Welcome to Part 2 of my Basic Brush Calligraphy Strokes series!
If you are new to this series, I highly encourage you to get yourself a brush pen and begin practicing with me. If you are on Instagram, share your work by posting it with the hashtag, #pieces_basicstrokes.
Before you get started, be sure to familiarize yourself with these previous posts:
- Brush pens recommended for beginners
- Holding your brush pen properly
- Facing your brush pen in the right direction
Last week, we started off the basic strokes series with the entrance stroke. Now, let’s talk about the underturn stroke!
What is the underturn stroke?
The underturn stroke is a u-shaped stroke that starts as a thick downstroke, transitions to a thin stroke, and the ends with an entrance stroke.
How to create the underturn stroke
To create the underturn stroke, you’ll want to start with a thick downstroke at the waistline.
Apply full pressure to your pen. Press your pen firmly down into the page, being careful not to press too hard or press down at the wrong angle as to risk fraying or damaging the tip of your pen. (Read this post on holding your pen at the right angle for more tips on grip.)
Now draw a stroke downward. BEFORE you reach the baseline, begin to transition to the thinnest stroke your pen will create (also referred to as a “hairline”). Then curve the stroke upward, forming a u-shape. The end of this stroke is essentially the entrance stroke that we reviewed last week.
You may be shaky at first, or unfamiliar with how the stroke should feel as you create it. But as always, practice makes progress. I share practice drills at the end of this post for you to work on.
When to use the underturn stroke
The underturn stroke is used in the letters: a, i, u, and w. It is also used in the letters d and t.
In the letters d and t, notice how the underturn stroke has a taller stem. For these letters, start the underturn stroke at the ascender line, and then continue to finish the underturn stroke.
Do these practice drills to improve your underturn stroke.
Don’t worry about being perfect or creating strokes that are completely free of any shakiness. Shakiness is expected in the beginning! When you are still learning the brush pen and when you go slow (which you SHOULD), then shakiness is normal.
The key with the underturn stroke is to fully transition from thick to thin BEFORE you reach the baseline.
Try these practice drills. Focus on the position of your hand, your grip, your technique, and the forming of the stroke.
- Underturn stroke: Fill a page with full-pressure strokes. Try to make your strokes the same size, width, and angle. After a couple of underturn strokes, review them and think about how you can improve for the next set.
- Connecting underturn strokes: Connect understrokes to each other without any breaks in between. Go slow at first, but try to find a rhythm as you write. This rhythm will help you immensely as you begin to write more. Note: lift your pen completely off the page before starting the next stroke. The idea is to draw the strokes so they appear to be connected, but in actuality, you are creating each stroke individually.
- Entrance stroke + underturn stroke: Connect the entrance stroke to the underturn stroke. After creating the entrance stroke, lift your pen and slightly move it to the right of the top of the entrance stroke, and then create the underturn stroke. Again, remember that the idea is to create what looks like a fluid motion, but this connection consists of two separate strokes.
If you mess up, keep going. Focus on the next stroke. Remember that you will only improve when you keep on practicing and experimenting and learning.
Video: The Underturn Stroke
Watch the video below to see a demonstration of the underturn stroke and practice drills you can start today!
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It’s your turn! Tell me in a comment below:
Have you tried the underturn stroke? How would you describe your experiences so far?
What is the hardest part about the underturn stroke for you?
Are you sharing your work on Instagram? Be sure to share by tagging #pieces_basicstrokes!
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