How To Learn Calligraphy
How To Learn Calligraphy
If you've always wanted to know the basics on how to create beautiful calligraphy, then we've got some outstanding expert tips for you in this video.
How to learn calligraphy, the first thing you have to consider before you even start thinking of learning to use calligraphy, apart from getting your tools ready, is the space around you, immediately around where you're going to work. Consider that you need a lot of space immediately around you. You then need to have your tools ready, inks ready, not close to the paper because it's very easy to knock the ink over and that's not a good way to start and things must be easily reachable.
What's the first thing you need to learn, well, how does calligraphy work? I have a large range of rulers in the studio and I generally mark up based on the sizes of the rulers, because these sheets have been cut really wrong but I will show you how to cut a sheet of paper properly. So, what we're going to do is we'll put the sheet at the top and we'll rule from the underside of the sheet and that gives us at least a straight line to work on. Now, notice I'm actually using edges of the paper to rule the lines.
The reason for that is some people believe that if you just draw a line on a piece of paper, then you have a straight line to work with, and that's all well and good. But because there are four edges, if the edges are not symmetrical and not even with each other, your eyes will start picking up on these additional handles which will also cause problems when you're starting to write. So this is called your baseline, because it is the base of which the letters will sit on.
The next thing you'll learn is you look at the tool that you're going to use, all letters are proportional to the tool that you're working with. Now we've made something called a nib ladder, by placing little squares, just touching the squares to each other. This tells us how high the letters need to be based on the width and the height.
Now, this is a quite a difficult nib ladder to produce, you can actually produce a simpler one which is more like a step ladder, and what we're going to look at is we're going to look at the basic underlining script for italic. We have our nib ladder, we have our baseline, italic is generally done between 4 to 6 nib widths - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 - so we'll go with 5. What we're going to do is we're going to measure this off.
I generally use another piece of paper to do this kind of measure because if you start using the rulers, they can become problematic because you start adding angles at increment. We'll rule the first line and we'll also double up these lines above and below, and above again and below. This is much easier on an angled board or if your board has a parallel motion ruler on it.
So we have a base line - let's write this here - we have an X height or waist line, we have a descender line and we have an ascender line. The reason for that is a baseline keeps all letters on the base, our ascender line is where the top of our letters with ascending bits like T, B, L and then we have the descender line where letters with descending bits like G, and J exist. We also have another line which is halfway between these two lines and that is called our cap height.
That's because the capitals are not actually written at the same height as the ascenders are. It's advisable to rule all these lines before you start trying out. And that's essentially the underlying principle for all calligraphy, always a baseline, an X height or a waist line, an ascender line, a descender line and a cap line.
Manuscript also produces this which is called the Manuscript Calligraphy Ruler which actually has these little grids on the side and they tend to correspond to the nibs they have. So if you want to get away from all of this complexity, then get the ruler so it's a bit easier. But do remember, rule on a baseline, rule the top, mark off on both sides so that you're actually working from point to point, don't assume that just marking this off will allow you to draw a straight line on the other side, and basically that's how you le