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Improving Handwriting -Where To Begin?


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17 replies to this topic

#1 Isbjorner

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 09:40

After years of using the closest Bic ballpoint pen I could find, I discovered the joys of fountain pens (and the occasional rollerball) last year. Love it! The only problem? My handwriting really sucks! Theres a retired nun somewhere shaking her head at my penmanship.

I love the look of Spencerian handwriting, but I wonder if thats a good beginner goal. Maybe I should start with improving my basic penmanship in a more modern, everyday way? Thoughts on this? Any resources you could suggest?

Thanks in advance!

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#2 AidenMark

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 10:59

If you want to improve basic letter formation, Katherine Kormanik has a nice, inexpensive video course with printable practice sheets. 


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#3 countrydirt

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 11:22

Many of us chicken scratchers start with italic as a way to relatively quickly improve our handwriting.   You don't have to have an edged pen to start making these legible letter forms.  Italic also lends itself to cursive.  

fpn_1521127487__20180315_091947.jpg


Edited by countrydirt, 04 May 2018 - 11:23.


#4 countrydirt

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 11:28

fpn_1525433255__20180428_180503.jpg



#5 Herrjaeger

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 11:52

When I wanted to improve my handwriting, I looked on YouTube for some basic instructional videos. Those I found useful were one which showed some simple exercises to perform that helped with spacing, and up and down movements. Then I found a reference here for a workbook called Write Now by Getty & Dubay (which is available on Amazon for a modest price) that was very helpful in teaching cursive italic writing (not calligraphy). Using this workbook, and practicing a few minutes a day, brought about significant improvement in my hand. I also collected practice words, typically words that I found in writing that never seemed to turn out well, as well as other words with letters or combinations of letters that I had found troublesome. Once I had found words that were problematic, I would add other similar words or words with the same letters or combinations of letters (e.g., ax, axle, axiom, axiomatic, axonal and so on). I used this collection for writing practice, so I could get a better handle on those troublesome letters and words, and add to it as I discover new problematic combinations. Copying from literature is helpful for practice, and there is a thread here that Ill try to link for you called Difficult Words Practice Sentences, which is for practice. For me, Ive found spacing and letter transitions to be the biggest contributors to improvement, and the Getty & Dubay workbook is very helpful there. Good luck, and let us know how its going.
http://www.fountainp...tice-sentences/

Edited by Herrjaeger, 04 May 2018 - 11:54.


#6 putteringpenman

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 11:57

As someone who started learning calligraphy last year and improved his handwriting as a result, I'd recommend you go with whatever method you will enjoy. It's more important that you enjoy working on your handwriting so that you will practice consistently.

 

I went with Copperplate, then Italic, and now the Palmer Method of Business Penmanship.

 

If you like Spencerian, start learning Spencerian. While you might not use Spencerian as your everyday handwriting, you'll learn things about spacing letters, slant, muscular movement, and letter heights that will naturally work its way into your everyday handwriting.

 

Just make sure you have fun in the process and practice regularly! :)


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#7 Bookman

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 04:38

I started by slowing my hand down.  I tried forming letters the old-fashioned way when I wrote, the way we learned in elementary school.  I wrote more.  A LOT MORE.  I immediately switched all my writing away from the PC and onto paper.  I had been journaling on my PC since 1994, and also journaling by hand since 1995, considering it all just one big document.  But PC journaling ended when I made the cold-turkey switch.  Later in the year I started my first novel.  When I wasn't working on my novel I wrote letters to friends and family.  Eventually I joined the FPN Postcard exchange.

 

Find excuses to write more.  A LOT MORE.  When you have a few minutes, don't pick up your phone, pick up a notebook and fountain pen and write.

 

Here's what my penmanship looked like in 2001.  It was readable.  And if you had asked me back then if that was the best penmanship I could muster, I would've said yes, it doesn't get any better with effort.

 

 

fpn_1526098682__2001.jpg

 

 

 

 

Here's what my penmanship looked like in 2009, about one week before I started using fountain pens.  You see?  I was right.  It didn't get any better.  It got worse.  So that was that.  I had a permanent penmanship disability.  There was no hope for me.

 

 

fpn_1526098703__2009a.jpg

 

 

 

 

But here's what my penmanship looked like just two months later.

 

 

fpn_1526098694__2009.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Here's 2011.

 

 

fpn_1526098718__2011.jpg

 

 

 

Here's 2013.

 

 

fpn_1526098728__2013.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Here's 2016.

 

 

fpn_1526098738__2016.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

And this brings us current.

 

 

fpn_1526098748__2018.jpg

 

 

 

 

The prescription I laid out earlier worked for me.  I didn't take handwriting lessons and I didn't do any writing exercises.  I just wrote.  A lot.  And as I wrote I continued making an effort to improve my penmanship, trying to make it look as good as I could make it.  And my penmanship improved.  On some days, it's pretty good. Your mileage might vary.


Edited by Bookman, 12 May 2018 - 04:38.

I love the smell of fountain pen ink in the morning.

 

 

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#8 _InkyFingers

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 05:25

Bookman  That's dedication!

 

In 7/2015 I spent several hours improving my handwriting by copying one of the most important document...letter by letter.  Literally, looking at each word and copying each word as closely as I could muster with a flexible fountain pen.

 

25647650340_fce9362e7c.jpg

 

Now, I just write whatever comes to mind.

42051844751_4acf94daa3.jpg

 

So, yes, you can do it!  Pick one script, pick one manual, follow each instruction carefully.  Use the recommended tool.

Don't use any substitute.  Tools are recommended for a reason and your reason to be here is good intention as well.



#9 JulieParadise

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 08:17

Another basic way to improve the handwriting you already have without buying anything is to use additional lines to guide your letters:

 

Draw straight prallel lines at an angle (anything between, say, 30° to 90°) directly on your worksheet or on a guiding sheet to put behind your paper and try to match your writing consistently to those guides.

 

As for the x-height (letters a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, (z)) draw a horizontal line and try to keep these within that boundary. The same applies to your ascenders and descenders, having their "bellys" within the x-height and the higher "arms/heads" and "feet" within the sections above and below the x-height space.

 

The proportions of these will determine the style and character of your handwriting. Your cursive writing will appear really different once you have the proportions 1:1:1 or, even by using the same letter forms you always used, make the ascenders/ descenders be twice as long --> 2:1:2 or even 3:1:3.

 

Consistency is key here, and, well, practice. 

 

All you need for that are some sheets of paper, a ruler and whatever (fountain) pen(cil) you have. 

 

Once you have established a certain consistency you may have a closer look at the form of single letters or even practice entire "fonts". Being able to write in a special style like Spencerian is nothing else than chosing a font with a specific spacing, slant, height proportion and repeating basic forms. 

 

You can find prepared sheets with different guidelines at the IAMPETH site, for example (https://www.iampeth....on/guide-sheets), there are also exemplars of different styles of writing, "fonts", so to say.


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#10 Stompie

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 12:27

Bookman  That's dedication!
 
In 7/2015 I spent several hours improving my handwriting by copying one of the most important document...letter by letter.  Literally, looking at each word and copying each word as closely as I could muster with a flexible fountain pen.
 
25647650340_fce9362e7c.jpg
 
Now, I just write whatever comes to mind.
42051844751_4acf94daa3.jpg
 
So, yes, you can do it!  Pick one script, pick one manual, follow each instruction carefully.  Use the recommended tool.
Don't use any substitute.  Tools are recommended for a reason and your reason to be here is good intention as well.


Very impressive!

You got me interested and so I searched for old British documents to do the same. I found a lot but, in languages that are no longer spoken! I even discovered, on the UK Government website that Brexit has caused disastrous things! No longer are we the United Kingdom but, according to UK Gov, we are now the Untied Kingdom!,,

#11 corgicoupe

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Posted 21 May 2018 - 22:05

When I wanted to improve my handwriting, I looked on YouTube for some basic instructional videos. Those I found useful were one which showed some simple exercises to perform that helped with spacing, and up and down movements. Then I found a reference here for a workbook called Write Now by Getty & Dubay (which is available on Amazon for a modest price) that was very helpful in teaching cursive italic writing (not calligraphy). Using this workbook, and practicing a few minutes a day, brought about significant improvement in my hand. I also collected practice words, typically words that I found in writing that never seemed to turn out well, as well as other words with letters or combinations of letters that I had found troublesome. Once I had found words that were problematic, I would add other similar words or words with the same letters or combinations of letters (e.g., ax, axle, axiom, axiomatic, axonal and so on). I used this collection for writing practice, so I could get a better handle on those troublesome letters and words, and add to it as I discover new problematic combinations. Copying from literature is helpful for practice, and there is a thread here that Ill try to link for you called Difficult Words Practice Sentences, which is for practice. For me, Ive found spacing and letter transitions to be the biggest contributors to improvement, and the Getty & Dubay workbook is very helpful there. Good luck, and let us know how its going.
http://www.fountainp...tice-sentences/

I also purchased that book, but was discouraged when I discovered that letters I had been printing for years had a different format than what I was used to. Only a few, but I didn't want to change. For example, my "w" is a double "u", two rounded bottoms rather than two "v"s, and my "y" is like a "v" with a tail rather than a "u" with a tail. I guess I ought to plow ahead with my modified shapes instead of leaving the book on the shelf. :rolleyes:

 

I got the book from Pendemonium.


Edited by corgicoupe, 21 May 2018 - 22:05.

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#12 cellmatrix

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 11:50

Sorry to arrive late to this thread but if you want to learn Spencerian eventually - italic is a diversion - but instead business penmanship is a good place to start. Its like Spencerian stripped down without the flex, and its quite beautiful in its own right.

https://upload.wikim..._Mills_1903.pdf

#13 Anne-Sophie

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Posted 01 June 2018 - 03:55

I also purchased that book, but was discouraged when I discovered that letters I had been printing for years had a different format than what I was used to. Only a few, but I didn't want to change. For example, my "w" is a double "u", two rounded bottoms rather than two "v"s, and my "y" is like a "v" with a tail rather than a "u" with a tail. I guess I ought to plow ahead with my modified shapes instead of leaving the book on the shelf. :rolleyes:
 
I got the book from Pendemonium.


If your letter are already round, check https://www.iampeth.com for cursive styles.

From Iampeth, you can print out guidelines on printer paper, and use them under the pages of Rhodia blank notepads, the smooth paper is the best.


Below is a link to a small art shop which sells Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy by Eleanor Winters.

https://www.etsy.com...p_home_active_3


This is the link to Calligraphy books by Dover, the publisher, their books are affordable.

https://doverpublica...rds=calligraphy

I bought: The Technique of Copperplate Calligraphy: A Manual and Model Book of the Pointed Pen Method by Gordon Turner.

Don't bother with it unless you want to make your own dip pen.

One thing I learned from the book is that U.S states, state capitals, rivers/lakes/mountains/national or regional parks, countries, continents and animals names are great for practice.

You can also make a phrase with a state, a state capital, the landscape nearby to make things interesting and learn interesting facts at the same time.


Start with the fountain pen(s) you already own, and have fun.

It is perfectly fine, to modify a writing hand to your own style of letters.
I learned French Cursive, and love both Copperplate and Spencerian. I take inspiration from the last 2, especially with capital letters.

Edited by Anne-Sophie, 01 June 2018 - 03:57.

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?

#14 ildbig

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Posted 01 June 2018 - 12:56

After years of using the closest Bic ballpoint pen I could find, I discovered the joys of fountain pens (and the occasional rollerball) last year. Love it! The only problem? My handwriting really sucks! Theres a retired nun somewhere shaking her head at my penmanship.

I love the look of Spencerian handwriting, but I wonder if thats a good beginner goal. Maybe I should start with improving my basic penmanship in a more modern, everyday way? Thoughts on this? Any resources you could suggest?

Thanks in advance!

 

 

Here is a free on-line source, with worksheets you can print:  http://briem.net/

It teaches an italic cursive.  It looks nice.  Ultimately, I sort of drifted away from the style because I could not write quickly enough with it for note taking etc., and I wound up writing with some abberation of my old handwriting and the italic cursive. Still, if you want a simple to master style that looks great when you write a letter, this is a good place to look!



#15 DanielCoffey

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 22:49

Talking about the Write Now Getty/Dubay book, what sort of price should we expect to pay in the UK? It varies between £20 to £70+ on the Amazon UK site. Is it a US publication that is being imported or is it scarce hence the high prices demanded?



#16 Herrjaeger

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 16:40

On Amazon in US It retails for $19.95 new, and a used copy is 12.50 USD.

#17 DanielCoffey

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 16:43

Cheers - I have found that yes, it is published in OR at $20 which is why I was seeing the "1:1 dollar exchange rate" and why folks seem to be importing and on-selling at a hefty markup. At least now I can understand the background behind the prices.

 

I have found some US-based resellers offering fair shipping and there is always the option of buying direct from Getty's publisher.



#18 Torrilin

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 06:24

I also purchased that book, but was discouraged when I discovered that letters I had been printing for years had a different format than what I was used to. Only a few, but I didn't want to change. For example, my "w" is a double "u", two rounded bottoms rather than two "v"s, and my "y" is like a "v" with a tail rather than a "u" with a tail. I guess I ought to plow ahead with my modified shapes instead of leaving the book on the shelf. :rolleyes:
 
I got the book from Pendemonium.


I haven’t used Write Now, just their proper calligraphy manual. In the full on manual they discuss alternate letterforms in detail, including some ideas on how to generate your own. There’s around 3 or 4 different ampersand ideas, with documentation. Not all characters are that detailed but there’s a lot of discussion about letterform.

I chose to design a w that uses u shapes and an unusual serif design based on their material. V can be pointed or rounded and uses a similar serif pattern. U is pretty standard. I and j are carefully designed for maximum confusion, because I’m a Latin geek and I still enjoy pretending j wasn’t invented. Many long serifs have 2-3 designs I use regularly, depending on how embellished I want to be. And I use a lot of ligatures. If there’s a good ligature option, I’ve probably drilled all the variations I could find and picked the prettiest.

I tend to recommend their book because it emphasizes that the entire thing can be done with mono line nibs. The edged nibs are for pretty, not a requirement for beautiful writing. And there’s a lot of exercises designed so you’ll try them with a variety of line weights and nib styles. While the book is designed as a workbook, you’ll get more out of it if you do the exercises on separate paper, and with different nibs. I probably went through the entire thing at least 4 times.

For a more widely available book, Calligraphy for Beginners by Noble and Mehigan is good. It’s more art focused and less utilitarian, but it definitely covers the basics acceptably. And it encourages looking at primary sources, which won’t ever hurt your handwriting. It’s also not so married to one specific hand, which may work better if you feel like you have to exactly match the exemplar.






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