Thursday, February 28, 2013

51: Caroling

This style, Caroling, is based on Carolingian from 1200 years ago, the forerunner of today's ubiquitous Roman lower case.  I've made visible some of the connecting motions between strokes and letters.  
Let the serifs form a club at the ends of the verticals and horizontals. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

50: Dead center

When you use a pen that's too wide for your letter height, the ink has to go somewhere.  Here, in Dead Center, the letters lose their interior spaces, but somehow keep their identity.  
Note how a small space distinguishes e from c

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

49: Split Italic

The split pen lets you take any broad-pen alphabet into a new dimension.  Here you see the simplest style that every calligrapher learns, take on a new life as Split Italic. I like to fill a few words with two colors of ink such as lime and aqua, or red and orange. 
Depending on what kind and size of split pen you use, you may need to go back and tidy up some of the joins and intersections with one side of the pen or a narrow pen. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

48: Yeoman

Well, OK...
Yeoperson.  This simple variation on Roman incorporates a cap mid-stroke and a kind of curl that is sometimes an ornament, sometimes a construction stroke.  
You can decide how many curls and gaps, and where. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Give someone an honorary diploma

Bestow an honor, complete with shiny gold seal.  

Now that you have tried Shady Gothic from last Monday, you might like to combine some of your calligraphic scripts into a decorative diploma--a less-than-official page that sums up your gratitude or congratulations.  The wording can be serious or mock-serious; the language can be Latin, English, or somewhere in between; and the layout can be simple or fussy.  This illustration is black and white, from an out of print book of mine Calligraphy Alphabets Made Easy.   

You can print out a beautiful multi-color border to start with, from my website.   

Saturday, February 23, 2013

47: Heavy Land

You will have to experiment with E.  Two alternatives are offered after Z. 
A variation on calligraphic favorite Neuland, Heavy Land uses a pen about as broad as the letters can accommodate.  Note where the strokes just meet and where they completely overlap.  

Friday, February 22, 2013

46: G for George, plus W from last month

These G s were slapped together using a variety of pens.  Some of them are a little, hmmm, hasty.  
Here are 26 variations on the letter G, in honor of our first president.  I wrote them using the three basic kinds of pen: broad-edged, unvarying, pressure-sensitive.  The large G is made of some George Washington symbols from the legendary cherry-tree-chopping tale.     

If you've been following this daily alphabet blog, you may remember the alphabet of 26 M s that celebrate Martin Luther King Day.  Just scroll back to January 21 and turn them upside down to transform them into 26 W s.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

45: New Yorker

Today marks the anniversary of the founding of the New Yorker magazine.  What better way to celebrate it than sampling its iconic typography? 

Hold the pen at 30° and at 0°. 

44: Studs

This style, Studs, gives you a lot of bang for the buck.  Write simple caps with a bull-nosed pen; use a smaller paint pen with silver or gray to dot the strokes.  
Try putting "studs" dots just at the top and bottom of the stroke, or just at two ends of the serif.  It's a fun alphabet to play around with. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

43: Swash caps

These Swash Caps go with the Swash Italic from February 13.
Not that you need more swashes!  

Have fun.  But not too much.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

42: Shady Gothic

Shady Gothic was all the rage about 100 years ago, adding extra ornateness to diplomas and awards.  

Leave plenty of space between the letters to allow for the gray "dropped" shadows. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

41: Happybet

"Write me an alphabet."  That's all it took. 
Parents get to watch one of the most delightful growth processes in the world--how letters get learned and written.  These letters, which I call Happybet, are just a few out of the hundreds I've watched come from my kids' crayons, markers, and chalk.  And of course, some of the most wonderful were given to me on valentines...

A sidewalk "valintine" in purple chalk. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

40: DNA

These simple twisted lines create the shape we see in our own genes through a microscope.  DNA letters are striking but subtle in short words, logos, or posters.  

Use a bullnosed marker or Speedball nib to make an unvarying line that crosses at the center of the upright or curve.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

39: Heart-e

Hearty lets you tuck a little valentine into the nooks and crannies of Roman lowercase letters.  Limit yourself to just a few.  

The niftiest thing about this alphabet is that it only takes two pen strokes, overlapped, to make a heart. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

38: Swash Italic

Swash Italic is pure fun, and like all self-indulgence, you need to rein it in a little after you let it play. Practice by swashing every letter, but when you write words and paragraphs pick just a few that you allow to shine.  
Swash Italic lets each letter express its inner diva. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

37: Interruptus

Interruptus is another variation on Roman, though the technique is useful in most alphabets.  Just break the vertical stroke in the middle, with a small gap of white space.  It gives the alphabet a subtle woven texture. 
Break slightly above center of A, B, E, F, first half of H, and Y. Try breaking below center of X, second half of H, K, and X. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

36: Heavy Copper

Heavy Copper letters are written with a flexible crowquill pen [actually metal nowadays].  You'll quickly discover that you can make thick lines only on the downstroke; upstrokes have to glide over the paper with the lightest pressure.  
Letters slant at 60°.  This style is my nemesis.   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy New Year

Greetings for the new year, written in the Vietnamese calligraphy called Thu Phap.  It's the result of writing Roman letters with a flexible Asian brush on soft mulberry paper [often mis-named rice paper].  Hold the brush straight up and down, and don't write too fast.  
I'm just a beginner, hoping to go back to Vietnam again to study more. 
Red is the color of celebration. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

35: Thu Phap

Thu Phap is the national style of Vietnam, where calligraphers for centuries have been forming the Roman alphabet with the strokes of the Asian brush.  This first, and best, fusion of East and West is still a national treasure, showcased during the New Year by calligraphers who line the sidewalk at special streets in Hanoi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City. 

I am just beginning to learn this style.  

A young woman in traditional North Vietnamese dress offers New Year greetings to order in Hanoi 
just outside the Temple of Knowledge. 

Hold the brush upright and vary the pressure.  Red is the traditional color of celebration.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Calligraphy Every Day 33: Blister

This pretty, striking alphabet features a half-round Blister along the left vertical.  It's a striking but  time-comsuming style.  You might want to use only a few letters for emphasis. 
Be sure to start the half-circle above center.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Calligraphy Every Day 32: Fat Unc

I love this alphabet, with its heavy letter bodies and long ascenders.  Fat Unc stands for Uncial, a calligraphy term that relates to "inch," not uncle. 
Note Celtic kinds of letter shapes for G and M and N and T.  You can add extra flavor with the long S and the rune-like Y.  Letters are 2 1/2 pen widths tall. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Calligraphy Every Day 31: Flat Gothic

Flat Gothic is just like regular Gothic, except the usual 45° pen angle is flattened to 0°.  You will need to make short thin horizontal lines to tie the vertical strokes together. 

A quirky variation on Gothic. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Calligraphy Every Day 30: Icelandic Two-ply

This alphabet builds on English Two-ply from January 31, a yarn that makes a sweater you can wear indoors.  If you've ever tried on a sweater made with Icelandic Two-ply yarn, however, you'll understand why today's letters look thick, warm, and heavy.  

Take care to overlap the vertical strokes slightly in the middle, and keep the triangular white gap at the bottom and top of the stroke precise.  You need a little air in these ABCs. 

A rough-textured letter that gives the outdoor feel of heavy wool, chopped wood, and uneven stone.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Calligraphy Every Day Project 5: Calligraphy in a ring

Letters that follow around a circle have a special appeal.  And special problems; I learned early on that many of my readers found it an imposition to be asked to read upside down.  People who wouldn't boggle at taking a peek at some juicy bit of text upside-down on your desk will suddenly get all literal when confronted with a few Italic letters. It helps if you work with a familiar text, and let them supply the rest of the text in their head once they recognize it.  

Here's a nice design for wedding graphics: a gift, a cover for an order of service, or a decoration for the invitation.  
While you're at it, don't wait for a wedding.  It makes a lovely cover for an anniversary invitation, or a gift to your dedicated, in-house Valentine.  Enjoy!   
The inner circle is anchored firmly with simple Roman caps that allow the Italic outer circle to vary the stroke. (When the line of lettering deviates from horizontal, Upright Italic works better than slanted, as a rule.) The extended swashes are just frosting on the cake. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Calligraphy Every Day 29: Roman Shadow

It's Groundhog Day today, and in honor of Punxatawney Phil, here is Roman Shadow, an alphabet that casts its own shadow. 

Write simple Roman capitals in ink, on slightly rough paper.  Then use a carpenter's pencil to imitate a short, slanting shadow (choosing any height of course). Six more weeks of winter!?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Calligraphy Every Day 28: Hefty but Nimble

I seem to be preoccupied with warmth and weight nowadays.  This Hefty but Nimble alphabet lets Italic caps just sashay along, not worrying too much about serifs and guidelines.  Don't let them get any heavier, however, or they won't have room to move gracefully. 
Letter height is about 5-6 times the width of the pen.  Sorry they're kind of ragged, but I enlarged them from something I wrote small.