Chinese Calligraphy Grid

Most Chinese art supply stores sell these pieces of felt with grids printed on them. They’re meant to help when you’re learning calligraphy and come in several styles with different patterns. If you put your thin Chinese calligraphy paper on top of this felt you can see the lines show through from underneath. In the featured image there are lighter and darker lines, creating larger and smaller squares. The large squares outlined in bold with nine smaller squares inside help you center your character and balance the shape of the character within the square.

When you’re first starting out it also helps to write large characters using the big squares since bigger characters are easier to write than smaller ones.

If your paper is large you can drag it around over the grid, so your characters line up in nice rows.

As you progress in your art you should try to give up using these grids and learn to make even rows and columns of characters by sight. Here’s a tip: most Chinese paper has a faint grid impressed into it as a result of how it’s made—something like a watermark. You can use this built-in grid to keep your characters lined up.

These felt grids come in handy for more advanced calligraphers too. If you’re working on an important piece or using expensive paper, you don’t want any mistakes. You can use this grid, with its lines and small squares, as an aid to help you keep all your lines of calligraphy in neat rows and columns. This is much safer than drawing thin pencil lines on your paper as these may be difficult to erase, especially on fragile paper.