Books/methods for learning calligraphy

I'm wondering if anyone has a recommendation for a book on traditional calligraphy technique that could be used for self-directed study and practice. I'm a type designer, primarily, so I'm not looking to absolutely master calligraphy per se, but rather develop a working understanding of its basics, the movements of the pen and hand, etc. 

I'm not interested in the trendy hand lettering styles that seem to dominate popular calligraphy how-to books. I'd be much more interested in learning to draw blackletter and Old Style roman letterforms (especially roman capitals).

I'm confident that if I were to practice calligraphy for a few months, it would have a positive impact on my digital drawing skills, use of stroke modulation, stress, etc.



  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,957
    Get the Speedball Textbook.
  • Though it is not widely known nor up-to-date, I can recommend Schrift und Schreiben by Hildegard Korger. It focusses on a few principal writing styles (Capitalis, Minuscule, Italic, Blackletter – and variations thereof) in a very profound manner and concentrates on essentials of formal writing. Helped me a lot when I was a student.
  • This was my first post as a new member of Type Drawers, and I have to say, this is so exciting to be getting such in-depth advice. I will look into all these options!
  • just two additional hints:
    • Always look also at specimen from the actual period. Go to museums, historic libraries or lapidaria where you can see originals unfiltered.
    • Study the main styles in their chronological order, start with the Roman capitals. So you will experience the morphogenesis of letterforms in the succession it happened.

    When you master to write one style with one hand, start with the other one in the adverse direction. Write single letters onto cut potatoes and then cut off the ‘white’ around the lettershape. Start printing it. (You can also use carrots or beetroot, with the letter you don’t need extra ink ;)  Enjoy!
  • John ButlerJohn Butler Posts: 201
    edited July 2022
    • The Art of Calligraphy by David Harris
    • The Historical Source Book for Scribes by Brown and Lovett
    • Kalligraphie mit gotischen und Fraktur- Schriften by Julius de Goede
    • and this poster or this version if you can find it cheaper than Oak Knoll (I can’t believe I owned one then let it get damaged and lost)

  • jamesrothjamesroth Posts: 2
    Paul Shaw’s Black Letter Primer is a good read if you can find a copy.
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