calligraphy by ct

Getting Started with Pointed Pen - Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of Getting Started with Pointed Pen! Check out part 1 when you get a chance...

Choosing an Ink
Some inks work better than others based on the type of paper that you are using. Different kinds of ink: Waterproof, Non-Waterproof, India, etc. will have different absorption levels into your surface. Some blacks may even appear lighter/darker. 

One of the BEST ink comparison, explorations I've found done online (although limited to Higgins and Windsor Newton brands)  was done  by the Calligraphy Pen Blog... The owner does mostly illumination, and he is phenomenal, please check him out. He's one of those tireless calligraphy instructors that was doing this before it everyone knew calligraphy was cool! 

Taken from the  Calligraphy Pen Blog . Notice how different in appearance your inks can appear. This image has not been retouched in any way.

Taken from the Calligraphy Pen Blog. Notice how different in appearance your inks can appear. This image has not been retouched in any way.

I like Sumi Ink personally. It is a permanent, black ink made from vegetable oil made specifically for painting and calligraphy. Others are decent too... Speedball, Higgins, J. Herbin, etc., I just like Sumi because it's one ink that really never lets me down, no matter what kind of surface I encounter.

Creating strokes
Time to start making strokes! I did a prior blog on drills that you can start doing with pencil. Check it out when you can. I also provided a free worksheet. After you get used to making those marks, making the same kinds of strokes with a pointed pen will feel a little more natural. Actually, if you can go from executing these drills with:

pencil
-to-
fine line brush pen
-to-
finally, the steel pointed pen, that's the BEST preparation I can recommend!

You can find fine line brush pens at JetPens.com. This is one of my favorite places and if you are any kind of pen aficionado you will LOVE what they have to offer. They not only offer a HUGE variety of pens, they also have invaluable guides that help you shop for just the right tools. Can't say enough good things about Jet Pens. Anywho, similar to the pointed pen nibs, a brush pen SAMPLER kit is available and I highly recommend it. They actually have about 4 or 5 differnt sets available!

Pencil first, then fine line brush pen and THEN the pointed pen tip! This will help retain these basic, necessary strokes in your muscle memory. Light, feathery pressure on your upstrokes, firm, heavy pressure on your downstrokes.

Pencil first, then fine line brush pen and THEN the pointed pen tip! This will help retain these basic, necessary strokes in your muscle memory. Light, feathery pressure on your upstrokes, firm, heavy pressure on your downstrokes.

Hope this was helpful, I'll be back with some more goodies later!

--ct 

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