3 Reasons Why You Should Do Drill Exercises

When I first picked up a pointed pen, I had never heard of drills.  In fact, I didn’t even know what copperplate calligraphy was!  All I knew was that I wanted to write pretty.  I figured that a little practice would make me better, but I didn’t know how to practice.

For the  first 2 months, I practiced by writing whole words and full sentences.  No matter how often and how frequent I practiced, I wasn’t seeing much improvement in my letterforms.  It wasn’t until I started doing drill exercises that I began to see drastic improvement in my script.  (Thanks, Ate Gail Madalag, for telling me about drills!)

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A comparison of my calligraphy before I knew about drills and how to study (top) and after months of studying and doing drill exercises (bottom).

In this blog, I’ll tell you why drills are important and why I highly recommend them.  In the upcoming posts, I’ll share tips on how to study and how to do drill exercises.

WHAT is a DRILL?

Learning copperplate requires patience, diligent study, and deliberate practice.

A drill is a deliberate practice of drawing the same stroke or sequence of strokes repeatedly to develop brain and muscle memory, and to practice drawing consistent strokes and letterforms.

In time, drill exercises will help you memorize how the stroke looks, how it feels when you draw them, when to apply pressure and when to release pressure, how much pressure to apply, etc.

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A drill exercise of compound curves.

Drills are integral to your copperplate calligraphy learning experience.

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Drills

1. Drills build a strong foundation

As beginners, we may have the urge to start writing  words and sentences immediately.  However, our success in learning this script really weighs heavily on the groundwork we create.

The deliberate practice of drill exercises will help you to slow down and build a strong foundation — which, in turn, will speed up your learning experience.

2. Drills help you Focus and Break it down

Copperplate script is drawn one stroke at a time and so it makes sense to learn it the same way: one stroke at a time.

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The lowercase A is composed of 3 strokes. This photo shows the series of drills that make up the letter ‘a’.

Drills help you to focus on each stroke — what it looks like, how it’s drawn, when and where pressure is applied and released, etc.  Once you learn the basic strokes, you’ll find it easy to compose the letterforms and words.

3. Drills Develop Brain and Muscle Memory

Learning copperplate requires both conscious and physical effort.  Drills are a great way to train our mind and our body to work together.

Whenever we do anything repetitive, we form habits — so make sure you practice your drills accurately and as true to the exemplar as you can.

Drills will help you memorize what a strokes and letterforms look like how it feels when you draw it.  Soon enough, you’ll be able to create identical and consistent strokes without much effort.

Notes:
  • Practice makes progress.
  • Your drills will improve over time along with your script.
  • Drills are a great way to warm up before writing.
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A comparison of one of my very first drill exercises (top) and a recent one (bottom).

Although drills may seem tedious at first, I urge you to do them and to stick with them.

Drill exercises are an essential part of learning copperplate script.  They’ll help you create a strong foundation for your script and will help you learn more quickly than if you skipped them — I’m speaking from experience here.

Over the next few posts, I’ll share tips on how to study and how to do drills.  Stay tuned!

Happy Writing!

Your Copperplate Companion,

Nina

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