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.
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.
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.