Write Like a Lettering Pro With This Faux Calligraphy Hack

New to hand-lettering? Even beginners can master this easy technique.

Do you often find yourself swooning over the gorgeous hand-drawn wall art you find at big box stores, only to be shocked by the hefty price tag? What if I said you could create your own at a fraction of the price? Cue faux calligraphy. Also known as "cheating calligraphy," this type of hand lettering looks just like the real thing and is a great starting point for beginning calligraphers. Below, we show how to make a beautiful wedding event sign from dollar store materials, but you can also use this technique to address envelopes, create personalized home decor, and much more.

What You'll Need

  • foam board
  • fine-tip acrylic paint pens, black and gold
  • yardstick
  • scratch paper
  • pencil

Practice Your Cursive

Faux calligraphy looks best when written in cursive. If your cursive is a little rusty, practice writing your chosen word or phrase on a scratch poster board or large piece of paper before putting ink to the board. This will eliminate waste and allow you to experiment with different looks before you commit. If you don't like the way your cursive handwriting looks, find a font you love and practice imitating it.

Mark Top Section

First, lay your yardstick vertically alongside the foam board and make a light pencil mark a third of the way down from the top (image 1). Lay the yardstick horizontally at the marking and lightly trace the line all the way across the board (image 2). This section will be the header of your poster. Tip: use a very light hand with the pencil — you'll erase these lines later.

Mark Subsequent Sections

Figure out how tall you want subsequent sections of text to be and measure/mark evenly down the length of the board (image 1). Each of our sections is three inches high. With your pencil, lightly trace a horizontal line at each marking until the board resembles a piece of college-ruled paper (image 2).

Write Word or Phrase

With a black paint marker, write out the word or phrase you wish to display in the header section. Don't worry if it looks sloppy! The next couple of steps will remedy any unevenness. If you're worried about messing up, write in pencil first, then trace over in marker.

Enhance the Downstrokes

This is the most important step! When writing, downstrokes are the lines you draw while moving your hand downward. To make a word resemble true calligraphy, draw a line parallel to each downstroke, creating a shadow or "thick line" effect. Make sure the width of each thick line is equal. If your original downstroke is uneven, remedy it by drawing a parallel line on each side of the downstroke. No worries, you'll fill these in next.

Fill In Space Between Lines

Color in the negative space between the two downstroke lines, being careful not to mark outside the lines (image 1). Experiment with different effects like varying downstroke thickness or filling in the downstrokes with color — the possibilities are endless. Once you've finished the first word in the header, repeat the process with any subsequent words (image 2). Tip: let the marker dry before moving on to avoid smearing.

Center the Board

Using your pencil, mark a light vertical line down the center of the board, creating two columns. This will help guide your handwriting.

Write Out Your List

Using the vertical and horizontal lines as a guide, write out the order of events in block lettering in the right-hand column (image 1). Once dry, fill in the times for each event in the left-hand column (image 2). When you're done, thicken the downstrokes to make the letters pop (image 3).

Embellish & Display

Use a paint marker in the color of your choice to fill empty spaces with embellishments such as vines or flowers. Display on a large menu board easel draped with gorgeous flowing greenery.

More Tips!

Looking to create something besides a wedding board? Follow the same faux calligraphy tips above to address envelopes, create personalized signage and more. On paper, gel pens work best and make for more legible handwriting. On wood, fine-tip acrylic paint pens are the way to go. And on chalkboards, fine-tip chalkboard markers are our choice. Happy crafting! See more of our favorite DIY hand-lettering projects and products below.

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