Using Addressing Guides in Calligraphy

Hi guys!

I recently posted a video on Instagram and got some great feedback on it. Thought I'd expand on it with a blog post! Addressing guides... I feel like I have DOZENS of these and have been making them since as far back as perhaps 2008?

 Variety of addressing guides I've collected and created over the years...

Variety of addressing guides I've collected and created over the years...

 

Normally, when writing on envelopes, I use a lightbox. You can slip in a sheet of paper or light card stock with horizontal lines that you've either drawn with a straight edge or created in an art program like Adobe Illustrator.

I typically put a thick center line down the middle and vertical "stop" lines to the left and to the right... I follow these to control shorter and longer names and addresses. 

Non-opaque envelopes or papers are pretty much "solved" with a lightbox. I use a Light Tracer... They are starting to make them flat, but I prefer the slanted surface.

There are also some guides I've seen (and ordered), from Paper Ink and Arts. They are nice. They are printed on a soft, clear/transparency like stock. Kind of flimsy (I like my guides to be thicker than this), but definitely still serviceable.

Letter lines address guide inserts include not only horizontal lines, but slanted lines... GREAT for beginners who need this reference underneath their paper/envelopes.

This brings us to envelopes and surfaces that are OPAQUE. If they are heavily lined or are colored, you will NOT be able to use a traditional addressing guide. The lightbox will be rendered useless with these kinds of papers due to the lack of transparency.

There are static addressing guides you can buy for these (I didn't discover that companies actually sold these until a couple of years ago). Paper Source sells one called the "Lettermate".

This is a tool that I think calligraphers should own for sure, but the spaces on it are so tiny, I usually only use it to quickly draw lines on a smaller envelope...

I prefer to actually make my own guides so that I can actually have room to LETTER inside each space. It basically starts out as a regular address guide, I just use an exact blade to physically CUT the lines where the address is eventually lettered. 

The purpose of the guide is twofold:

  1. It obviously keeps the lines straight
  2. It keeps me from having to pencil in and (later erase) guidelines. The last thing I want to do after writing on (and proofreading) 100 or so envelopes is erasing guidelines, ugh!

The only wrinkle is you have to remove the guides in order to add in both your ascenders and descenders. A bit more of a "confined" feeling for sure, but again, it negates the need for guidelines and I think erasing guidelines for me personally, is distasteful.

 I've gotten so used to doing this that I'm very comfortable forming part of the letter. Admittedly there are styles that make using this guide pretty difficult. If so, I just go ahead and use it to write guidelines. 

I've gotten so used to doing this that I'm very comfortable forming part of the letter. Admittedly there are styles that make using this guide pretty difficult. If so, I just go ahead and use it to write guidelines. 

In lieu of guidelines, I see many calligraphers using laser pointers to keep lines straight.

I assumed that this light would hurt your eyes, but I've heard from calligraphers that use this method that it does not...

I keep saying I want to try, but I literally have dozens and dozens of these addressing guides and i've grown accustomed to using them. I still want to keep growing as an artist though so utilizing the laser will be a future blog for sure!

Take care til' next time!
--ct