This follows on from a query on another topic.
Just a few personal thoughts on the construction and use of flourishing.
I hope that you find it to be useful.
Think of flourishing, not as added before or after a letter is written, but as part of it. In fact, you're creating a variation of the basic letter.
For those interested in studying this aspect of Copperplate, here are some thoughts on the subject of Flourishing as enhancement to lettering. None of the following is taken from instruction books but are simply my own ideas based on many years in the business of making letters.
1) Never draw thick (shaded) lines across thick lines. It just doesn’t look good. Cross thin lines over thick or thin lines over thin, or thick lines over thin.
2) Cross lines at as close to right angles as possible.
3) Aim for well-balanced shapes with clear, open spacing.
4) Good flourishing flows evenly from start to finish. Have a clear idea of the shapes you’re aiming for, before you start. Any hesitancy in flourishing shows up with jerky lines. This can easily be avoided with a little preparation. On a separate piece of paper, draw your flourishing a few times until you are happy with its appearance. Draw over it several times with a dry nib, until it
feels comfortable, and then once committed to memory, draw it in ink, incorporating the appropriate shading. If you do a lot of Copperplate flourishing, you will eventually develop a ‘mental’ library of some of your favourite shapes. These can then be utilised, straight on the page, but this takes a lot of learning practice and a lot of confidence. It’s so easy to ruin an
otherwise good piece of lettering with ugly or uncertain flourishes.
5) Whether the shape is oval or circular, always aim to produce even, smooth turns.
Flourish at an even pace; neither too fast nor too slow.
6) Create interest in the flourishing by varying the weight of the shading strokes to provide an attractive result. This is in direct contrast to Copperplate letters themselves, where consistency in stroke weight is an absolute.
I think of flourishing like framing a painting, No matter how ornate, the frame should never overwhelm the painting but should enhance it. Similarly, flourishing should enhance lettering and make it more interesting and attractive but it should never be allowed to compete for attention.
Unfortunately, over-flourishing is quite common today, and there are many examples of otherwise competent lettering which has been submerged under a welter of spaghetti! I think that I'll have a tee shirt printed "LET THE LETTERING BREATHE!"
Sometimes a freehand stroke is added to flourishing for added interest. The flourishing into or out of the letters is always completed first and then the extra stroke, if required, is added.
Flourishing a piece of work always looks best if the flourishing is an addition to the lettering itself, and doesn't just float around, to fill in space.