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Further thoughts on Flourishing

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Ken Fraser:
For those interested in studying this aspect of Copperplate, here are some thoughts on the
subject of Flourishing as enhancement to lettering. None of the following is taken from
instruction books but are simply my own ideas based on many years in the business of
making letters.

1) Never draw thick (shaded) lines across thick lines. It just doesnít look good.
Cross thin lines over thick or thin lines over thin, or thick lines over thin.

2) Cross lines at as close to right angles as possible.

3) Aim for well-balanced shapes with clear, open spacing. This is very subjective, but Iím sure
that you know what I mean.

4) Good flourishing flows evenly from start to finish. Have a clear idea of the shapes youíre aiming
for, before you start. Any hesitancy in flourishing shows up with jerky lines. This can easily
be avoided with a little preparation. On a separate piece of paper, draw your flourishing a few
times until you are happy with its appearance. Draw over it several times with a dry nib, until it
feels comfortable, and then once committed to memory, draw it in ink, incorporating the
appropriate shading. If you do a lot of Copperplate flourishing, you will eventually develop a
Ďmentalí library of some of your favourite shapes. These can then be utilised, straight on the
page, but this takes a lot of learning practice and a lot of confidence. Itís so easy to ruin an
otherwise good piece of lettering with ugly or uncertain flourishes.

5) Whether the shape is oval or circular, always aim to produce even, smooth turns.
Flourish at an even pace; neither too fast nor too slow.

6) Create interest in the flourishing by varying the weight of the shading strokes to provide an
attractive result. This is in direct contrast to Copperplate letters themselves, where consistency
in stroke weight is an absolute.

If you are fortunate to have a copy of "The Universal Penman" you will find a great many wonderful
flourishes throughout. Althogh they look effortless and spontaneous, a closer look at the intricate patterns,
will reveal many of the same recurring shapes, albeit with modifications, produced by different calligraphers.
In fact, these flourishes aren't instinctive creations, but are part of a learning process over a period of time.

This is my interpretation of one such pattern which occurs frequently throughout the book with subtle
variations. I chose this one, because it was the first flourish which I was able to draw from memory.
You'll see all the necessary attributes of good flourishing with lines crossing close to right angles. This
produces a pleasing, open, light and balanced look to the shape. Shaded lines never cross other shaded lines
and the curves are smooth with no jerkiness. This is an enlargement - the original is 4" wide.

At its best, flourishing looks easy and spontaneous, but it is absolutely vital to have a clear idea where you're
going before you set out, if the result is going to be smooth and even.



Flourishing elements can be used free-standing to add interest or colour to a page or, perhaps more effectively,
as natural extensions to specific letters.

In example 1 this simple flourish is very effective from any descender. As with any flourishing into or out
of a letter, it should look natural as an extension of the letter and not just stuck on, like an afterthought.

Example 2 is a compound flourish linking a descender in one line to an ascender in the line below. Chance
plays a big part in this, as it obviously depends on where the letters fall in relation to one another.

Example 3 shows the letter 'f' compiled with complex flourishing and the letter g continuing upwards in an
open, flowing flourish. This flourishing counters the elaborate 'f' and produces a more balanced, open
effect to the whole.

Example 4 again, depended on chance. In this case, I centred the wording to produce a gradual, triangular
effect, moving in from both sides to the conclusion. The descender of the letter 'p' was perfectly placed for
the addition of a flourish to "tie the knot" as it were. If the letter p hadn't been there, I'd have used the letter
f of the word 'of' and re-structured the flourish to end up in the middle. The effect would have been similar,
but it was much better using the 'p' which was ideally placed.

Example 5 is a bit over-the-top, but in my defence, I should state that this was at the request of the client.
With mass flourishing like this the 'rules' are even more important - giving the spaces room to breathe by
crossing the lines as closely as possible to right angles. Avoiding thick lines over thick lines and shading
carefully to produce an overall even, texture. I was compelled to use heavier shading on the letters than I
would have liked, in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the flourishing.

Always remember that the purpose of flourishing is to enhance the writing, and it should never dominate.



Erica McPhee:
Fabulous Ken! Thank you for sharing!  :)

JanisTX:
Ken, your advice is, as always, brilliant!  I've been working on flourishing, as it is something that I am not naturally good at!  I love the examples you provided and I am going to try to emulate them!

Janis

Sarah Foutz:
Thanks, Ken! You have the heart of a teacher. The examples you showed are exactly what I need to visualize a perfect flourish, they help tremendously! :)

Linda Y.:
Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us, Ken! This is wonderful.

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