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Flourishing - Some Basic Principles (A Personal Viewpoint)


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#1 kenfraser

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 21:14

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.



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#2 kenfraser

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 08:06

Flourishing is the art of decoration.There are a few ‘rules’ worth considering.

(I'd like to stress that this is purely personal opinion, based on experience.)

 

Copperplate flourishing is largely based on the ellipse.
Try to cross lines as close to right angles, as is feasible.

Never cross a thick line with a thick line. It never looks right.

Flourishing which grows out of, or into lettering, always looks
good and natural. As always, let good taste be your objective -

flourishing should enhance the page.

In this example,  all four flourishing elements link into or out of the lettering.

 

fpn_1503649372__a5_page_601.jpg


Edited by kenfraser, 25 August 2017 - 08:25.


#3 kenfraser

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 12:25

fpn_1503664652__g__b_360.jpg

 

This is based on a monogram by Gabriel Brooks which appears in “The
Universal Penman” by George Bickham.
Interestingly, this monogram is produced in one stroke in reverse, starting
 with the letter B (in the upper centre) and ending with G.

Note that all strokes cross each other at high angles i.e. as close as possible to right angles, creating clear, uncluttered open spaces.

 

I, personally, find it extremely difficult to write a complex figure like this backwards i.e. from right to left without starting and stopping. I eliminate this problem by drawing/writing out the letter lightly in pencil and then following the line approximately with the pen. As is so often the case, it’s how it looks on paper that matters - not how you get there!


Edited by kenfraser, 25 August 2017 - 12:40.


#4 kenfraser

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 13:00

fpn_1503666252__two_shapes_450.jpg

 

Here are two examples of basic flourishing shapes, with the first being slightly easier than the other. Starting with the upper one, look at the twists and turns and note the angles where the lines cross.
Use your finger to trace the shape, if it helps. Try to commit it to memory before even lifting your pen. When you first try it, don’t look at the original, but try to use your memory of the shape. Don’t be discouraged if your first efforts are wide of the mark. As you are freed from constantly having to check against the original, you will be aware of the flow of the strokes as you draw the flourishing.
Eventually, with practice, you will be able to produce the flourish consistently and at an even pace, avoiding the tell-tale jerkiness which indicates uncertainty and lack of confidence. Once the first
flourish is firmly implanted in your memory, try the second, which is a little more involved.


Edited by kenfraser, 25 August 2017 - 13:05.


#5 Sprodj

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Posted 30 September 2017 - 03:03

Lovely! Thank you.

#6 Oranges and Apples

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 15:50

Amazing post. Thank you.



#7 inkstainedruth

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 02:21

Ken, as usual, your work is awe-inspiring.  Thanks for posting this.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


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#8 galem

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 13:43

Ken, great pointers. I am to take a "Flourishing" class soon, but will
practice these in advance. Thanks so much for your time and effort in sharing these!

#9 pen2paper

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Posted 22 October 2018 - 21:05

Finger tracing the top triad shape does make this easier.
Anyone else tried this method?

fpn_1503666252__two_shapes_450.jpg
 
Here are two examples of basic flourishing shapes, with the first being slightly easier than the other. Starting with the upper one, look at the twists and turns and note the angles where the lines cross.
Use your finger to trace the shape, if it helps. Try to commit it to memory before even lifting your pen. When you first try it, don’t look at the original, but try to use your memory of the shape. Don’t be discouraged if your first efforts are wide of the mark. As you are freed from constantly having to check against the original, you will be aware of the flow of the strokes as you draw the flourishing.
Eventually, with practice, you will be able to produce the flourish consistently and at an even pace, avoiding the tell-tale jerkiness which indicates uncertainty and lack of confidence. Once the first
flourish is firmly implanted in your memory, try the second, which is a little more involved.



emoticon-animal-007.gif~Hi! fountain pen enthusiast here~


#10 ElinMS

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 22:38

fpn_1503666252__two_shapes_450.jpg

 

Here are two examples of basic flourishing shapes, with the first being slightly easier than the other. Starting with the upper one, look at the twists and turns and note the angles where the lines cross.
Use your finger to trace the shape, if it helps. Try to commit it to memory before even lifting your pen. When you first try it, don’t look at the original, but try to use your memory of the shape. Don’t be discouraged if your first efforts are wide of the mark. As you are freed from constantly having to check against the original, you will be aware of the flow of the strokes as you draw the flourishing.
Eventually, with practice, you will be able to produce the flourish consistently and at an even pace, avoiding the tell-tale jerkiness which indicates uncertainty and lack of confidence. Once the first
flourish is firmly implanted in your memory, try the second, which is a little more involved.

 

The first one, to me, actually seems more difficult because it looks like there's a rotation of the nib angle midway through since there is both horizontal and vertical shading.  I'm guessing that there was a lift off the paper on the right side of the flourish to accomplish this rotation?  It looks a bit like a line stopped & restarted there.

 

Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but I'm still trying to get a handle on flourishing.



#11 Anne-Sophie

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Posted 10 November 2018 - 07:28

Very informative post! Thanks Ken!
Is it fair for an intelligent and family oriented mammal to be separated from his/her family and spend his/her life starved in a concrete jail?

#12 Bobje

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Posted 10 November 2018 - 14:54

Eleanor Winters’ book on italic/copperplate offers a good section on flourishing principles.

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#13 galem

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 20:47

In my flourishing class, we learned to stubb off the letters and then put tracing paper over the sheet and try different flourishes. This is also great for other types of flourishing too!






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