Tutorials > Kind Critique

Asking for feedback


Was hoping for some feedback from the forum on my minuscules.  I know the shading isn't as consistent as I'd like and there's still a bit of wobble in my ascender loops...I've only been back to practicing Copperplate for the last few weeks.  I haven't done calligraphy in some time due to time constraints, but I now find I have more time to practice.

The following was written on HP 32# Premium LJ paper using Higgins Eternal with a bit of ga and a Leonardt Principal nib.  x height is 6mm.

Thank you all in advance for your suggestions.


Hi Gray,
This is a good start!
Self evaluation is one of the keys to improve and which you have done here quite nice. Having the right eye to know where the mistakes is quite essential. Now to evaluate these you need to also have a through study of each 'Letterforms'. These letterforms makes or breaks an alphabet. It's like lego blocks, each piece plays an important role. Now, Ovals play an important role in this script and they actually control lot of things here. Like spacing, letter spacing, in between letter spacing, your loops.... Infact they are hidden in each and every 'Letterform' you choose.

The x height of 6mm is good to start. I usually write on 7mm or 8mm for practice. Walnut ink is what I prefer as it helps me show my mistakes and is also gentle on nibs.
Since you said you have just started, this is the right time to get yourself into right habbit which will help you progress.

Thanks for sharing your work here. Feel free to ask if you have any questions!

Keep writing!

Erica McPhee:
I'm going to expand a bit further on the great feedback from @ash0kgiri . I can tell you have a good grasp on the basics @GrayStratCat so you are ready to take it to the next level.This means fine tuning the essentials. Like Ashok said, it is like building with legos. The lego blocks (basic strokes) of the letters must be strong.

You have a great understanding of the letters so far. You also have a nice consistent slant. The basic structure of each letter looks accurate. So now to fine tune things. It's best to break apart what you need to work on and focus on one thing at a time. I have marked some suggestions on your original sample.

1. Give room for your ovals to breath in letters like a, d, g, and q. It is important the stem stroke does not cross into the oval. This hinders the integrity of the oval shape. You want the descending stem stroke to just kiss the right side of the oval. See my example. It often happens that the distance is overshot a tiny bit. This is more desirable than bumping into the oval as you can place a tiny dot of ink between the oval and stem and the ink will take care of the rest. It's not ideal but it's better than being too close.

2. You have excellent shape and consistency to your connecting upstrokes between c, d, & e. However, your nib is getting the better of you by pulling some of the fiber from the paper as you go into the upward curve. This can be remedied by lifting your pen at the baseline after every downward stroke. It feels disjointed at first. But once you get the rhythm of it, it will work nicely. Once you gain confidence with the lines, you can go back to doing it in one stroke if it suits you. The c,d,e I did was all done with lifting my pen at the baseline.

3. You've done a great job keeping your ascenders consistent in terms of slant. Really well done. Now, it's time to work on the loops. You can make them narrow if you desire but they should all be about the same width and height. You can make them by going up and around or you can start the descending stroke at the top and then going back up and come down with a slight curve and *very* slight shade at the top right. This way is a bit trickier but can look so nice. You only have to apply a tiny dap of pressure and then lift up as the ink will draw itself down a bit. (I'm still working on this.) Be careful to keep a nice rounded oval shape at the top.

4. You have nice consistency and shape to your upward joining strokes between the t and u. But the next skill to work on is squaring the tops. Looking at t, u, and w - u looks the best, then w, then t. This squaring gives strength to your letters. This is one of the trickiest parts of Engrosser's Script (I think). And I still struggle with it myself. Pen angle has a *great* deal to do with its success. You have to hold the pen a bit steeper than in normal writing. And you can turn your nib just a hair clockwise which allows you to put the right tine down first. Then pause, then the left tine will splay to the left, then you can slowly, and deliberately pull down for the shade stroke. You do not need a great deal of pressure. The energy is in the tip of the nib.

I hope that helps! Let me know if you have questions. I'm looking forward to seeing your progress!

Thank you both for the feedback!  @Erica McPhee, I want to especially thank you for the detailed and thorough feedback as well as taking the time to annotate my work and for providing the samples.  Those will be of great value.  I may not have as much time to practice as I'd like in the near future since some work has come up that will cut into my practice time.  But when I get back to daily practice and work on your suggestions, I will be sure to post my progress and await any additional feedback.  Thanks again!



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