Author Topic: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?  (Read 1868 times)

Offline Zivio

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Michael Sull, in the tradition of Spencerian instructors, had sent me a personal nameplate and jotted off a beautifully flourished handwritten note when Id purchased some materials from him last year.  Id noticed a faint baseline in the nameplate, but now noticed baselines in the note only after taking a picture, they were so invisible to my naked eye!

Im eager to begin addressing the stash of postcards Ive accumulated once Ive come to the place of feeling more confident in my writing.
 
Questions about those baselines:
  • What do people use to make those fine and inconspicuous lines?
  • Do many calligraphers/penhumans make use of such in finished products?
  • Is it cheating?  Haha, crow forbid Id accuse a master penman of this, but Im curious about the practice. Postcards and other greeting cards dont lend themselves to use of a lightbox, but should I be working towards nice horizontal baselines without use of a crutch?  My goal is to effect beautiful handwriting for regular correspondence, and it appears that historical examples of such do not make use of these guides.

Thank!
Karl
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Online AnasaziWrites

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2021, 09:50:47 AM »
Michael Sull, in the tradition of Spencerian instructors, had sent me a personal nameplate and jotted off a beautifully flourished handwritten note when Id purchased some materials from him last year.  Id noticed a faint baseline in the nameplate, but now noticed baselines in the note only after taking a picture, they were so invisible to my naked eye!

Im eager to begin addressing the stash of postcards Ive accumulated once Ive come to the place of feeling more confident in my writing.
 
Questions about those baselines:
  • What do people use to make those fine and inconspicuous lines?
  • Do many calligraphers/penhumans make use of such in finished products?
  • Is it cheating?  Haha, crow forbid Id accuse a master penman of this, but Im curious about the practice. Postcards and other greeting cards dont lend themselves to use of a lightbox, but should I be working towards nice horizontal baselines without use of a crutch?  My goal is to effect beautiful handwriting for regular correspondence, and it appears that historical examples of such do not make use of these guides.

Thank!
Karl
Not cheating at all. Calligraphers/scribes have been using lines for centuries.
The simplest way to make them is to draw them lightly in pencil and then erase them after writing in ink.
One can also use a laser level of opaque items, as per this post
https://theflourishforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=3890.msg54210#msg54210

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2021, 11:12:17 AM »
YES! Guidelines are a must for me. Yes a light pencil like a 2H to 6H. But be aware they may cause indentation on the paper. Use a very light hand. Or a fine mechanical pencil like a 0.5.

I like the charm of seeing the guidelines.  ;)
Truly, Erica
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Offline K-2

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2021, 03:02:03 PM »
@Zivio - not only not "cheating" but as @AnasaziWrites notes, but the guidelines were very much part of the overall aesthetic of a finished piece in the middle ages.  At some points in paleographic history, people paid more if they could see the lines (it was considered a mark of quality).

And guidelines aren't just for calligraphy - as you've been popping in on Inktober and Invent, I'd like to note that those drawings use a ton of "guidelines" too.  I probably spend as much or even more time creating the "underdrawing" (a sometimes quite elaborate pencil drawing that includes guidelines for negative space highlights as well as for structural shapes and contours) as I do in inking the image.  In fact, sometimes I do these images on tracing paper, so that I can set them underneath watercolor paper on a light table and not have to erase afterward.  It also gives me a fast starting point, if I need to start over again or try out other variations in color, style, or media.

And really, when I lay out calligraphy pieces, I spend way way more time working out the guidelines than inking the actual letters.  It's why when I take commissions, I always charge a "set up & design" fee.

--yours, K

Offline Zivio

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2021, 05:06:52 PM »
@AnasaziWrites
@Erica McPhee
@K-2

Outstanding, all! Interesting and informative information. Thinking I'll be giving that laser level a shot (thanks for the Forum link on that) although it may denigrate the "charm" and monetary value of my work.  ;D ;D

Wishing you all charming and valuable life moments,

Karl
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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2021, 05:14:23 PM »
@Zivio

Hey, Karl,

In the event you would like to use a pencil, I'd recommend a Pentel Orenz PP502, 0.2.
Using just the weight of the pencil so as not to indent the paper, you can make guidelines of a very fine nature, which, when erased, disappear completely. The lines can be non-linear, as the project demands as well.

Offline Zivio

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2021, 06:40:45 PM »
@AnasaziWrites  Ah, thanks!  While I've got that laser level on order, I love having a specific pencil/marker recommendation that has worked out well.  Also good to have backup in case batteries go out, and/or I'm working at candle light -- how quaint!

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Offline InkyFingers

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2021, 10:14:02 PM »
I love using a etched line as a guide line for broad pen calligraphy.  However, with pointed pens, I use a pencil with very light pressure and no erasure.

My pointed pens seem to skip and splattered ink effects.  And when I do use the erasure....smudge lines syndrome comes to mind.

Does anyone use an etched line?

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2021, 04:48:59 PM »
Ooh, thank you for the recommendation @AnasaziWrites . Im going to get one, too.  :)
Truly, Erica
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Offline jeanwilson

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2021, 06:41:56 AM »
I love using a etched line as a guide line for broad pen calligraphy.  However, with pointed pens, I use a pencil with very light pressure and no erasure.

Does anyone use an etched line?

If by etched line, you mean just pressing a blunt stylus into the paper, then - yes - I've done that a lot. It was my favorite way to do place cards.
On a lot of papers, you don't even need to press hard enough to make a dent - you can make line that shows up just enough that you can see it - but the light has to be hitting it just the right way.

I also have many suggestions for various devices (usually file folders) where you learn to write just above the edge of the file folder. This topic came up a while ago and I think I mentioned that I had a very cool folded paper device (made by Peter Thornton - that I would share - but first, I had to find it. I have found it - but I am headed out of town for a couple weeks -- so will post it some time in January.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2021, 07:00:58 AM by jeanwilson »

Offline JanisTX

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2021, 10:34:12 AM »
@jeanwilson and @AnasaziWrites I'm trying to figure out what an "etched" line is, exactly!  I need to prepare some Christmas place cards & would love an alternative to a light pencil line!  Thanks in advance for more information!

Janis

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2021, 05:09:53 PM »
@jeanwilson and @AnasaziWrites I'm trying to figure out what an "etched" line is, exactly!  I need to prepare some Christmas place cards & would love an alternative to a light pencil line!  Thanks in advance for more information!

Janis
As Jean mentioned, it's simply a line drawn with a scribe,bonefolder, or any instrument with a point, not so sharp as to cut the fibers of the paper. The viscosity of your ink matters too. The two words on the left were written with dip pen ink, the two on the right with fountain pen ink. The fountain pen ink (lower viscosity) bled into the cut fibers. In all cases, it's possible to catch a sharp nib on the line making descenders, so make your lines as light as possible. (A compass point is a little too sharp for this application, and the bonefolder not sharp enough). Experiment first with the exact ink, paper, and line tool you are using.

Offline K-2

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2021, 05:37:06 PM »
@JanisTX - as @jeanwilson & @AnasaziWrites noted, lines can be "etched" onto paper/card stock using a blunt stylus and a straightedge.  Instead of marking a line with a pencil and then erasing, you make an impression in the paper using pressure.  AnasaziWrites makes a good point about a bone folder being too blunt and a compass being too sharp.  I use an un-inked, closed ruling pen or the back of a butter knife or a ball point pen that is completely out of ink.

You'll be able to see the line in raking light, but it's rather inconspicuous.  It will, however, always be there - you can't erase it.  As @InkyFingers says, the other downside is that sometimes pointed flex nibs catch on the divot and cause splatters.  And as AnasaziWrites notes - some inks can bleed into the divot too.

Historically, medieval scribes used a blunt stylus (and quite a bit of force) to inscribe these lines in parchment so as to rule both sides at once.  Ingenious!  But note - the broad edge script floats between the lines, not touching them.

I'll add that if you're going to photo/scan a piece, you can use a light blue (non-copy) pencil, like manga/comics artists use to do underdrawings, because they won't show up in digital reproductions.  InkyFingers - you can try waiting overnight before you erase, but smudging is sort of a problem with certain inks (McCafferey's gloss black, I'm looking at you).

Best wishes on those place cards, Janis!

--yours, K

Offline InkyFingers

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2021, 11:41:04 PM »
I only use fountain pen inks thus far.  They are supposed to dry fast.  Maybe I used too much pressure with the erasure.  I dont use it anymore...I don't care about pencil lines like I used to.  Etching is great when you can see the reflected lines.

I don't etch anymore either.  I dislike lasers as it hurts my eyes and make them feel sleepy.  Should I wear a laser glasses?  I don't know but I am wearing bifocal glasses already...and it is heavy enough as is.

I devised a way to write a semi-straight lines without any method mentioned above (including back lights with guidelines).  Simply by practicing on a newspaper... underlings every line as I read along for the entire newspaper.  Thereby insetting my muscle memory for a straight line

Offline JanisTX

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Re: Marking guidelines/baselines on "finished products" - how, and with what?
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2021, 08:45:04 AM »
@JanisTX - as @jeanwilson & @AnasaziWrites noted, lines can be "etched" onto paper/card stock using a blunt stylus and a straightedge.  Instead of marking a line with a pencil and then erasing, you make an impression in the paper using pressure.  AnasaziWrites makes a good point about a bone folder being too blunt and a compass being too sharp.  I use an un-inked, closed ruling pen or the back of a butter knife or a ball point pen that is completely out of ink.

You'll be able to see the line in raking light, but it's rather inconspicuous.  It will, however, always be there - you can't erase it.  As @InkyFingers says, the other downside is that sometimes pointed flex nibs catch on the divot and cause splatters.  And as AnasaziWrites notes - some inks can bleed into the divot too.

Historically, medieval scribes used a blunt stylus (and quite a bit of force) to inscribe these lines in parchment so as to rule both sides at once.  Ingenious!  But note - the broad edge script floats between the lines, not touching them.

I'll add that if you're going to photo/scan a piece, you can use a light blue (non-copy) pencil, like manga/comics artists use to do underdrawings, because they won't show up in digital reproductions.  InkyFingers - you can try waiting overnight before you erase, but smudging is sort of a problem with certain inks (McCafferey's gloss black, I'm looking at you).

Best wishes on those place cards, Janis!

--yours, K

Thanks, Mike, for the excellent explanation & wonderful examples!  I am going to experiment this afternoon, to see what kind of results I can get on the place cards that the client has me using!  I tend to use more fountain pen ink than pointed pen/calligraphy ink.  I don't know why, but that is what I've always preferred.  (Unless I'm using gouache, Pearl-Ex, or the like for a specialized project!)  Also, thank you @K-2 for your explanation & advice.  I am going to see what can be accomplished with the back of a butter knife, a boning knife, and a bobby pin with a rubberized end for women's hair. (I don't mean to be sexist; I suppose men could use bobby pins, too. - I've just never seen it!)  I'll post back with my results!

Thank you all for your assistance & input!

Janis