Sketch, paint, create.
If your handwriting is more akin to a doctor’s scribble than the elegant, looping scrawl found on a wedding invite, it might be time to learn a new skill. Calligraphy isn’t easy, but thanks to design and illustration apps like Procreate it is now more accessible to the masses.
Many professional calligraphers have even started ditching their traditional brush and point pens in favour of an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and this versatile art app.
Renowned calligraphy duo Honey Darko have been using Procreate for more than a year. We caught up with them during a Today at Apple retail event to help take you from getting started to mastering Procreate's more advanced enhancements.
Learn the basics, then practise them
“Calligraphy requires lots of practice,” explains one half of Honey Darko Sandra Ergin. “Whenever you see a thin line, you go from bottom to top, just barely touching the surface with the tip. Whenever you see a thick line, start pressing down to get a thicker line. The slower you go, usually the cleaner the lines will be. It’s not like writing, it’s more like drawing shapes. And just eight shapes build up the alphabet”.
Streamline your shaky hand
Practice makes perfect, but so too do some of the smarter digital tools on offer in this popular artist’s app. “There’s a feature in Procreate called Streamline (found under ‘stroke’ on your brush menu) that removes all the wobbly lines that a normal hand has,” the other half of Honey Darko, Funda Tazedal, tells us.
“You obviously can’t do that with a normal brush pen, you have to practise that for years. Even for us who have been doing this for years it makes a difference.”
Work with digital gridlines
Want even lettering with a natural flow? Then you’re going to want a strong base on which to work. “Using guide sheets – templates you can download, import to Procreate and essentially trace over – is really helpful,” Ergin explains. “You can also practise on a straight line which is very easy to make in Procreate. The easiest way is to pinch down, use the free, downloadable grid line brush we have made and pull back out. You can then lock this layer, create a new one to write on top and then discard the gridline layer when you’re done.
Don’t be afraid to undo, but never delete
Mistakes happen, it’s inevitable. But Procreate can make these mistakes more palatable, and even a learning experience. “If you make a mistake, tap with two fingers to undo. You can also redo by tapping with three fingers,” Ergin advises. “If you’re in the middle of complex lettering work and you made a mistake, you just tap and that error is erased. If you were doing that traditionally, you’d have to start over.”
“When practising, don’t delete anything. Even though you don’t think you’re improving, if you go back after a few weeks you’ll see your progress.”
Add depth to your work
Procreate isn’t just good for mastering modern calligraphy, you can use the app’s many menu options to enhance your new cursive skills.
“Once you’ve drawn something you can duplicate the layer to create a drop shadow,” Ergin says. “This new shadow layer naturally needs to be underneath the lettering layer so you can select it and reposition it. You can then change the size of it and move it down across to whichever way you want the light source to come from. You can then add gaussian blur from the adjustments menu to finish the look. It’s that easy.”
Procreate is available to download on iPad.
For iPhone, there's Procreate Pocket.