Posts Tagged ‘learn calligraphy’

5 Papers for Calligraphy Practice

0 Comments

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 55ยบ 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! 

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

0 Comments

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. 

Mondays? Mon-YAY!!

2 Comments

Sometimes I feel so lonely in a world of Monday-haters. I LOVE Mondays! It’s a fresh week. I get so much done. My motivation is fresh. My ideas are fresh. I’m refreshed from a day of rest. They’re the best. 

I did this little real-time calligraphy showing you the stylistic differences between one nib and another. It’s HUGE, right? I didn’t change anything about my style, grip, materials; just the nib. Think about that the next time you’re in a calligraphy rut. If you’re still in a rut after that? Try taking one of my classes!! I’ve been teaching for 8 years, I’m encouraging, thorough and helpful. If you’re in the Utah area, check out April’s local workshops below! If you’re not, the online class is the next best thing with one-on-one feedback and encouragement in each class. Check it out here.

APRIL 6 | 5-8PM | DRAPER, UT

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Learn the foundations of pointed pen and how to apply your own modern personality to your letters in this 3 hour intensive! It’s perfect for beginners or if you’re looking to brush up on your skills. Seats are very limited so we have a small, intimate group. You’ll get lots of one-on-one attention and feedback as we go through the lowercase letters and forming words together. Time allowing, we’ll work through numbers and capitals. I’ll give you the skills necessary to take your practice home with confidence. Materials and snacks included. 

APRIL 21 | 9-5 | BLUFFDALE, UT

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

I’ve teamed up with Natalie Malan & Cents of Style for this day-long retreat! We’ll be covering flourished brush lettering and watercolor florals! The florals will be gorgeous, vibrant loose and modern (like we are all obsessing over these days). And the calligraphy will be with waterproof brushes so that we can create dynamic pieces with our watercolors. Workshop includes lunch, materials and snacks. 

Progress Takes Time Flourishing Video Comparison

5 Comments

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.

Review: Resonate Collection Review from Ash Bush

0 Comments

I’m really, really excited about the review that’s coming at you today. Ashley Bush is one of the early calligraphy.org students. She’s made an incredible business of freelance calligraphy and pensmithing. It’s so exciting to see when students really run with it and make calligraphy into a career. 

Ashley recently reached out to me to try out her resonate line. I’m really thrilled with how it’s turned out. It’s affordable, instagrammable and most importantly: comfortably functional. At $30 for these gorgeous marbleized pens, you really can’t go wrong. See the pen rest, tilted ink holder and pen holder in action in my YouTube video below. 

VIDEO DETAILS: 

But if you’re not the video-watching type… Here are my pros & cons of each item offered in the collection…

HOLDER $30

PROS: Affordable, smooth/silky finish, easy to clean, made from resin so it won’t split, carrot holder for promoting whole arm movement (also a great holder style for arthritic hands), flange adjusted and pre-fit with a G-nib

CONS: It’s a little short. It feels nicely balanced in the hand, but I personally wish it were a little bit longer. I wouldn’t mind an angled foot, either. But the foot is still small enough for a carrot holder that it fits in most ink jars. 

PEN REST $9

PROS: Holds 2 holders for easily switching styles, pretty, heavy enough base that it doesn’t topple over.

CONS: has a slightly different finish on it than the pen, it’d be nice if it had the same matte finish. Not a deal breaker by any means. 

TILTED INK HOLDER $7

PROS: It tilts the jar just enough that you can get that last little bit of your ink out of the jar. It really works with very little ink!

CONS: It doesn’t do well with full jars of ink. I wish there were a second well that was upright for me to hold my ink when the jar was full, and then tilt when the jar was nearing empty. But I really rarely put my full ink jars in an upright inkwell holder anyway, so it might just be superfluous. 

BOTTOM LINE: It’s a no-brainer. Scrounge up $50 and snatch up the entire collection. But at the very least, get the holder. It’s a must. It’s so so good. GET ONE RIGHT HERE.

mobile site