Modern Calligraphy: Getting the Basics Right | Aisling Van der Walt | Skillshare

Modern Calligraphy: Getting the Basics Right

Aisling Van der Walt, Modern Calligrapher

Modern Calligraphy: Getting the Basics Right

Aisling Van der Walt, Modern Calligrapher

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7 Lessons (25m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Getting to know your materials: Nibs and Nib holders

    • 3. Getting to know your materials: Ink and Paper

    • 4. Perfecting your posture: holding the pen

    • 5. Controlling ink flow

    • 6. Thick and thin lines

    • 7. Basic Strokes

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About This Class

New to modern calligraphy? Want to brush up on your technique?

This 25 minute class is perfect for anyone who is interested in learning modern calligraphy and wants guidance on what materials to buy and instruction on establishing excellent technique right from the very beginning. This class is aimed at beginners but is also suitable for those who have tried calligraphy already but still have difficulties relating to technique. 

Aisling teaches modern calligraphy workshops in London and has a lot of experience troubleshooting problems with technique to help her students improve their lettering skills.

Aisling will teach you the foundations of nib and ink calligraphy so you can get off to the best possible start when attempting to master this exciting new skill. Topics include:

  • How to select the best materials, including Aisling's personal recommendations for what nibs, ink and paper she uses
  • Holding the pen: perfecting your posture and positioning
  • Controlling ink flow
  • Using pressure to create thick and thin lines 
  • Learning basic strokes: lines and curves - the foundations of letters

At the end of the class you will have the chance to participate in a class project: completing a page of basic strokes using Aisling's practice worksheets. You can then share your work and get feedback from Aisling and other students. 

Materials required: Pen holder, Nib, black ink, paper. Watch the video lessons on Getting to know your materials for advice on what materials to buy. Then you can practice using them for the remainder of the lessons!

No previous experience required 

I look forward to having you join my class and seeing your class projects!

Meet Your Teacher

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Aisling Van der Walt

Modern Calligrapher


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1. Introduction: hi and welcome to my skill share class on modern calligraphy Getting the basics rice I'm asking I'm the modern calligrapher on die Teach modern cake A few workshops here in London . I love teaching the workshops on Do what I've seen time and time again is how important it is to get the technique right from the very beginning. So I wanted to teach my first still share class on just cash. So this costs for total beginners. So do not worry if you have no experience at all. This class is definitely for you and at the same time you maybe have some experience. But you are ready to troubles maybe with ink flow or holding the pen correctly so this class could really help you as well. It's just to get back to basics. Perfect technique on help you move on with your calligraphy. I'm going to talk us through the materials that you need to use our venue of my own personal recommendations for wash and nip snip holders ink on paper I use and that I would recommend I'm going to teach you how to hold the pen correctly on discuss some common pitfalls and common mistakes that I see around that area. So perhaps if you tried calligraphy, this is a good way for you to troubleshoot what might be holding you back. I will teach you how to control the amount of think you're using how to control ink flow. Andi. Also, how you can apply pressure to the pen to influence the thick and the thin strokes, which is the iconic homer of modern calligraphy thing. Confidence that you've got a really strong foundation in your technique, Andi, that will help you really move forward in your calligraphy. Moving on Teoh, writing lectures, words, paragraphs, you name it. So let's get started. 2. Getting to know your materials: Nibs and Nib holders: so arguably the most important material in your calligraphy. Kish is the nip, and there's a huge range of nerves available, and they range from anything from 95 p to about £3 so you can really experiment with different Nibs. See how they behave differently on DSI, which suits your own personal style the best. Now it is really important to pick the correct nip for a beginner because some of them are more flexible than others, which means summer easier to control than others are. Let's talk about the nationally off the nip, so down the middle is a slit that separates two pointed sections off metal called times. And when pressure is applied to the tip, the time separate slightly, and you can see that that would that would cause mawr ink to flow through the nib and produce it. Take her line. Some names are more flexible than others, meaning they're more responsive to the pressure that you put through the pen on others, less responses to pressure so that relates toe some lives, giving you a bigger difference in the thick and the thin lines on some Nibs, giving you more of a consistent weight of line through us. They snip is very flexible but also more difficult to control. For a beginner, my recommendation for starting out is to use and Niko G. Or is ever gene it like this one. So as you can see the neighbors flexible, but it's much easier to control. Other names like this one are more rigid and don't produce the same variability and thick and thin lines, so they're really more suited to drawing rather than to calligraphy. When you buy a new nip, it will have manufacturers oils honest so it won't be ready to use straight away because those oils will disrupt the flow of ink through the pen. So first thing first is to remove the oils from the pet. Now there's a few ways you could do this. I'm You can either pass the nib through a flame briefly and wipe it off of the cloth afterwards. Or you can discovered for around 30 seconds with a toothbrush on. Did some toothpaste or a dishwasher liquid. Andi Bush, my personal favorite for preparing Nibs, is to stick the Neb sound strange. Stick the nib in a potato for 15 minutes. Andi, then you just take it out. Give it a wipe. Andi. It's good to go. Sounds crazy. Bush. I prepare my needs and book on DSO friend this by far, most time efficient way. Andi. I also find it one of the best ways to fully remove the manufacturing oil. I think toothpaste is a close second. Treat your lives with the tender loving care that they deserve on they will last longer for you. So just from them under washer on, dry them thoroughly. Make sure you store your pens either flash or upright, so avoiding having the name face down so it doesn't bend or skew out of place on when you're really trying to avoid is ink drying into the times because later on, it could be hard to remove it. And then the dried ink will prevent fresh ink from flowing through the pen and future. To Kenyon Ip. Use firm strokes from the base to the tip, using a fibre less cloth so that no fibers get stuck in the tip. This is just a old pillow case I have that is perfect for the job. Now there's two types off nip holders. There's a straightener polder like this one on a no bleak nip holder. I prefer to use a straightening holder of myself, just personal preference. And this is what I recommend for beginners. I think it's less intimidating, more straightforward. The oblique upholder waas, originally designed to help right handed lecturers get that iconic slant off traditional copper plate calligraphy. So if you wanted to explore a style that has a consistence land or you just want to try something different again, never hold is a very affordable so well worth picking one up and giving it a go on dsi what you prefer for yourself. Okay, Now, to insert the nip into the holder inside the nip holder, you'll see four Meshal problems inside a metal rim and then a break in the Meshal rim so lying you're never up with the gap in the metal rim on you want to insert the nip into the tiny guck between the outer rim and the four problems. Okay, so not inside the problems outside the problems, but inside the outer rim and push it down. You might use a little bit of force check that is not wobbling. You don't want it in so far that you're covering that that G symbol or if you're using a different nip just so that you're not too close to the reservoir. 3. Getting to know your materials: Ink and Paper: next up is ink on paper again. It's a huge range Off Inc available, but my recommendation for starting ash is to start with a solid black, and my ink of choice is this. It's Higgins Black Eternal Inc It's non water permeable. Long lasting gives a beautiful finished your calligraphy. You don't have to buy a massive bottle like me by smaller bottles online or in our chops quite easily. Just make sure not to store your to near a heat source because it can drive Inc out or if you leave it uncovered for a long time, it can dry ash. If that happens, just add a few drops off gum, Arabic or even distilled water on that can get the ink flowing nicely again through the pen . Once you've got to grips with in the blacking, your options are really endless from there. There are so many things available, Andi, Then you can get really creative, depending on what kind of projects you're working on. You can use a white ink on a Kraft paper or a colored watercolor egg on wife so you could get such a huge range of gorgeous effects for white ink. My personal favorite is this. It's Dr Phil Martin's bleed proof white. It's radio paid. You just need toe mix a little bit offish with some distilled water to get it running through the pen to get it to the proper consistency. I also love working with metallic inks like seasons. They give a really sophisticated, gorgeous finish. Start with black, but the definitely experiment with other materials. Other Brown's. See what you enjoy working with the paper needs to be at least 80 GSM. I actually used 250 GSM in my workshops because the paper needs to be very, very smooth, quite heavy. Waste on the main reason for that is so that the live doesn't snag paper fibers off the page, and also so that the ink doesn't bleed through on the paper on. That can happen with if your papers too porous or not heavy enough, so just make sure that your paper is going to be smooth and heavy. Waysh in of that that will take the layout, paper heavyweight, cartridge paper or premium printing. Piper are all great options the papers to watch out for our home made or very textured paper because again it's going to be hard to get the Pento role properly on the page. Other kind of paper to watch out for is a coach of paper like a foil coated paper, because the in command Nash finds that they properly next up, we're looking at holding your pen with the correct technique. 4. Perfecting your posture: holding the pen: So let's talk about how to hold your pen. The first thing to know about calligraphy is that it is not the same as handwriting on a lot of people are very relieved to hear that they don't need to have good handwriting at all to be good at calligraphy. So how was it different? While your grip is different, Andi importantly, you're going to be going 2 to 3 times slower than your normal handwriting. So it's really mawr similar to drawing than it is to your handwriting toe. Hold your pen. Position your fingers 2 to 3 centimeters away from the tip of the pan holder. If you hold it too close, you'll have less movement available for those larger loops and letters. When we come onto those and your pen should be at a 45 degree angle to the page. If you hold the pan too high of an angle, you won't achieve a tick line and your pen can snag in the paper. On the other hand, if the pen is a too low of an angle, your lines might be very thick and he'll struggle with ink flow and just struggle to get that pick 10 differentiation. So middle ground 45 degrees is what you're aiming for. Your hand should be positioned underneath the line that you're writing as a left handed person. This is very far removed from my normal handwriting, which looks a little something like this, very different to my calligraphy posture. The nip, as should always be pointing to the top of the page, no matter what direction the line you're drawing. One of the most common mistakes I observed in beginners is that they moved near around the page different angles to get tener lines, and then they struggle. When it comes to writing full words on the neb snags in the paper, see how even though my pen is moving across diagonal up and down, the position off the neb remains the same. This will really help you when you move on to writing full words, and it makes you less likely to snag the paper in your nib. Lastly, remember that your hand is connected to the rest of your body, so try not tense up all your muscles, especially around your neck and shoulder, because, you know, after even 20 minutes of doing calligraphy, if all of your muster tends, you're going to need a massage after every time. And maybe that is possible for you, but in general, probably not very practical. So just try and hold your muscles as relaxed as possible and keep breathing. Your muscles need oxygen to work. 5. Controlling ink flow: Now that you've got your materials, your pen is assembled and you're holding the pen correctly. Let's push panda paper so you're going to load your nip with think by dipping your pen into the ink. A brief dip is fine. No need to swerve around or Duncan. Avoid tapping the nib on the bottom of your ink jar so that you don't damage the net. And you only need to dip ish roughly as faras the reservoir not so much that you get ink all over your name, but Holder. One of the most important parts are starting out is getting the right amount of ink on your pen. So don't be disheartened. If this part is difficult, it just takes practice. But here's a few tips to make that frustrating learning parse as short as possible. A useful tip is to keep a scrap piece of paper besides you so you can get rid of some of the excess ink or just to test the ink flow. The skill is knowing how frequently to read it, the pan into the ink. You can see how I run out of ink and these train tracks. If I called him appear on the page that indicates I need to Redick. However, sometimes, you know there must be big in the nip First. Know the Incas coming out? Do not read it into the ink at this point because you'll overload the nip with ink. Instead, apply some pressure to the nip on your page to separate the times on the pink shirt, then start to flow. If you're really struggling with ink flow, just try rinsing your name or dipping it in some water and drawing it off and just starting from scratch, because sometimes the ink can just become overloaded on the neighbor on it. Just needs a fresh start if you haven't already watched my video on getting to know you materials where I discuss the nib head over and watch that now because it contains some important information relating to ink flow. 6. Thick and thin lines: as we covered earlier When talking about the Nibs, the amount of pressure you put through the pad determines the thickness of the line. Heavy pressure equals thick line on light. Pressure equals thin line. And it's this differentiation between thick on thin strokes that is the rial hallmark off margin calligraphy on. That will be the real challenge for you today as you start drawing some of these basic strokes, trying to get as much of a differentiation and so you can with the thick and the thin lines . But that's, ah, skill that you're really going to build on even as you go on in practice letters and words , etcetera. So don't be disheartened if you're not getting it straight away. Just start to pay attention to the feeling of the amount of pressure you're putting through the pen. Let me show you some basic shapes using thick and thin lines. So I'm pushing more pressure on the Penn when I'm going down on life's pressure going up and see how slowly I'm going as well. So you want everything to be nice and controlled. We're going to keep going until I run out of ink so you can see what happens here. Okay, so now I know it's time to read it. If you need to read IP midway through a line, I would dip and then starship back with a thick down stroke, even if it means going over the same line again. Because if you have too much ink on your pen, it might be difficult for you to launch straight into a thin upstroke. This might be less of an issue for you as you become more experienced. Bush. 100 Tip for When you're starting Ash Let's compare thick and thin strokes with a different type of nick, which is more flexible, so it's a bit more difficult to control. But you will get it bigger differentiation in the thick and the thin lines. You can see how thick I can get the line. Here. You run out of ink quicker. I'm live is a bit hard to control, but you can get a beautiful results with some practice on. Also, just note the position of my hand 45 degrees risk under the line holding the pen two or three centimeters away from the top on the neb. Always pointing towards the top of the page so you can practice along with me. Here is I do some of these basic strokes. 7. Basic Strokes: great. Let's put all of that learning into doing some basic strokes. Now. The shapes and strokes I'm going to go through are going to form the foundation off more or less any leisure that you go into these drills and practice strokes, allowing to really perfect your technique and you cannot do enough of these. This is really what it comes down to in terms of developing your muscle memory, getting consistency, controlling the pan, perfect to you technique, even experienced calligraphers When they're about to start off a project or get going for the day, many people will start with doing drills and drills and drills just to warm up their hand and warm up their muscle memory. So these drills are going to be your new best friend. If you want to explore calligraphy further, wouldn't Tricky Area is changing the pressure from thick to thin, especially at the bottom off a curve. So you're owes your use. My advice is to pause briefly at the bottom, allow yourself time to change the pressure and then continue back up as likely as you can. I'm just going to go through some of these shapes now, so you can see the method and the technique so that you can practice yourself. So practice that for yourself, just doing a few basic lines and curves, focusing on the correct technique. Holding your pen property on keeping your posture and your pressure correct. Don't worry about wobbly lines or brushes of ink. This is practice. This is for beginners. This is just you getting to know the pen and how it's working. So relax and have fun with it. That's how you're going to learn. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. - Okay for the class project. If you haven't already print out my page off basic strokes on, go ahead and complete the page, using everything that you've learned today and then sheriffs in the community group for this class so that you can get feedback trouble shoes on and you know, don't just share the perfect finished result. Share your in progress pictures. Share the wobbly lines, the blotches we're all learning here on. By sharing the humble beginnings, you could get more feedback on more supports toe help you improve on perfect your technique in the future. Have fun doing it on. Do I look forward to seeing your work