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Messages - jrvalverde

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Tools & Supplies / Re: Ink that changes color as it dries??
« on: September 06, 2019, 08:59:48 AM »
Most of the inks of this kind are oversaturated and behave better when the ink laid down on the paper is more abundant, i.e. they excel in broad and wet strokes. With pointed pen, they would show in broad down strokes, specially if written slowly (and/or with a wet pen) so that more ink is deposited on the paper. The other factor is paper: in more absorbent paper the ink soaks in and thus spreads more evenly in the paper (through or across), since it is the accumulation of ink that makes them more prominent, satin, coated papers which do not absorb that much ink do work better: the ink pools on the surface of the paper and when dry the pigment is in a higher concentration enhancing the effect. It also means higher risk for bleed-through, smears, etc... unless you work with good paper. The downside, in both cases is that you have to write slowly and allow for longer time for the ink to dry. The up side is a stronger visual effect.

Tools & Supplies / Re: Ink that changes color as it dries??
« on: September 05, 2019, 02:45:52 PM »
Sorry for the late addition, I've been too busy over the summer. To the point. Besides Emerald of Chivor, there are many other inks that change color. Most notable are Iron Gall inks, which may suffer dramatic changes as they oxidize, Rohrer & Klingner Salix and Scabiosa come to mind, then you have as already pointed out sheen inks, like OS Nitrogen or Diamine Skull & Roses, which change in color depending on the angle of light. Troublemaker inks make some really curious (and cheap, and customizable) inks that offer a range of colours (see their web page), they are hand-made, so I can't vouch for their consistency. Some of Noodler's inks also change color when drying, but a most notable one is Rome is Burning, which changes after drying if wetted: it has two components, you write in a brown/golden color, but when wet, this smears leaving a hint of flames around the other base color, a patrician purple that is the permanent component. There are so many choices that I could go one and on. A search for sheen, iridiscent, color changing ink will likely pop up lots of reviews.

Design & Layout / Re: Writing on photos
« on: April 04, 2019, 09:11:07 AM »
Too late, but for the record, Clairefontaine has a great nearly-glossy paper that is fountain pen and pen ink friendly. I've use it to print course certificates that I would later write student names on and sign. It is DCP, for Digital Colour Printing. I got it in 160g, but it is also available in 200 and 250g.

I suppose that the main problem would be if the ink used to print the photo is incompatible with the ink used to write.

Design & Layout / Re: Color blindness
« on: April 04, 2019, 08:52:31 AM »
Well, I do tend to stick to few colors, usually black, blue and red. But that's when I want to be "austere" (most of the time).

OTOH, when I want to be "fancy", I like to mix colors: as in medioeval manuscrips, I like to use a color for capitals, enhance words or sentences with color (green, red), or passages (blue, black, sepia/browns), and illustrate here and there (capitals, drawings, mixing colors).

As a rule, I prefer to err on the austere side; yet, I can't but realize that a series of poems looks better with color combinations and drawings than merely using black all the time. Think, for instance of "The Hunting of the Snark", "Le Petit Prince" or "10 poemas de amor y una canción desesperada": yeah, they'll look nice in black, but wouldn't color add another dimension?

Hence the question.

I have both. And I don0t think there is ever any good general answer to such a question, so...

It all boils down to your own preferences, interests and styles. If you are serious about Copperplate and only Copperplate, I'd be tempted to say "get the first" (Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy), but if you are curious and just want to learn the basics and are also curious about italic, then second book (Italic and Copperplate) would be better.

I find the first ("thinner") book, thicker to read, but it gives a lot more detail on the basics and works them in minute detail, which is OK for those who like to reinforce their learning and encompass minute aspects of a subject. The second gives the basics and a lot of practical, illustrative ideas, it is more pedagogic and lighter to read. Kind of comparing a French encyclopedic textbook and an American illustrated text. It all depends on the kind of learner you are.

If you want Calligraphy, the first is better, if you prefer to improve everyday writing I'd say the second.

Some people delight in minute detail, some only want some reference examples and prefer to work their own way out.

"Italic and Copperplate" is intended to give you fast results, "Mastering Copperplate" to guide you slowly to perfection.

And I could go on for hours. Briefly: as a beginner I'd probably start with the easier, less technical, more appealing "italic and Copperplate", but keeping in mind that if I intend to seriously pursue Copperplate, I'll proceed to "Mastering Copperplate" afterwards. Thus if you seriously want to "go for it", and don't mind the learning curve, maybe it is better to directly start at the definitive reference.

If you are the kind who can work his way out and prefer to figure things by yourself, and would rather have only a quick reference, there are other booklets that may serve you better.

Brush Calligraphy / Re: Mopperplate script on magic paper
« on: March 16, 2019, 06:54:01 AM »
Great idea! And what a gorgeous result.

Design & Layout / Color blindness
« on: February 18, 2019, 11:27:45 AM »
Only curious.

About 2% of the population is colour blind for some colour or another. I was wondering how often do you find them and how do you deal with them (if you do)?

I tend to be cautious when I am doing something addressed to many people, trying to find colour combinations that will be seen by everyone. There are a number of websites with information on colour management for colour-blindness but I always lose the links among so many and have to look'em up again every time.

Introductions / Re: Hi from Madrid, Spain
« on: February 13, 2019, 04:34:31 AM »
Thank for the cozy welcome.

Flourishing / Re: Examples of flourishes
« on: February 05, 2019, 09:46:39 AM »
Plus, the classics. Classic italic copybooks are available for free online and most of them contain examples of flourished capitals.

The Library / Re: Online Calligraphy books
« on: January 24, 2019, 02:04:31 PM »
I know that posting many links to the same site is frowned upon, which I find OK for sites like IAMPETH, where all the books hosted are about the same topic, calligraphy. It is more difficult to spot interesting books in huge, generic libraries where stepping upon an interesting book may be a question of chance or hitting on the appropriate search term which, when we talk of historical texts may mean esoteric variants of a common word, or when we talk of international information may require knowledge of specific languages.

Archive.Org is one such site, but not the only one. Many Countries have started digitization efforts on vast amounts of books and it is now possible to obtain Calligraphy books in many languages. And even more interesting yet, sample manuscripts by the biggest masters that can be studied and used as a reference. In this series of posts I intend to share many interesting books, specifically intending to pinpoint them among these vast collections (or the even vaster Internet at large).

Well, let's go on.

A system of easy lettering
by Cromwell, John Howard, 1857-

Publication date 1890 [c1887]

Available at the Internet Archive, this is a book on lettering. By today's standards it is probably too basic, but for the same reason it may provide a good beginner's introduction. Alphabets are laid out on graph paper, so that they are easy to reproduce. It was a great resource in the old times of dot-matrix printers and pixel-based fonts. It can still be for designing computer fonts in restricted environments. It may help you make lettering designs for other kinds of artwork. But it is (IMHO) of limited interest from a calligraphic point of view, and mainly as a basic introduction to lettering.

Alphabets old and new, for the use of craftsmen
by Day, Lewis Foreman, 1845-1910

Publication date 1910

We start now to get more interesting. Lewis F Day was one of the great masters of its time, and in this third edition of his book, digitized by the Smithsonian and available at the Internet Archive. This is the most complete copy available online (but you can find others at the Archive). It contains a wealth of alphabets, both minuscule and capitals (obviously with many more examples of Capitals).

Given its date, you can think of it as a large collection of "vintage" alphabets, although some of its "modern" alphabets do indeed look quite actual even nowadays and are reminiscent (or rather "prequelaes") of modern calligraphy. And do note as well that it does also contain other alphabets such as Coptic or Hebrew alphabets. The index starts on page 252.

I'll try to avoid duplicating links that have been mentioned in other threads (like Lewis F. Day's Penmanship of the  XVI, XVII & XVIIIth centuries, but cannot guarantee I'll spot all of them. By the way, this one is also available on Google books and in printed form from various sources.

Well, I think it is time to move on. But before that, I'd like to leave you with a calligraphy jewel. If you like italic or chancery cursive, you'll know one of the three GREAT MASTERS (yeah, with capitals) of the hand is Arrighi, author of the Operina.

Well then. Here you have a book entirely manuscript by the very Ludovicus Vicentinus degli Arrighi himself. It is

Petrach. Complete Works

Now, what is that? That is a link to the National Library of Spain (so don't get surprised if it is in Spanish). This is the page of a Manuscript of Petrarch's Poems, in Italian, signed by Vincentinus on page 184v.

Once you get there, click on "View work" on the left, below the front page image, and this will open a new window where you can browse the book. On the new tab, click on the download link (a green down arrow) and there you will be able to download all or part of the book. For simplicity, I usually prefer to download it complete as PDF, and then browse it later at my own leisure.

I ain't sure if you'll see it in English or Spanish. If it is in Spanish, just click on PDF, then select "de este volumen" to download the whole volume (more on this later) because if not, by default it will download only the current page, and then click the "Descargar" (Download) button.

A note is due: some books in the BNE are too long and may be split in "volumes", you can tell in the "browse" tab (the document icon): the first level is "volumes", the second is usually "chapters" and the third "pages". So, if there is more than one "first-level" entry then it means that the book is split in several volumes, you need to first move (click on the volume) to each volume and download it separately one by one.

That is the case of this book: it is divided in six sections or volumes to keep downloads shorter (consider that the site was designed at a time when these sizes were considered huge, well before the advent of video streaming on demand).

To me, this is truly an authentic jewel of calligraphy and a great resource of inspiration on layout, color and illumination, and, even more yet, Poetry (I don't mind reading Petrarch in Italian).

In other posts I will try to identify some interesting calligraphy books that you can find (if you know how) at the BNE (Spain's National Library), at BNF (France's National Library), and in various smaller libraries in France, Italy, Germany or the Netherlands. But I think it is time to get a rest and give you a break.

The Library / Re: Online Calligraphy books
« on: January 24, 2019, 06:31:37 AM »
A set of alphabets of all the various hands of modern use : with examples in each style, designed as a text book
by Copley, Frederick S

Publication date 1877 Available at the Internet Archive

Mostly of historical interest, available at the Internet Archive, it consists of 112 pages, with lettering alphabets in the verse of pages and blank reverses, showing how to build the letters over a grid to get the proportions right. It is mainly a book on lettering with many fancy alphabets for commercial labelling and some calligraphic alphabets. IMHO, and as mentioned, it is mostly of historical interest and maybe useful if one wants to find vintage alphabets to give a vintage look to a work. Or may be for crochet projects ;)

The penman's hand-book : for penmen and students, embracing a history of writing ... many complete alphabets ... ; Also, Chapters on teaching penmanship, business letter writing, off-hand flourishing ... etc.
by Gaskell, G. A. (George A.), b. 1844

Publication date 1883 Available at the Internet Archive

An interesting resource, although in many cases for historical purposes. It is also mainly a book on lettering, with an orientation towards preparing works for printing (in a classic press). It contains chapters on History, a large collection of fancy alphabets (with some nice ideas for flourishing), a chapter on teaching and -interesting for many- a chapter on flourishing, advice on how to prepare specimens for photo-engraving (where some still useful tips may be found), and advice on writing business letters, invitation cards, and many pen drawings.

You can think of this books as a "Universal Penman's" lookalike, in the sense it provides a huge amount of examples that can help you get ideas and plan projects.

Writing & illuminating, & lettering
by Johnston, Edward, 1872-1944

I don't think this one needs any introduction.

If you must get one book, get this one. If you want to learn and get started, get this one. If you can afford spending a few (really, a few) bucks, order it on Amazon. I have the fac-simile edition published by Dover, which I must confess I find a bit small for my taste (about A5), but there are many other re-editions, some re-touched to modernize the looks also available.

I am not providing links to commercial sites since I am not sure if it is accepted policy in the forum, but they are trivial to find.

However, if you do not want to spare those bucks, or if you want to be able to see the contents at any size or be able to carry it with you on your cell phone or tablet anywhere, or if you simply want to be able to see the original editions (yes, with an s), then you can download it freely online, Note that the book was published in B&W, so the color versions only add the aging-sepia of the page backgrounds.

Internet Archive, 1906 edition, color
Internet Archive, 1906 edition, color (another one)
Internet Archive, 1917 edition, color

Ninety-five Lessons in Ornamental Penmanship
Publish date: 1914
Authors: C.W. Jones

OK, time to move on. So you have learnt your cursive script and now want to go on learning about flourishing. Then, this is a very nice resource that will provide the basics, exercises and a plethora of ideas. You can buy it from or read it online at


or download it for your offline peruse (and pleasure) at

The Internet Archive

Lessons in Ornamental Penmanship

You can also get them from IAMPETH, both

Zaner Lessons


Bloser Lessons

to help you build up your Zaner-Bloser script drinking from the very sources.


Actually, IAMPETH has a huge resource on penmanship books, as has already been pointed out in other posts. Providing a full list would be probably absurd since it is better for you to browse their archive by yourself directly:

IAMPETH rare books

You will find there almost anything you need to learn mostly pointed pen scripts (Spencerian, Zanerian, Madarasz, Palmer, engravers, engrossers, -yes they are different-, etc...) but also examples of the Italian hand, books on flourishing, black letter, old english, and many copybooks and example books that might inspire you for your own projects.

From my own point of view, the main problem is that there are so many books to look at that one does not know where to start if one wants to see it all. It is probably more practical to decide first on something specific (e.g. Spencerian script, or flourishing) and then going straight to books on that topic.

Manual of Free-hand Penmanship
by Alvin R. Dunton, B . Harrison, J. W. C . Gilman, John D . Williams, Silas Sadler Packard

Publication date 1877

Another classic that you can buy in commercial reprints if you want. And one you can find online as well both at

The Internet Archive


Google books

for download. It is a brief treatise to learn calligraphy. Of special interest is its "modern" approach, showing that you have much, much more freedom in choosing how to write (e.g. sitting position) than what most "academic" books proclaim. A practical, easy and short book on learning cursive writing. If you are the likes of those who ask "is it correct if I sit in a different position?" or "can I put the paper oriented in an non-canonical way?", then may be this book will help you feel reassured of your unconventional practice. Personally, I am of the opinion that rules may help get started, but none is a one-size-fits-all and that it is better if each one finds what works best for him/herself (as long as you do not ignore the advice of more experienced practitioners). But that is just me. YMMV!

And I do really think that it is quite a lot for now. More later.

The Library / Online Calligraphy books
« on: January 23, 2019, 11:19:22 AM »
I am new in the forum, and certainly very far away from the skills of most members, but I do try to improve. A large part of my attempts comes from online information, of which there is a wealth available.

For this reason I am opening this thread: to share in successive messages links to most of the books I have found in the hope others may find them as useful as I do.

I'll start with books in English, but beware: as a Spaniard, many of the books I use deal with the Spanish hand(s) and its history and are written in Spanish. I do also use books in Italian, French or other languages. However, the writing samples are in most cases self-explanatory and can be followed without difficulty.

I think it would be nice if others did also share their links to publicly available calligraphy books here.

'Nuff said! Time to get started.

1510 - Scribal Pattern Book

You can get this from Yale's Beinecke Library. Click on "Export as PDF" and select "Entire set" to get the full contents as  a single PDF file. Or use the direct link

I think it is better to know how to get it and where from, since this will also enable you to explore other available treasures at this site.

I quote from the book page:

Most passages of text in the first part begin with large decorative initials, primarily white floral designs on black grounds. Initial (green and red added) with full penwork border of swirling leaves on f. 1r; initial in colors and containing arms on f. 4r.

Manuscript on parchment of Gregorius Bock, Scribal Pattern Book. This model book for scribes is composed of two parts. The first illustrates alphabets in various scripts; the alphabet is often preceded by a text written in that style. The second part of the codex is composed of decorative initials arranged alphabetically.

A wonderful book to see alphabets and examples of several ancient scripts.

Examples of the chancery hand, engraved

The Getty institute and the Hathi project bring us this nice book on Chancery italic. The web page is at and the full book can be obtained by clicking on... "Full view" at the bottom.  There you can download a single page or the full book as PDF (the direct link would be;orient=0;size=100.

If you visit the page instead of downloading directly, you can see the hierarchy it belongs to and explore the library.

By the way, it was digitized by the Internet Archive, so it can be found there as well

1618 - Billingsley. The pen's excellencie

You will need Java to browse it at Cambridge University if you check the Zoompan edition to browse it in high quality, but not if you access the simple version in straight JPEG images. The JPEG images have the advantage of being easily downloadable, which allows you to later bind them into a single PDF book.

1856 - Handbook of mediaeval alphabets and devices

You can find this book at Amazon, but also in the Internet Archive in various "versions" (digitizations). It contains mostly embellished capitals, which is a wonderful resource in many occasions. Some of the links are (this one is in B&W) (this one too)

Alphabets, numerals & devices of the Middle Ages

Also by Shaw and also available at the Internet Archive

Well, I'll leave it here and continue on another opportunity. But I am sure you also have your preferred links to free books, so why not share them?

Introductions / Hi from Madrid, Spain
« on: January 23, 2019, 10:36:24 AM »
Hi, I'm Jose. I'm writing from Madrid, Spain.

I have been interested in Calligraphy ever since I was a child, but must acknowledge that I do not practice too much. Still, I do try (and try to pass it on). With time I have been collection some information here and there that I would like to share. And with time, I expect to draw on your accrued expertise to learn and improve my skills.

So, first and foremost, a big thank you to all in advance. I expect we'll have a lot of fun together.

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