Archive for the ‘calligraphy’ Category

Reflections Liner & How to Use One!

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As requested by a couple of you fine folks who actually read this blog still (thanks, by the way!! ;)), I’m presenting a video with info on the Phantom Reflections Liner. 

This thing is a bit tricky. If you don’t get it quite right, you’ll have just slightly wonky lines that will make your work look just barely off. We don’t want that, do we?!? 

I mentioned it in my review of the laser square. I mention that the reflections liner is not that great. And it can be quite frustrating to use. But there definitely is a place for it. 

The cons:

  • You need a well-lit area.
  • You have to look through the viewing glass at the right angle in order to really see the angles, so that changes your orientation some. 
  • Looking through the dark viewing glass for hours can strain the eyes. 
  • It can feel bulky to use.

The pros: 

  • It’s old-school technology that doesn’t require batteries!
  • You can break it down for easy storage.
  • You can create guides of any shape, size or angle (for envelopes to full-blown pieces of art!)
  • It’s great for opaque or dark papers.

So without any further ado, check out the video explaining how to set up the phantom reflections liner: 

It’s basically like an analog teleprompter to broadcast your guidelines onto your paper. Brilliant little piece of equipment, right? Check out the above video for the full break-down of how to set it up. 

If you liked this video and others that I share here, consider giving my YouTube channel a subscribe! Check out my online pointed pen class (aka for learning “Modern Calligraphy”) over at calligraphy.org. I teach all sorts of things like how to understand the foundations, push your style so that it’s still readable and how to address envelopes. The class includes images, videos, text and one-on-one feedback from me & my co-instructor Erika. We help you troubleshoot, keep you motivated to continue through the coursework and answer any questions you may have. Feedback includes additional images and videos to help clarify and encourage. 

Register for my online class today. 

Tools used: 

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Pilot Parallel Pen Review & Difference between Broad-Edge & Pointed-Pen

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Thanks to Goulet Pen Company for providing us with the Pilot Parallel Pen Handlettering and Calligraphy Set. Both Hayley and I had a lot of fun playing around with these pens. I’ve had a few of these pens for a while, so it was fun to use the full line of pens from the Parallel Pen line.  

Before giving you my thoughts on the Parallel Pens, I thought I would give you a little info about calligraphy in general: Broad-edge calligraphy vs. Pointed-pen calligraphy. 

You’ve got hand-lettering versus calligraphy. Hand-lettering is illustrating letterforms. Often times letterforms take on a more dimensional look with decorative elements and illustrative affectations (above left). Calligraphy is the careful construction of letters with a prescribed set of strokes (see above right). Think of it as carefully writing each stroke, almost drawing each stroke. 

There are two camps within calligraphy itself: broad-edge and pointed-pen. Broad edge materials literally have a broad edge (see marbled holder and pilot parallel pen in the far right). The orientation and angle of the nib gives you the control over thicks and thins. But because of the broad edge, you’ll find that you have lots of thick strokes (see broad-edge styles). The broad-edge styles in the above image there are in no way exhaustive of the kinds of letters you can make with those tools. As a general rule, tools with number measurements like Speedball C-2, C-0, Mitchell 5mm, Pilot Parallel 6.0mm, etc. are all describing the width of the edge. 

Pointed-pen calligraphy, while using angle and orientation in order to work, relies on pressure in order for the thicks and thins to happen. As a result, you’ll find you can easily get sweeping fine lines and hairline flourishes with pointed-pen tools. When it comes to “Modern Calligraphy” that’s oh-so-popular, it’s referring to a pointed-pen script hand that’s based (although sometimes too loosely to be actually readable) on Copperplate/Engrosser’s Script foundations. This style needs pointed-pen tools. If you don’t, you’ll get messed up results like below:

SO…….. 

While the Pilot Parallel Pen Set may not be the right materials for “modern calligraphy”, this set is awesome for exploring a wide range of broad-edge styles in a variety of sizes! Without any further ado, check out the full review video. If you already know the difference, skip to 5:40.

 

Now for the review, we really loved these pens a lot! Here’s the breakdown of the pros and cons.

The pros:

  • Instruction packet for easy assembly
  • Variety of colored inks & black inks
  • Plastic nib/plate cleaner
  • Pens are juicy and synthesize dip pen beautifully
  • They travel well
  • They feel great

The cons: 

  • The artwork on the packaging is a little deceptive (you canNOT do brush lettering with these pens)
  • The “ductus” pages are made from fonts, not calligraphic hands*
  • You can’t put the caps on the ends of the pens while in use

*A “font” is a programmed set of letters used on the computer, a “hand” is a calligraphic style. The fonts in the ductus pages aren’t a bad place to start, but they don’t give you much information on pen angle/orientation or pen manipulation or stroke order. 

Overall, I’d say this set is a win. If you’re interested in trying broad-edge or bolder styles these pens are a must-have! They’re a great tool to take with you for practice on the go or even when attending workshops, meet-ups or guild meetings with limited space. 

Want to learn more about calligraphy? Check out my classes over at Calligraphy.org! 

Product provided by Goulet Pens. All thoughts are our own. 

Freebie: Mother’s Day Printable 2018

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Coming at you super duper late, but late is better than never! I’ve been recently working on the 100 days project (follow along on Instagram right here), so I figured I’d rise to the occasion and add a watercolor floral element to this year’s card. Boy was it harder than I thought it would be! Maybe I’m just in a little bit of a slump (even though I’m only 1/4th of the way done). But I did it. And it’s done. And you can download it for FREEEEEEEEEE. Just for you. Or your mom. Or for you to give to your significant other to then write a note in and give to you. 

 

I don’t necessarily go for gifts on Mother’s Day, but I must get a note from Chris. When I don’t, I get a bit sour about it. A little heart-felt thanks goes such a long way; afterall, momming is so freaking hard!!

And if you or your loved one isn’t in the motherhood way, this holiday can be oh-so-tough. Send her a you-are-an-amazing-woman card, see printable here. Seriously. DO IT NOW. 

I thought I’d take a different approach and walk you through the process of making this card. I made a few minor tweaks in Illustrator with the text and layout, but basically I scanned in the image and brightened the background for printing. Inspirations for this layout came from Natalie Malan & Esther Peck.

I really hope you’ll use this download! Check out even more Mother’s Day printables below: 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

This freebie is for personal use only, redistribution, remixing, or reselling is prohibited. If you’d like to use this for commercial purposes, please email me at melissa@melissaesplin.com.

Spring Motivational Quote Printable

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I’m on Studio 5! It was so fun to go on to film this segment. I wanted to do something that related to spring and new beginnings and starting anew. So I found this quote as a little motivator. See the end of this post for the free file to download. FREE FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. 

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE!!

I’ve got 2 workshops coming up next month! Be sure to sign up before spots sell out! 

Modern Calligraphy Workshop – April 6th 5-8pm in Draper, UT! Learn basics of modern pointed pen calligraphy. 

Brush lettering & Watercolor Workshop – April 21 9-5pm in Bluffdale, UT! Come to Cents of Style headquarters for a DAY filled with watercolor, calligraphy, food and creativity. 

Who doesn’t need a motivator like this? I mean come on! I think you could print this out and mail it to your buddies who you know may be struggling through something. Even the most beautiful flowers still have to grow through dirt (and sometimes manure). I’m totally obsessed with Natalie Malan’s floral skills, so I thought i would put her most recent paper pack to good use and print the quote on there! It was easy peasy. See below for instructions and tools. 

Tools: 

Print out the quotes on a laser printer. If you don’t have one at home, head to your nearest copy center and have it printed on black and white on your desired paper. I loved how substantial this Natalie Malan paper pack was, but it went through my laser printer no sweat. 

Then turn on your laminator in the highest heat setting. Once it’s ready, cut out a piece of foil the size of the lettering (as to not waste foil material). Lay it overtop the printed area, slip inside a folded sheet of parchment paper and send through the laminator. 

Pull it out and remove the foil. TADA!! It’s done. 

I did experiment with watercoloring on plain paper after I did the foil transfer and it worked quite well! The chalkiness of the beginner paints, however stuck onto the foil so it wasn’t as mirror-like and shiny where I painted overtop the lettering. But it still turned out ok. Just an option. 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PRINTABLE

I know it’s super simple, but it’s so fun to add a little bit of gold sparkle to some pretty decorative paper! 

And if you don’t have access to gold foil, just print it black and white!! Look at how pretty just the black and white turned out….

This freebie is free for personal use only. Alteration or redistribution of this file is prohibited. If you’d like the artwork for commercial use, please contact melissa@melissaesplin.com.      

Affiliate links are used. Sales from these links help support this blog and the content created here. Thank you!

Progress Takes Time Flourishing Video Comparison

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I didn’t get good overnight. In fact, I still have a long way to go. I have more classes to take, more practice to do and more tools to hoard. Last week I came across an old video I uploaded in 2013, I had had some practice under my belt. But not much. I was proud of this work: 

OMG. 

Now that I look back, I cringe. I should cringe at old work. Sure there are some pieces I’m still proud of, but would I keep working on improving if I didn’t find my old work a little cringe-worthy? Probably not. Dare I say that embarrassment feeds improvement? Maybe a little? 

So as one does, I re-did my old video. I’m happy with how it turned out. I’ve gotten better at my filming and editing process. I’ve gotten better at my flourishing and overall technique. But is this the end? Hardly. 

Tools used: 

I think my biggest pet-peeve is when a person or class claims the end or height of learning. You know that’s an utter lie. And if someone ever claims that, you know they don’t know beans about what they’re teaching or doing. Learning and improvement never stops; no matter the discipline or art form. I teach calligraphy. And I love teaching calligraphy. I love getting people started and seeing them run with it and graduate beyond my class to other classes, other disciplines, other passions to create a style that they truly own. 

If I were to critique this piece? I’d say the flourish coming off the ‘u’ is a little awkward. I should have done it off the ‘r’. And I should have written out a baseline guildeline, because I’m bouncing around with a little less purpose than a meandering baseline. And my ink got thick on the ‘sh’ connection. But good grief, I’m getting better.

The other thing is… I had a slew of negative comments on that old video. Someone told me to stop lettering all together, because I sucked. I ignored them, I think because I never got the notification of the comment in the first place (win!). I’ve got a little PSA for you… EVERYONE SUCKS WHEN THEY FIRST START ANYTHING. I was no exception. So what’s keeping you from learning something new? It’s okay to suck a little. It’s okay to suck a lot. Just keep at it. 

Want to see the before in action? Oh yeah….

Want to get better at calligraphy? Let me help you. I teach calligraphy online and in person (in Utah). You can register for my online class right here. I give personal one-on-one feedback to help you with targeted improvements. And my next in-person workshop is April 6th in Draper, UT. Register here.

Don’t get discouraged by slow improvement. With social media and instant gratification we’re used to with everything at our fingertips, it’s easy to get discouraged. Learning a new discipline takes time. And that’s okay. Doing something that’s not perfect is okay, too!! I don’t regret publishing that old video for a second. I put out the best I could do at the time. And I was proud of it! I look at that old video like a badge of honor.

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