August 11, 2019 14

A Beginner’s Guide to Uncial Calligraphy with Janet Takahashi

A Beginner’s Guide to Uncial Calligraphy with Janet Takahashi


Hi I’m Janet Takahashi I’m a calligrapher and welcome to my studio Today we’re going to do basic uncial typography using Pigma Calligrapher pens Let’s get started! Today we’re doing a beginner’s guide to uncial calligraphy with a Pigma Calligrapher pen It’s a round open light letter form as you can see here with the lettering and when it’s done with a lot of text it creates a really open structure In early form, in early centuries, this is an example from the sixth century, it was written with a broad edge tool which was the quil and today using a Pigma Calligrapher It has the ink bottle and the nib and the pen holder all in one What’s great about it is its archival and it’s waterproof The tools we’re going to be using today are the Pigma Calligraphy pen, a pencil , an eraser, tape, paper and a ruler And I have another ruler here and I’ll show you how that works in just a minute What I like about this Pigma
Calligraphy pen is that it comes in three different nib width sizes: one
millimeter, two, and three And it also comes in six different colors What we’re going to be using today is a three millimeter for the uncial lettering So one of the things I like about this pen is it has archival ink and it’s waterproof So that means when you do watercolor on top of your lettering, it won’t move It has a hard nylon nib inside and so that means that you can write with a lot of pressure and it will maintain really crisp edges as you write a couple of the materials that you need
for good lettering is a pad of paper that acts as a cushion for your
lettering and handguard which is just a sheet of paper fold it in half and it
collects some of the oils from your hands from smudging your work. You also
need a good quality writing paper So, for example, on this paper the ink goes down very nicely and it doesn’t bleed You have a nice even line to ink and on this paper it’s also really good-quality but it’s quite textured so it creates a
textured look which is sometimes that’s what you would like Some characteristics of the uncial alphabet is that it’s based on the “O” shape It’s a very wide rounded extended circle and you can see that circular
form and all of the round shapes The body height of this letter is four nib
widths high. You do that by taking the pen and you can see that that is a nib and, by drawing a baseline, I can stair step the pen marks to four and then that creates the body height of this letter There are also ascenders and descenders
and you have to remember that these are still capital letters and also within the alphabet you have a vertical writing slope and soft delicate small hooks for serifs Let’s talk about pen angle. There’s a pen angle because it’s a broad edge tool which makes a thick and a thin line and you can see from this
protractor it shows different angles So I remove that, you can see that at 20
degrees this angle that we’re going to write at I place this on top I can put
the pen here at 20 to start every stroke and for the “C” stroke and the “O” the same 20 degrees For our uncial lettering today we’re going to use a line guide template to do the writing This pen writes at 3 millimeters and so that makes a half inch letter height you can pre-draw your half-inch lines Place a translucent writing paper on top and do your practice lettering You can also use a high quality grid paper that is 8 inches per square The great thing about this paper is that each square in the grid is 3 millimeters You can do your lettering Your practice on this grid paper that works really well Here’s another tip, you have your half-inch lines already drawn You have your paper that you cannot see through on the lines you have a ruler and your ruler extends
out beyond the paper itself I’m using a rolling ruler here and I line it with a line Put my pencil down and then draw each line Here we go, ready to write A good way to practice your uncial lettering is to practice them in family groups of the round letters, straight letters, arch letters with the straight and curved side, small bowl letters and diagonals The round letters are all based around the
“O” shape which is the key shape for all the other letters and you can see that
when you’re practicing the “O” and the “C” how it’s easy to keep continuing that
repetition to make it a “G” and an “E” and a “D” and continue this rounded form And on straight letters it helps you to practice your vertical strokes as you make them And then the arch letters you have a straight and a curved side so with the “N” and then you have an ascender which becomes the “N”, and the “H”, the “U”, it’s very similar to then becomes the “Y” to the “D”, and the “P” so there’s a repetition to all of the strokes you have the arches and a straight side Small bowl letters they have these small bowls lobes, you have a vertical and a lobe And even on the “S” its small circular bowl The diagonal letters all have a diagonal so
on the “N” and you have some straight vertical sides but you also have the diagonal
within it so it’s nice to practice it in this family group It’s always good to do
warm-up strokes It gets your pen working and to make
sure that you have good contact on the paper and you can do that with some
eight basic strokes So first is the vertical stroke, you put a small serif on it and a diagonal some horizontals a flattened arch, another arch, an under arch an arc, a clockwise arc and the middle part of the “S” stroke There you have it, all ready to letter

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