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dgford 01-07-2010 04:45 AM

Calligraphy Online Tutorials
Hello All,

For some reason, which is to me presently unfathomable, I have taken on the job of presenting some Online Calligraphy Tutorials! It seemed so obvious that many of you were getting really stuck in to learning calligraphy and were so disappointed when they came to an end. That disappointment indicated that there was a need and, so, if I can help I will.

I have firm ideas about standards to strive for and may seem to be a bit “pushy” for some, but, believe or not, basically I am quite soft-hearted --- especially to those who are really working their socks off to achieve!

Let's hope that 2010 will bring much calligraphic joy to you and that, as I approach my 87 th birthday, I don't “cark it” before I have finished what I wish to do.

Of course, I shall be looking forward to hearing from you and to know who my participants are.

To those of you “enjoying” the winter cold, greetings from summer in Australia.

Geoff (Ford)
__________________________________________________ ___________

My General Plan
To present a simple majuscule hand with letters in groups requiring similar strokes;
To explain fully in detail by accepting that each participant may be a beginner;
To allow about 10 days to practise, to post for comments, to practise refinements, etc
To encourage personal criteria right from the start;
To promote the use of letters in words as soon as possible;
To assist in giving attention to simple letter spacing within the words.
To require a number of self-chosen words at the end of each lesson;
To expect as soon as possible the practice of “calligraphy --- beautiful writing.”

Pens: nib size 2mm, I prefer you to use Brause, otherwise Speedball (both use a top reservoir and are fairly firm in making the stroke). No felt-tipped pens. In later tutorials we shall be using 1 ½ mm nibs, so when you find your source, you may as well buy them also.
]Look at this website for useful tips:

Inks: Higgins Eternal, Pelican 4001, Quink, FW Acrylic Ink, or Sumi inks (all non-waterproof).

Paper: A4 Computer printer paper for all practice exercises (see Suggestion below).
Drawing Board (or sheet of heavy carton corrugated cardboard with smooth covering)

On a sheet of A4 printer paper, using a fine ball-pen, draw up the following guide lines:
In top left corner, draw 12, 1, 2 and 3 o'clock lines. (2 o'clock = 30 degrees )
Then the writing guidelines These letters have a height of 6 times the pen-width, a measurement obtained by holding the pen with the handle pointing straight out parallel with the top edge of the paper and making a “ladder” of six small pen strokes. But we know that we shall be using a 2mm nib therefore it has to be 12mm for the writing --- use a 6mm interline spacing (or ½ inch and ¼ inch if you are not into metric).

Suggestion: To save time and effort, you may make a copy of my sheet into Word, etc.,and use that (call it Roman Maj 12 --- which gives name and size). Print off about 8 sheets.

Maybe throughout this tutorial it would be useful for you to print / save each lesson as it comes so that you have the means of instant referral if and when necessary.

I am looking forward to our time together and hope that this will be an intimate and very satisfying inter-relationship, fulfilling your aims and mine. Left-handers please contact me immediately.

Geoff (from Sydney)

Hiraeth 01-07-2010 08:56 AM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
What an excellent start! I am so excited! I am entirely self taught and I KNOW I've fallen into bad habits that need correcting! Thank you so much for sharing your expertise with all of us!


InkyEss 01-07-2010 05:27 PM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
Wow, wonderful start to the year - this is just ideal! :clap: Please don't cark it! We need you!!!!

From the frozen wastelands of England with snow still falling I send you my sincere thanks and my envy that you have such warm and wonderful weather.

thank you Geoff for doing this, I'm really looking forward to it. :thumbsup:

virgo68 01-07-2010 07:29 PM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
hehehe funny Aussie humour Geoff, I hope you won't "cark it" before finishing what you want to do! Although if Sydney gets our Adelaide weather all bets are off!

Thank you for your generosity in sharing your knowledge. If I don't get time to participate as you go through, I will be saving the lessons to have a go at some time.

dgford 01-08-2010 07:10 AM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
Prop up your drawing board so that it is at an angle that seems comfortable to you for writing on. Cover it with a sheet of cartridge paper to make it a sympathetic working surface. Place your paper (and a protecting sheet under your hand) so that the first writing line is located in a comfortable writing position . You will be moving this paper up continually to maintain comfort all the time. Above the first writing line, number this as sheet #1 and write the date.

This first group of letters is made of only vertical or horizontal pen-strokes. Place the end tip of your nib so that is aligned with the 2 o'clock line, making it a 30 degree pen-angle (roughly, pen-handle pointing up to elbow for right-handers). ( Left-handers contact me immediately.)

Keeping it always at that 30 degree angle, and starting at the top, make 5 of the letter I (perfectly upright) --- then stop. Look into that group of 5 letters, select the 2 or 3 most perfect and put a small pencil tick under each. This time, trying to get them all as good as those you ticked, write another 5 again, then stop. Again, select the best and mark them with a tick.

Check your 30 degree angle and this time come down like the I but then pull the pen across to make the base line (length = about half the height) . Your letter L should show a thicker downstroke than the across stroke because of that 30 degree pen-angle that you maintained all the way. Make 5 of the letter L , then stop , select the 2 or 3 best, put a pencil tick under each of those, and then write another group of 5 as good as the ones you selected. Again, select the best and mark them with a tick.

Never write more than 5 in a group and always select your best examples. You will have shown yourself that you can write some good ones and all you have to do now is to aim always for that highest personal standard! Nothing less should be accepted!

It is time to write your first word ! ILL Write 3 of them and select the best and put a tick under it. Are all the strokes perfectly straight – without any wobbles? Are uprights really upright? Are the horizontals really level? These will be the criteria you will be using constantly in this group.

Let's look at the spacing between the letters. A space within a letter and between letters is known as “negative space”. Letter I has no negative space whereas the L has the negative space all the way across its width from the downstroke. The object of good arrangement is to have the letters so spaced that the negative spaces appear to be equal throughout. So here, the space between the I and the L will have to be stretched but the two letters L can be made very close, without touching as in I LL .

Repeat writing the word I LL in groups of three, selecting the best until you are satisfied with your standard. With words, we write in groups of three and always select the best effort as the personal standard to aim for. If you have written three that are each as good as your selected best then you give yourself a pat on your back, shout “excellent” and gleap into the next exercise !!!

The next letter is E . Write the letter L and then come back to the top of the first stroke, make another horizontal stroke the same length as the bottom one. Come down to very, very, very slightly above the mid-point and make another horizontal stroke, the same length as the others. If that last stroke is placed correctly, it appears to be at mid-height although we know that it is not! It is at the “optical centre”. Now you know the drill --- write a group of 5, select the best, tick them, write another group, etc. until you are satisfied.

The next will be F . It is just the E without the bottom line. Practise and evaluate as before in your groups of 5.

The new word will be FILL , paying attention to the negative spaces, of course! And then have a go at LIFE.

Enjoying it? Keep applying the criteria --- uprights are upright, horizontals are horizontal, straight lines are straignht lines, and negative spaces are balancing each other.

H is as wide as ¾ of a square. Keep the mid horizontal at that optical centre. Practise in groups of 5 until you are satisfied with your results.

T is as wide as the H . Make the downstroke first and then the top stroke, which should be evenly balanced and level. Here you have to judge how far along you must go to make that downstroke and have the correct space for the top horizontal ! Remember groups of 5.

Your next word is THE. When you are happy with that, try H I LT. That one will test your handling of negative spaces!! Hint:- with double T in a word, slightly shorten the top right portion of the first T's top stroke and shorten the left top of the second T. This will decrease the otherwise very large negative space between them. We do manipulate, when it suits us, don't we ! And now you know why we do the downstroke of each T first !

Select 5 new words using any of those letters I L E F H T and post them to me. I don't mind how many days I have to wait for them providing they are your best efforts, showing personal attention to the criteria. Feel free to fire any queries to me whislt you are on your way.

This first lesson has had a lot of words from me but I promise it will get more succinct as we progress. But I really do want you to set really high standards for yourself right from the beginning. It is the only way to progress.

The next lesson will deal with sloped letter strokes.

Hiraeth 01-11-2010 11:25 PM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
Hi Geoff!

I'm hoping to get something posted up on Friday. This week I've got a whole week's full of medical tests and doctor's appointments, so time at the drawing board has been a bit thin on the ground.

I think your instruction is marvelous and I hope many will take advantage of thhis great opportunity!

dgford 01-12-2010 05:45 AM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
Kim --- thanks for the post. Take care and I am looking forward to your offerings


macarena 01-14-2010 08:20 AM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
Thank you so much for your post, I begin today with your first posts, I hope you won't "cark it" before finishing what you want to do!. Surely we'll be enjoy it together.
Cordially, Macarena

Hiraeth 01-14-2010 07:14 PM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
1 Attachment(s)
OK. I'll be first!

Hiraeth 01-14-2010 07:15 PM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials

Originally Posted by Hiraeth
OK. I'll be first!

Oh, I should tell you that I have a lighted drawing board so I put my guidesheet under my paper.

dgford 01-15-2010 01:46 AM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
Thank you, Kim. Why am I not surprised to receive yours as the first !!!

The letter constructions are good. The H in the final HILT has the best proportions --- others a bit narrow. Bring the T closer to the L in HILT and FELT, and shorten the left portion of the crossbar in the T in LIFT (or, better still, increase the space between I and F ) --- all to cut down the negative space in each.

Criteria met very well. The T in THE is handled very nicely.

Glad to have you "on board".


Hiraeth 01-15-2010 08:03 AM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
Thank you for your feedback, Geoff! I do see what you are saying and I'm going to try to take another stab at it today.

It probably won't surprise you to know that I have avoided Roman Majuscules like the plague in the past but I am so grateful to have the opportunity to learn them the right way and to have the honest feedback I need to improve.


Originally Posted by dgford
Thank you, Kim. Why am I not surprised to receive yours as the first !!!

The letter constructions are good. The H in the final HILT has the best proportions --- others a bit narrow. Bring the T closer to the L in HILT and FELT, and shorten the left portion of the crossbar in the T in LIFT (or, better still, increase the space between I and F ) --- all to cut down the negative space in each.

Criteria met very well. The T in THE is handled very nicely.

Glad to have you "on board".


Hiraeth 01-15-2010 06:45 PM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
1 Attachment(s)
Today's practice:

Didn't have much time today but I did sit down and do a few for practice.

Geoff, I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to start the next lesson with a new post: Calligraphy Online Tutorials Lesson 2 or something like that. It might make it easier to search back through lessons for review.

dgford 01-16-2010 04:23 AM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials
Much better, Kim. The base line of the L may be shortened s fraction if you think it will help with the spacing throughout the rest of the word.


dgford 01-16-2010 05:27 AM

Re: Calligraphy Online Tutorials


In this lesson we will be dealing with sloped strokes, using a new guideline sheet with its number and date entered on it at the top.

The first letter, V will be as wide as the letter H, so you will have to judge the steepness of that first downstroke to allow the same reverse steepness of the second stroke to fit it correctly in the space allowed. The bottom point should be midway along the letter width and go just below the baseline --- otherwise the points will have the optical illusion of finishing short. We always start each downstroke from the top. This time, keeping that 30 degree angle, write only three Vs.

Take a good look at them. Optically, do those two strokes making the V appear to fit well together --- or is there something not quite right with the balance of the stroke widths (compared with the appearance of the letters in Lesson 1)? As “manipulators” we again control this situation ! Try three more, only this time make the first stroke with the pen-angle at about 45 degrees and the second at the usual 30 degrees. That seems to do the trick, doesn't it?

Now we will go back to our groups of 5, ticking the good ones, etc.

The next letter will be two of those, making a W . This time write only 3 of them because they are only a couple of the letters V , aren't they? But they have to look symmetrical and nicely balanced ! Also, even if they are not at quite the correct angles, try to keep the parallelity within the strokes.

Write the word VIEW, keeping control of those negative spaces and the points protruding a little. Repeat it until you are reasonably satisfied with your results.

We will follow this with letter M. If you splay very slightly the outer “legs” of this letter, it gives a much nicer distribution of the inner negative spaces. Use that 45 degree pen-angle for the first inner sloped. Do you think the first leg downstroke could be made with an even steeper than 45 degree pen-angle? I leave it to you to decide.

Letter N is the same width as letter H, and I leave it to you to select your pen-angle(s) for each of these strokes. Note how much you are already in control of your letter-making decisions ! Then, try the word MINE.

X is made of the two strokes used in the V but with them crossed over at the midpoint.

A is written with the V strokes but starting with the thinner line first, followed by the thicker and then has its horizontal bar slightly below the half-height, to allow a more comfortable distribution of the negative spaces. Your word is EXAMINE.

Y is made by starting at the top left, then moving as if to make a V but coming down to halfway, then moving into a vertical. The right sloped comes down to the halfway bend. What pen-angles have you used?

K is not quite as wide as the letter H but wider than the letter E. The final stroke may have a very slight slide up to the right as it finishes.

Z is an awkward letter to do well and to fit with other letters. Here are two differing letters. In the first, the wider stroke is the sloped --- try flattening the pen-angle to 0 degrees for that stroke. The second example is with the wider strokes across the top and base --- use 45 degrees for the top and base strokes and for the sloped use a pen-angle of 30 degrees.

Calligraphers of even the highest calibre vary in their preference and choose whichever they like better --- after they have mastered both of them. It will be the same for you. Try them both and select the one you prefer, either for the writing of it, or the appearance, or just for ??? All the other majuscules in this Roman Alphabet start with either a downstroke or with a counter-clockwise movement --- but not this one !

Write the wordS YANK, ZEAL and MAZE. (Note both types of Z are used here.)

This has been quite a lesson! For me too --- I had great trouble downloading the images !!! I think we will need a full fortnight to deal with it and for you to send me your 5 new words using all the letters learnt so far. Send to me queries or thoughts whilst you are in mid-lesson, if it will help you.

Don't forget to use the previous criteria, but now you may add “Do the different strokes look comfortable with each other?”

We have now dealt with more than half the alphabet and you have been asked to make quite a few tough personal decisions. You are already a calligrapher because you are making the decisions that is determining your “beautiful writing”.

The next lesson will see the introduction of curved strokes.

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