Tag Archives: down-strokes

Calligraphy Tip No. 1 – Thickening Down-Strokes

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…

an-example-of-copperplate-calligraphy-written-on-contrasting-surfaces

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.

an-example-of-the-double-down-stroke-on-the-letter-m

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.