Calligraphy For Dummies book cover

Calligraphy For Dummies

By: Jim Bennett Published: 05-07-2007

You’ve always admired beautiful calligraphy, but you probably figured it was way too hard to master, right ?   Calligraphy is actually much easier than you ever dreamed. All you need is the right guide and you’ll be up to speed in no time!

Calligraphy For Dummies lets anyone discover the art and fun of lettering. With this hands-on guide, you’ll be able to develop your craft and test it out in no time. Starting with the italic alphabet, you’ll discover different types of strokes, how to angle your pen, and how to join letters. This easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide shows you:

  • All the tools you need to practice the craft
  • Where to get the proper ink and paper
  • How to master several alphabets
  • Different variations to change the look of letters
  • How to mix and match your alphabets
  • How to create a poster, sign, or certificate
  • Ways to design and letter a quotation
  • Common mistakes that can easily be avoided

Calligraphy For Dummies also provides tips on how to put your calligraphy skills to good use, with ideas for making money, adding flair to wedding invitations, and more! It also includes ten fun alphabets and practice pages to hone in on your talent, as well as examples of poorly formed letters to keep you on track. With a little practice, you’ll be creating stunning letters and experiencing the joys of writing calligraphy!

Articles From Calligraphy For Dummies

5 results
5 results
Calligraphy For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-27-2016

Calligraphy, the art of beautiful lettering, comes in many forms and styles. When writing in calligraphy, you can use the delicate curlicues of Copperplate, as Regency ladies did, or choose the more forceful and just as intricate Blackletter style. You can even choose a plain, Roman style — or something in between. Your calligraphy choices are limited only by your imagination.

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Dissecting Calligraphy Pens

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The pens you use to make beautiful calligraphy aren't at all complicated. Their basic design is simple, efficient, and centuries old. A good pen delivers the ink in an even flow and should make it easy for you to create strokes. The pen should glide smoothly on the surface of the paper. This list should help get you better acquainted with your calligraphy pens: Nib: This is the part of the pen that everyone else refers to as the pen point. Calligraphy nibs have a flat edge similar in appearance to a flat screwdriver and come in a variety of sizes. Markers have nibs that are permanently attached. Fountain pens have nibs that are interchangeable and screw into the barrel of the pen. They usually come in sets. Dip pens have steel nibs that slide into a curved slot in the end of a pen handle. The selection of sizes is much bigger than for fountain pen nibs. Dip pen nibs are available individually. Cartridge: All the popular calligraphy fountain pens use ink cartridges. Cartridges are the newest addition to the design of calligraphy pens and make using the pen simple and virtually mess-free. The biggest problem with cartridges is getting a new pen started writing. The ink has to flow from the cartridge down to the tip of the pen before it will write, and that does not happen automatically. Sometimes you have to work at getting the pen started. Adapter: This takes the place of ink cartridges and makes it possible for you to fill your fountain pen with ink from a bottle. Perhaps it's "old school," but it's a good idea to be able to fill your pen from a bottle and not rely on using cartridges in your pen. The cartridges are small and easy to misplace; the bottle isn't. Although filling the pen from a bottle has a greater potential for creating a mess than using cartridges, a pen that is filled from a bottle will start writing faster than pens that have cartridges. Handles or pen holders: Dip pens have handles that are simple wooden or plastic shafts ranging in length from 5 to 7 inches. The nibs are inserted in the ends. Select a handle that fits your nibs and feels comfortable in your hand. Varnished wooden handles are the best choice; plastic is okay. Avoid painted handles because the paint will eventually chip away. Reservoir: Most dip pen nibs are designed to be used with this small attachment that holds the ink. It is frequently made of brass that is soft enough to be shaped with your fingers. Some dip pen nibs have a reservoir on top and some have it on the bottom. Most of the reservoirs can be removed from the nib to make cleaning easy. At least one kind of nib has a reservoir that cannot be removed.

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Combatting Ink-Flow Problems with Your Calligraphy Pens

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

After you've assembled your pen, but before you begin doing calligraphy, you must get the pen to write. A unique problem for fountain pens, you will likely encounter some ink-flow issues when writing, especially when using a new cartridge or pen. If you are using a cartridge pen, it's entirely normal for the pen to refuse to write immediately. The challenge is getting the ink out of the cartridge, down into the nib, and onto the paper. Meet the ink-flow challenge by trying these techniques: Hold the pen loosely with the nib pointed downward about two inches above a sheet of scratch paper. Tap the nib lightly on the paper several times. Avoid jabbing the pen into the paper — just let it slide through your fingers of its own weight. The idea is to coax the ink to flow down into the nib. Hold the flat edge of the nib flush against the paper (don't hold it at an angle to the paper) and move the pen from side to side in straight lines so that the direction of the side-to-side movement is in line with the flat edge of the nib. The side-to-side stroke will help draw the ink down into the nib. This side-to-side technique is helpful for testing all pens. It not only helps get the ink to flow, but allows you to gauge the flow of the ink and get the "feel" of the pen. Practice this technique and adopt it as a standard way to test a pen prior to using it. Another technique you might try to get ink flowing is to apply a tiny bit of pressure against the paper as you draw the nib toward you. If you try this, be extremely careful that you don't press down too hard and bend the nib. If none of these methods work, here's an almost no-fail technique for getting a cartridge pen started: Just unscrew the barrel and give the cartridge a little squeeze until you see a small droplet of ink form at the back of the nib. Make sure you do this while you're holding the pen over a surface that won't be harmed if you squeeze a bit too hard and the drop of ink accidentally splatters onto whatever is underneath! If you're having problems with a fountain pen that you fill from a bottle, simply refill the pen. Refilling will saturate the nib with ink. Once you get the pen working the first time, it should be easier to get it going the next time you use it. You definitely have to endure a "break-in" process. If you have trouble with your pen, treat it like a balky child: Be gentle and persistent and never lose your cool. Sometimes a nib is particularly uncooperative (probably because there is an oily film on it). If you run into that situation, simply wipe the nib with ammonia. That should cure what ails it!

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Using Markers for Calligraphy

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Markers are great when time, not quality, is a consideration in your calligraphic work. You wouldn't want to use a marker to letter a certificate, but a marker would be perfect for small tasks such as writing a note to a friend or co-worker or posting a reminder to yourself or for family members. Markers are also excellent for children. Markers have many limitations: You really can't produce good quality work with a marker. The writing tip is simply not fine enough to make the sharp edges and fine hairlines that a good pen will give you. Note, however, that the quality of markers is constantly improving, and the markers of today are far superior to the ones of just a few years ago. Ink fades with age. However, some brands of markers offer permanent, archival-quality ink. Markers tend to dry out quickly. The tip deteriorates. Even with careful use, the tips on markers have a tendency to lose their sharpness. The chisel-edge becomes blunted with use. Markers write, even when you're holding them wrong. In learning calligraphy, it is necessary to practice the correct way to hold the pen to produce the desired strokes and shapes, so using a marker isn't a good idea. A calligraphy fountain pen or dip pen helps a person learn how to hold the pen correctly because it will not write otherwise. A marker will write no matter how you hold it. In spite of their limitations, markers are extremely useful. The main advantage of markers is how handy they are. They are the ultimate no-fuss-no-muss calligraphy pen. And when they run out of ink, you simply toss them in the trash. When you're buying markers, test them in the store first. You never know unless you test it if a marker has already dried out. Also, make sure that your markers are tightly capped when you're not using them. Use force when you recap a marker to make sure the cap is snug. The markers listed here are just a few of the most reliable ones. All of these markers come in a variety of colors: The Itoya doubleheader: This marker lets you write with both ends. The smaller tip is 1.7mm and the larger one is 3.5mm. Marvy 6000 Calligraphy Marker: The tip gives nice sharp lines, and the ink is dark. This marker comes in three sizes — 2.0mm, 3.5mm, and 5.0mm. Niji Calligraphy Marker: The ink in this marker is especially dense. Niji Calligraphy Markers are available in sets of three. The tips are 2mm, 3.5mm, and 5mm. Speedball Elegant Writer: This marker was one of the first to be designed to approximate the calligraphy pen. The tip sizes have the names X-Fine, Fine, Medium, and Broad. Staedtler Calligraph duo marker: This marker writes with either end! One end has a 2mm chisel tip and the other a 5mm tip. This marker comes in a variety of colors, and the ink is waterproof. Staedtler products are all excellent quality. The Zig Calligraphy Marker: This marker was designed primarily to meet the needs of scrapbookers and represents a big step upward in the quality of markers. The ink is permanent and archival quality (which means that it will not fade or change color, and because the ink is acid-free, it will not harm the paper that it is written on). There is an assortment of colors as well. One end of each marker is 2mm round for drawing, and the other is 5mm chisel-shaped for calligraphy.

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Sample Calligraphy Styles

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Calligraphy is beautiful, artistic handwriting, but that handwriting can be artistic and beautiful in a variety of different ways. Calligraphy can be ornate or bold, delicate or forceful. The following samples offer a glimpse of the varieties available. Italic or Chancery: Blackletter: Roman: Bookhand or Foundational Hand: Uncial: Copperplate:

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