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Chancery Italic Script instructions


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25 replies to this topic

#1 Ann Finley

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 06:17

This is a different approach to presenting instructions for Chancery Italic than I've ever taken before in more ways than one. Usually, I've not begun with the letter "a" but Corien & I decided to go through the alphabet sequentially. I've always started classroom students with dip pens, but this is the FPN! Professional calligraphers do use dip pens due to needing to often use gouache (instead of ink) which can't be used in FPs. But most FPN members will likely want to use their FPs, so we'll take a more informal approach. This will hold true, also, with regard to the rendering of the Chancery hand. In formal italic the letters aren't joined and the ductus (direction of strokes) is different. Here, I'll be showing letterforms, most of which can be joined and used as a running, cursive hand. (My own hand is a combination of joined and unjoined letters--and some letters only appear to be joined!)

It's up to you which size italic nib you wish to use, but remember--problem areas are easier for you to see with a broader nib. Nibs broader than 2 mm are not necessary, but I'd suggest that you begin with one not smaller than an 0.9 mm--or larger, if possible. If you can manage it, 45 minutes per day is a suggested amount of time to practice. If you feel any muscle strain in your neck, upper back, arm or hand...Stop! Even a break for a few minutes can make a difference.

I could go on & on--but I'll let you ask questions instead! :) Ann

The 1st scan gives you some info on the proper size & weight of the letters and how to know how far apart your guidelines should be for a given nib.
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Notice the box to the right with the X in it. If you hold your pen so that the thinnest and thickest strokes that the nib can make are made when you make an X, you will be holding your pen at about a 45 degree angle to the writing line (base line), which is correct for italic.
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Sunday, 4-17-05 Here is the b, another letter made without lifting your pen.
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Sunday, 4-24-05 The letter c begins along the waist line and is done in one stroke.
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Edited by Ann Finley, 19 March 2009 - 03:55.


#2 Ann Finley

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 02:04

Keep the wedge open on the chancery d, as with the a. I usually make the back stroke first, then make the basic shape in front of it. If you are afraid this will present a problem later on with judging your spacing you may want to make the basic shape first.
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#3 Ann Finley

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 03:51

The chancery e -- 2 options. It is really important to keep the hairline at the same angle as the exit serif when you use example #1 because proper alignment is part of what makes the chancery hand attractive.
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#4 Ann Finley

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 00:43

The minuscule f is the only letter that takes all 15 nib width spaces. It starts at the top of the ascender line and continues to the bottom of the descender line.
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#5 Ann Finley

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 00:04

Another acceptable option for the g is to make it as shown below, then continue with a hairline up to the body of the letter. It looks more like a cursive g if you prefer that option. (I don't, so you won't see my g's made that way.) :D

Note that the downstroke on the descender is indented a bit from the initial stroke at the waist line. Doing this on the g and on the a makes the letters look more graceful and helps to prevent a "heavy" look at the intersection of these strokes. Do be sure to keep the wedge open between the body of the letter and the descender.

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Edited by Ann Finley, 16 January 2008 - 22:55.


#6 Ann Finley

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 22:53

The chancery h begins like the b, and is also made in one stroke without lifting your pen. It is the 2nd of six branching letters. When you branch to the right to make the body of the letter, be sure the top of the body is neither too rounded or too pointed.
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#7 Ann Finley

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 04:36

Note that the correctly executed chancery i, below the smiley, is a straight stroke beginning and ending with hairline entrance and exit serifs. Some common errors in rendering the i, follow...There should be no curve at the bottom and no "wiggles" in the middle of the letter, as shown in the last example.
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#8 Ann Finley

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 04:37

If you can make the chancery i and g, you can make the j. Begin with the lead in serif on the left, going to the waist line, and continue with your downstroke all the way to the descender line where you bring your stroke to the left.
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Edited by Ann Finley, 16 January 2008 - 22:27.


#9 Ann Finley

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 01:42

The chancery k is the 3rd of the branching letters and is made in one stroke. Begin at the top, as with the h and branch to the right. Notice the 2nd example of k below--the final downstroke goes below the line. This can look nice if k is at the end of a line, or if it's the last letter in a word sometimes, especially on an envelope.
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Edited by Ann Finley, 20 June 2008 - 19:45.


#10 Ann Finley

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 05:25

The chancery l is done as shown below. The formal italic version begins with a thin, short hairline entrance serif and has no fllag.
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Edited by Ann Finley, 19 March 2009 - 03:37.


#11 Ann Finley

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 00:33

The chancery m is another branching letter. It is made in one stroke without lifting your pen from the paper. The downstrokes should be at the same angle as one another, and the space between them should be equidistant.
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Edited by Ann Finley, 11 July 2005 - 02:01.


#12 Ann Finley

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Posted 11 July 2005 - 03:10

The chancery n is much like the m...It's made without lifting your pen and is a branching letter. Often you may read that n is the gauge for spacing. The width of a whole n between words and 1/2 that space between letters. But I've only seen one author that said how wide the n is supposed to be in the 1st place!!! This author said the white space inside the n should be 2 to 2 1/2 pen widths. This is one way to gauge spacing, but I believe there is an easier way, which I will suggest after all of the minuscule letters are posted. Stay tuned!
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Edited by Ann Finley, 16 January 2008 - 22:38.


#13 Ann Finley

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 23:39

Chancery letters are often described as being in the shape of an oblong parallelogram. The minuscule letters are approximately twice as high as they are wide. You'll notice that the o is not round--it's an ellipse, or oval shape. Notice where the thin parts are in relation to the axis of your degree of slant. For a cursive o, you will want to make it in one stroke. In some books you may see it done in 2 strokes, but this is usually when doing more formal lettering. Right handed folks will likely find it more convenient to make the o counter clockwise and some lefties--especially overwriters--may make it clockwise. The most important thing is to remember what I've said beneath the example below.
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#14 Ann Finley

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 01:48

The chancery p is the only 2 stroke branching letter. You can make the tail of the descender either way, as shown. If you choose the 1st way, be sure to angle to the left & move your pen down slightly before moving to the right. Otherwise the tail looks like a heavy bar tacked onto the end of the descender.
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#15 Ann Finley

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 03:14

The chancery q begins with the basic shape. You would proceed as though you were going to make a g, but go the opposite way with the tail after moving slightly to the left and down before moving to the right. Often you will see the q made like the 1st example, but with a much shorter tail. The 2nd example is simply an alternate model which is also commonly seen.
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#16 Ann Finley

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 04:26

The chancery r begins like an i--then you trace back up the downstroke without lifting your pen, followed by a branch to the right. You don't want to branch too low, but notice that there is definitely a thin branch there.
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#17 Ann Finley

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 02:16

White spaces within the curves should be equal or with slightly more space within the bottom curve. You don't want a top-heavy s!
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#18 Ann Finley

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 04:56

The chancery t is an exception to the rule regarding ascenders being 5 nib widths above the waist line. In formal italic it often appears just barely above the waist line. In cursive mode you are usually writing rather small and you can "eyeball it" with the height of the t and make it about the same height as a capital letter (about halfway between the waist line and the ascender line.)
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#19 Ann Finley

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 03:34

The key thing to remember regarding the chancery u is that the downstrokes should be parallel...But do remember to keep the wedge open!
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#20 Ann Finley

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 04:55

The chancery v can be done in either one or two strokes. In either case, if you don't "break the rule" and twist your pen a bit, the right hand side of the v would be a hairline and tend to look unbalanced. The middle example would be a one stroke v. I use either of the two stoke variants. The third example you'll see less often, but I like it!
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#21 Ann Finley

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 03:20

The chancery w, like the v, can be made in one stroke or two strokes. These two examples were both made in two strokes, with the final stroke on the right being a downstroke. As with the v, also, the 2nd example is one not seen as often.
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#22 Ann Finley

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 07:23

The second, or cross stroke on the x can be made in either direction, though usually it is made as a down stroke. Above and below where the strokes cross, the white space should be about even.
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#23 Ann Finley

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 08:47

The chancery y can be made either way as shown below. The first example is done in one stroke--no pen lifting. This is the one I usually use. The second example is a two stoke letter and is frequently seen. I use this one if I need a shorter ascender--make that descender!
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Edited by Ann Finley, 16 January 2008 - 22:45.


#24 Ann Finley

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 05:14

The chancery z is made as one stroke, not lifting your pen. Although you'll see both z's as shown below, the hairline diagonal stroke, in this case, is not always favored. This means changing your pen angle for a slightly heavier diagonal stroke to "support" the two heavier horizontal strokes. Sometimes you will see a swash tail on the z, but this is more common with a majuscule (capital) z. Note that the bottom horizontal stroke is slightly longer than the top one.
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#25 Ann Finley

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 17:18

CAPITALS (MAJUSCULES) FOR YOUR CHANCERY SCRIPT

There is a lot of latitude in capital letter forms that are acceptable to use with Chancery / Italic script. In addition to what you see below, plain, printed capitals such as you would use if you were doing "regular" printing are acceptable.

The examples below are a collection by various calligraphers. If I remembered who penned them, I would give credit. The alternative letters with explanations on the 2nd half of the 1st page are the only examples that are mine.

REMEMBER...Capital letters are not as tall as ascenders. The height should be between the top of the body height for minuscules (at the waist line on guideline sheets) and that of ascenders. On some guideline sheets the capital letter line will be indicated by a broken line. (See beginning explanations on page 1.)

Note some of the subtle differences. In some cases a letter will look the same in more than one alphabet example, but the ductus (order & direction of strokes) will be different, where shown.
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Page 2

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#26 Ann Finley

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 19:19

For Lefties---How I Hold My Pen When Doing Chancery Italic
In the 1st photo, note that though I'm an "overwriter" (approach from above the base line), my hand does not hook over at the wrist. In this photo I am doing a pull stroke as I would to begin the minuscule letter "a".
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In this photo I have gone back and positioned the pen as it was held to render the push stroke that it is shown on. If the photo were to have been taken while I was actually making the stroke, my hand would have completely hidden the stroke!
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The photos were taken from an angle so it's hard to tell that I am sitting with the paper straight in front of me. The nib is pointed in the direction of my right elbow.

Other lefties will position their paper and hold their pens differently. These photos are not intended to indicate how one "should" hold their pen, it is in response to questions about how I do it.



Slant Detection Guide
Feel free to print this. Instructions are on the sheet.
Slant Detection Guide

Edited by Ann Finley, 27 April 2010 - 23:30.