So, what's the difference?


by Lucy Mellor


Journal: Modern Calligraphy and Brush Lettering. So, what's the difference? Mellor & Rose Lancashire

We are often asked the difference between Modern Calligraphy and Brush Lettering. It’s a question we’re usually asked before people book onto a workshop, see which one they prefer or visually see a specific use for; wedding stationery, wall art, bullet journals + planners etc. If this sounds familiar and something you’re thinking right now, then please read on and we’ll lay down a couple of the big differences between the two, hopefully making it all the more clear.

In this post, we’ll be comparing the two main styles (of course there are a couple more!) of Modern Calligraphy and Brush Lettering! The main differences and benefits of lovely lettering - we’ll be looking specifically at; the equipment we use, technique and the finished product.



Let’s start with the fundamentals of the two; the equipment we use. Firstly, with Modern Calligraphy; we use a metallic dip pen and a pot of ink. Old school. With Brush Lettering, we use well… a brush pen - typically a Tombow ABT Brush Pen - no dipping involved!

In our Modern Calligraphy workshops, we begin to acknowledge that we need to keep dipping as we’re quite rightly so used to a ballpoint or fountain pen with a continuous flow of ink - so when we’re lettering a couple of letters, we will inevitably run out of ink, so we dip and carry on. However, with Brush Lettering it’s rather the opposite. No dipping needed as the ink in the pen barrel, more like what we’re used to, so we can create large scale lettering all in one go!

The snap on the right was taken at our Beginners Modern Calligraphy workshop at Cedar Farm - here we've covered all the letters of the alphabet; the shapes and sizes both upper case + lower case. We're now onto the design layout elements of calligraphy, looking into ways of adding some pop to our hand lettered designs with banners etc. Top top - dip pens are fabulous for illustrations - something we're keen to emphasise in our workshops!

Journal: Modern Calligraphy and Brush Lettering. So, what's the difference? Mellor & Rose Lancashire



Both pens share similarities in their technique but completely different in how we hold the pen - there is a specific way to hold the barrel of the pen which makes getting those ultra thin and dense downstrokes all the more easier and also consistent each time we sit down to letter. We look closely at this in our Beginners and Introductory workshops:)

With both pens, the same application of applying alternating ‘pressure’ applies. With hand lettering, we’re looking to achieve a thick/thin letter stroke to give us that characteristics of lovely modern lettering. However, the way the pens work both from the way we hold and use the pen, the ‘nib’ or tip of the pen itself , the way the ink is delivered is quite different - but the lettering ‘style’ itself shares a lot of similarities! The key to all style of hand lettering… upstrokes are always a light stroke on the way up creating a lovely fine line and in contrast on the downstroke pressure is applied allowing a lovely rich broader flow of ink to flow through.

Journal: Modern Calligraphy and Brush Lettering. So, what's the difference? Mellor & Rose Lancashire

Give Brush Lettering a go, all you need is a pen - CASS ART has A LOT of colour options!



Both styles of lettering share the thick and thin stroke characteristic - but we can achieve pretty varied things with both pens!

Typically, with a dip pen the scale of lettering is smaller than that with a brush pen - designs and letters and much more delicate, perhaps why it is so popular on wedding stationery! With Brush Lettering, designs can go pretty big - large wall art in a whole variety of colours - simplistic to change up the colours whenever you feel like it.

As evenings are closing in early and we're heading into the Winter months, Christmas is peering its head around the corner. We have our Christmas Calligraphy workshops coming up in November + December both in Modern Calligraphy and Brush Lettering if you fancy trying you hand at calligraphy!

Journal: Modern Calligraphy and Brush Lettering. So, what's the difference? Mellor & Rose Lancashire

We recommend starting with the dip pen Modern Calligraphy workshop before the Brush Lettering simply because of the equipment we use. It’s a harder technique of the two and a fantastic way of understanding the pressure strokes - actually seeing the tines open and close back up with the varying pressure helps to understand how to get the right angle of the pen!


by Polly Mellor & Beverley Mellor


by Lucy Mellor

If you fancy trying your hand at hand lettering + joining us on a workshop, please drop us a message!


Posted in Calligraphy.

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