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Practice Paper


Hi, Im just a newbie when it comes to calligraphy and still have a lot to learn. My question is about the calligraphy practice pad that I bought last week..

Is this pad only for practicing Copperplate or Spencerian?

Thanks in advance :-)

Erica McPhee:
Hi Cheryl,

You can use it for any style of calligraphy however, the proportions are best for Copperplate and Italic.

The slant is generally the same. Typically, Italic is written at a 35 or 45 degree angle and Copperplate is written at a 55 degree angle.

For Italic, the ratio is usually 3:5:3 or 4:5:4. The height of the lowercase letter (x height) is 5 pen widths and the ascender and descender are 3-4 pen widths (depending upon which text you read!). Capital are 7 - 7 1/2 pen widths high.

While there is no x height for Copperplate, the proportions are a little different. The ratio is usually 3:2:3. So if the x height is 2, the ascender and descender are 3. (Ex. 1/4 inch for x height and 3/8 inch for ascender and descender).  Copperplate minuscules are a little less than half their capitals. (Spencerian, they are approximately 1/4 the size of their capitals.)

These proportions are variable. For practice, this paper would work for either. But, the way I would use it is for Italic, I would make the large space the x height. (And choose an appropriate size nib.) For Copperplate, I would make the small space the x height. Because the proportions are the opposite (Italic ascenders and descenders are smaller than the x height. Copperplate's are larger.)

I hope that makes sense! Also, check out the 1st pointed pen lesson worksheets. I included a copperplate guideline sheet with the appropriate proportions. I made it to be used behind a piece of paper on a light board. However, I can make another one with the lines in gray to print out and practice directly on if it would be helpful!

Happy Practicing!

Erica McPhee:
Actually, I don't have to ... Christopher Yoke has some MARVELOUS practice guidelines on his site here:

Hi Erica,

Thank you so much for the detailed explanation, I obviously still have so much to learn.. will definitely check out the Christopher Yoke guidelines.


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