

So dig in that desk drawer or pick up some of my favorite pencils (Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil Set [$20]) from TombowUSA.com and start simply by practicing with a pencil.

What are you excited to learn in the Lettering For Lefties class? Share with us on Twitter using the hashtag #bcclasses and tagging us using @BritandCo.