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jasonchickerson

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jasonchickerson

http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ6448.jpg

Would any of you calligraphic masters be willing to provide a gentle critique of the above sample and give me a clue as to what to work on to improve?

 

I recently purchased my first dip pen and have been attempting this type of writing for just a short while. Before I go forward, I'd like to make sure I don't cement bad habits with my practice.

 

The problems I see with my own writing include inconsistent/improper spacing between letters and words and a shaky/indecisive hand. There are also some letters that I'm really not happy with, including lowercase f, y, w, and k.

 

Lastly, it seems my natural, comfortable slant angle is about 35 degrees, much more upright than traditional copperplate or spencerian slant. I've attempted to write over a slant guide, but it seems to make my penmanship worse. Do I just need practice? I did not use a guide for the sample.

 

Sample was written with a Tachikawa G nib and comic holder with Iroshizuku Kiri-same ink on O. Crown Mill Pure Cotton paper. I realize I might get better lines and control with a real calligraphy ink, but I'd like to stick with fountain pen inks as I have a Desiderata pen on order.

 

Thanks for looking!

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You are off to a flying start if this is your first try with a flexible nib :thumbup:

 

Your next step would depend on what your goals are. If your goal is to develop a nice handwriting you can continue practising at whatever slant feels natural to you and paying attention to spacing and regularity of form and size. BTW it is much easier to increase the slant if you rotate your paper counter-clockwise by the number of degrees you want to add to the slant.

 

If your goal is learn Copperplate proper, you will need to work on getting the basics right first. It will help if you used an oblique holder. Guides on proper letter forms and a number of videos on how to execute the basic strokes are available on IAMPETH.com.

 

Given what I see here, I have no doubt that writing proper Copperplate is well within your reach if you desire it.

 

~ Salman

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jasonchickerson

You are off to a flying start if this is your first try with a flexible nib :thumbup:

 

Your next step would depend on what your goals are. If your goal is to develop a nice handwriting you can continue practising at whatever slant feels natural to you and paying attention to spacing and regularity of form and size. BTW it is much easier to increase the slant if you rotate your paper counter-clockwise by the number of degrees you want to add to the slant.

 

If your goal is learn Copperplate proper, you will need to work on getting the basics right first. It will help if you used an oblique holder. Guides on proper letter forms and a number of videos on how to execute the basic strokes are available on IAMPETH.com.

 

Given what I see here, I have no doubt that writing proper Copperplate is well within your reach if you desire it.

 

~ Salman

 

No, it's not my first attempt. I've spent about 10 hours this month learning letters and writing alphabets.

 

At this time, I wouldn't say that I desire to learn any specific historic style (though that is definitely a worthy endeavor), but rather adapt a personal style from letter styles I enjoy that can be executed rather quickly. I don't think I'm ready to get into oblique nib holders, etc.

 

I'll check out the website. Perhaps one day I'll feel I can dedicate the thousand or so hours it would take to get halfway proficient at Copperplate proper. :wacko:

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Oh, it doesn't take all that long to go from where you are to mastering a traditional Copperplate. Just continue to practice and study as much as you practice, things should go along swimmingly.

 

Your lettering is very heavy on the thicks and very thin on the hairlines. That's good but traditional Copperplate forms are not that wide. Graceful control, with a gradual swell in the stroke is more the usual style. The Tachikawa G is an excellent nib, but I would try an oblique holder with the same nib. Speedball makes a great one, with an adjustable brass flange, that works very well with the G nibs.

 

The hairline final D you use jars with the rest of your letters, would suggest eliminating it from your alphabet. And the usual D takes no longer than the hairline D to write.

 

Check out Joe Vitolo's videos on YouTube -- he shows each letter and how to write it, helps a lot with understanding the pointed nib and how it works. Helped my advancement in the hand. Another great writer is Ken Fraser, his work here on FPN and YouTube is always worth investigating.

 

Enjoy, best of luck to you,

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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I'm not as knowledgeable about specific nibs for dip pens, but I do love to write with them and flexy nibs in general. Having that out of the way, I suggest working on your consistency with respect to the shading, i.e. the thicker lines versus the hairlines. It seems you are not that concerned about the traditional Copperplate form but more the essence of that style with line variations. To that end, I think making your thicker lines and your thinner lines consistent in width will go a long way to giving you the results you desire.

 

As Randal6393 pointed out, the thicker lines are almost too thick, at least for the letter height used in the above sample. It makes it look "chunky" for lack of a better word and makes the written word "crowded." I know personal tastes vary, but I believe that there should be some sort of balance between line thicknesses in these types of writing. For example, if you like the thickness of the downstrokes in the sample, then I suggest writing the letters an additional lowercase letter height so that the new line height would be about 1 1/2 more than the above. I've noticed in my initial forays that my attempts looked much like yours. I changed the height, and to my eyes, the results were more to my liking and expectations for this type of writing.

 

For your free-hand style, I also suggest trying to get a rhythm going in you writing. It's almost like a syncopated rhythm where your downstrokes take a long beat while the upstrokes take a short beat. You will develop a natural feel the longer you practice.

 

I hope that helps, and enjoy yourself. :D

Edited by Crewel
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jasonchickerson

 

Your lettering is very heavy on the thicks and very thin on the hairlines. That's good but traditional Copperplate forms are not that wide. Graceful control, with a gradual swell in the stroke is more the usual style.

 

 

As Randal6393 pointed out, the thicker lines are almost too thick, at least for the letter height used in the above sample. It makes it look "chunky" for lack of a better word and makes the written word "crowded." I know personal tastes vary, but I believe that there should be some sort of balance between line thicknesses in these types of writing.

 

Thank you both for taking a look and offering your advice. Yes, the thick lines look wide and lack an elegant swell. The overall look to me is "squatty" to me as well, although the sample above is slightly worse than some other attempts I've made. I've made another attempt today to have a lighter hand and used a printed guide beneath my page to try to stretch my ascending lines up. I'm not sure I improved much but I'll continue to work on it. Perhaps if I have time tonight I'll upload one of the pages I did today.

 

I really appreciate the time you guys took here. Thanks again.

Edited by jasonchickerson
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jasonchickerson

And can anyone give recommendations for practice paper that handles the amount of ink I put down well? I'm using the O. Crown Mill Pure Cotton paper, which I love for this, but it is thick to use with a guide underneath in low poor lighting and it is expensive for practice paper.

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And can anyone give recommendations for practice paper that handles the amount of ink I put down well? I'm using the O. Crown Mill Pure Cotton paper, which I love for this, but it is thick to use with a guide underneath in low poor lighting and it is expensive for practice paper.

Great start and good work. :)

follow SMK's advice, he is a genius in writing among his other great talents. Check out his website to see what he can do.

Randal also gives wonderful advice. The IAMPETH website will give you lot of information on calligraphy. It will help you in understanding basic letter forms that you can duplicate to make you own writing style.

 

For general practice paper you can use a good laser printing paper from HP which is 85 or a 100 gsm. Its great for practice.

A good ink is also Walnut crystals from Paper and Ink arts.

http://www.paperinkarts.com/walnt2.html

 

It works out quite cheap, (much much cheaper than any fountain pen ink) and gives a great shade and feel to writing with dip nibs. You need to mix 1 tablespoon of this in about 30-60ml of warm water and modify the amount of water later depending on the shade that you want. So the 2 oz jar will last you a very very long time.

 

FP inks tend to be a little thin for dip pens.

Try this ink for dip pens and once you have the letter shapes the Desiderata feels great.

I have his double ended pen with the Zebra nib.

 

Just one thing, in the beginning, you may find it easier to get the shapes if you write directly on the guidelines. Print out a few pages and reduce the darkness of the guidelines.

http://shipbrook.net/guidelines/

 

This allows you to set the size of the x height.

5 per inch is about 5mm x height. You can choose "custom" to make even 1 per inch.

You can also set the distance between the slants. To get good spacing, you should make the slant distance about half the x height.

 

Since you are just starting using a dip pen, select the x height to about 3 lines per inch or even 2 lines per inch. (this option is available when you select "custom" in the x height box.)

Ascenders - 2 x

Space - no overlap

Angled - 55 degree (This is for copperplate but you can set it to any angle you are comfortable with)

Every - (choose mm ) and mention a figure that is half the x height.

5 lines per inch is about 5mm x height. So the "Every" option will be 3 mm

3 lines is about 8mm - Every option 4 mm

and 2 lines is about 13 mm - every option 6 mm

This is helpful in the forming of width of the letters and spacing.

The width of a letter should be half the height and the space between alphabets should be half height in most cases.

 

Next is the option to vary the darkness of the guides.

If you set it to 25% black or non-photo blue and then print, it gives light grey guidelines and makes for great practice.

 

And when you use the 100 gsm paper, its easier in the beginning to write directly on guides till you get the spacing and flow.

Anyway, that's what I did in the beginning.

 

Happy writing, you are off to a great start

-Prasad

Edited by prasadvenkat
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jasonchickerson

Great start and good work. :)

 

Thanks for you help, Prasad.

 

Your help with the guidelines is much appreciated. I admit, I found that website on my own and had printed a couple I was not quite happy with the spacing and sizing. I'll try your suggestion. By the way, what is the smallest that one would normally write using the zebra g nib? If I had used a guide in the sample above, it would equate to roughly 9 lines per inch, though my "x height" is tall and my ascenders/descenders are short.

 

Do you use the Walnut ink in your Desiderata pen? I used to use the Walnut drawing ink and it is not to be used in fountain pens. Is it the same ink? I tried the drawing ink in my dip pen and it was very thin, less viscous than fountain pen ink.

 

I'll try the HP 100 gsm paper. Any variety in particular? I have used only Hammermill Color Copy in the past.

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jasonchickerson

Here are a couple practice sheets from last night. I didn't have time to print guides (printer is out of ink), so I drew a few. I spaced the angled lines as Prasad suggested, but I'm not sure I'm using them correctly. Am I to fill one "square" with a letter, then use one full "square" for the spacing?

 

I am not sure what is meant by "the space between alphabets." Is it that the space between letters should be half the height of the letters? That looks better to my eye.

 

This is helpful in the forming of width of the letters and spacing.

The width of a letter should be half the height and the space between alphabets should be half height in most cases.

 

In any case, fun stuff. I will not likely be practicing or posting for a few days as I'll be out of town this weekend. Thanks to all again!

 

http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ6463.jpg

http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ6462.jpg

Oops. Should edit to say the second sample did not get the benefit of a guide as I grew tired of drawing the lines.

Edited by jasonchickerson
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Thanks for you help, Prasad.

 

. By the way, what is the smallest that one would normally write using the zebra g nib? If I had used a guide in the sample above, it would equate to roughly 9 lines per inch, though my "x height" is tall and my ascenders/descenders are short.

 

Most welcome,

 

On that site, 9 lines per inch would be about 2.5mm x height. I think thats a very small height for a Zebra if you are doing copperplate, Difficult to get a thick to thin variation that looks consistent. You would need a nib that is not too flexible so that even with a little extra pressure sometimes, your thicks don't get too thick. :) Does that make sense??

For the zebra I have managed about 4mm x height (6 maybe 7 lines per inch)

 

 

Do you use the Walnut ink in your Desiderata pen? I used to use the Walnut drawing ink and it is not to be used in fountain pens. Is it the same ink? I tried the drawing ink in my dip pen and it was very thin, less viscous than fountain pen ink.

 

I'll try the HP 100 gsm paper. Any variety in particular? I have used only Hammermill Color Copy in the past.

 

 

 

 

NO, cannot do that. Technically you could, but you would have to remove the feed and nib after every use and flush it before the ink dried. I have tried it on my home made flex fountain pens and it's not a comfortable thing to do. The Desiderata is an expensive pen :) please don't use Walnut ink in it.

 

 

I live in India, so I am not sure about the brands you have there. But I have read that the Hewlett Packard brand is good.

 

Here are a couple practice sheets from last night. I didn't have time to print guides (printer is out of ink), so I drew a few. I spaced the angled lines as Prasad suggested, but I'm not sure I'm using them correctly. Am I to fill one "square" with a letter, then use one full "square" for the spacing?

 

I am not sure what is meant by "the space between alphabets." Is it that the space between letters should be half the height of the letters? That looks better to my eye.

 

 

For every alphabet, when you practise it individually, you have a lead in stroke, then the actual alphabet and a lead out.

The lead out connects the first alphabet to the next. So if you look at the "squares" (I will call these spaces) formed by the slant and the 2 horizontal x height lines:

1st space - lead in thin stroke

2nd space - alphabet (the full oval for an A or O etc...)

3rd space - connector to the next alphabet

 

It is exactly what you have done. The time you vary this is when you are connecting to an "n" or "m" The connector is 1 space and then you start the downstroke for the "m" in half a space later. So the gap becomes 1 and a half spaces.

:)

 

I m not at my computer, so can't put pictures up. But you can try this link

http://www.iampeth.com/pdf/recueil-méthodique-de-principes-d-ecriture

 

The book is french, but the diagrams are very easy to follow and there is a lot of detail on spacing given in this.

_prasad

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jasonchickerson

Beginning at the beginning...

 

http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/photo%201-2.jpg

http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/photo%202-2.jpg

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jasonchickerson

Great Job :)

 

You have a good eye for self critique.

 

Happy writing

-Prasad

 

Thank you, Sir. Here's today's sheet. Not much progress but it's been a tough week. I took your advice on the HP 32# paper and let my Walnut Drawing Ink open to air for few days to thicken up. It's getting better but I think even a bit thicker would be nice.

 

http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ6470.jpg

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Thank you, Sir. Here's today's sheet. Not much progress but it's been a tough week. I took your advice on the HP 32# paper and let my Walnut Drawing Ink open to air for few days to thicken up. It's getting better but I think even a bit thicker would be nice.

 

 

Look just great. If you noticed, the hairlines with the walnut ink are much finer. Gives you a better thick to thin contrast. You could try adding some Gum Arabic to it and the flow will be better. Start by adding just a few drops and test ink. (I have been told that you stir the ink to mix it, never shake)

You can add more to get your desired consistency. If you get too much in there, you can thin it by adding water.

It's very forgiving. :)

-Prasad

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jasonchickerson

 

Look just great. If you noticed, the hairlines with the walnut ink are much finer. Gives you a better thick to thin contrast. You could try adding some Gum Arabic to it and the flow will be better. Start by adding just a few drops and test ink. (I have been told that you stir the ink to mix it, never shake)

You can add more to get your desired consistency. If you get too much in there, you can thin it by adding water.

It's very forgiving. :)

-Prasad

 

Yes, it is definitely the better ink for this purpose. Lovely color, too. I just wish it worked in FPs.

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jasonchickerson

 

Yes, it is definitely the better ink for this purpose. Lovely color, too. I just wish it worked in FPs.

 

 

Look just great. If you noticed, the hairlines with the walnut ink are much finer. Gives you a better thick to thin contrast. You could try adding some Gum Arabic to it and the flow will be better. Start by adding just a few drops and test ink. (I have been told that you stir the ink to mix it, never shake)

You can add more to get your desired consistency. If you get too much in there, you can thin it by adding water.

It's very forgiving. :)

-Prasad

 

After working with these two inks a bit more the past few days, I've come to really appreciate the Parker Quink Black.

 

I replaced my worn Tachikawa G nib with a Brause 361 "Blue Pumpkin." I think the wear on the G nib was causing the thick hairlines with the Quink ink.

 

With a newer nib, the Parker Quink is comparable to the Walnut Drawing Ink, in my opinon. It is more viscous out of the bottle, first one thing, and one can write much longer with one dip. It also seems to "dump" ink less readily. I'm having a problem using the Walnut on the miniscule l form as written by Eleanor Winters. When the shaded line passes back through the hairline, the Walnut ink dumps into the hairline unless I am very, very careful with the amount of flex used. The problem is likely more me than the ink, but the Quink Black handles this better. When a large amount of ink is "dumped," however, the Quink gives a woolly line, where as the Walnut stays relatively put.

 

In any case, I'm impressed with the Parker Quink enough that I think I'll be satisfied with it in the Desiderata pen despite my lack of enthusiasm in using black ink.

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jasonchickerson

Today's sheet. Brause 361 "Blue Pumpkin" with Walnut Drawing Ink on HP 32# laser paper.

 

http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ6494.jpg

Finally on to letterforms!

Edited by jasonchickerson
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It also seems to "dump" ink less readily. I'm having a problem using the Walnut on the miniscule l form as written by Eleanor Winters. When the shaded line passes back through the hairline, the Walnut ink dumps into the hairline unless I am very, very careful with the amount of flex used. The problem is likely more me than the ink, but the Quink Black handles this better. When a large amount of ink is "dumped," however, the Quink gives a woolly line, where as the Walnut stays relatively put.

 

In any case, I'm impressed with the Parker Quink enough that I think I'll be satisfied with it in the Desiderata pen despite my lack of enthusiasm in using black ink.

Hi Jason,
You are coming along just great.
The "dumping" can have two causes.
One: your nib is not properly prepared. The nibs come with an oil coating from the factory and this has to be fully cleaned off before use. Also while putting the nib into the holder, if you use fingers, then the oil from the hand can transfer to the nib and cause uneven flow. But, if the Parker works and Walnut dumps, it could be the ink.
Second: The walnut takes a tad longer to dry, than the parker. So when you get a shaded downstroke and connect to a hairline upstroke the nib drags the ink onto the hairline. This can be avoided by:
controlling the pressure (flex). When you complete the downstroke, pause slightly till the nib snaps back and there is no pressure. Release all pressure on the holder from your index finger and move onto the hairline. This takes a lot of practise and you have to write much slower.
Some "masters" did a pen lift. This is, you complete the downstroke, lift up the pen, leave a minute gap and then start the upstroke. Again, pressure on the holder has still to be controlled.
http://i.imgur.com/OfhGMeo.jpg
The red arrows show where the pen lifts are.
Happy writing
-Prasad
Edited by prasadvenkat
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