Cute Calligraphy Quotes (design tips & tricks for beginners)

Don't you just love cute calligraphy quotes? Why not try creating your own? In this tutorial, I'll give you my best tips for turning any short quote or phrase into a work of art.

It all begins with a quote DESIGN.

Once you've practiced on a separate piece of paper, you can then add the quote on top of a painted background - OR make it the star of the show in it's own painting.

I'll show you step-by-step how to design a quote using the example: "Be a mermaid and make waves."

A quick overview of calligraphy:

Imagine the practice of calligraphy as if it were a sound board with different toggles that go up and down:

Every calligraphy quote will be a result of adjusting these toggles until the quote looks "just right". The more stand-out combinations will be used for words in the quote that you want to EMPHASIZE. The less stand-out combos will be used for words that aren't as important for the meaning of your quote.

Let's apply these "toggles" to your own calligraphy project. You can watch the full video here or read along with the instructions below.

You'll need:

  • a few pieces of paper to practice on

  • pencil

  • the final project you'll put the quote on

  • your choice of: Sharpie, paint pen, or paint with a fine detail brush to finish the quote with

STEP 1: Choose a quote

Choose a quote and keep it short. Honest, it's easier! If you're a beginner, choose a quote or phrase composed of no more than eight (8) words - including the attribution.

STEP 2: Choose the words you want to EMPHASIZE

Write the quote out and choose the words you want to EMPHASIZE. In our example:

"Be a mermaid and make waves"

I chose to emphasize the words MERMAID and MAKE WAVES. A good litmus test for this is to just state the main words. Do they make sense by themselves, without the other words surrounding them? If they do, you've chosen well.

STEP 3: Decide how you want to shape your quote

Look at the final project that you'll put your quote onto. What's the shape of the space? Does it fit into a long rectangle, or is it more of a square? Or are you going to fit the quote into a circle because you're putting a floral wreath around it?

Use your scrap paper and pencil to try to fit your quote into that shape. Chop the quote into different lines - and it helps to try a few different times. Maybe your emphasized words get their own line, or maybe they look better sharing a line with less-important words next to them. Select the shape and line combination that looks the best to you. I decided on the square shape for my final quote:

STEP 4: Make a plan for emphasizing words/phrases

Remember, the more stand-out styles will be used for words in the quote that you want to EMPHASIZE. The less stand-out styles will be used for words that aren't as important for the meaning of your quote. Here's what my plan looks like:

STEP 5: Start with the center

Take another piece of scrap paper and put your counting cap on. We'll find the exact center of each line of the quote and place it in the exact center of our practice paper.

It helps to start with the main word or phrase, in this case, MERMAID. The word MERMAID has 7 letters, but it's going to be more like 6.5 letters. That's because tall and skinny letters like i, j, and l (lowercase L) don't take up a full letter space. The true center of MERMAID, then, is 3.25 letters in, placing us at the beginning of the second M:

If you're using a square, tall rectangle or a circle shape for your quote, draw this shape onto the next piece of practice paper.

Now find the center of your shape. If you're using a pencil, you can even mark it. Draw the M over the center line, tending more towards the beginning of the M space, rather than its exact middle. You'll want to use the style of lettering as indicated in your plan (for example, I decided on big letters in cursive for the word MERMAID).

Next, finish the rest of the word, beginning from the middle letter. My paper looks like this:

STEP 6: Go backwards to finish the word

We've got the second half of the centered word, but now we need to put in the first half. We'll have to do it by writing from right to left, one letter at a time. It feels weird, but it really does work! Try it:

STEP 7: Repeat the process for each line

Use counting to center each line of your quote inside the overall shape.

STEP 8: Add flair

Look close at most store-bought quote art and you'll see that fonts usually use a combination of bold and thin lines for each letter. Calligraphy pens are great at doing this, but if you're hand-drawing or hand-painting your quote, you'll have to, well, do it by hand. It's easiest to just follow along with the video to see how to do this (click on the picture and it'll take you to that point).

Bonus tip: Add even more flair by emphasizing the highs and lows of letters. Do this by adding extra large loops and dips wherever you like.

STEP 10: Reproduce your design onto the final piece!

Your design is done! Now for the final piece... Use a pencil or white chalk to replicate your quote on the background of your choice (be it a nice sheet of watercolor paper or a colorful painting like my mermaid tail).

Happy quoting!

Got questions? Comment below.