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Tutorials => Pointed Pen Tutorials => Topic started by: Erica McPhee on December 27, 2013, 11:36:53 PM

Title: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Erica McPhee on December 27, 2013, 11:36:53 PM
I'm really excited to share this! I will be going into more detail with the video tutorials in the near future. However, for now, these are some handouts to get people started.

One of the first questions to consider when doing Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy is ... what is it? What makes it different from "traditional" or "regular" pointed pen. It is really all about style. And while the variations are endless, there are certain guidelines one should follow to create beautiful lettering.

As with traditional Copperplate, consistency is key. However, it is a much different consistency. It's consistency in your inconsistency. If that makes sense! Copperplate has a set of rules that together allow one to learn the style and produce letterforms that are recognizable as Copperplate. Similarly, you can probably go on Pinterest or Instagram and can instantly recognize certain calligraphers' works by their consistency. Their own personal style.

This typically develops over a long period of time. Some believe it is absolutely necessary to learn traditional pointed pen calligraphy first, like Copperplate or Spencerian. Others feel it really doesn't matter because it is all about personal style. I fall somewhere in the middle. I do believe the difference between truly good letterforms and only pretty but mediocre ones is practice, knowing the fundamentals, and above all - knowing your letterforms.

The reason some calligraphers can form such beautiful consistent letters is because they have memorized the letterforms. So if you want to do modern/contemporary lettering, you must have a pre-decided idea about how you want your letterforms to look. So the variations are endless, but consistency will be important in developing a specific style. Otherwise, it is just a mishmash of a variety of letters which has no rhythm or style.

Modern calligraphy takes a much looser approach, but in many ways, takes much more forethought. You have to conscientiously think about how you are joining your letters, what your slant is, how you want the next variation to look. I think it is a very good idea to create your alphabet first and then create pieces. This way you can commit your style to memory. PLAY! Go through each letter, make variations, discover which you like best, and which you can form best. Slowly, a style and alphabet will come together.

I hope these handouts generate some conversation and, most of all, questions. Without video, it is a little harder to explain but I think interaction is better anyway. I hope you won't be shy and will ask away!

Have FUN!  :D
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Erica McPhee on December 27, 2013, 11:51:33 PM
In case people don't want to download but want to get a glimpse...

Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: pyaink on December 27, 2013, 11:58:54 PM
thank you, erica. love your samples. My style is so rigid that it is hard to vary it to something as playful as this at times. Will give it my best shot.
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Sharon on December 28, 2013, 12:10:14 AM
This is fabulous, Erica, thanks so much for doing this. I'm excited to begin practicing. I think it might be hard to break out of always lettering within the guidelines since that's what I'm used to, but practice, practice, practice! You are recommending developing an alphabet style first which makes sense. I'm always amazed at calligraphers who do so many pointed pen styles. I just don't know if I could keep that many in my mind - how do they do that? OK, off to have some fun with this!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Maurelle on December 28, 2013, 01:21:12 AM
Thank you Erica! I am also somewhere in between LOL.. I can compare this to dancing, I learned basic ballet first and then you can dance about to any music. In Calligraphy, have the basic ( in my case, I am learning copperplate through books and of course your tutorials) and you can have a nice contemporary ( with your own unique style) I am excited to learn this!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: katianaval on December 28, 2013, 03:31:35 AM
Thank you for this, I started self-studying on the iampeth websites and like many newbies I can't go away from following those lines! Much appreciated!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Perfectsettings on December 28, 2013, 10:11:22 AM
This is such GREAT information!  I'm so excited to try my hand ... pun intended!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Perfectsettings on December 28, 2013, 10:18:03 AM
Is it safe to assume that every other letter height is opposite?  (ie. your word/work in Avalon) 
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Erica McPhee on December 28, 2013, 11:00:23 AM
So glad this is helpful!

Daisy, that is a great question. For some styles, yes. There is a "bounce" to the letters so you alternate going up or down. In some styles, it is *very* pronounced. You will want to pay attention to the ligatures (also called connectors). So while you can alternate, the connectors should develop a rhythm which are similar.

So if you look at the bottom connectors on the word, "contemporary" on the Avalon page, look at the bottoms of the "n", "m", and "r's". While it isn't exactly every other letter, you can see the consistency there in the way the connectors go down.

If you look at all of those versions of Avalon, you will see the same kind of consistency (I hope) to the bottom connectors. Even though they aren't the same height (don't go down equally) - the shape is the same.

Also look at the ligatures at the bottom of the Mr. and Mrs. Smith's. You can see the same thing, especially in the first and last contemporary versions.

This is one of those things that will take very conscious effort initially. But it really does contribute a great deal to the overall style.

I find it is especially difficult to break away from the guidelines. We are so used to trying to do the opposite. It took a LONG time but I mostly letter contemporary without guidelines now. But in the beginning, (end even sometimes now), I find it is helpful to keep the guidelines because I can still maintain consistency either above or below and without it, the lettering can get out of hand and GIANT!  ;D
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: gidgetinCA on December 28, 2013, 11:19:13 AM
Thank you so much, these pdf's and your posts/notes are so informative and essential to learning.
You have inspired & re-energized,me-I just can't wait to dip my pen!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: ewigginton on December 28, 2013, 11:19:46 AM
WOWWIE WOW WOW!!!! I can't wait to play today!!!! Thank you SO much, Erica!!!! This is going to be SO helpful and I WILL make you proud!!!

Off to get some chores out of the way so I can have the rest of the day to practice!

Thanks again,

Ellen
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Erica McPhee on December 28, 2013, 11:37:19 AM
LOL! You are very welcome Gidget and Ellen!  :D So happy it is useful to everyone!  ;D
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Erica McPhee on December 28, 2013, 11:42:35 AM
I also wanted to add... contemporary calligraphy does look random but actually takes a bit of forethought. In my mind, contemporary and modern calligraphy were two different things. However, the two terms have really become interchangeable (for better or worse).

Modern calligraphy can in many instances be just a pointed pen style of a person's handwriting. So it doesn't follow an exemplar or have an established style but a style will eventually develop. These are some of my favorite styles and some of the styles I most admire!  :D

Contemporary calligraphy is really traditional calligraphy with a "contemporary" or "modern" twist. Meaning, it is livened up or breaks the traditional rules. So it could even be traditional copperplate but with more flourished capitals or different varieties of letters.

However, now the two terms have really been used interchangeably and refer to any style that uses traditional tools and techniques but in a non-formal or more contemporary/modern way. Many people will argue you have to learn the rules to break them. Or you can't run before you can walk. While I'm not sure that is entirely true here, we do need to be careful to still maintain good letterform.

In the long run, it is true practice of good letterforms/techniques will improve your lettering, with or without a knowledge of traditional calligraphy. But if you are practicing bad letterforms, no amount of practice will improve it.  :)
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: ewigginton on December 28, 2013, 11:55:26 AM
But if you are practicing bad letterforms, no amount of practice will improve it.  :)

 :o

........off to review my work with a red pencil!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Sherry Lu on December 28, 2013, 02:20:28 PM
I love this! Thank you for sharing :) Looking forward to more of it!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Jane Farr on December 28, 2013, 02:34:10 PM
Such insightful and useful information, Erica. Thank you for the time you give toward helping others develop their understanding and lettering skills. 
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: emrdesignstudio on December 28, 2013, 11:29:50 PM
This is awesome. Thanks for sharing Erica.
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Jpteach777 on December 29, 2013, 10:24:16 AM
This is wonderful, and your written discussion plus replies to questions really help.  Fun, fun fun.  Thank you so much.
Janis
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Briana on December 31, 2013, 06:16:26 PM
This is THE BEST guide for contemporary calligraphy! Since I took my first class last year and someone mentioned the "contemporary" style, I've been Googling and searching through books for something that explained just what it is and how to go about accomplishing it.

Thank you a million times, Erica! I think you've got a book in the works here :)
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Erica McPhee on December 31, 2013, 08:21:23 PM
Thank you Sherry, Jane, Elsa, Janis, and Briana!

I appreciate the feedback! It's good to know it is helping people! I'm thrilled it has had almost 250 views in less than 4 days!

Briana - my husband said the same thing yesterday when he was looking at all the worksheets!  :D
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Craftinsus on January 18, 2014, 10:55:11 PM
Can't wait to try this!!! 
Thank you!!!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Erica McPhee on January 19, 2014, 12:45:13 AM
You're welcome Susie! I have a surprise lined up in a couple weeks I think you are going to love!  ;)
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Nickkih on January 25, 2014, 11:11:12 AM
Love this!!! I'm excited to find my own style :)
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: winkandwonder on February 03, 2014, 12:38:23 AM
Just ran across this pdf and wanted to say thank you! Breaking down the how's and why's and watch-out-for's are so helpful!  :)
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Erica McPhee on February 04, 2014, 11:28:58 AM
Thanks Nickki and winkandwonder!  :D
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: DMurphy on May 24, 2014, 11:11:37 PM
Thank you very much for posting this tutorial up.
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Erica McPhee on May 25, 2014, 12:21:18 AM
You're very welcome DMurphy!  :)
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: kiziaberedo on May 28, 2014, 03:56:16 AM
Thank you for starting this tutorial! I've been scratching my head on how to apply "contemporary calligraphy" since there's so many ways to face it. I'm excited to learn from you.  :)
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Bloopz on August 20, 2014, 03:57:17 PM
THANK YOU,!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: nicnilla on October 02, 2014, 06:25:59 AM
You are a star for sharing all of this information with us.
Thank you so much!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Hillary A. on October 20, 2014, 04:01:51 PM
Such fantastic examples!

Thank you Erica!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: astriddao on October 21, 2014, 02:04:52 AM
Hi Erica,

Thank you for sharing! It's very helpful especially for newbies like me  ::)
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Rilhawk on November 05, 2014, 03:21:00 PM
Going onto Pinterest can be very overwhelming with all the beautiful modern calligraphy. I read somewhere to find a style you like and practice it to learn it. There are too many styles that I like.
I thought they were all different and individual styles with their own unique letter form. I understand now that all the styles I like are really just deviations from copperplate.
I was very overwhelmed with where to start but you made me realize that I should learn copperplate first then I can branch out into these other deviation styles.
Thank you so much. I was so confused but now I have a great starting point.
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: suzietwig on December 03, 2014, 11:52:36 PM
These are SOOO helpful, Erica!! You've answered all of my questions about how to keep a rhythm and rhyme to breaking the traditional rules. Now I'm off to put that theory to practice! Thank you!!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Sarah Foutz on December 29, 2014, 11:44:57 AM
Erica, I love this so much!

I just had a major "Ah-HA" moment. It was YOU!!!!! These were the first hand outs I ever stumbled upon months ago when I was doing an online search of contemporary calligraphy tutorials. I printed them out and practiced with them over and over. I still reference them all the time and try to write words mimicing the variety of styles to get my creative juices flowing. I had no idea when I found the link that that was just the tip of the ice berg of a treasure trove of knowledge--after I printed out the handouts, I was like, Oh hey, COOL! and merrily went on my way, not even realizing what was at my fingertips if I would have taken the time to look around!!

In the beginning all I wanted to do was modern calligraphy. Now I feel like I'm back-pedaling to learn the basics to have a firm foundation and found this forum, not knowing it was the SECOND time I've been here, and signed up right away. I can't believe I've come full circle and it took me until this tutorial to realize it was THIS tutorial and YOU all along with me from the beginning of my calligraphy obsession.

*tears of joy.
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Achaneystudio on March 18, 2015, 04:05:38 PM
this is so helpful!

I've been practicing for years without any formal instruction and it's amaaaazing how helpful it is to see things that you've been grappling with unconsciously written out like this. THANK YOU!  :)
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: kaseymcg on March 18, 2015, 04:10:06 PM
LOVE LOVE LOVE! Thanks Erica!!!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: mamabear on March 30, 2015, 11:54:50 AM
This is a perfect start for developing my own style! Thank you!!
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: ericp on April 16, 2015, 11:23:37 AM
Very nice, thank you!
Still digesting Molly Suber Thorpe's great book as well.
No time to rest!   Got to practice and practice some more!   :D
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: rosana on May 22, 2015, 04:13:22 PM
Thank you Erica for sharing this. I love it. It truly is amazing what you are doing.
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: CHAKAMEDINA on June 10, 2015, 08:24:19 AM
Erica you are the Queen of Calligraphy in my book. I know this thread is old but it's new to me. I am so happy I found this as I have been looking for examples of modern copperplate vs. traditional.
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Erica McPhee on June 10, 2015, 04:14:52 PM
Aw - thanks so much for your very kind message.  ;D
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Sheehan1 on July 02, 2015, 07:20:21 PM
Hi Erica.
Can you clarify something for me. I am trying to decide on a style of handwriting to learn.  I have read a little about it and liked the copperplate but copperplate is not really a handwriting .  I have book by Gordon Turner which is titled "The Technique of Copperplate Calligraphy"  The opening sentence in the book says "This book is written to explain the technique of writing with the pointed pen in the Roundhand style" which he explains is an American version of the English Copperplate.  He says it is also called Spencarian or Engravers Script or Formal Script. The samples I have seen of Spencarian are a lot different.  However I really like the style in this book and that is what I am looking to learn.   
I have seen your lessons in what you call "Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy which appears to be the same.  Can you clarify whether Mr. Turner's writing is the same as shown in your lessons?
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Erica McPhee on July 02, 2015, 11:58:25 PM
This is an excellent question. There are a couple threads which talk about the whole "Spencerian" issue that being some styles of what looks like copperplate being referred to as Spencerian.

In my mind, (and dare I say for the majority of Americans), Spencerian and Copperplate are very different. The full tutorials I have put together are what I call a "casual" version of Copperplate. Copperplate can be written many different ways but I felt this was a good introduction to those looking to get started learning a pointed pen style with minimal frustration. It is based on the Roundhand style as in Mr. Turner's book and Eleanor Winter's Mastering Copperplate.

The contemporary/modern calligraphy is altogether different which is a much looser hand that doesn't so much follow a traditional style but is personalized by the writer's style.

Spencerian is different and is actually based on a handwriting style and at its most flourished is considered Ornamental Penmanship.

I hope that helps a bit.  :D
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Sheehan1 on July 03, 2015, 12:43:35 AM
Thanks for that prompt reply ( I realise a time difference with Australia).  I have completed lesson number 1 of your lessons but I am waiting on some brass to make myself an oblique pen holder.    So my practicising has just been done with a straight dip pen holder and it is quite hard as it catches on the paper all the time.  It will be much better with I complete my oblique holder. Again thanks for your help   :D :D :D :D
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Graffius on September 18, 2015, 08:40:26 PM
Thank you so much for putting up this tutorial, Erica! I have been getting back into calligraphy after a long break away from it. As others have mentioned here, I am overwhelmed with all the wonderful scripts out there and I'm having trouble knowing where to start.

I guess I should just begin again ...  :D
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: primpandpaper on November 11, 2015, 12:39:15 AM
Thank you for this tutorial, Erica! :) Such a gem for calligraphy beginners <3
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: JaiTee on December 19, 2015, 05:44:37 PM
Thank you for posting this guide!

It's dark, grey and rainy outside, so I'm in the mood to practice something cheery and uplifting.  :)
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: jazztracey on February 27, 2016, 02:12:37 AM
Thank you Erica! So far, you're the only one that really explained what modern calligraphy is and it's do's and dont :d saving this for when I've mastered my capitals :)
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: Shrey-Z on June 20, 2017, 08:46:39 PM
Great summary of the variations Erica!!
Thanks a ton for putting this together! :D
Title: Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
Post by: camilasguim on December 03, 2017, 02:47:22 PM
Thank you! I'm just making my first baby steps, full of doubts about where to start: traditional or modern. I think I'll practice the traditional tecniques, then go to modern.