GOTHIC -- BÂTARDE
My General Plan
To present practical bâtarde gothic letters using letters in groups requiring similar strokes;
To use clear and concise instructions ;
To allow about 8 days to practise, to post for comments, to practise refinements, etc.;
To encourage personal criteria right from the start;
To continue and to enlarge calligraphic terminology;
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 introduce certain pen manipulations to enhance the quality of the letter shaping;
To require a number of self-chosen words at the end of each lesson;
To encourage as soon as possible the practice of “calligraphy --- beautiful writing.”
Pens: nib size 2mm.
Inks: Keep to your favourite black ink.
Paper: A4 Computer printer paper. Note – If the printer paper you are using is not allowing you to make sharp or crisp lines, try using A4 Bleedproof paper (as made for use with technical pens)
Drawing Board (or sheet of heavy carton corrugated cardboard with smooth covering) at a slight and comfortable slope.
Bâtarde writing guidelines These letters have an x- height of 4.5 times the pen-width and add the same above for the ascenders and below for the descenders. With our 2mm pen, that will be 9mm for the “x-height” ---9mm spacing for the ascenders and for the descenders .
To save you time and effort, you may make a copy of my sheet and use that (call it Bâtarde 9-9-9). It has an pen-angle guide for 45 degrees
Print off about 5 sheets. It will print quite happily on the bleedproof paper.
Just a comment ---
For those of you who have it, the use of gum sandaric will enable you to produce very crisp pen strokes on any paper that doesn't have a smooth surface. The powder should be ground to as fine as possible (very close to white) and put into a new pepper shaker. Sprinkle a very, very little amount on to your paper, spread it all over with the flat of your totally dry hand and then brush it off. Or, place a small amount (maybe, half tea-spoonful) in a square piece of cotton cloth, gather the corners and tie them to make a bag. Pounce this over the surface, spread it evenly and brush it all off.
Another larger comment ---
The word “Bâtarde” is applied to the style of Gothic writing used during the 14th to 16th centuries in Northern France (and to a degree in Southern England, Flanders and Holland), especially to the more formalised style used in private devotional books such as Books of Hours. The word's interpretation at that time could be “*******” meaning that it wasn't really a legitimately recognised Gothic by the Church; but a secondary, calligraphic meaning was “cursive”. This meant that scribes could allow personal qualities to creep into their “hands” --- although still maintaining the common qualities of the pen-strokes with the sharpness, crispness and compactness that define the style.
In this tutorial module we shall be learning a modernized version (omitting some of the more archaic forms) that I have based on my own intensive studies from here in Australia and also overseas of Books of Hours from Oxford, Cambridge, London and Paris manuscript collections. Also, I own 3 pieces of manuscript of the late 15th century, which use cursive Gothic. There are many variations to be found being utilised by calligraphers around the world --- and under other names : “Pointed Gothic”, Gothicised Italic”. Some believe that you can distinguish one from the other by the letter-width or by the pen-width of the letters. But the common quality is pointedness, sharpness, compactness and liveliness.
To date, I have designed 9 modern versions of Bâtarde and am currently in the process of developing a version for modern use of an English hand that I found in Christ's College, Cantab. in June 2009, used in the writing of the Gospels by John Wycliffe.
I hope that you will become as fond of this hand --- and all its variations --- as I am!
GOTHIC -- BÂTARDE
The first lesson will be about acquiring, and using, a new pen skill --- making “trailing hairlines”.
When an aircraft takes off from the ground, it lifts high its front (leading) end and leaves its back (trailing) end low. Go to the pen-angle guidelines, place your dry pen's edge on the 45 degree line and you can see that the right corner of the nib edge is the “leading” corner whilst the left corner is the “trailing” corner. If you move your pen up that pen-angle guideline and gradually lift the leading corner then the trailing corner will remain on the paper until you decide it is “take off” time. I call this pen movement “trailing”.
Let's try it with ink. Using a 45 degree pen-angle, make a downstroke which changes into a counter-clockwise curve --- don't stop until you actually reach the base-line. Make a split-second pause and then change into a “trail” up 45 degrees to the right, trailing the left corner of the nib to leave a fine hairline of ink until you decide to “take off” and the trail ends and you are airborne! Make a few of these.[IMG]
The next stage is to make a few with a slight curve moving up to the right instead of keeping on a straight 45 degree course. Then try to keep it curving until it is actually travelling straight upwards, as in the illustration!
Next, we will try making a trailing hairline downwards. --- but don't spend too long on this exercise because it will become much easier after writing a few of the letters First, it will be from a crossbar stroke.
Make a short horizontal stroke, pause, come up on to the trailing (left) corner, then make a hairline downwards. The second one is from a curve. The third will be from a full downstroke. Make a thick downstroke to well below the baseline but, just towards the end, start to go very quickly (keeping the left side of the stroke completely straight) into a steeper pen-angle until eventually you have a totally upright pen-angle (with the handle pointing fully out to the right), then trail straight down on the right corner. You may even curl that one slightly to the left at the end. The last one is just a manipulative challenge for you !!! The left edge is kept perfectly vertical but the right keeps narrowing all the way down as the pen-nib twists anti-clockwise whilst always keeping in full contact with the paper. Mind-blowing, isn't it?
So now you have achieved making a variety of trailing hairline curves. Hey! You are becoming quite a manipulator, aren't you?
Our first letter will be the “mother” letter --- the letter o
. Keep to the 45 pen-angle for all strokes. Start at 11 o'clock and make the first curve right down to the baseline. Go back to the starting spot and make the second curve to join the first at its leading corner --- a “buffalo horn” and an inverted “buffalo horn”!. With the next attempt try to finish your first downstroke with the very bottom corner on the baseline stopping straight under what will be the starting point at the top of the second stroke.
Write a group of five and check for the best. Now is the time to start becoming aware of the shape of the counter --- its width and its tilt --- and to get into the habit of constantly checking it in every letter. In the next group of 5, try to repeat those good counter shapes.
The second letter is u
. This is a valuable spacing letter being a decider of counter space and also of inter-letter negative spacing. It also demonstrates a linking line and an exit finishing line --- a very valuable letter.
Start with the entry serif, pause, curve immediately into the downstroke and eventually curve out to the baseline. Make that momentary pause and then the trailing hairline curving up to the right until it is travelling vertically. Starting just above the “waistline” (the x-height level) make the second downstroke so that it just covers that ascending hairline, coming down to curve out to the exit with its trailing hairline. Can you see the inverted “Gothic arch” made by the linking line? Why do you think I started the second stroke just above the waist-line?
Practice your groups of 5.
The next letter is the n
. This will have the same counter space as the previous letter and also an upright “Gothic arch”. Note also that the first downstroke finishes with its point just below the baseline --- otherwise it will have the optical appearance of being slightly short.
Start with the entry serif, pause, curve immediately into the downstroke and carry it absolutely vertically to its base. Take the pen back up and place it within that downstroke, just above the mid-height. Ensuring you are still using the 45 degree pen-angle, curve up clockwise to the x-height, pause, curve down to the right and finish as you did in the u
. You should have made the arch and also made the same counter width as in the previous letter. Practice your groups of 5.
Just these three letters give you most of the basic strokes needed to make the remainder of the alphabet ! So it is important to make them well !
is started as in the o
but the final top stroke is just a little flatter. (Have you noticed that I have put a little vertical hairline as a “finisher”?) Letter e
finishes with a 45 degree slide down to the left. Letter a
is made just like the letter c
, with the end stroke (as in the letter u
) starting just a little above the waistline. Note that the dot of the letter i
is merely a tilted square but placed in line with the downstroke. Did you practice your groups of 5 each time?
Write the words nice
and post only those two words to me. Did you notice any special inter-letter spacing needs in either of these?