Update: 9/8/2014 A short calligraphy downstroke is called a minim. This is for those looking for the crossword solution!
I am calling this post Calligraphy Tip No. 1 with the vague hope that there will be a post sometime in the future called Calligraphy Tip No.2. But I shan’t worry about that right now. Since my last post I have been trying to think about things I’ve learnt about the pointed pen that perhaps I didn’t read in a book and that a beginner wouldn’t necessarily be thinking about.
My first tip concerns working surface. I am not talking about paper, I am talking about the surface the paper is on i.e a table, desk, or drawing board, as I find that the surface I work on affects my lettering. I seem to naturally have thick down-strokes, or ‘shades’; some might think I am heavy handed, but I have a trick that helps me to develop thick strokes and this trick is to put a huge pad of paper beneath anything I’m working on! The wad of paper gives me extra spring… a bit like the dance floor at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, but working straight onto my desk without a cushion of paper feels like dancing on a block of concrete – there is no ‘give’ and the tines on the nib won’t open quite so wide.
Here is an example of my writing showing the difference…
Hard and rigid…click to make big
I found writing ‘hard and rigid’ really difficult because I’m not used to writing without extra padding, plus the nib I used is really, really old so I struggled with the upstrokes as the nib wanted to snag… I didn’t have this problem with ‘soft and squashy’! With this in mind I’m wondering if the paper pad cushion extends nib life… I do use my nibs for ages, but a new nib always feels fab! The only drawback to working on a pad of paper is that I can’t use a lightbox.
Another way to thicken down-strokes is to simply add an extra stroke, as seen in this example from one of my warming up pages… the letter ‘m’ here is large because I’ve used a double down-stroke.
Double down-stroke ‘m’
Extra down-strokes can be added to marker pen lettering (big or small) to give it a calligraphic feel and this is sometimes called fake calligraphy… but what the hell, it’s effective, and if there’s nothing but a marker pen to hand and you want flashy letters, then why not?
I am extremely proud of myself for writing this post without including any double entendre… that was hard as well.