Typography, calligraphy and lettering

Japanese Calligraphy Tutorial: 4 Basic Lines for Beginners

Discover the art of traditional Japanese writing with artist and professional calligrapher Rie Takeda, in this beginner’s guide

The art of traditional Japanese calligraphy, or Shodo as it’s also known, is an ancient practice with a focus on beauty, simplicity, and the connection between mind and body.

Rie Takeda (@rietakeda) is a professional calligrapher and artist who has been teaching Shodo since 2002. She has developed an original yet effective way of teaching Shodo called The Mindfulness Method, which focuses on bringing the balance of mind and body together in a way that can be adapted to all ages and abilities.

Join her in this beginner’s tutorial as she demonstrates how to practice simple yet beautiful lines in traditional Japanese calligraphy style and improve your technique.

Materials: You’ll need a flat surface to work on, a brush, inkstone or bowl, ink, and paper.

4 Basic Calligraphy Lines

1. Sokohitsu (Side Brushing)

For the first brushstroke, hold your brush lightly with three fingers and hold it in an upright position. Rie Takeda explains that the brush must always be held like this, with your arm, elbow, and wrist free of tension, so that the brush can glide smoothly across the page.

Japanese Calligraphy Tutorial: 4 Basic Lines for Beginners 5
Hold the brush upright

Then, place your brush tip-first onto the page at a 45° angle.

Japanese Calligraphy Tutorial: 4 Basic Lines for Beginners 7
Hold the brush at 45°

Slide it across the page while holding it in the same position, maintaining contact between brush and page at all times. When you reach the end of the page, hold the position for a few seconds before gently lifting the brush.

Japanese Calligraphy Tutorial: 4 Basic Lines for Beginners 9
Slide your brush carefully across the page

Tip: you can check the angle of your brushstrokes by marking the ends of the lines with your brush

Japanese Calligraphy Tutorial: 4 Basic Lines for Beginners 11
Mark the ends of your lines to check the angle

2. Chokuhitsu (Direct Brushing)

For the next brushstroke, place your brush on the page at the same 45° angle as before. Then, without lifting your brush from the page, rotate the brush upwards another 45° degrees so that the hair direction of the brush is horizontal.

Japanese Calligraphy Tutorial: 4 Basic Lines for Beginners 13
Twist your brush upwards 45°

Slide your brush across the page and hold for a few seconds in the same position.

Japanese Calligraphy Tutorial: 4 Basic Lines for Beginners 15
Always pause with your brush before releasing

Then rotate your brush downwards back to the same 45° angle as the beginning, and then releasing it from the page. Takeda explains that this will often give you a thinner, softer and more flexible line.

3. Wave-Exercise in Direct Brushing

Place your brush on the page and gently press down in the direction you will draw your line. As you begin to paint the line, gently lift the brush from the page without losing complete contact, and then press down again.

Do this in consecutive movements, all the while moving slowly across the page. You will create an uneven line which appears thicker in some places.

Japanese Calligraphy Tutorial: 4 Basic Lines for Beginners 18
You should get an uneven line at the end

4. Wave-Exercise in Side Brushing

Place your brush on the page at a 45° angle. Copy the same movement as before, pressing down and lifting your brush repeatedly as you slowly slide it across the page.

The difference is that the angle of your brush is held at 45° for the whole length of the line.

Japanese Calligraphy Tutorial: 4 Basic Lines for Beginners 20
Keep your brush at 45°

Keep your concentration on the top line of the brushstroke, aiming to keep it as straight and smooth as possible. You should see a straight top line and a wavy effect at the bottom.

Like this tutorial? If you want to learn more about the philosophy and art of traditional Japanese calligraphy and how it can bring you inner calm, check out Rie Takeda’s online course Introduction to Japanese Calligraphy.

You may also like:

- Why Is Calligraphy So Good for Your Brain?
- What is Shodō, the Art of Japanese Calligraphy?
- 5 Interesting Facts About India Ink
- Arabic Calligraphy: Learn Kufic Script
- Introduction to Chinese Calligraphy

0 commentaires

Connectez-vous ou inscrivez-vous pour commenter

Recevez par mail les nouveautés de Domestika