Author Topic: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial  (Read 74943 times)

Offline Erica McPhee

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Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« 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
« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 10:27:08 AM by Erica McPhee »
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2013, 11:51:33 PM »
In case people don't want to download but want to get a glimpse...

« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 11:23:14 PM by Erica McPhee »
Truly, Erica
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Offline pyaink

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #2 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.

Offline Sharon

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #3 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!

Offline Maurelle

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #4 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!

Offline katianaval

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #5 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!
Katia | Manila, Philippines
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Offline Perfectsettings

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2013, 10:11:22 AM »
This is such GREAT information!  I'm so excited to try my hand ... pun intended!
Daisy
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Offline Perfectsettings

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #7 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) 
Daisy
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #8 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
Truly, Erica
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Offline gidgetinCA

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #9 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!

Offline ewigginton

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #10 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

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #11 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
Truly, Erica
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #12 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.  :)
Truly, Erica
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Offline ewigginton

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #13 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!

Offline Sherry Lu

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Re: Contemporary/Modern Calligraphy How To Tutorial
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2013, 02:20:28 PM »
I love this! Thank you for sharing :) Looking forward to more of it!