Posts Tagged ‘calligraphy’

5 Papers for Calligraphy Practice

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Hopefully this helps as you explore calligraphy more. Let me help you even more on your path to making beautiful, readable calligraphy in your own distinctive style. My Modern Calligraphy workshop includes personal coaching to help you along every step of the way with your calligraphy journey and explorations. I have a brush lettering class too! 

Explore handlettering with me at Utah Pinners on Nov 2 at 2:30. To use your promo code, click here and use code ESPLIN for 10% off through GrowTix when you purchase your tickets. Be sure to pre-purchase your kit for bonus goodies!

Not all paper is created equal. Chances are, if you’re just starting out, you may have found some issues with your practice. Or if you’re not a beginner you had issues when you were just starting out. And maybe you’d like to find some new papers to try out!

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “What paper do you use?”. That’s a loaded question. For now, let’s talk about practice papers. Read the full post below for all the nitty-gritty details for why I like these papers, or watch the video. :)

 

For the sake of this post, I’m using a Hunt 22 nib and Walnut ink on all papers so you can see how each paper handles ink. Also, never mind the fact that I can’t seem to spell the word “laser” correctly. I don’t know why I always get the ‘s’ and the ‘z’ mixed up with that one. The same papers that work with pointed pen also work with pointed brush. When looking for a good practice paper for both pointed pen/modern calligraphy and pointed brush/brush lettering, look for a smooth surface that allows the writing instrument to glide smoothly across the paper and a paper sturdy enough, or well-enough made that it holds ink without bleeding or feathering. These are my go-to calligraphy papers that I seem to always have on-hand. 

I’m going to go through each paper from most transparent to most opaque and list out each paper’s pros & cons and links (affiliated*) to where to purchase:  

ONION SKIN PAPER

PROS: This paper is very smooth and handles ink beautifully. It’s about as transparent as tracing paper, but without the drawbacks. It’s about $30 for an entire ream (500 sheets), which makes it a great value. You can easily slip guidelines under your paper as pictured above and remove them for scanning or photography. 

CONS: There’s really only one brand and one place (the PaperMill Store) where it’s available (amazon is a LOT more expensive). It doesn’t go through the printer well (but no need with its transparency). I’ve noticed some friends complain it can be a bit too smooth. 

MARKER LAYOUT PAPER

PROS: Marker Layout paper is easily accessible, you can purchase it from just about any craft supply store by the pad. It’s nice you can contain your practice within a pad, and it’s semi-transluscent so you can easily put guidelines underneath as pictured above. It’s okay for scanning, but has a little more tooth to the texture of the paper (that can be a pro or a con). Every marker layout paper brand I’ve tried (Canson, Borden & Riley, Strathmore, etc) has performed consistently. I find I prefer Canson out of this category. 

CONS: At between $9-13 per pad with only 50-80 sheets per pad, this is more expensive than onion skin paper. It comes in 9×12 pads, so you have to cut them down smaller if you’re looking to print on them or to scan them in standard-sized scanners. 

PREMIUM LASER PAPER

PROS: There are many brands of premium laser papers out there, so I keep this pretty generic. Many that I’ve tried have worked great with ink. HP Premium Laser Paper is the most popular of this bunch. I’ve had great luck with Hammermill as well. What to look for: 32lb, Laserjet compatable, premium paper. Regular copy paper will ruin your life. This is probably the most economical and easily sourced option of the lot. You can print guides directly onto this paper.

CONS: It’s more opaque, so you’ll need to use a lightpad or print directly onto your paper with a local or at-home printer. Depending upon the brand you’ve purchased, it may have a bit more of a tooth to it. No worries. Just make sure you’re practicing with a light touch (like you should be doing anyway). 

HAND-LETTERING PAPER

PROS: This paper is a hybrid paper. While it’s still considered a practice paper, the weight and quality of this paper could be used as a finished paper. It’s probably the thickest paper of the lot. It’s incredibly smooth, shows a nice bold line and the ink lays evenly on the paper. This paper handles more liquid media than the other papers of this type, so you can practice with wet ink, thicker downstrokes, experiment with watercolor effects without the paper buckling. This paper comes in larger sizes for larger work. 

CONS: It’s a little harder to source this paper than the others, but it’s worth trying if you’re curious. It’s a thicker paper, requiring a lightpad or really dark guidelines to go underneath the paper. Or, worst case scenario, using a pencil to draw out your guidelines. 

GRIDDED PAPER

PROS: Rhodia graph paper already has gridlines on it!! You can find their dot pad, if grid lines are too much, but I really like the structure of the grid. This paper is beautifully smooth and handles ink like a pro. It’s got a little bit of texture to it, enough to give your pen feedback on where you are on the paper, but not so much that your nib is skipping all over the place. Grid lines are 5mm apart

The Engrosser’s Pad from John Neal is also great (make sure to purchase the one labeled “engrosser’s pad” if you’re doing pointed pen), it also includes 55º angle lines for keeping angle lines consistent. The grid markers are quite small at just over 3mm (1/8th inch), so it can be a little harder to keep track of the sizing if you’re going for a larger scale. 

CONS: If you get the Rhodia ICE pad, the grids come in a light grey, which means you can’t scan out the grid lines if you’re digitizing your work. It’s a premium paper (from a French company, so regal ;)), so it comes at a premium price. Thankfully, with the rise of calligraphy and lettering in popularity, the pricing and availability for these pads has become more accessible. The regular orange Rhodia pads have a blue grid that can be photoshopped out, but it’s a little tricky. 

 

Hopefully this helps as you explore calligraphy more. Let me help you even more on your path to making beautiful, readable calligraphy in your own distinctive style. My Modern Calligraphy workshop includes personal coaching to help you along every step of the way with your calligraphy journey and explorations. I have a brush lettering class too! 

Real-Time Calligraphy Video | Families Are Everything

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I’m not one to really get into the politics of things on here or anywhere on social media; after all, I find that language gets mis-interpreted and real communication tends to break down in a format as impersonal as online. But I’ve felt strongly the need to say that family is THE most important thing. We need family (whatever form that takes on for you) spiritually, physically, mentally– in all the ways. 

Throughout history, nations and civilizations fell with the crumbling of family. So for the first time ever, I called my representatives and made my voice heard (find yours here). For the first time ever!! If you know me, you know I HATE making phone calls. I know an executive order was signed to help alleviate the issue of families being separated, but this issue is far from over. 

It’s not about political alignment here. It’s about family. We are stronger together. 

 

Stepping off the soap box now. I penned the above video with:

Let me know if you have questions about the materials used or my process. If you’d like to learn more about calligraphy, I’d suggest taking one of my online classes (listed above in tools section)! I include personal coaching so you get a very one-on-one approach. :) 

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Calligraphy & Watercolor Motivational Quote Time-Lapse Process Video

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I painted one thing this week. But I’m pretty darn happy with it, so I thought I would share here. 

Tools Used:

*Use code  Melissa15% for 15% off your purchase at myprimaplace.com!

This quote has been rolling around in my head all week. I’m thinking of doing a mental/physical inventory of my life and let go of the things that I don’t need to hold on to. I don’t need to hold onto the idea of making a line of women’s swimsuits, or writing a hymn, or learning how to cobble shoes. I can let go of all of those things. So this is just a reminder of that. I plan on framing it sometime soon and hanging it in my studio as a reminder to stay focused and to really dive deep into what it is I want to do with my life. Like seriously, I got asked this week what I wanted to do and I was like… uhhhhh……

I should probably figure out what my end goal is here so I can actually run towards it. 

So click play on the video above if you want to hear more about the materials I used, why, what was going on in my head at the time of illustrating it out. I want to let you know, Natalie Malan was a huge inspiration (her classes are the best) for the style of florals for this piece. 

And if you want to learn brush lettering, I’m teaching a local workshop in utah. REGISTRATION IS HERE. And there’s always my online class which includes personal coaching, right here.

Affiliate links are used, your purchases support additional videos on this channel. Thank you!

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: 

Affiliate links are used, your purchases support additional videos and posts! Thank you!

 

 

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. 

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