It's Time to Master this Basic Flourish



The first thing that you’ll need to do before you even read any more is to print off this flourish worksheet right here.

Flourishing can be daunting, not only because it looks so beautiful and complex but because it requires your arm to make a continuous, perfectly planned out movement. No problem, right?! Wrong!

I don’t know about you, but anytime that I try to do something perfectly, my brain short circuits, I end up with ink everywhere (impressive when all I’m using is a basic pen) and my frustration level goes through the roof. So, in this email course we are going to take it step by step to master the basics. Let’s keep your frustration level at zero (for flourishing, at least)!


Put that pen away and grab an old school pencil!

My favourite pencils for lettering are the Staedtler Norica Pencils. They have soft smooth lead, there are no grainy portions of the lead and they have a fantabulous white eraser on the end. If you don’t have one of those on hand, I’m sure you can rustle up a pencil in a drawer somewhere in your house.

Once you’ve got that, you’re also going to want some tracing paper. Since we are using pencil, any old tracing paper will work (with ink, I always recommend Strathmore tracing paper and you can usually get this at a big box craft store with some sort of 40% off coupon or with that link there if you don’t feel like changing out of your sweats and leaving the house. Hey-o!!))


Now I don’t want you to think that you’re cheating by using a pencil and tracing paper. You’re totally not. You’re doing drills to build up your muscle memory. Flourishing is all about creating smooth consistent lines and the only way that you’re going to create these is by practicing so that your arm knows what to do without you having to think about it. Getting great at something means learning how to do it… so let’s learn!!


Flourishing is easiest when your forearm (the part that has your wrist on it FYI) is at the same level or lower than your elbow. Please note that this is much lower than a traditional desk or table. If that is the case, try using a higher stool at the table while you flourish, or even sitting on your knees. I know that the whole sitting on your knees idea is taboo for traditional calligraphy, so it’s a good thing that’s not what we’re doing. (Hahaha, breaking ALL the rules… and loving it!)


Today you will be working on the basic lines that make up a simple (but super impressive looking) flourish. Again, the practice sheet for today is right here but I know you’ve already printed it off. Place the practice sheet underneath a sheet of tracing paper and use your pencil to trace over the lines again and again and again,

How many times should you trace it? Until you can create the exact same line without having the practice page underneath.

You’re going to walk through tracing the shapes on the practice page from top to bottom. With each shape, trace from the top left hand start all the way to the bottom of the shape.

While you’re doing the tracing, don’t worry about getting your lines right on top of my lines! Instead, focus on creating smooth continuous curves from the beginning to the end.


Don’t expect to master this right away. You should go through at least 6 sheets of tracing paper, filling them up completely before you even think about doing the flourishes without the tracing paper. Be patient with yourself.


The toughest parts are going to be the tight curves where you change direction and then have to start moving the other way. These can be jerky (especially if you don’t listen to my vast wisdom (hahaha) and do them with a pen). Don’t stress out too much about being perfect, just try to relax and be smooth.

You might have to speed up to get your curves smoother. You might have to slow down. You might have to adjust how you’re sitting or you might have to just come back again later.Be gracious with yourself and know that nothing worth having comes easily, practice makes perfect, and all of those other sayings. They’re popular sayings for a reason.


Once you can trace the flourish with no problems, grab some scrap paper and continue to draw it with your pencil on the new paper. Every so often, toss one of your tracing sheets on top of your latest work just to check that you are staying consistent.

Now, after you master that, bring your brush pen back into the mix and adjust to the change in tool. Remember that the movement when you’re first learning something new is more important than the final product. And keep in mind that you should only be using the tip of the brush pen to make the line. This will give you a beautiful, light flourish.


In the next lesson, you will be working on creating variations of this flourish. Make sure that you have this one under your belt by then because all of the other shapes rely on you successfully being able to change direction within a repeated curve. No pressure, but it’s time to get practicing!