Thursday, 28 November 2013

Lombardic Alphabet

The Lombardic alphabet is characterised by very broad, fat letters, and ornate designs.  The broad letters gives plenty of room to draw beautiful patterns, scrolls and designs within the letterforms.  The Lombardic letters are usually used for initials, and beginning of sentences.  They are to be used sparingly though, because your work can look over the top if you overuse the Lombardic lettering styles.  However, with this in mind, it can be very effective when combined with lowercase letters, such as poems, odes and short paragraphs and phrases.

How Do I Use Lombardic Letters

The Lombardic letters have been used for many years and were commonly used for notices and signs in circuses, market stalls, and fairs.  However, Lombardic letters can also be used for cake decorating, using clever artwork with icing and icing sugar.  Other common uses were fancy embroidery, posters and flyers, fabric artwork and part of pictured designs and illustrations.

How To Write Lombardic Letters

You can download plenty of Lombardic templates, transfers or typeface styles to practice your work and you will find that there are many variants of Lombardic lettering styles.  You can even make up some designs yourself.

Plan your work before writing this style.  To begin with, draw some very faint straight lines to map out your work, and then lightly trace the letters carefully, using a hard nibbed pencil.  Copy a style carefully, or trace it out until you are confident with drawing the letters.  Once you are satisfied with your outlines, you can then start to use a Rapidograph or a black, fine marker pen to draw out the outlines.  If you wish, you can color in the letters with any color of your choice, and any medium desired.  Lombardic letterings are commonly used with bright and vibrant colors, such as red or green.  You can use felt tip pens or strong watercolors to bring out your work.

A Picture Of A Typical Lombardic Alphabet

As you can see below, a flat pastel yellow watercolor wash was applied for the background of this lettering artwork, and a fine black pen is used to draw the outline of the letters.  White flecks of highlight are used to enhance and bring out the letters and there is no calligraphy pen involved.

The Lombardic Alphabet
There is no hard and fast rule when writing Lombardic letters, so you can produce your own orinigal designs.  Once you have mastered the basic shapes, you can go to town and produce some wonderful and creative decorative artwork.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Versal Letters

Versals are ornate style of letters that are written, usually with a chisel shaped nib or quill.  The nib shape helps to emphasise the thick and thin characteristics of the letters.  The letters are used to mark significant parts of a piece of text or it can be used for headings, beginning of verses or poems.  The letters are usually larger, with fancy flourishes, curves and ornate patterns, and can really set off a piece of calligraphy work.

The beauty of versals is that it can be used in conjunction with other calligraphy styles and can also work very well on its own too.  Versal letters are very legible and normally resemble the form of the Roman styles, and are often elaborately decorated.

Using Versal Letters

Versals are used to draw your eye to a particular part of a page and you can use versal letters for any purpose, whether it is for a poem, a sentence, a message or a greeting, versal letters can offset your work beautifully.  You can go to town and create some really great ornate lettering artwork.  You can start by planning what verse you would like to write, and then write the verse, but remember to draw the versal letter extra large at the beginning of your sentence.  Plan the positioning of the versal letter, it can be positioned at line-height, drop-height or take up some space from the margin. 

Experimenting with Versal Letterforms with Patterns

Versals are usually drawn, emphasising thick and thin lines.  You can then color in the letters with any color of your choice.  Using the 2-pencil technique is a great way to draw letters, emphasizing the thick and thin widths of letters.  An example is shown below:

Writing letters using the 2-pencil technique
You can then introduce some color and fancy artwork, or Celtic knots to your versal lettering designs if you so wish.

Here is an example of capital, or upper case versal letterings, emphasizing the thick and thin lines, with splashes of purple and yellow color.  

An Example of Uppercase Versal Letters
A black graphic pen is used to draw the thick and thin lines of the letterforms, but you can use a ballpoint pen or a felt-tip pen if desired.  The thicker lines are then colored in, using the black pen, for effect.  You will notice that the letters are a drawn outline of the letterforms.  You can use any calligraphy style, for example, the Uncial; half uncial or Roman styles, which are great for practicing drawing outlines of letterings.  They are simple, rounded styles and are ideal for creating versal letters.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Half Uncial

Half uncial or the Semi-uncial is a form of the uncial letterforms.  It is a cut-down version of the full uncial style, and it has characteristics of the medieval, rounded scripts.

It is similar to the uncial in that it has evolved from the Roman cursive type of letters.  It was first used approximately 2nd or 3rd century and continued to be used until about the 9th century.  The half-uncial had connections with the Celtic and monastic locale.

There are many variations of the half-uncial letters.  There are the Roman half-uncial, the Celtic half-uncial and the English half-uncial to name but a few.

The half uncial is characterize by chunky, and very rounded and broad style that we see during the earlier medieval scripts. 

How Do I Write the Half Uncial Calligraphy Style?

The half uncial style cannot be written quickly, you have to take your time writing this style.  When you look at the way the style is written, you will notice that the letters have very rounded and broad characters.  A couple of words written in this style will take up quite a lot of space, so bear this in mind when choosing this style, and make sure you have plenty of space planned when mapping out your work on the paper.
The secret to writing successful half-uncial letters, is to hold your calligraphy pen nib at quite a shallow angle, almost at a vertical position, but not quite.  Try writing this style carefully, but keeping your calligraphy pen at a consistent angle.  Incidentally, this style is great for left handed calligraphers, so if you are left handed, this style is great for left handed beginners.

Use Indian ink and a broad nibbed pen, and start practicing writing the letterforms, studying the shapes of the letters carefully, as shown in the illustration below:

Half Uncial Letters
Ensure you draw your horizontal guidelines straight and true, to keep your work looking even, for pleasing results.  Next, map out the rounded letters by drawing the letterforms carefully in faint pencil before writing with your calligraphy pen.  Study the letterforms carefully before finally drawing the letters.  Remember to make sure you leave plenty of space for sentences, because the letters are quite round and fat and take up a lot of room.
You may choose different colored ink for pleasing effects.
The half-uncial letters can be used for flyers, posters and large notices, because the letters are quite rounded, broad and legible.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Rustic Calligraphy

Rustic letters is a form of the Roman style calligraphy and is quite an easy style to learn.  It is easy to read, not too elaborate and is used in many ways.  The style is commonly used to produce large posters and flyers, using a poster pen or a broad, flat calligraphy pen or brush.  The rustic styles can also be used for short, bold statements and notices.

What Does The Word ‘Rustic’ Mean

The word rustic means, of relating to rural or the countryside, things made in a simple and plain style.

Although the term ‘Rustic’ may seem to some people, basic or plain, it can also mean elegance.  The broad styles can be exploited, by using this style to explore with textures and decorative effects. 

The Calligraphy Pen Angle

It is always important to hold the calligraphy pen at a steady angle.  Most calligraphy styles require holding the calligraphy pen nib at about 30 to 45 degree angles.  However, with the rustic style, you will need to hold the calligraphy pen at an unusual angle, about 80 to 90 degrees.  This may feel a little odd at first, especially if you are used to holding the calligraphy pen at a steady angle of 45 degrees, but this technique is important if you want to practice writing in rustic styles.  You will notice that the upward strokes of the letters are quite thin, but they flare a little at the bottom.  You will need to practice with your calligraphy pen to get this desired effect.

Rustic Style Calligraphy
First of all, apply light pressure, with the pen held at a 90-degree angle, then as you draw the line at a downward stroke, gradually move the pen to about 10 degree angle, and apply a little more pressure.  This should give the flared effect at the base of the letters.

Experimenting With Different Widths For Great Effect

You can experiment with this technique and really go to town with it.  For example, why not try holding your calligraphy pen at different angles, from 10 to 90 degrees as you draw the stroke downwards to the base of the letter-form  tapering to a thin line or do this the other way round, from 90 degrees to 10 degrees.  You can create some great letterforms doing this.  Try doing some different angles for great effects.  Doing this would also help you practice with changing the angle of the calligraphy pen to get maximum effects.  This technique is key to writing Rustic calligraphy styles, starting with a thin line at the top of the letter-form  and ending with a broader line at the bottom of the letters.
Experimenting with different pen angles with one pen stroke
Horizontal strokes are usually written with the calligraphy pen held at a constant 40 to 45 degree angle.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Chosing Calligraphy Fonts

Calligraphy is beautiful handwriting, and it is used in countless ways.  There are many calligraphy styles and here are the most common ones used. 

Cursive Calligraphy

Here is an example of cursive calligraphy, which is fancy handwriting.  It is commonly used for invitations, for example weddings or events.



Gothic, Old English or Black letter Calligraphy

This very ornate style is characterised by long, tall strokes of the calligraphy pen and broad, black widths. They can be found in medieval scripts and today is commonly used with tattoo styles.

Uncial Calligraphy

This simple, but effective rounded style has broad letters and is easy to read.  It is commonly used for writing posters and flyers.

Round Hand or Foundation Hand Calligraphy

The Roundhead or Foundation Hand is great for brushing up on your handwriting.  This style is usually used for calligraphy beginners.

Italic Calligraphy Style

Italic style is characterised by long and thin letters.  Occasionally, the letters lean to the left, as shown below.

Choosing Calligraphy Styles   

When choosing a style, try to think which style fits the occasion.  Small calligraphy letters, or thin letters would not be legible for a poster.  Equally, large, chunky styles would not be the best style for an elegant invitation, needing fine and ornate styles.

Which Style is Used When Writing Calligraphy

A calligraphy beginner may be unsure which calligraphy style to choose for a project.  However, here is a simple guidance to help when choosing a style for an occasion.  There is no hard and fast rule, but it should give a rough idea.

Wedding invitations, common styles used would be fancy Cursive Calligraphy or Copperplate styles

Posters and flyers, common styles would be Uncial Letters or Foundation Hand styles

Tattoos, airbrushing techniques or fantasy artwork, Gothic, Old English or Black Letter would commonly be used

Handwritten texts, Foundation Hand or Round Hand would be suitable for this style.

Labels and table names, Copperplate is the usual style used.

Remember to do some research before choosing your style, look at which style fits the occasion.

You can download loads of calligraphy fonts and templates to help you choose the best style, and to practice writing the design of your choice.

Once you have chosen your desired style, grab a calligraphy pen and practice this style until you are happy with your result.  You will be able to use this design in the future for other projects. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Basic Calligraphy

There was a time when calligraphy writing was full of strict rules and regulations, and only accessible to the experts.  Many professional calligraphers clashed and disagreed with each other with how calligraphy should be written.  However, this has now changed and calligraphy rules are made to broken.  Many styles and letterforms have been through many transformations and mutations throughout the years.  Some calligraphy styles may seem firmly established, but they have undergone subtle changes and adaptations along the way.

It is still important to study the basic disciplined calligraphy styles of years ago to get the feel of how calligraphy has been transformed to the styles that we see today.  This helps to master the art of how to write beautiful calligraphy. 

Calligraphy Is For Everyone

Calligraphy is accessible for all.  Many people may believe that they cannot draw and is only for the very artistic, but this is not true.  Calligraphy is a great hobby for all ages and abilities.  It encourages discipline, a steady hand and simple practice to produce magical results. 

Basic Formal Alphabet Calligraphy Styles

The Basic styles, shown below is also known as the Foundation Hand is a general script which is both legibly and decorative.  This style can be applied in general every day situations and can easily be written without a special calligraphy pen.  An every day normal biro or some simple pencils can be used instead.  This style can be written beautifully in one simple sitting and is timeless.

The Basic styles are a great start for the novice and you can move onto more challenging styles after you have mastered this style. 

Once you have mastered the general concept of writing calligraphy, you will want to put your new skill into practice and learn more complicated styles.

Simple Calligraphy Projects

You can make a start by using your new skill for simple projects, for example, writing some greeting cards, birthday and Christmas cards, packaging labels, posters and flyers, menus and so much more.  You do not need to be at an advanced level to tackle these everyday projects.

Introducing Art And Drawings With Calligraphy

You can really enhance your calligraphy by introducing some clever designs and drawings to impress your family and friends.  Drawing Celtic knots is a great start and there are so many different kinds of Celtic designs to choose from.  They are very easy to draw and you can even make some designs up yourself.

Friday, 14 June 2013

What Are Celtic Knots Used For?

Historically, Celtic knots were used thousands of years ago and are associated with Paganism and folklore.  These ancient designs can be seen in ancient manuscripts, churches, Celtic jewellery, metal work, carvings, and cathedrals.  The early Celts used this beautiful design in their art and weaponry.

Modern Uses For Celtic Knots

Celtic knots are still commonly used today, for example in fashion and clothing, furnishing, cutlery, glasses, modern jewellery and many other uses.

Tattoos And Celtic Knots

File:Sasha Kopf's Celtic knot ring.jpg
A Celtic Knot Ring
Celtic knot designs are generally used in tattoo art and body piercings and have become very popular and fashionable.  Many tattoo artists offer a service where they design and print coloured tattoos onto a person’s skin so the design is permanent and lasting.  To many people, these designs hold personal and spiritual meaning.  The permanent coloured tattoo pigment may fade in time if the skin gets sunburnt so it is advisable to use a high factor sun cream for lasting results.  These tattoos are commonly used on a person’s arm, leg or back.

Many people may prefer to have a temporary tattoo.  These tattoos can easily be removed or washed off or if left alone will fade within a few days to a week. 

Other types of temporary tattoos are Henna art and tattoos produced by using a special ballpoint pen and ink.  Again, these can be washed off or allowed to fade in time.

Jewellery And Celtic knot Designs

Celtic jewellery designs are very popular for both men and women and are a great fashion accessory and can even be used for unisex jewellery.  The designs can be seen in gold, silver, and even interwoven into beaded jewels as ornamental knots.  Rings, bracelets, charms earrings, necklaces, trinkets are used to display various Celtic knot designs.  The most commonly used knot is the Celtic hearts, the trinity knot (Triquetra), the Dara knot, the Triskelion, the interactive knot, the Serpent knot and many more designs.

What Does Celtic Knots Mean?

File:Infinity symbol.svg
Mathematical Infinity Symbol
There are many meanings to these beautiful knots but a lot of knowledge has been lost in time, but basically, a single Celtic knot symbolises eternity and the universe and if you look closely at the knot, you will see that the path has no beginning or an end.  The mathematical symbol of eternity closely resembles the single Celtic knot.  People believed that these knots have a timeless and spiritual meaning.

With interwoven knots, where there are more than one strand involved, this symbolises connectivity and unity. 

Many believed that these mystical knots brought good luck, health, fortune and stability into their lives.  Other common meanings are power, strength, endurance and wisdom.