Sunday, March 26, 2017

My Calligraphy Progress in 1 Year (and Our Journey in Journals 1 Year Blog Anniversary!)

You know what's crazy? The fact that it's been an entire year that I've been doing calligraphy and writing a post almost every week on this blog.

Okay, today isn't actually my one year blog anniversary; Our Journey in Journals was made around the 25th I think, but my very first blog post was published on 3/27/2016, so that's what I consider to be my blog's anniversary. Also, I don't really know what was the exact date that I started learning hand-lettering, but I know it was around the same time that I started OJIJ, so I also think of 3/27 as my calligraphy anniversary.

One measly year is not very much compared to a lot of other people, but it can really make a difference. In this post, I'll be going through the past year in terms of my calligraphy and this blog and see how they've both changed and (hopefully) improved. I hope that you'll find it inspirational to see that no matter how bad you think your stuff is now, it can only get better!


I'm not gonna bore you too much with how Our Journey in Journals has improved, but I think that the quality of my posts has thoroughly gotten better (at least, I hope so!). My blog post archive is to the right, so you can skim through all of my old published posts. Though I don't think that my writing itself has necessarily improved that much, the quality of my pictures has gotten SO much better. I also kind of have a consistent posting schedule (I try to post every week on Thursday, though sometimes I am a little late).


I've included a lot of Instagram pictures from the past year in this post, but if they aren't enough for you, then you can also look through my monthly bullet journal setups, since all of my headers and stuff are also hand-lettered.

March 2016

From March 31 //

This at least isn't all that terrible; this is from my very first bujo setup, AKA April 2016 //

Like I said earlier, I started to do calligraphy sometime around March 27. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any of my stuff from the VERY beginning, but I do have this picture from March 31. When I began learning calligraphy, I had no idea what I was doing, and I tried to letter using a water brush dipped into watercolor (like in the first picture). However, I really don't suggest that for beginners; I think that brush markers, which are less flexible, are far easier to control, and that's what you need in the beginning (this is what I think is the best brush marker for calligraphy beginners).

I cringe so much looking at my stuff from around this time, lol. My brush lettering in particular was awful, but print stuff was a little better.

April 2016

2 or 3 weeks into doing calligraphy //

Something I did for a Spanish project in late April //

My first attempt at digital calligraphy sometime in late April //

Faux calligraphy from early April //

April was when I started to do brush lettering with Crayola Super Tips. I don't remember why I started using them, but I think I probably saw some posts on Instagram with people using the classic broad Crayola markers, and I thought to myself, "Hey, I have Crayola markers lying around in my house!"

My brush lettering was starting to get better, and by the end of the month, it was so much better from the start of April; it helped that I doodled a lot at school. My typical "embellishment" at the time was adding shadow-ish sort of things by drawing a dark (usually black) outline on the top and to the right of each letter (haha, that wasn't a very good description, so just look at the second picture).

I also "discovered" faux calligraphy, but since my cursive was still pretty bad, it did not look good at all. In addition, I attempted digital lettering in Photoshop using my drawing tablet, but it did not turn out well either . . .

May 2016

From early May for the #TogetherWeLetter challenge //

From early May for the #BadassWomen challenge //

From late May //

In May, I participated in the #BadassWomenChallenge and #TogetherWeLetter calligraphy challenges. This meant that I got in even more practice in addition to my class doodles, and my control and line width variation got a lot better. Like in April, brush markers continued to be my main tool, though I did do some stuff with faux calligraphy using gel pens and fineliners.

I also made the OJIJ "logo" in May (it's my Instagram profile picture and the thing you see in the blog's sidebar). I really liked it at the time, but I'm not a big fan anymore; I'm planning on making a new one in the near future.

June 2016

From the very beginning of June; the first thing I made when I got these Pentel Fude Touch brush pens //

Faux calligraphy I did in mid-June //

From mid-June again; done with a Pentel Fude Touch //

I consider June to be the first month where I'm not completely embarrassed by absolutely everything I made; I still like a good majority of this stuff. I also got Pentel Fude Touch Brush Pens from a giveaway I won, so that increased my arsenal of tools; I mostly used a mixture of Crayola Super Tips, the Pentels, and various gel pens.

As you (hopefully) can see, my faux calligraphy was a lot better. Since I had been practicing and attempting to improve my everyday handwriting (both print and cursive), I was just overall better at forming letters. Also, since I had more experience in calligraphy, I was expanding and improving the way I wrote different letters and the way I connected them. My line width variation and control with brush markers was so much better, but I do think the Pentels helped a little with that, lol.

July 2016

From early July; I remember being super proud of this when I first made it - not so much anymore . . . //

I still love this! I made it using a Crayola Super Tip, a Pilot Juice, and a Zebra Mildliner in early July //

All of those lens flares may have a been little excessive lol (obviously from early July) //

From the end of July; a mixture of Pentel Fude Touch and faux calligraphy done with a gel pen //

I think from the end of June throughout July, my brush control got a lot better. I also think that my abilities of composition/layouts improved a lot. Again, I mostly used brush markers, though I think I might've used Pentel Fude Touch brush pens more than Crayola Super Tips.

Fun fact: 2 of those pieces ("helpless" and "I lost my shoe") are actually some of my favorite things that I've done.

August 2016

A profile picture I made in early August //

Something I made in early August //

I made this for my blog post about how to do faux calligraphy //

August was bit of a mixed bag; I adore some of the stuff I made during that month, but I also hate some of it. I think it's mainly because I was experimenting more with layouts and trying to do stuff (especially "big" pieces) that were outside of my comfort zone.

September 2016

From mid-September //

From late September - this took me so freaking long to do //
September was similar to August in that I hated some things and loved others. And just like with before, brush markers were my main medium. I also got the Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens (a hard tip and a soft tip, though I lost the former about a week after I got it).

Fun fact: I was really disappointed with the "family don't end in blood" one, but I absolutely love the second one; I've been planning on framing it. Thank God I really like it; if I didn't, that would've been a huge waste of lots of time and effort since it took a really long time to make!

October 2016

From early October //

From mid to late-October //

Digital calligraphy done in late October //
From late October for the #NerdyLetterChallenge //

In October, I did the #NerdyLetterChallenge, so I had a lot of practice with trying to create pieces that were presentable to the entire world, if that makes sense. I think this is also when I started to think about the layouts of my calligraphy more, so there were times that I sketched/practiced/lettered pieces several times before I got one that I was satisfied with. Overall, I was pretty happy with most of the stuff I was making.

I also tried doing digital calligraphy using pen pressure instead of faux calligraphy like I had done previously before.

November 2016

Digital calligraphy done in late November //
Digital calligraphy made in mid-November //
One of my favorite pieces of digital calligraphy that I've done (from mid-November) //

November was kind of a depressing month for me; I don't know why - maybe it was a combination of the weather causing SAD plus being swamped with schoolwork? - but I was overall really overwhelmed. This meant that I made a lot of stressed-out digital calligraphy late at night when I should've been doing homework. In the whole of the month, I only posted one piece of traditional calligraphy (and it wasn't a very good work nor a good picture either).

December 2016

I posted this on my Instagram, too, but it was cropped too short; this was from a post about DIY Christmas calligraphy gifts //

Some Christmas presents for friends (so made around mid-December) //
Digital calligraphy posted on Christmas Day //

Because of finals and school in general crashing over me like a tsunami, I didn't get to do a lot of calligraphy. However, I did continue with mostly digital calligraphy, and I did a lot of stuff with Christmas (mostly pretty, hand-lettered packaging). Again, I hate some of the calligraphy I made, but I also love (or at least like) most of it.

I think that December is the earliest month where my current calligraphy still looks fairly similar.

January 2017

Traditional calligraphy, mainly using a Faber-Castell PITT Artist brush pen, from mid-January //
A profile picture I designed for a contest in late January //

I continued with mostly digital calligraphy in January, again because of lack of good lighting and the fact that I didn't have some of my most used supplies forabout half of the month. Overall, I didn't really do that much calligraphy (or at least many "presentable" pieces).

February 2017

My bujo monthly memories spread for January (originally from my February setup post) //
From a post about DIY hand-lettered Valentine's Day cards //
Done in late February on the day my Tombow Dual Brush Pens arrived from Amazon //

In February, I did a lot more traditional calligraphy. In my opinion, my calligraphy looks pretty much the same right now as it did in this month. I also tried scanning pieces instead of photographing them to get around the terrible lighting of the winter months.

Additionally, I got Tombow Dual Brush Pens in February, so now I use them quite a bit in my pieces.

March 2017

Made literally yesterday //

Since I've had pretty much daily rehearsals in March for my school's spring play, I haven't had much time to actually photograph any pieces. However, like I said earlier, my skills have not noticeably improved since then, though I have started to experiment with more mediums - meaning using a mixture of different brush pens (including Crayola Super Tips, Tombow Dual Brush Pens, and the Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen Brush), attempting to use pointed pen and an italic nib, and using watercolor as backgrounds (like in the above picture).

Wow, that was a lot of stuff! I am both happy to see how much my calligraphy/hand-lettering has improved from the beginning and also embarrassed to see what I used to think was good. However, I know that even though I think I'm pretty good right now, I'm gonna think that my current stuff looks like crap in another year from today. All in the all, the most important thing is that I have indeed seen progress in the past year!

I hope that you found this either interesting or inspiring for your own blog or calligraphy. No matter how bad you think that the things you do are right now, it can only get better from here on out!
mae-mae han

How long have you been doing calligraphy? Let me know by commenting!