Copperplate Calligraphy

Copperplate (English Roundhand) Calligraphy

Photo by Katya Wolf

As a passionate enthusiast of the art of calligraphy, I’ve always found Copperplate calligraphy to be exceptionally alluring. It’s a style that has been cherished for centuries due to its elegance and the beautiful rhythm it creates on paper. So, let’s get started on our journey to master this timeless art form!

A Brief History of Copperplate Calligraphy

Copperplate calligraphy, also known as Roundhand or English Roundhand, originated in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was commonly used for important documents and ornate correspondences due to its formal and elegant appearance.

Understanding the Copperplate Style

The Copperplate Alphabet

In Copperplate calligraphy, every letter is designed with careful attention to detail. The style is written in lowercase and uppercase letters with a combination of thick (downward) and thin (upward) strokes, resulting in a harmonious balance of light and shade in the text.

Characteristics of Copperplate Calligraphy

The defining feature of Copperplate is the contrast between its thin and thick lines, achieved by the pressure applied to the nib. The letters have a slanted, elongated form, and the lowercase letters are usually written with ascenders and descenders that loop elegantly.

Materials Needed for Copperplate Calligraphy

To write in Copperplate style, you’ll need a few specific tools: a pointed dip pen or an oblique pen holder, flexible nibs, high-quality ink, and smooth paper to prevent ink bleed and feathering. These tools will ensure you achieve the desired line variation and smoothness characteristic of Copperplate calligraphy.

Steps to Write in Copperplate Calligraphy

Preparing Your Tools

Before you start, ensure your nib is clean and your inkwell is filled. Position your paper at a 45-degree angle – this helps achieve the right slant.

Holding the Pen

The way you hold your pen greatly affects the pressure you apply on the nib. Hold it firmly but not tightly. The pen should be at a roughly 45-degree angle to the paper.

Basic Strokes

Begin with basic strokes, such as the thin upward stroke and the thick downward stroke. Remember, the key to Copperplate is consistency in pressure.

Writing Letters

After mastering the basic strokes, move on to writing letters. Start with lowercase letters as they are simpler and more common in text. Remember, each letter should start at the baseline.

Common Mistakes in Copperplate Calligraphy and How to Avoid Them

A common mistake in Copperplate is inconsistent slant and letter width. A guideline can help maintain consistency. Another issue could be applying too much pressure, leading to broken lines or nib damage. Always remember, practice makes perfect!

Practicing Copperplate Calligraphy: Tips and Techniques

The best way to improve your calligraphy is through practice. Dedicate a specific amount of time each day to practice, and keep track of your progress. Don’t rush – Copperplate calligraphy is an art form that requires patience and finesse.



Copperplate calligraphy is a beautiful and elegant art form. It might seem challenging at first, but with practice and passion, anyone can master this timeless skill. Remember, every stroke is a step forward on your calligraphy journey.


1. What is the best paper for Copperplate calligraphy?

Smooth, high-quality paper like Rhodia or Bristol is excellent for English Roundhand calligraphy.

2. What kind of ink is suitable?

High-quality, viscous ink such as Sumi or India ink works well for Roundhand Calligraphy.

3. How can I achieve a consistent slant?

Using guidelines can help maintain a consistent slant. Position your paper at a 45-degree angle for the best results.

4. Is it necessary to use an oblique pen holder?

While not absolutely necessary, an oblique pen holder can make it easier to achieve the thin and thick strokes characteristic of Copperplate.

5. How much time does it take to become proficient?

This largely depends on the individual and the amount of practice. Consistent practice over several weeks or months can lead to significant improvement.

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Louise Andrews

Hi. I am Louise Andrews, founder of Life & Crafts Journey. I am also a calligraphy enthusiast that loves the variety and elegance of the written fonts. I am sharing my knowledge collected for my own hobbies to encourage the passion of this art.

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