Hand lettering: Romantic Calligraphy-Spencerian Style Lower Case Letters | Jane Labanz | Skillshare

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Hand lettering: Romantic Calligraphy-Spencerian Style Lower Case Letters

teacher avatar Jane Labanz, The Delicate Pen

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

14 Lessons (40m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Tools

    • 3. Holding Your Pencil

    • 4. Over Curve Letters

    • 5. Under Curve Letters

    • 6. Loop Letters

    • 7. Ovals

    • 8. Rising Star Letters

    • 9. Lift Off Letters

    • 10. Shaded Letters

    • 11. Connecting the Letters

    • 12. More Examples

    • 13. Writing Words

    • 14. The Finale!

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About This Class

In this class I will show you the basic skills of the style of calligraphy I have named Romantic Calligraphy. It is based on Spencerian script, but I loosen things up a bit.  We will concentrate on lower case letters in this class, because they are the foundation for this style. I will show you how to add flourishes to your lower case letters to give some wow factor. This class is equally beneficial to the beginner calligrapher or the professional. 

The beginner may wish to use pencil for their practice and project, and the professional can use pointed pen and ink. You may also wish to start with pencil for the first time through the class and then give a try with pen and ink on the next time through.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jane Labanz

The Delicate Pen


Hello creatives! I'm an artist and an actress and I refuse to be locked into a neat little box! I am the founder, and principal designer of The Delicate Pen, a lettering arts business which has been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, New York Weddings and Style Me Pretty, and on The View. My artwork has been on display in the Smithsonian in D.C. I also am a Broadway veteran and professional actor/singer/dancer  that loves to combine my skills.

My lettering clients include Macy's, Krug Champagne, Talbot’s, Audemar Piguet, philanthropists, fashion designers, corporations, production companies, sports celebrities, and two presidents, and I have shared the stage with Patti LuPone, Tommy Tune and Ann-Margret. People tell me to focus, and I say, "I do, I immerse ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hey, I'm Jane LeBron's. I'm a lettering artist in a watercolorist, and I started my company, the Delicate Pen 22 years ago. And in those 22 years I've done calligraphy for brides and grooms for corporations, for the fashion industry, for sports figures, retail stores and even a couple president. I'm also a professional singer and a dancer, an actress. All of my skills inform each other. I like to think of calligraphy musically because I can take what I know as a musician and is an actress and infuse it into my work. So if you have a skill like baseball or skating or singing or dancing or anything else that feeds your soul, I promise you you can take those skills that you have and apply it to everything we're going to do in this class. I'm going to teach you my style of writing, which I call romantic calligraphy. It's not edging. There's nothing casual about it. It is elegant and romantic and graceful. It doesn't mean it has to be stuffy or stiff, because I add a lot of drama and playfulness to make it romantic. I also like to break a lot of the rules, too. We're going to concentrate on lower case letters in this class that is the basis for this style of writing. Then we're going to take the lower case letters and add a little wow factor with a flourish here and there for some drama, I always find that it's really fun to give my heart away. That's part of the great thing about being an artist that you can give it away. So at the end of this class, I want you to give your try at lettering a word for two words like Happy Birthday or someone's name, and I want you to put it on something that can be given away, maybe a gift tag on a package or 1,000,000 name on a special birthday card that you'll be sending Let's get started 2. Tools: Let's talk about tools. People are always asking me what pencil did you use? What Penn did you use? And I usually say, whatever is on my desk at the time, choose something that you would like something that makes you happy. I happen to like this pencil. It's from C W. Pencil enterprise here in New York City, and I like it because it doesn't have that metal thing. It's just asleep to me. And as soon as I put it in my hand, it just makes me feel good. And I feel like writing. That's the kind of pencil that you want to have to something that you like as faras paper. I'm a big fan of Rodia paper. I actually did the little drawing of the rooster for the Year of the Rooster on a special edition of this pad of paper for rodeo. You want something? It's smooth to me. This is his luxurious is touching silk. That's the kind of paper that you want. You want things that make you happy. The things that make your senses go. Yeah, that's the kind of paper that you want. If you have a special pad of paper that you find. Make sure that you write calligraphy use on Lee so that other people don't take your precious pad of paper and use it for a grocery list. The last thing that would be very helpful for you is a cushion sheet. This is blotter paper. I took a big sheet of it and I cut it in quarters, and I use it as my cushion sheet. You can also use newspaper, but I find that this gives me a white surface that's not distracting. If you want to go straight to calligraphy and do this in pen, that's fine, too. You'll need an oblique pen holder. If you have no idea what that is, don't worry about it. Just stick with pencil. 3. Holding Your Pencil: Let's talk about holding your pencil properly. It is crucial to hold your pencil properly for this style of writing and, in my opinion, for all of your writing, whether it's a to do list a thank you note or for calligraphy to hold a pencil correctly, there is no gripping. You just lightly hold it between these two fingers. I should be able to take it out easily even when I'm writing. Then just rest it on this third finger. That is how you get the most finger movement. No gripping. If you can't pull it out, you're gripping too hard. You should be able to pull it out easily. 4. Over Curve Letters: Let's get started making some letters. You can work on a pad of paper, but I think it's easier if you just take one sheet at a time. That way, you're not working on a hump over here, and you can really get a range of motion. The slant that these letters should be at 52% slant now, instead of getting out a bunch of tools to figure out what that is, let's just make a line here, a line here that's 45 it's going to be a little more than that. So I've all that. If you get in the habit of eyeballing things, you won't need a lot of grid lines on your paper, which can I think, get a little overwhelming. So just memorize that eyeball that now turn your paper on a slant that's going to give you the easiest range of motion, and you've got a few little eyeball lines here that will give you the general slant that your letters need to be on. Let's jump right into some over curbs. Over curve is when you're starting up and coming over the M is a perfect example. We get to practices three times with an M, so I think it will be good. I m now you will notice that there is no retracing in this alphabet. Retracing would be going over the same line that you just came from and retracing. There is none of that in this kind of style. It's graceful. We're not going to retrace. So no retracing, no retracing, no retracing. We had an angular point, Jones retrace. Give it a nice, graceful uplift. Remember when I talked about If you know baseball and skating, you can translate that into this. Just imagine, when you're hitting the ball, you're hitting the baseball. You're hitting a baseball baseball right here. After you finish, you still have to finish that stroke. If you're dancing, your turning, your turning, your turning your attorney and then you give that graceful little after motion. That's what we're going for here. You want to make this damn? I think practicing EMS is very important because you've got over curves and you can really practice, not retracing. So do a few of those just to get the hang of it. And to get the rhythm of no retracing, let's move on to the other over curve letters and should be very simple because you've already learned two humps with E. M. Just be very careful that there's no retracing right here. It's very tempting to go back over that line. That's not very graceful, not very elegant. So no retracing. How about a line of EMS? An M? I am connect it to the end connected to the M. Connect it to the end. Let's try a V. It's an over curve, and then just a nice little tag. That's all it is. An over occur. Come up. Give it a tag over curb. Nice and round. Let's try and X. If you can do a V, you can do an X overcome and up and then cross it over. Occur up and cross it. I find that it's best to go. Your pen is already here to go from top to bottom, and again see that angle of that X is that 52%? Just eyeball it. Trust your eye more than you trust the ruler 5. Under Curve Letters: I'm going to switch to using a micron pen to demonstrate this next section, which is under curved. You don't need to have one of these, but I think the black is going to show up, and I also want to show you that you can use a variety of tools for this particular style. I still believe that the pencil for practice is going to be your best friend. The under curves everything always starts with an entrance stroke. So again, it's like tennis when you stand up to take the tennis ball, You suing back and then you swing Swart forward to hit the ball. That's what we're doing. We are going up to make the I. It's the entrance stroke. Give it a little dot entranced room. Give it a little dot entrance trip. Let's try you. It's just going to be two under curves. Here's one. Here's another. That's a you. It might look like a double you, but when you connect it with a word, it will look like you. I promise you. Undercurrent undercurrent again under curve, No retracing under curve. I'm sure you know what's next. The w all you have to do is. Add that to the end. So we have under curve under curve and a little tag under car under curve, and a little tag under occurred under curve and a little test. 6. Loop Letters: Let's move on to the loop letters. We need to talk about not only slant, which is 52% again. Just memorize that. But we also want to talk about the height of letters, and I want to introduce that now. If this is our baseline, think about the space between the tall letters, which would be maybe an L and a slower letter saying e being divided into thirds. That is another trademark of this particular style. The lower letters don't really come up half way. They only come up 1/3 again. The sooner you can memorize this in thirds, the easier your life is going to be. So let's say we're working here, and I now want to divide this in my mind into three again. We don't always need rulers. We don't always need to cut the lawn with nail scissors. Let's just eyeball it. The lower case E would be here on the lower case. L would be there so you can see the approximation in third's. I'm going to make this bigger so that you can see it. But when you practice, think about that. So the first loop letter I would like to introduce is the L. It's a simple loop. No retracing as soon as you get to the baseline. Given a nice exit, Stroke E is just a very small Oh e. Another letter with a loop is the h again. I'm going to be doing this a little bit larger so that you can see the age starts out like the l. But instead of coming up and curving here, you're going to bring it down straight and then no retracing, and it's actually the second part of the end. So every letter from here on out you're building on the letters that you already know. Let's try at H again. No retracing. Can you see the part of the end here that you would have made, or the or the last hump of the I m. Que starts out like age? But you just bring it in and give it a nice exit again. It's a loop. Now, when you're practicing smaller on your paper, your case will look more like that. I'm enlarging this for the purpose of you seeing this or a B. It's like an l. Bring it up and give it a tag just like a nail. So don't think of learning 26 letters. Think of learning just a few, and then everything builds on the one that you've just learned. Let's do the lower loops, the one that go down instead of loops on top, or why it starts out like an end for them. And then it loops and we're gonna have a straight line, and a loop is going to cross right at that baseline. Simple, right? Why? Let's do the Z Disease starts out as an over curve. It goes here. Then it makes a little diversion toe a loop, and it crosses at that baseline start that is an over curve, absolute and crosses right at that baseline. The J is an under curve and a straight line than a loop and crosses at the baseline. I find that instead of making dots which don't necessarily show up, you give a little stroke down and it gives it some possess those little details those little pieces of jewelry that will bring this toe life for you. There you have. We're loop letters 7. Ovals: Let's move on to the ovals again. Make some slant lines at the top so you can guide from them. Turn your paper eyes slant and try to even just without putting your pencil on the paper. Just try to make some EMS in the air or some els in the air that air on that slant and you will. It will be muscle memory. It will be like dancing If you've ever learned to dance. Step. It's in your body. After a certain point, the ovals are elliptical and their round on one side and a little bit Slatter on the other because we need to make them into things like on A. But we never want to start at the top. We always want to start down near this base line, so we want a nice, graceful entrance. Stroke is the entrance to the ballet. It's the swing of that 1st 10 A stroke, nice oval and exit stroke. A. See how there's a rhythm bump. Yeah, but bum bum. Yeah, it's almost like a tango rhythm. The sea starts within, under occurred into an over curve and then a nice oval. If we were to finish the oval. It would be there, but we're going to skip finishing it and come on up. Those look like little waves to me again. Young dead at, uh, young, Done like a little tango rhythm. The G is an oval. So let's reference are a here. If we just bring this down into a loop and bring it up, we have a G. So we're going to make an entrance stroke an oval browned on one side, a little bit flatter on the other, straight down a loop and cross at the baseline. That's your G Your oh is going to have an answer in stroke, an oval and a little tag. Now you're probably saying, What about all these entrance strokes? How am I gonna connect something from there? If perhaps my my G ends up here, what am I going to do? So let's just try that. The word go. We'll do a little bit on connecting words later, but I want to get this question out of the way right now. Here we go. So we have an entrance drogas the beginning of the word. We have a straight line, and instead of there, it iss it doubles. This line is the same as this line. The tag line. Little tag on the G doubles as the entrance stroke for the O and we finish it. Go, go practice. 8. Rising Star Letters: Let's talk about the R and the S. They are in the S are a little bit of diva letters. They have their own special rules. So when we talked about the x height and thirds that the smaller letters take up the bottom third, the R and the S go a little bit farther than that. They want a little more space. They sort of rise above. Just remember, the R rises above same thing with es. He s wants to be a star. So it just goes a little bit above that line a bit above that line to remember rising stars that are in the S want to be a little bit above. And I'll show you how that looks and why it's that way. Let's do the word sore. See how it's just a little bit about Look at how it would look if I didn't do that. If I just did them all the same. There's something about that little bit of space on the S and the R that gives it a little bit of dance quality 9. Lift Off Letters: the next two letters I call lift off letters. You make them by making a first stroke, lifting your pencil and then doing the second stroke. And they are D and T. Let's do the D first. We haven't over curve our entrance stroke. Remember the baseball swing? Then we have our oval, and when we get to the top of it, we're actually going to lift our pencil off and we're going to put it down approximately where we want the stem to go, and then we come right there. But remember, no retracing, so we don't want to do this all the way back down. That's not very graceful, so we have to lift off and touch on Lee right there. And then you'll see that there's your A, but with a little stem. So taking it again, the entrance, the oval lift off. And instead of just doing that for the A, we're just going to come down a little bit and then finish the stroke as if it were a There's your D. Now we eventually want to shade this when we get to pen that the D is a shaded letter. So even when you're practicing. If you can sort of imagine pressing down a little harder with your pencil and then lightening up, you'll get into the habit of shading that the other letter is a wonderful letter. It is the tea, and if anything, tangos the tea does. We're going to make a stroke. Is if we were making an I an under curve, pick up our pencil or pen. We're going to come down and we're gonna touch right at that spot and then make an exit stroke. We can cross the t like that, but ah, Pa's as easier way to do it is to do this cross bar with a wave. And you might just practice making those because you want them as graceful as possible. They are what gives pens, Irian. That look. So if I were to write this, I can even make this crossbar go all the way across the word. Look at that. While factor, The tea is your tango friend. Here's another one. Then look at this crossbar. Does that give that word while or what? There are your lift off letters 10. Shaded Letters: Now we're going to do the last three letters of the alphabet that we haven't touched upon yet. And I call them the shaded Letters. So get your 52% in your eyeball. Turn your paper to a couple of ovals off the ground, just moving, moving from your shoulders So you get that slant. So F is one f Isn't entrance stroke under curved a loop, a straight line down touch of the base and come out. The F is usually shaded, though, So right here you would press down, repress and let up press and let up. If you practice this in pencil, it will be so much easier when you do it in pen. Press down, let up. There you go the Q and the p R sister letters. So the P we have an entrance stroke. We're going to come down with press and let up make a loop and an exit strode que is a little bit opposite. We haven't over curve. We have our oval. We're coming down. We have a press down on the loop, touch right of the baseline and give it an exit over. Curve over. Curve, oval line straight down. Press. Loop it up right at the baseline and exit. There. We have our shaded letters 11. Connecting the Letters: connecting the letters is something that you have to make a moment to moment decision about. So a phrase that I think is good to practices. Nine men mining in a mine. This will help us do know retracing. Try to keep a visual line right there as you're riding for the top. No retracing. If you move out, I'm out of my comfort zone here. If I keep writing, I'm going to be reaching too far. You can pick up at any point. Move your paper into your comfort zone. Always work in your comfort zone. Always move the paper if you're not in your comfort zone. Nine men mining in a mine. This will really give you a lot of practice in making this even a visual line here making your slant even 52%. And one other thing that I want to mention, which would be the space between the letters. The space between the letters is usually one and 1/2 times the space of the letter. If I put them too close together, they're going to be crunched. So im already eyeballing If I were to start the end right away, it would be about there, so 1.5 would be in the middle of that. So that's where my eye is going to be. Give it a little space again. Don't cut along with nail scissors. We don't need rulers here. Just eyeball it. Give it a little space nine. Man my name. I like to put the dots on my words right after I finished them. It doesn't matter how big I want to make my practice. It's still should be very even on top. And then we also want nice spaces between the letters about 1.5 time. Practice that a few times, and you will be well on your way to learning the lower case. Letters of Spencer Aryan script. 12. More Examples: about the word. Congratulations. Was that nice shading? I'm gonna go under here like this. I want a long, dramatic crossbar. I think I'm going to turn this around. I'm going to make was all under here like that. You can just keep going and going and going. Here's one that will say best wishes. This is fun because this will be in the middle. So we have an opportunity here. An opportunity to get off the bus and do something fun. How about that? Best wishes. 13. Writing Words: calligraphy takes practice and practice with pencil is the best way. But I know it is frustrating when you want to go straight to pen and ink, so I'm going to throw a little bit of this in. But I will cover this more in another class. For those of you familiar with pen and ink, you can go ahead and use it, but I'll go over the principles quickly. So this is an oblique pen holder, and this is the flans, and this is the pen nib. The pen debut Conceicao spreads when I press on it. So when we want to make thin lines, use it lightly and what I want to make think lines going. Have to reload this bank because this is a Nico G pen nib and it will hold a lot of ink and it goes through a lot of ink. When I press down, you can see that I get really thick lines. So it's the combination of the thick and the thin that make calligraphy as we know it. If you want to play around before making letters, try doing some waves and try to make them in thin and light as possible. Then when you do a down stroke, press you on Lee. Get shading when you press down, down, down, down, down. This is also a good way to practice your spacing. You could also do figure eight. Pressing down, pressing down, pressing down. It's like dancing and has a rhythm to it pressing down. So those are some things to practice. Another one are ovals and circles pressing down, pressing down, pressing down light. I think light. When you start to see that, it means that you need to dip again and you just start where you left off. Down, down, down. Alrighty, let's do a name. There's a point where I want to throw all the lines away, and it might not be perfectly straight, and that doesn't matter. It's dancing. Sometimes you dance straight and sometimes just get out on the floor and do your own thing . I'm going to continue with pen, but if you want to use pencil, do that. I'd like to create a name tag for my sister Sally, so I'm going to make an S. He l l and o. Why now when I get to the end and it is an opportunity. It's a bus stop. I can get off and do something special at this bus stop. So I'm going to think about this. I'm gonna go down and around and maybe I want to add a little loop there and a little loop there. So when you dance, you can keep going or you can stop. Let's try another one. Sally. I'm going to go up this time and back around and out and a loop and aloof. See how different they look. One's going up. One's going down. When you do another one, let's do Sally. This time I'm going to go over and over and around it up and maybe put that on the end. Just keep playing, take a page and take your name and just keep playing. And don't don't worry about it being straight. And don't worry about it being perfect. Just play. We have to loosen ourselves up. What about around and around and out? How's that one? That's fun. What about something like that? We just keep playing Now. If you want to add some shading, you can normally lower case letters and spent Syrian or not shaded. But who says we can't break the rules. Every time I do a down stroke, I'm adding a little weight. See how that adds a little possess. Let's go straight to our name tag. Now, I'm not going to worry about it being centered. I'm not going to worry about anything. I'm just going to have fun putting the name on here. I think I'm going. Teoh this one. Now I'm just going to take my my fun. Fisker Paper Edgers. I'm not measuring anything. I'm eyeballing it. Sometimes too many tools takes the fun out of it. Maybe that's a little crooked here, and I just want to even that up and I take my no punch, give a little home and there you have it a really fun gift tag for somebody. Now, if you are not ready for pen and ink, you can still do it. You can do it with a fund marker. This is a Le Pen, the lavender color. Let's do Happy Birthday now. You won't get shading if you don't use pen and ink. But that's okay. It's all a process. You can still get a little while factor with a nice big crossbar there. Maybe I'll continue this. How's that? You can trim it up. Put a fund ribbon on it 14. The Finale!: So how did you dio? I hope you had fun playing. Don't get discouraged. If it's a little complicated for you, it will get easier the more you practice. I've written almost every single day for the past 25 years. So it takes a while to get the flow. Just keep at it and make sure you keep your practice sheets. Try to keep something so that you can log it and see your progress. That makes a lot of difference And knowing that you are on the right path. So here's the two name tags. I added a little sort of whimsical revenge on this one. And on this one, I added a two tone silk so you can see how it really pops. Color usually makes the black and white pop. All right, make sure you upload your projects. I can't wait to see them. And make sure you let me know who the recipient of your gift is. Thanks. Bye.