This course is a very pragmatic, hands-on course aimed at directing you in the development of a number of useful skills that will facilitate obtaining good, professional employment. Not only must you be able to identify and interpret the elements in a graphic design, but you must also be able to produce them with professional quality at a fast pace. These skills are honed through the interplay of practice, critique, and experience. The easiest means by which to conserve time and energy is with planning. Before putting pen to paper or cursor to monitor, carefully consider the content and the layout. Experiment on scrap paper examining the size, arrangement, and design. Consider ways to make the appearance compare positively to similar products that you have seen in print.
The first graphic assignment involves calligraphy. Once you have become adept at using the calligraphy pen and developed your own writing flair, you may find your skills in calligraphy useful for quickly producing notes and letters that, surprisingly, look professional and impressive. Skill in calligraphy can be a marketable commodity for distinctive and individualized party or wedding invitations, greeting cards, signs, certificates, and event programs. By its nature, calligraphy does not have to be perfect, and poor penmanship does not indicate an inability to produce professional quality calligraphic output. The secret is in the correct positioning of the pen point and the care of the lettering. Calligraphy is not speed writing.
The name calligraphy comes from kalligraphos that means beautiful writing. Ancient maps were lettered by calligraphy, and some modern computer fonts are modeled after calligraphic lettering. The distinctiveness, individuality, and artistic nature of calligraphic writing makes it useful for lettering when professional looking text must be hand produced.
Three types of pens are available for doing calligraphy. The best pens have an end with a broad, flat point.
The Speedball pens are the most versatile and are fairly inexpensive. See Figure 1. They consist of a handle into which an exchangeable tip or nib is inserted. Commonly used for both artwork and lettering, Speedball pens are dipped into a bottle of India ink. Tip sizes usually range from 0, the largest, to 6, the smallest. A variety of points are available, and the point influences the shape of the line produced. The most commonly used point for calligraphy is the C style tip. A good art supply store will carry cards of the different styles and sizes of tips. The major disadvantage of this type of writing instrument is the lack of line consistency because of variation in the amount of ink on the tip. With experience and skill, these become the most flexible and useful tools. Proper care involves washing and drying the tips after use and storing them so as not to bend the points.
The second type of calligraphy pen is the calligraphic cartridge pen. See Figure 2. The common small Schaeffer kit contains a barrel that holds the ink cartridge and several different sizes of points. Refill cartridges may be purchased or they may be refilled from bottles of writing ink if an appropriate dropper, pipette, or syringe is available. These pens usually supply a consistent, high quality line and are very convenient to use. If the pen will be unused for a while, the cartridge should be removed (cover the hole with a small piece of duct tape and keep the hole facing upwards) and the point thoroughly rinsed. The disadvantage of these pens is that they are more expensive than the others; however, with proper maintenance, they will remain functional for many years.
The third type of calligraphy pen is the calligraphy marker. See Figure 3. These come in either single tip or double tip models. The double tip model is best, because the tip size controls the size of the letter that may be produced; two different tips allow a wider size range. While the least professional and least versatile, these eliminate the hassles and hazards of unconfined ink. Maintenance requires that caps be replaced on tips after use, and extremes of temperatures should be avoided. If the ink is not used up, in time, the tip will dry out and this disposable pen should be discarded.
The beauty of calligraphy primarily comes from the variations in line widths and the flowing style of the lettering. See Figure 4. The variation in the line width results from the shape of the pen tip and the angle at which the pen is held. First, the writing should be done when sitting comfortably with the paper on a solid, smooth surface. A relaxed, even movement of the pen is needed. Experiment with paper angles, pen holds, and positions, especially if you are left-handed. Usually, holding the pen at a 45° angle to the base line will result in the optimum variation in stroke width. See Figure 5.
When writing an o, going from the top around in a counterclockwise direction, the stroke should get narrow, broaden on the bottom left, narrow on the bottom right, and broaden as the pen returns to the top. This variation should be optimized. See Figure 6. Writing with the tip at the
wrong angle or writing letters that are too large or too small will not produce appropriate variation.
The flowing style of the lettering results from an ease of pen movement and the grace of the lettering style. Letters should be uniform in their slants and shapes. Letters are made with more individual strokes and movement than ordinary printing. Once the basic techniques are mastered, individual lettering styles may be developed. A variety of traditional fonts are recognized. These can serve as a guide, but you may find that your own style is smoother and flows better. Remember to be consistent in the formation of the letters. See Figure 7.
The best calligraphy may add serifs or small beginning and ending strokes to the letters. This is well illustrated on letters like the i. See Figure 7. Rather than a simple downstroke, an i involves placement of the pen on the paper and then movement of the pen one pen-point width at 45° angle from that position. The downstroke is then made but continues smoothly at the bottom of the writing base line into a short upstroke in which the pen is again moved on pen-point width at a 45° angle. This “ornamentation” is utilized at the initiation or conclusion of strokes whenever possible. It might be inappropriate for an o, but a c might contain these strokes produced by reversing the drawing directions. See the illustrations for sample fonts and letter formation. See Figure 8.
The first step to developing calligraphy skills is practice. Use lined paper to practice writing letters. Be consistent in lettering, structure, and lettering size. Plan letter and word spacing so that they are uniform and even. If headings are used, produce larger letters using a larger pen-point, if necessary. Also, consider whether an element should be smaller and written with a smaller pen-point. Be sure ALWAYS to leave margins on the paper. Write the text on practice sheets until a satisfying layout is achieved. Such planning and practice are essential to successfully achieving a final professional product. Also, remember that for these assignments, the grading sheets are posted on line, so before committing yourself, check the criteria to be sure all points are covered. Next, check the spellings. Then write the final version using that practice copy as the guide. Pay close attention though, especially to spelling as the final version is produced. Maintain the size, spacing, and layout of the preliminary copy. Remember, your output will be scanned and posted on-line for the world to see, so produce something that you will be proud to display.
Sample lettering and additional comments.
Variations of the a
Variations of the A
Uniformity of loops