Mastering Curly Cursive: The 7 Best Online Calligraphy Classes 2021

Mastering Curly Cursive: The 7 Best Online Calligraphy Classes 2021

How often have you admired lavish wedding invitations or cute DIY home decor projects with flawless lettering on them? It seems every time you’re on Pinterest, all you see are bullet journal spreads that are decorated with calligraphy and hand lettering.

Wouldn’t it be nice to finally do it on your own and add that extra pizzaz to your next thank you card? After all, with so many hoops, swirls, and flourishes, who wouldn’t want to learn calligraphy!

While it might seem a world away, calligraphy isn’t as difficult as you might think. All it takes is a little bit of practice, your favorite calligraphy pen, and some video lessons pulled up. Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’ll be easy to impress your friends and family when they see their next birthday card!

Below, we’ll cover what you’ll get out of a calligraphy course, outline the best options for you, and end the line with all the materials and information you need to get started!

Orientation

When it comes to calligraphy classes, you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed with how many options you have available. Brush pens or oblique pens? Dip pens or fineliners? With so many instructors offering their own twist on calligraphy, it can be intimidating to say the least!

Below, we’ll cover the biggest things to keep in mind to help you find the right course.

Scope

If you want to learn calligraphy, you probably plan to use it for a few upcoming projects. That means you’ll want courses that give you time and room to practice your strokes, or you’ll end up no better than when you started. You’ll have to choose how many calligraphy styles you want to learn – after all, it’s a wide field that incorporates dozens of different writing instruments! Some courses will take you through an overview of every niche subject in calligraphy, while others focus on getting you through the basics of calligraphy.

You might only plan on decorating one or two thank you cards for your friends. In that case, you’ll want to master just one writing instrument, such as the versatile brush pen, and not worry about using traditional calligraphy pens.

If you plan on mastering all calligraphy has to offer, you’ll want to get instruction for oblique pens, dip pens, and more to make sure you have a deep and complete understanding of how everything works. You’ll have to decide on your own goals before getting started!

Approachability

There’s a range of calligraphy skill levels, so we made sure our course selection includes something for everyone! When it comes to calligraphy, the basics are the most important part – so if you’re a beginner, we make sure we recommend courses that emphasize the foundations. On the other hand, if you’ve been hand lettering for years, watching a one-hour video on letter formation is going to bore you.

Below, we’ve organized the skill levels as beginner, intermediate, and advanced. When you’re looking at the courses on the list, keep the skill level in mind, so you’re not in a class that’s too easy or too hard for you.

  • Beginner learners are those who have never tried calligraphy before. If you don’t know the difference between using a brush pen and a traditional calligraphy pen, you’re in this category.
  • Intermediate learners are those who have mastered basic letter formation but still aren’t sure how to add their own style to their letters. This is for people who are looking for more ways to refine their technique.
  • Advanced learners are those who are seasoned at calligraphy. They’ve put in the hours of practice and know the ins-and-outs of hand lettering. Courses suitable for these students go beyond calligraphy and teach the best ways to embellish for special occasions and how to write on all sorts of materials.

Time and Cost

Generally, calligraphy courses won’t be too expensive. Most are around the $40 range, though that doesn’t include the supplies and pens that you’ll have to purchase on your own. Many courses are around one or two hours, though you’ll need to invest several hours outside of the video lectures to practice your skills on your own!

Cheat Sheet

Not sure which class is perfect for you? Use the list below to see which category you fall into and quickly jump to the right class. We’ve tried to choose courses that cover a wide range, so find one or two of your favorite categories and get ready to letter!

  1. If you want an overview of everything that calligraphy has to offer, Udemy’s Brush Pen Modern Calligraphy course can take you there.
  2. If you’re more interested in traditional calligraphy pens rather than brush pens, then TPK offers a great course that sketches out the basic techniques.
  3. If you’re just starting out, Seb Lester’s Calligraphy Essentials leads you through the fundamentals.
  4. If you’ve gotten the basics down, then try Modern Calligraphy – Flourish Confidently and watch your letters (literally) flourish!
  5. If you’re well-versed in calligraphy and want tips for bringing your skills to the next level, Advancing Your Modern Calligraphy Skills course adds that extra flair to your writing.
  6. If you’re looking for a more playful and inexpensive method for calligraphy, then get out your Crayola Markers for the Learn Calligraphy with Crayola Markers class!
  7. If you just want one extensive class that covers everything, you’ll definitely want to check out Amanda Arneill’s Let’s Start Lettering course.

paper with calligraphy pens and inks on the corner

Top 7 Best Online Calligraphy Classes 2021


1. Most Comprehensive Class: Brush Pen Modern Calligraphy

  • 1.5 hours $39.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • A comprehensive exploration of modern calligraphy
  • Skill level: Everyone
  • Pens used: Brush pens

Why we like it

Vivian’s modern calligraphy course gives students a broad overview of calligraphy, teaching all the techniques that someone needs to get started. Students can work from fundaments to more advanced flourishes through the lecture series and extensive worksheet packet.

Our Review

Whether you’re a beginner wanting to get started in calligraphy, or someone who’s been working with a brush pen for months, this course is perfect for drilling the basic techniques needed when it comes to calligraphy. The class starts with the absolute fundamentals and works its way up to more advanced techniques.

The instructor is Vivian Uang, who has over a decade of graphic design experience. She’s condensed the essentials of calligraphy down to the most important information, leaving the course short but highly informational. It’s also one of the most comprehensive calligraphy courses available, though it doesn’t go in-depth for more advanced subjects.

She’s also very responsive if you have any questions, so your educational experience can be as interactive as you want. In addition, she also runs an Instagram page that posts pictures for calligraphy and hand-lettering inspiration!

However, this course requires initiative for you to get the most out of it - you’ll need to dedicate time between each video to practice on the worksheets and refine your own technique. There’s also an optional class project which you don’t have to do – but we strongly recommend it so that you can get in extra practice.

Best Suited For

This is best suited for beginners and intermediate levels, though it’s open for anyone who may want a review of the basics. The Udemy course walks you through all the strokes, letters, and gives an overview of more advanced calligraphy skills as well! If you’re not sure where your calligraphy will take you, we strongly recommend this course where you can try out new techniques.

What’s Included?

Along with the lectures, you’ll also receive a worksheet package that includes several pages with strokes, lowercase, and uppercase letters. In addition, you’ll have a flourish guide for tricker designs and a model sheet with potential project ideas. There’s also a blank guide sheet, a typography terminology diagram, and a resource page included.

Pros

  • Gives a comprehensive overview of calligraphy
  • Comes with an extensive worksheet packet
  • Gives several potential projects for calligraphy practices
  • Delves into advanced techniques while keeping it beginner-friendly
  • The instructor runs an active Instagram page

Cons

  • Requires hours of practice outside of the course
  • Heavily dependent on students taking the initiative


2. Best for Pens: TPK Beginner’s Modern Calligraphy

  • 2 hours $25.00 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Quizzes/homework assignments help retain learning
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Pens used: Dip pens, Oblique pens

Why we like it

ThePostmansKnock offers a basic calligraphy course for traditional pens in an easy-to-digest manner, including quizzes, homework assignments, and more to make sure their lessons stick with you.

Our Review

Using a calligraphy pen rather than a brush pen, The Postman’s Knock course takes you through everything you need to get started! This course is tailored for dip pens and oblique pens, so you may have to invest a little more at the start. However, both of these pens require less control than brush pens since you don’t have to worry as much about how much pressure you apply.

Each lesson has a “Discussion” portion so that you can ask questions whenever you need clarification. All lessons also have quizzes and homework assignments attached, so you’ll have a bit more structure when you practice.

The lecture also introduces viewers to faux calligraphy, which is calligraphy you can do with normal pencils and ballpoint pens. You’ll be able to try out techniques for the various types and decide which pens you’d like to use for future lessons.

However, since the course does focus more on traditional pen styles, you won’t get any brush pen tips or tricks. So if you’d rather start with less expensive writing utensils, you can always look into lettering with Crayola Markers from the Learn Calligraphy with Crayola Markers course.

Best Suited For

This course is best suited for beginners who aren’t sure which style of calligraphy they’ll enjoy. It walks students through faux calligraphy, dip pens, and oblique pens, so you’ll have a solid understanding of techniques used in traditional calligraphy.

What’s Included?

You’ll get access to a private forum once you sign up, where the instructor will personally answer any questions you have within a day! In addition, it also comes with a 28-page re-printable worksheet set so that you can practice as much as you need. This course also lasts forever; you’ll have access to all resources once you make the initial purchase.

Pros

  • Relatively low course cost
  • Discussion section after each lesson
  • Included homework and quizzes for improved learning
  • Access to a private online forum
  • Comes with a 28-page re-printable worksheet

Cons

  • Cost of calligraphy pens can be more expensive
  • Doesn’t help with brush pen calligraphy


3. Best for Beginners: Seb Lester’s Calligraphy Essentials

  • 1.5 hours $99 (includes access to full Skillshare catalog) Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Provides a solid foundation for complete first-timers
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Pens used: Brush pens

Why we like it

With professional-grade videos and careful walkthroughs, this course will help you get started with calligraphy even if you’ve never touched a brush pen before! Perfect for beginners, you’ll be able to form letters with confidence before long.

Our Review

Seb Lester is a master at calligraphy, and one look at his YouTube channel will tell you as much. With so many years of experience under his belt, he distills calligraphy down to the fundamentals to help students learn how to get started. Lessons have close-up demonstrations, along with step-by-step walkthroughs for you to follow along with.

You’ll learn how to form essential strokes, the easiest way to hold and manipulate your pen, and even detailed instructions for all upper and lowercase letters. This class also covers flourishing techniques for beginners, though it doesn’t go as in-depth as Modern Calligraphy - Flourish Confidently.

This course is also produced on a higher budget, so you’ll get a very polished video to learn along with. The careful explanations alongside the flawless editing make it very easy for beginners to take what they need from the class.

Best Suited For

This class is created for beginners who haven’t done any hand lettering before! Since it spends all its time on the basics, more advanced learners may find that the course goes too slow for them. However, the various styles that are shown and the introduction to flourishes may also interest intermediate learners.

What’s Included?

This class comes with a printable workbook for you to practice with so that you can master your letters and strokes for that next project you have! The workbook is basic, containing all the letters and blank guidelines, though you do need to have a printer to make good use of it. There’s also one class project where you write your name, and you can upload it to the class page once you finish.

Pros

  • The instructor is famous for his calligraphy skills
  • Details step-by-step walkthroughs of all the letters
  • Superior video quality and editing
  • Comes with an exclusive printable workbook

Cons

  • May move too slowly for more advanced learners
  • Only teaches basic flourishes


4. Best Intermediate Course: Modern Calligraphy – Flourish Confidently

  • 3 hours $39.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teaches learners how to add style and flair to their calligraphy
  • Skill level: Intermediate or advanced
  • Pens used: Pencils and basic pens

Why we like it

Once you get past the basics, it can be hard learning how to take your calligraphy game to that next level. This course shows you how to add your own style to your letters and an extra level of detail.

Our Review

If you’ve mastered the basics of calligraphy and want to add your own flourishes, this class is perfect for you! These extra lines and swirls can add to your letters and give your calligraphy a distinctive style. After completing this course, you’ll be well-versed in adding your own organic flourishes the next time you want to hand-letter.

The course covers seven different places that flourishes can be added and 25 variations of various flourishes. In addition, the course helps you learn where to put your personal style and flair into these flourishes, perfect for the next wedding invitation cards or bullet journaling session.

Unlike other classes, since this one is focused more on flourishes than the foundational material, you won’t need to have your calligraphy pen or brush by your side. A simple pencil is enough for you to sketch out flourishes and get the hang of things!

Best Suited For

This course is created for those who already know basic calligraphy since it won’t go over any of the basics. It’s created for intermediate students who want to add their personal flair to their hand-lettering style. If you are looking for a more basic course, you may want to try Seb Lester’s Calligraphy Essentials.

What’s Included?

This course includes free downloads for more calligraphy practice at home. This includes dozens of guidelines, worksheets, and various optional assignments to help you improve your skills. As long as you have a printer for the worksheets, you’re all set!

Pros

  • Goes over 25 different flourishes
  • Doesn’t require any calligraphy pens or brushes
  • Teaches you how to add personal flair to your words
  • Comes with dozens of worksheets and guides

Cons

  • Not suitable for beginners
  • Doesn’t go over the basics of calligraphy


5. Most Advanced Course: Advancing Your Modern Calligraphy Skills

  • 1.5 hours $34.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Offers fast-paced learning to refine existing skills
  • Skill level: Advanced
  • Pens used: Pointed calligraphy pens

Why we like it

If you’re confident in your calligraphy skills, but you feel like it’s missing that elegance and personal flair, this class is perfect for you!

Our Review

Once you have a solid understanding of calligraphy, you may want to make sure you cover all the details! Nicki Traikos, the instructor of this course, has been teaching hand-lettering and designs for years and is well-versed in brush pen and dip pen techniques.

She’ll go over the details for joining letters, how to implement your personal style, and give demonstrations of various lettering styles so that you can pick one that you like! In addition, she’ll specifically cover words that are used for special occasions, such as holidays and weddings.

In addition to improving your lettering skills, she’ll also teach you how to use gauche and acrylic inks on an assortment of papers, so you can put your newfound skills to good use! The course extends beyond your calligraphy pens and helps you find ways to implement your lettering techniques in everyday life.

Best Suited For

Her class is fast-paced, so you’ll want to make sure you have a solid understanding of the basics before you start learning. Because it covers more advanced techniques and includes more demonstrations than instructions, the course is better for advanced learners who want to polish their calligraphy skills.

If you’re new to calligraphy, you’ll want to check out Seb Lester’s Calligraphy Essentials instead. If you already have the basics down but find this course is moving too quickly for you, you may want to try Modern Calligraphy - Flourish Confidently.

What’s Included?

Because this course is meant for advanced learners, it only includes the lecture videos and does not have practice worksheets and assignments.

Pros

  • Teaches you how to implement your personal style
  • The instructor has years of teaching experience
  • Teaches flourishes for common words you’ll have to hand-letter
  • Demonstrates lettering with various inks and paper

Cons

  • The course can move too fast if you don’t have a strong background
  • Doesn’t come with practice worksheets


6. Best Crayola Course: Learn Calligraphy With Crayola Markers

  • 1 hour $39.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teaches the basics in the most cost-efficient manner
  • Skill level: Beginner and intermediate
  • Pens used: Crayola markers

Why we like it

Brush pens can be difficult to use when you’re just getting started, which is why this class uses Crayola Markers! Using affordable supplies to get started, you’ll learn the proper techniques before transferring them over to brush pens.

Our Review

One of the hardest parts of calligraphy is getting used to brush pens. Those can be expensive when you buy a professional set, and your strokes can end up shaky when you’re first starting out. However, this calligraphy class focuses on using basic Crayola markers instead, an affordable and easier way to begin hand-lettering.

You can either use supertips or broad line markers, and we definitely recommend the broad line markers if you want to see a sharp contrast between your up and down strokes! While it’s a little different than your traditional calligraphy class, the materials are much more affordable – a pack of Crayola markers only cost a few dollars.

This class is also run by Vivian Uang, a graphic designer for over a decade. If you’re interested in learning calligraphy using brush pens instead, you can check out her Brush Pen Modern Calligraphy course.

Marker calligraphy creates a more playful style, though it won’t be the refined calligraphy that you see on wedding invitations. However, the techniques are largely the same, and this is a good way of practicing without spending more money on brush pens.

Best Suited For

This course is best for beginner and intermediate learners who want to explore calligraphy without the worry of messing up their brush pens. Markers create an affordable way of testing out dozens of different colors and styles, and you can easily transfer over the skills to real brush pens once you get the hang of it!

What’s Included?

Along with the lecture videos, this set comes with a model sheet that shows the style you’ll be learning in the class. It also comes with several worksheets for you to follow along with, and if you have tracing paper, you can reuse these worksheets as you practice. There are also blank guide sheets included for extra practice.

Pros

  • Crayola markers are more affordable than brush pens
  • Markers still create a sharp contrast between up and down strokes
  • Markers are easier to control than brush pens
  • Comes with a model sheet and guide sheets for practice
  • Creates a more playful font

Cons

  • Doesn’t teach calligraphy with brush pens
  • The end result doesn’t look as refined


7. Most Extensive Course: Amanda Arneill’s Let’s Start Lettering Class

  • 5 hours $147 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Explores the complete A-Z of calligraphy skills
  • Skill level: Beginner and intermediate
  • Pens used: Tombow Fudenosuke pens, brush pens

Why we like it

If you’re looking for a longer class that covers everything you need to learn about calligraphy, this course does just that! From the basics of lettering to adding your own designs, you’ll be a lettering pro by the end.

Our Review

You may have noticed that a lot of calligraphy classes are shorter, with only one or two hours of informational material. However, Amanda Arneill takes her students through the very basics of calligraphy to more advanced techniques, and as such, it’s by far the longest course to make our list. By the end, you’ll find yourself with everything you need to know about hand lettering.

Of course, longer classes have their downsides as well. It’ll take you much longer to finish this course compared to others. The price also reflects the length of the course; it’s easily the most expensive on our list! However, for the higher price, you’re getting a more extensive look at what calligraphy entails.

This course is also structured nicely, broken up with modules of individual lessons for you to work through. This way, you can easily track your progress through the lengthy class to make sure you’re on track with your personal schedule!

Best Suited For

This class is suited for beginners and early intermediate learners! While it can take beginners through an overview of everything calligraphy has to offer, intermediate and advanced learners may find themselves bored at the start.

If you already have a solid grasp of calligraphy, we recommend checking out the Advancing Your Modern Calligraphy Skills course instead.

What’s Included?

Along with each module, you’ll have access to corresponding worksheets in the 40-page practice packet! This packet includes a complete sample alphabet where all letters are explained stroke-by-stroke to make sure there’s no confusion!

Pros

  • Comes with 5 hours of instruction
  • Comes with a 40-page workout packet
  • Gives an extensive overview of calligraphy
  • The course is structured and organized

Cons

  • The course can take a long time to work through
  • The price is much higher than for other calligraphy courses


Frequently Asked Questions

If you need to learn calligraphy quickly, then online courses are definitely worth it! They take you through tips and tricks not revealed elsewhere to help make your learning easier. However, if you have all the time in the world to learn calligraphy, you might prefer to go at it alone and learn through experience.

We recommend starting out with a course for beginners that uses brush pens or markers. Brush pens require less skill than dip pens, so you won’t have a sharp learning curve right off the bat. With the right amount of motivation, anyone can do it!

While most courses are only an hour or two long, you’ll want to split up the course over a few months so that you can practice the techniques in each lesson.

If you’re just starting out, we’d recommend brush pens. More advanced calligraphers may want to try dip pens and oblique pens, though this comes down to personal preference in the end. Just keep in mind that oblique pens are often tailored for right-handed people, and your choices might be more limited if you’re left-handed.

The average salary for a calligrapher is around $64,490 a year! However, being a professional calligrapher is often a self-employed business, so you should expect to be making less for the first few years that you’re working.



Extra Credit

Now that we’ve gone over all the top courses in the field, let’s talk about how to get the most from them. Just like with any skill, practice makes perfect. You can watch as many video lessons on calligraphy as you want, but until you put your own pen to paper, you won’t be getting far. Below, we’ll cover the best things that you can do to facilitate your learning.

What You Need to Get Started

When it comes to calligraphy courses, there’s not too much that you need to have ready. You’ll probably want to start with the basics before branching out and investing in that hundred-dollar calligraphy pen. Below are some of the things you need to have before getting started with a course.

  • Writing utensils for lettering
    • Brush pens
    • Fineliners
    • Dip pens
    • Oblique pens
  • Printer for worksheets
  • Thicker paper/cardstock
  • Ink (if you use traditional calligraphy pens)

When we list the writing utensils, we’re not saying you have to buy all of them! Rather, pick one or two that you like the most and go from there. Just make sure the courses that you choose are suitable for the pen that you end up choosing, since lessons for dip pens may not transfer over to brush pens.

The printer is also optional, though strongly recommended so that you can print out worksheets. Most courses come with digital packets and guidelines for you to print so that you can practice. However, if yours doesn’t come with practice pages, TPK offers lots of free, online practice sheets that you can work with.

What Are the Differences in Pens?

The most important thing to decide before signing up for a course is what type of calligraphy you’d like to do. Depending on the pens that you buy, you’ll be limited to the lessons that you can pick. Below, we’ll cover the main reasons why you may prefer one pen over another.

Brush Pens

Brush pens are one of the easier ways to get started and can help you get ready for switching to dip pens in the future. You’ll have more control over your stroke width since it’s dependent on the pressure you put on it, and there are dozens of colors available. You won’t have to worry about buying ink either, and they’re relatively mess-free.

Dip Pens

Dip pens are a little more advanced, and you’ll have to stop writing to dip your pen in ink before continuing. A lot of dip pens are still very affordable, and they can work for both left- and right-hand writers. However, the pressure sensitivity is harder to control when compared to brush pens.

Oblique Pens

Oblique pens look complicated, and it can take a while to get used to the detached nib. While they’re great for keeping your hand out of the way as you write, there’s definitely a sharp learning curve when you’re just getting started. They’re more expensive than the normal dip pens as well and best suited for advanced learners.

Pointed Calligraphy Pens

Both dip pens and oblique pens fall in this category, alongside a few other pens that we haven’t covered. These pens can cost more than brush pens, and you’ll have to purchase ink separately for them. However, once you get the hang of it, these pens can last much longer than brush pens and won’t have to be replaced nearly as much!

Calligraphy vs. Hand Lettering

We use the terms calligraphy and hand lettering a lot through our guide, but there is a fine difference between the two. While calligraphy uses thick and thin strokes to create contrast in writing, hand lettering is much broader.

Hand lettering is a much more general category and refers to any style of lettering that turns words into art! Whether it’s bigger, bubbly letters or a more traditional calligraphy style, both of these techniques fall under hand-lettering.

When you’re looking for guides, you may want to specify calligraphy so that you don’t end up with information that doesn’t apply to your brush pens.

Online Learning Is Hard

When you’re learning calligraphy online, it’s a much different experience from learning in-person. You won’t have your instructor by your side to tell you when your strokes are wrong, and it’ll be up to personal motivation to practice.

As a result, make sure you stay on top of practicing your new skill daily. Even if you just spend half an hour a day going over your letters, you’ll be much better off in the future! Keep an eye out for details since you’ll have to catch your own mistakes.

Best Ways to Practice

Once you’ve finished up all the worksheets and have a good grasp of the basics, the best thing to do is practice! Pull out your bullet journal to create a fancier weekly spread, or try embellishing a card for friends and family. Below are a few interesting projects that you can practice your new skills with!

  • Writing on a canvas for your walls
  • Embellishing a tote bag
  • Handwriting cards
  • Creating posters for events
  • Incorporating it into your other art
  • Decorating mirrors and car windows

Let’s Get to Lettering!

We’ve gone through all the essentials you need to start your calligraphy journey, so you’re as ready as ever to start. Pick up your pen with a few ideas in mind, and get ready to explore all that calligraphy has to offer. Before long, your holiday cards are going to blow everyone else’s out of the water!