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Italic Lower Case: How Many 2 Stroke Letters Do You Use?



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For written (now drawn) italic—I'm talking about everyday script, but we can exclude post-it notes and such—I think there's room for disagreement on whether the following letters are better written with 1 or 2 strokes:

d, e, p, and w. I find myself going back-and-forth, especially on e and p, and I'd like to finally settle on either 1 stroke or 2, and not have to think about it anymore. So, I'm curious what's most common among the FPN crowd (this sub-forum, anyway).

 

I feel like the sources I tend to look at for Italic ductus and exemplars, etc., are pretty evenly split on d and p. But there seems to be a consensus among Italic experts in favor of 2 stroke e, with the middle bar joining to the next letter. I've always been rather incredulous about that formation—it's hard for me to imagine that there are any benefits to 2 stroke e over 1 stroke—but maybe people here can convince me otherwise? Same goes for the d ascender. Perusing the Society for Italic Handwriting site, it looks like there's a preference for 2 stroke d (bowl + ascender) even in everyday cursive Italic. But I'm definitely in the opposing camp on that one.

 

So I guess, generally speaking, I just wanted to ask for thoughts and advice on the topic of 1 versus 2 stroke lowercase Italic letters in everyday script.

 

Thanks, guys!

There are no things, there are only actions.

—Henri Bergson

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For everyday writing, I favor a one-stroke p but a two-stroke e. My c is also a two-stroke job. For calligraphy (fancy writing), definitely more strokes. The reason I favor a two-stroke e is because I find it more economical and I don't run such a great risk of the ink filling in the bowl of the e.

 

Whether one-stroke or two, the d is the same motion (ductus), whether you lift the pen or keep it in contact with the paper. Like the thinner line of the ascender, so do it with a lift, you could say two strokes.

 

I wouldn't particularly worry. Do whatever version is most comfortable and feels best to you. After all, it's your handwriting.

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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The only lowercase letters I write with two strokes are the two that have crossbars (f, t) - I don't do the funky 'q,' and of course I'm not counting the dotted letters (i, j). I think most people would actually go for a one-stroke 'e' as well. The two-stroke 'e' has the advantage where joining letters - one-stroke 'ee' will tend to look like you're trying to get a biro going... :)

 

Then again, a rough italic is my ordinary handwriting - I'm not one of those people who do different styles. It therefore covers everything, including hurried post-it notes, so it has to be quick and simple.

 

Lettering, of course, is going to be different, and even with the same writer the number of strokes might depend on the width of the nib.

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Whether one-stroke or two, the d is the same motion (ductus), whether you lift the pen or keep it in contact with the paper. Like the thinner line of the ascender, so do it with a lift, you could say two strokes.

 

This is a good point, and I agree that there's a single formation (regardless of 1 or 2 strokes) for the Italic d that's taught in schools, familiar from, say, Getty & Dubay. But I meant to include Chancery under the broad genus "Italic," and there, the d ascender, I think, always has a concave arc (or however one would describe it), bowing out toward the left, which can't be written in a single stroke. I usually look at Chancery examples of cursive Italic, so it's usually impossible to imitate the d as depicted, in a single stroke. And yet I do think that bowed ascender has the advantage of matching the tops of b, f, h, k, and l—only the issue is that they can all be done in a single stroke (I think...).

 

(Incidentally, by way of "citing a source," what I have on hand is David Harris, The Calligrapher's Bible [barron's/Quarto 2003]. Though, I do notice that this author has the same curved ascender in his plain Italic alphabet, which is odd to me.)

There are no things, there are only actions.

—Henri Bergson

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One really nice thing about italic is the number of ascenders, descenders, and variants of the letters. So an italic hand can be very simple or flourished to the point of illegibility. Or anything in between. And it's all acceptable, readable, and will get raves from the people that don't do any "fancy writing". That's why I love the hand so much.

 

I think I have looked through the Calligrapher's Bible and remember it as a pretty good starting point. Would suggest googling "italic handwriting pictures" and seeing what a great variety comes back. It's really fun to do.

 

Enjoy,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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For everyday italic writing (as opposed to formal italic), opinions, taste and practices will differ. With that stipulation, Lloyd Reynolds' specified these letters as made with two strokes: d, e, f, p, t, x, y (although there is also a one stroke version) and ampersand (which also has one stroke versions). On reflection, that describes my own practice.

 

I just got back from Portland yesterday evening. I spent a good deal of time with Jaki Svaren, an eminent calligrapher and a former student of Lloyd Reynolds. (BTW, yesterday was her 86th birthday!) I heard her say she had only three strict rules for italic writing: 1) no sharp angles on entries and exits. (She called them "spiky."); 2) a two stroke e, always; 3) no looped ascenders or descenders.

 

I brought back some instructional materials that Jaki had prepared for the weekly Scriptorium at Reed College. I got her permission to copy them, and I'll post scans of them on FPN, as soon as I have the time.

 

David

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1) no sharp angles on entries and exits. (She called them "spiky."); 2) a two stroke e, always; 3) no looped ascenders or descenders.

 

David

 

Hi, can you explain what "no sharp angles on entries and exits" means? Is this referring to the arches in letters h,m,n,u,y or something else entirely?

 

Thanks.

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Hi, can you explain what "no sharp angles on entries and exits" means? Is this referring to the arches in letters h,m,n,u,y or something else entirely?

 

Thanks.

 

Yes. That's pretty much it.

 

David

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  • 1 year later...

Maybe slightly off-topic but considering only having 'f' and 't' as the only 2 stroke lower case italic letters, is it possible to write as fast as you would on a normal fine/medium nib?

Dr. Jafar Mohammed Uddin (MBBS.)

 

Daily Drivers = Visconti Kakadu LE #100/100 - 18Kt Gold 'M' Nib -- Visconti Homo Sapiens London Fog LE #785/888 - 23Kt Pd "1.3mm Stub" Nib -- Pilot Custom 823 - 14Kt Gold 'M' Nib

Currently Inked with MB Toffee Brown, Akkerman #10 IG, and Akkerman #10 IG respectively :wub: :wub:

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Maybe slightly off-topic but considering only having 'f' and 't' as the only 2 stroke lower case italic letters, is it possible to write as fast as you would on a normal fine/medium nib?

 

I can write faster using a Palmer variant cursive I learned in elementary school. I can write so fast, you can't decipher a single word! (One of the notorious side effects of medical school!) I have been writing almost exclusively in italic script, practicing more than an hour per day, for about 4 years now. I can write legible cursive italic about as fast as I can write legible Palmer cursive. When I need to write super fast, I revert to Palmer, but I tell you it is not very pretty and is marginally legible, at best.

 

 

David

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I use a one stroke e sometimes (in the case of two e's in a row, for instance) and sometimes two strokes. There's something in me that insists on taking the extra time to do a two stroke minuscule q -- like a smallified capital Q with a long tail...

 

Doug

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I can write faster using a Palmer variant cursive I learned in elementary school. I can write so fast, you can't decipher a single word! (One of the notorious side effects of medical school!) I have been writing almost exclusively in italic script, practicing more than an hour per day, for about 4 years now. I can write legible cursive italic about as fast as I can write legible Palmer cursive. When I need to write super fast, I revert to Palmer, but I tell you it is not very pretty and is marginally legible, at best.

 

 

David

 

 

Thank you for sharing you personal experience on your writing styles/speed. When taking notes as long as it's legible to you, that's all that matters XD I'll definitely try picking up on a simpler cursive style such as Palmer variant which should make me faster in writing once I get the hang of it. The saying "Practice makes perfect" definitely applies here haha.

Dr. Jafar Mohammed Uddin (MBBS.)

 

Daily Drivers = Visconti Kakadu LE #100/100 - 18Kt Gold 'M' Nib -- Visconti Homo Sapiens London Fog LE #785/888 - 23Kt Pd "1.3mm Stub" Nib -- Pilot Custom 823 - 14Kt Gold 'M' Nib

Currently Inked with MB Toffee Brown, Akkerman #10 IG, and Akkerman #10 IG respectively :wub: :wub:

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I do a two stroke e, although my italic is still somewhat transitional and I do sometimes revert to a one-stroke e (especially when writing quickly).

 

I've never really understood the two-stroke d and p (unless you're doing calligraphy and drawing the letters). As has already been said, the ductus is the same, so lifting seems superfluous (to me!).

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  • 3 weeks later...

(ć) d e ę f (i) (j) (ł) (ń) (ó) p (ś) t x (ź) (ż)

 

In parentheses are letters with diacritics that require penlift.

 

d is a liitle dicey. I use two stroke with push serif when journaling, but at note taking speed it degrades to one stroke.

 

p is similar, with one stroke at note taking speed.

 

e is always two stroke.

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