Handwriting has experienced a renaissance in the past 5-10 years, with diaries and notebooks selling like hot cakes. Concurrently, workshops teaching various writing skills like calligraphy or bullet journaling have become increasingly popular as well.
But why is that?
For one, as technology rapidly takes over our lives, many people are beginning to re-learn the importance of writing by hand. After all, we have been using our hands to write for thousands of years. And, science also shows that typing, swiping, and texting do not offer the massive benefits of writing by hand.
As for calligraphy specifically, there are plenty of excellent reasons to learn calligraphy online:
- It’s one of the most fun and creative hobbies you can learn.
- It can be used to create personalized, handwritten wedding invitations, cards, or paintings (or notes!).
- Learning calligraphy is quick and does not incur any large costs.
If you study calligraphy with the help of the top-rated online classes on this list, you can master its intricacies at no cost at all. That is if you take full advantage of the free 30-day trial offer on Skillshare. Out of all the online learning platforms we have reviewed, Skillshare has the best selection of online calligraphy classes available.
To continue learning at Skillshare after your trial ends, use e-student.org’s unique link to knock 30% off the price of an annual subscription. It’s a fantastic deal considering the massive size of Skillshare’s course catalog.
Without further ado, these are the best free online calligraphy classes for 2022.
Table of Contents
Best Overall: Modern Calligraphy: 4 Easy Steps to Go From Beginner to Brush Lettering Pro
We kick off our list of the best online calligraphy classes with “Modern Calligraphy: 4 Easy Steps to Go From Beginner to Brush Lettering Pro”. This course builds on our previous pick for calligraphy, expanding from a quick 34-minute crash course to get beginners well acquainted with the basics of modern calligraphy, to going much more in-depth with an additional hour of course videos.
The emphasis in this class is on exploring the students’ own handwriting style and then developing a personal style of calligraphy based on it. The tutor does not try to teach you how to copy her lettering style – instead, she’ll give you the skills you need to refine your very own style into a diamond.
The instructor of this online calligraphy course, Peggy Dean of The Pigeon Letters, is entirely self-taught. She is a great example of how one can carve a legitimate artistic career via rigorous self-learning.
Peggy started her online classes to give students the resources they need to find success as a self-taught calligrapher the way she did. After you nail the basics, it’s up to you to see whether you want to push further as a professional or keep doing hand lettering just as a cool little hobby.
The following is a rough breakdown of the lessons taught in this online class:
- Introduction to calligraphy supplies, brush pens, and how to use them.
- Developing a unique alphabet from your personal handwriting style.
- Artfully connecting letters together.
- Developing a lettering style by toying with weight.
After the theoretical section is finished, students will get their hands dirty by completing a hands-on project. In this project, students will be illustrating their first quote or phrase.
For a little inspirational push, have a look at this class project from a student who took this course:
All things considered, “Modern Calligraphy” is one of the best online calligraphy courses for beginners. It is concise, easy-to-follow, and engaging.
Best for Illustrated Journaling: The Ultimate Guide to Creative Planning & Journaling
People into self-development are likely already aware of the many benefits of journaling, planning, and doodling. By adding a little creativity to these routines, you can reap even more benefits. For example, even a weekly engagement with visual art strengthens the neural pathway that controls attention and focus. So, why not add a little visual flair to those pesky to-do lists?
“The Ultimate Guide to Creative Planning & Journaling” from Amanda Rach Lee is aimed at beginners looking to learn the very basics of illustration. Amanda is a popular YouTuber with millions of subscribers. Her weekly videos are focused on journaling, doodling, and sketching.
Amanda emphasizes that art is for everyone, which is why she has put together a short, engaging online course in which she shows students the fundamentals of the techniques she uses in her own work. Amanda shows the students that they do not have to become Basquiat-level artists to have a little creativity in their daily lives. By learning a few relatively straightforward techniques, one can start illustrating almost immediately.
As for its duration, this is another 34-minute online crash course with quick lessons on the basics of doodling, layouts, supplies, and lettering. Feel free to use those techniques in any manner you like. Whether you want to make your notes more eye-catching or illustrate an entire calendar, you will find suitable ideas and techniques to get started. The techniques taught here can be applied to note-taking as well, especially to methods that use short bullet-style sequences, such as the boxing method of note-taking.
Finally, this online class is rounded up with a practical project. There, students are encouraged to combine all the taught techniques to put together a weekly planner spread. This class project is a great way to get you started with visually pleasing bullet journaling. For anyone looking to add a little creativity to their lives (and also get those neurons sparking!), this 34-minute calligraphy course is certainly one of the best online classes available.
Best for Brush Calligraphy: Introduction to Modern Brush Calligraphy
“Introduction to Modern Brush Calligraphy” is a 1-hour-30-minute introductory online course to brush calligraphy. The class is led by Kimberly Shrack, a professional calligrapher and the illustrator behind Hoopla! Letters. When compared to the previous two courses reviewed, things get a bit more specific this time around. In this class, you’ll dive head-first into brush calligraphy together with all of its nuances.
To start things off, the tutor will introduce the fundamentals of grip, posture, and movement. From there, students will get right into practical action by learning to letter. After that, step by step, the lessons go through every specific shape found in the lowercase alphabet.
To give you an example of what I’m talking about, O-shaped letters have a lesson dedicated specifically to scripting these characters. And, the other shapes found in the lowercase alphabet get the same treatment. The class as a whole is short and sweet but still manages to cover everything needed to get started with brush calligraphy.
Of course, it is up to the students themselves to put the techniques into action via consistent practice. As an encouragement for getting started, the class concludes with a hands-on project. In this project, students will illustrate and send out a handwritten letter.
Remember handwritten letters? In case your mind has been consumed by e-mails like mine, they are those things you put in an envelope, stamp, and then take to a PHYSICAL mailbox. This practical project is like a cherry on top of an already informative, practical, and well-developed online calligraphy course. All in all, this is a fantastic calligraphy class that’s a good fit for beginners and intermediate students alike.
Best for Handwriting: Improve Your Handwriting: Strategies for Better Form, Legibility, and Speed
Despite popular opinion, I think handwriting is one of the skills that will never be fully replaced by tech or AI. From improved academic performance to less distractions, the benefits of handwriting are plentiful. Most of us have learned to write way back in elementary school and we have come to accept our handwriting style and pay little attention to it in our daily lives. That is – if we handwrite at all anymore, considering that most of our daily communication consists of typing, swiping, and texting.
To take your handwriting to the next level, “Improve Your Handwriting” is the best calligraphy course for you. It’s a one-hour course aimed at students looking to quickly improve their handwriting.
This is a practical, short, and action-packed class led by Doris Fullgrabe, a freelance calligraphy teacher. Fullgrabe has put together a course that targets the 3 keys of great handwriting – form, speed, and legibility. Students will improve in all these areas by analyzing their current handwriting, setting new goals, and then improving by carefully studying pre-selected samples.
Improving handwriting is not an overnight process. After all, it is a habit ingrained deeply in our muscle memory. But, by learning a few tips and tricks, one can see improvements immediately. That is why if you’re looking for an actionable online class for adding a little glamour to your handwriting, this online course might just be the best pick for you.
Best for Beginners: Anyone Can Brush Letter - Modern Calligraphy For Complete Beginners
In the Middle East and East Asia, calligraphy is considered an art form superior to painting and sculpting. Despite this interesting fact, calligraphy can be practiced by anyone. And, you don’t need special, pricey art supplies to get started. In fact, as “Anyone Can Brush Letter” from Skillshare will show you, it’s possible to start even with nothing but Crayola markers.
This is a one-hour calligraphy course and it’s taught by Yasmina Creates, a self-taught artist specializing in ink and watercolor. Her passion for art is evident, as her teaching style is very engaging and accommodating. Not only will you learn about the necessary tools and materials, but also get a first-hand demonstration of how to create your own calligraphy lettering.
In this course, Yasmina breaks down all the essentials of brush lettering. Everything is laid out for the students from the selection of supplies to more advanced calligraphy techniques like bounce lettering and flourishes.
The class managing to cover so much ground in so little time is also the one single gripe I have with it. The transition from the very basics to more advanced techniques feels a bit rushed at times and it might have made better sense to simply stick with nothing but the basics in the syllabus: that’s what the class is meant for, after all.
However, for learners already used to self-paced courses, this shouldn’t be an issue. Just make sure to put in the practical work and get the foundations right before proceeding to the advanced lessons. By doing so, you can go from “zero to hero” relatively fast with the help of this online class.
Best for Digital Calligraphy: Digitizing Calligraphy from Sketch to Vector
As any professional calligrapher will tell you, the demand for digitized calligraphy is growing at a rapid pace. Digitized calligraphy can be used in print and online for various purposes – creating logotypes, advertising, and title treatments. These are only some examples of forms that make use of digitized calligraphy.
“Digitizing Calligraphy” is a two-hour online course intended for an intermediate-level student looking to take their penmanship from paper to screen. The course is led by Molly Suber Thorpe, a professional calligrapher with past clients such as Fendi, Google Arts & Culture, Martha Stewart, and Michael Kors.
In the first part of her Skillshare class, Thorpe takes us through the two basics of calligraphy – sketching a script letter and adding flourishes to the script. The class also has several useful pointers for how to recognize the difference between a purposeful flourish and an extraneous flourish.
The second part of the class is all about going digital. Students will fire up Photoshop and Illustrator and get polishing. Thorpe demonstrates the exact techniques she uses to improve her art further. All the while showing us how to retain the charm of the ink-on-paper form. All things considered, “Digitizing Calligraphy” is the best resource for practicing calligraphers looking to embrace the digital form.
Best Practical Course: Calligraphy Essentials: A 10-Day Challenge
We finish our list of the best online calligraphy courses with “Calligraphy Essentials: A 10-Day Challenge”. This is a practical class that puts the students to the test with a 10-day challenge. During each day, you are asked to complete a warm-up or an exercise. Together with these daily exercises, each lesson also comes with insider tips on how to improve your skills even further.
It is an intermediate-level class that assumes the learner has some theoretical and practical understanding of calligraphy basics. As long as you have taken a course on the fundamentals and have gotten your papers inky once or twice, you will do just fine in this challenge.
The class is led by Bryn Chernoff, the founder of the calligraphy studio Paperfinger. The work of Paperfinger has been featured in the likes of The New York Times, Martha Stewart Weddings, and The Knot. Illustrators from Paperfinger are true masters of their game, just check out some of the works from their portfolio. They are staggeringly beautiful. Just looking at some of these illustrations makes me want to grab a brush and get lettering straight away.
Some of the techniques taught here are eye-opening to a hobby calligrapher. For example, did you know that correct breathing can be just as important as getting the strokes and flourishes right? It’s often easy to miss little areas of improvement such as this when you’re not a professional calligrapher. That is why the daily lessons in this class are so useful. For getting your daily calligraphy practice, this is definitely another one of the best online calligraphy course available.