Introduction to Copperplate Calligraphy | Doris Fullgrabe | Skillshare

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Introduction to Copperplate Calligraphy

teacher avatar Doris Fullgrabe, Lettering & Calligraphy, Freelance

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.



    • 4.

      Prep Your Workspace


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Lowercase Component Strokes


    • 7.

      Group 1 - Lowercase i t u w j y


    • 8.

      Group 2 - Lowercase n m v p r


    • 9.

      Group 3 - Lowercase l b h k f


    • 10.

      Group 4 - Lowercase o a d g q e c


    • 11.

      Group 5 - Lowercase r s x z


    • 12.

      Uppercase component strokes


    • 13.

      Group 6 - Uppercase T F B P R


    • 14.

      Group 7 - Uppercase I J L D H K


    • 15.

      Group 8 - Uppercase A M N


    • 16.

      Group 9 - Uppercase O C G Q E


    • 17.

      Group 10 - Uppercase S V W


    • 18.

      Group 11 - Uppercase U X Y Z


    • 19.



    • 20.



    • 21.

      Critique Your Own Work


    • 22.

      Thank You & Wrap Up


    • 23.



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About This Class


Learn the fine art of writing beautifully by applying specific tools and rules - no matter what your handwriting looks like

In today's digital environment of emails and text messages, sending handwritten notes and invitations really shows you care, and helps you stand out from the crowd. But many of us may have forgotten our cursive skills, and some may never have been taught.

Whether you're getting married, want to impress your boss, or use this skill for letters to your friends and family, this class will help you unwind from your hectic schedule. Take some time to collect your thoughts, and learn to write beautifully and with intention. 

What we'll cover:

  • Brief history of Copperplate, its tools, and characteristics
  • Setting up your practice for success
  • Basic letterforms and component strokes
  • Lowercase and uppercase alphabet
  • Numbers and punctuation
  • Critiquing your own work & Troubleshooting


These specific tools need to be purchased ahead of time, and should be available in any well-stocked art supplies store. For US residents, I get my supplies at John Neal Books. I have added their product numbers for your convenience:

*for right-handed students*

  • H23 Oblique penholder (1)
  • N113 Nikko G Nibs (2)
  • I08 Higgins Eternal (1)
  • S934 Dinky Dips (1)
  • P53 Rhodia Blank (1) 

*for left-handed students*

  • H69 Speedball Plastic Pen Holder (1)
  • N113 Nikko G Nibs (2)
  • I08 Higgins Eternal (1)
  • S934 Dinky Dips (1)
  • P53 Rhodia Blank (1)

In addition, please have a few sheets of printer paper, a small jar of water, a few paper towels, and a lighter ready. You'll also want to print out one copy of the Copperplate Guidelines (download on "Your Project" page).


I have terrible handwriting, will this class be a waste of my time?

Since we're going to use specific tools and will be writing according to specific rules, your handwriting doesn't really come into it. Your handwriting is how you normally write, it usually flows quickly and might look inconsistent and haphazard, right? 
Hand lettering, which is another term you may have heard, is the practice of drawing letters.
What we'll be doing is Calligraphy, and calligraphy literally means "writing beautifully". It is a mix between writing and drawing your letters, because you'll go about it in a much slower, more consistent, and more intentional way. 

If we're all using the same tools and following the same rules, won't it all look the same? 

To a certain extent, yes. The beauty of calligraphy rules is that they allow us to write evenly and consistently. Copperplate is a style, also called a "hand", and the point is to make it look similar no matter who writes it.
At the same time, each person is of course an individual, and therefore their script will look slightly different. We hold our pens slightly differently, our pulses nudge the nibs slightly differently, and we add our own flourishes and details in different ways. In the end, no handmade calligraphy is completely identical, it's not a font after all, so your personality will absolutely shine through. I have been practicing Copperplate for three years, so it isn't looking like that of my teachers, who have been practicing 30 years, either. 

Which beverage pairs well with this class?

Personally, I love a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, but depending on the hour of the day, a cup of Earl Grey will do nicely. Just make sure to keep it separate from the ink, or you might accidentally dip your pen in the wrong liquid. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Doris Fullgrabe

Lettering & Calligraphy, Freelance


Writing and doodling with our hands has been shown to improve memory retention, calm monkey-brain, and lower blood pressure. It makes everyday life more beautiful, and it's a craft you can learn. 

I'm Doris, I'm an MBTI® Master Practitioner, just graduated with a Masters in Applied Psychology, and I also love lettering and calligraphy!

Born and raised in Germany, I have lived and worked in Scotland, England, Spain, the Canary Islands, Mexico, Texas, and New York City, before moving to Brooklyn. 

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hello and welcome to DIY calligraphy introduction to copper plates. I am [inaudible] and I'm excited to share with you the things that I've learned over the past few years doing hand lettering and practicing calligraphy. In this class, we're going to go back to basics. I hope that some of you experienced copper plates fans out there might join us for a refresher. We're going to start with an overview of where copper plate came from, and I'm going to demonstrate how to use all the tools and supplies to set your practice up for success. I will demonstrate all the components, strokes, the lower-case alphabet, the uppercase alphabet, punctuation and numbers. We're also going to take a moment to talk about critiquing your own work and troubleshooting when things don't look right. Learning to write copper plate is much like learning to ride a bike or how to swim. It needs a lot of practice. Every once in a while you want to look at what you're doing and course correct. Your project will be to write, "Hello, my name is," take a photo and share it with the community on the project page. I also encourage you to post all your practice pages with the community, especially if you want some feedback. This is your a class. Follow it at your own pace. Pause frequently to practice if you want, make it your own. Let me know if you have any questions, and most of all, have fun. 2. History: The Copperplate style is actually named after a printing process. Cast your minds back to the Europe in the 17th and 18th century where England was one of the foremost trading powers. All its commercial activity needed scribes and clerks to quickly produce legible contracts and invoices. There were hundreds of writing masters and they competed for students by publishing copybooks. Fun fact, the writing instrument usually was a quill, a goose feather. The United Kingdom imported 27 million quills every year from Saint Petersburg. The Bank of England ordered 1.5 million because their clerks used about five quills every day. The script that these master scribes developed is called English Roundhand. To reproduce the copy books the Roundhand was etched onto metal plates made of, you guessed it, copper. Really when you think of it, we're celebrating the art of master scribes as well as master engravers. One of these master engravers was George Bickham and he edited Roundhand calligraphy pieces from 25 other scribes in the 1740's and that Compendium is still available today. This is just one example from the Universal Penman. Since this is a beginners class, we won't go into flourishing and swatches too much, but you will be practicing to form and write letters in this style. 3. Tools: I hope you've had a chance to order and receive your supplies. If you're using a different nib, ink or paper, that's fine. Just know that this is what I'll be using in the demonstrations. So if you are using different material, results may vary. Copperplate is written at a 55-degree angle and that is difficult for us right-handed folks to achieve without hurting our wrists. So we'll be using an oblique pen holder to compensate. When you hold the pen, makes sure that the flanges on the left-hand side as shown here. If you are left-handed, you'll be using a straight pen holder like this one. The nib we're using is the [inaudible] It's a great beginners' nib. The hole in the center is the ink reservoir and the tines are flexible and will open to release more ink on to the paper when you apply pressure. The ink we're using his Higgins eternal. That's a professional grade ink made up of dye and carbon pigment. It dries fast and is not waterproof, but it is light fast or lightproof, which means it won't fade on paper over time. As a personal preference, I'm actually going to transfer some of the ink from the larger container into these small dinky-dips and place them in the wooden base, so that will be easier to fill the nib with the ink. If you don't have a dinky-dip or if you don't have one of the bases, my recommendation is that you tape down your ink jar onto the table so it doesn't fall over. The paper we will be using is rhodia. They're a nice, bright, white, and they are smooth, so they won't ruin your nib or pickup fibers and the ink will sit nicely on it without bleeding. Please print out a copy of these guidelines. They are available on the projects page in the handouts. In addition, you'll want to have a small jar of water and a cloth or a paper towel within reach. That's to clean the nib every once in a while and wipe it dry to avoid rust from inc building up. 4. Prep Your Workspace: First, I'm going to show you how to prepare your nib. The manufacturer coats the nibs so they probably won't hold ink if you use them straight out of the box. To eliminate the coating, run your nibs through a lighter flame for just a second and then gently wipe it down with a cloth or paper towel. Place your nib into your pen holder and make sure the nib points downward in a way that it will hit the paper evenly on both tines. I like using dinky dips because they are just the right size for dipping the nib without getting ink all over my hands or my fingers. When we're dipping the pen, we want to make sure the ink covers the reservoir. Let any excess ink flow back into the jar and make a couple of marks on your scratch paper to see that it's flowing. Okay. I showed you how to prep your nib, how to use the ink. Let me just take a quick moment and tell you about the rest of the works that is all your papers. You want to take a couple of sheets of printer paper as padding because you never want to write directly on a hard surface. Then you have printed out the guideline. You have the padding paper as guidelines, and the rowdier paper on top that you're actually going to write on. Now this is what we call a guard sheet because you will be resting your hand on the writing paper and the oils from your skin are going to be interfering with the ink, we don't want that. We always want a guard sheet between your hand and the writing paper. Last but not least, this is a scratch paper, as you can see when I first dip my pen into the ink, make just a few marks to make sure that the ink is flowing. The last thing that I want you to know is the demonstrations that I am going to show you, will show my page as if it is lying straight before me. It won't be because again, the copper plate is written at a 55 degree angle. To help me get the right angle, I want to rotate the right-handed people want to rotate the paper counterclockwise so that it's almost vertical. Then align your elbow and your wrist so that the nib is pointed according to the slant angles. Make sure that you give your body and your posture and your hand more than anything, all the help it can get so that you don't have to sit funny to get the proper and copper plate forms down. Align the nib and your elbow and your arm with this 55 degree slant angle. If you're a lefty, you'll be using the straight nib and you are coming from the other side. You might actually keep your paper straight or rotate it a little bit clockwise the other way so that you are comfortable writing about it. Of course, you're going to have the guard sheet on your right hand and you're going to be dipping the ink on the left-hand side and go like this and have your scratch sheet on the left as well.Can you tell another left-handed but I hope this demonstrates how to do it. 5. Characteristics: For calligraphy to be beautiful, letters need relationships, repeated forms, shapes and widths. It's about how letters work by themselves and how they relate with each other. The basic calligraphy rule is that the space between letters is visually equal to the space inside the letters. Unfortunately, this is not a mathematical exercise. You can't just take a ruler and measure half an inch for every letter. But you can practice the forms and pay attention to these characteristics. The basic shape for the copper plate alphabet is the oval. It's a tapered ellipse that is wider in the middle and narrower at the end points. Once you get this oval form down, it will inform the widths of your other letters as well. Contrasts in copper plate is achieved by varying the amount of pressure on the nib. All up strokes and cross strokes will be light pressure and thin and all down strokes will be heavier and thick. Copper plate is written at a 55 degree angle from the baseline. We have the guidelines prepared for us in the download, so in this class I won't go over how to draw them on your own. The size of copper plate is limited by the flexibility of the nib and it's usually written quite small. Our x - height will be about a quarter of an inch. So the ascenders and descenders will be three eighths of an inch and that's how we get the 1.5 to one to 1.5 ratio. Take note of the vocabulary here as I'll be referencing the various lines as we go through the demonstrations. 6. Lowercase Component Strokes: To get you in the right mindset, I want you to stop thinking about copper plate as a form of handwriting. Instead, think about copper plate letters as separate forms made up of certain building blocks. These are called components strokes. Will focus on the forms first and then combine them to build the letters. Now sit up straight, put both feet on the floor, align your paper, arm, and nib to the guidelines. Remember to relax your arms, shake out your hands frequently throughout your practice. If you get tired and you're welcome to pause the video at any time while you practice these and come back and continue when you're ready. First component stroke we are going to practice is the downstroke. It starts at the ascender line, you apply pressure and come down along the slant. We want to square off the top and the bottom of these. We're looking for the downstroke to have equal width. So you want to place, press, and pull it towards you along the slant and make sure those bottom are squared off. The upstroke is very starts at the baseline and then you go upwards as the name implies. You do not want to apply any pressure at all because the ink is going to go everywhere. Next up we have the entrance stroke or instroke, it starts at the baseline and curves up in a light swooping motioned hair line up to the waistline. Place and swoop, place and swoop. Next up we have the overturn arch, that's where we get to practice the transition from the light hair line to the heavier downstroke. We start at the base, we go up towards the waistline and come around in a round curve before we start pressing down. You don't want to start pressing down until after the curve. The undertone arch is exactly the same reverse. So you start at the waistline, place, press, pull towards you, release, curve at the base and come up in a light hairline. That one didn't look very nice it has another round bottom so we're going to try that again, that's better. Always make sure you square off the top's. Place, press, pull, release, curve, and up. The next form is the compound curve. It combines both the overturned and under turned arch. Starting at the baseline, light up, curve, heavy down curve, and light up. We want the sickest part of the stroke to be in the center. You see that all these three legs are following the slant line. That one's a bit wide. So let's try that again.That one's better. Again, we want to make sure that these forms are visually equal. The space has to be visually equal between the letters and inside the letters. That is how you can control and how you can check that your form is correct. The loop starts at the waistline and then goes around up at the ascender height and comes down in a dynamic kind of downstroke where we start light and then increase the pressure. The underturned loop again is quite the opposite, we start at the waistline, place, press, pull towards us, and then start releasing before you hit the descender line, and loop up to meet the stem at the baseline. Do it one more time. Down, release, curve, and up. This is what it looks like when you run out of ink. They're called railroads. You can usually pull down the drop of ink that is at the top or dip your pen into the ink again and go over the stroke one more time. Now we get to the basic shape of copper plate and that is the oval. We've talked about it before and the characteristics and this is how you build it. You start just to the right of the slant line, curve up, heavy down release and then curve over and meet the starting point over heavy release, light up. The oval, like I said, it's the basic shape. So you want to make sure you get it right because it is going to inform the size of your other letters as well and you don't want it to be too skinny and you definitely don't want it to be too round. It's very much goldilocks kind of situation that with practice you will get the oval shape right. The next video we're going to start putting these together and forming letters. 7. Group 1 - Lowercase i t u w j y: Instead of practicing the alphabet A-Z, we're going to practice in component alike letters. This is going to help you progress a lot faster. Let's start with these very simple ones. We'll have the in stroke place at the baseline swoop up and then an under-turn arch, place, press, pull, release, curve up. The dot of the i is a little circle that we're going to fill in. Let's do another one. Swoop up, place, press, pull, release, and curve, light up, and a little circle. Next step, the t. You can think about that as a bit of an elongated, under-turn arch. Again, the in stroke as all the letters have, and the t starts with a down-stroke in about two-thirds of the ascender space. You don't start way up at the ascender line, but maybe two-thirds of the way up. The cross stroke sits at the waistline, technically, although I like to have it a little bit above it, and it is a very light cross stroke. The u has the in stroke and then it's going to be two under-turns combined. One and two. You really want to get into a habit of having your exit strokes come up to the waistline as well because they are going to be the connector to the next letter and that's what gives the script a nice flowy feel like we mentioned before. You're getting really good at these under-turns by now, aren't you? The w is very similar. We have the in stroke, we have one under-turn and another one. The w ends with half-sized under-turn to give the connection to the next letter. Let's do the in stroke again. One under-turn, light up, place, press, pull, release, curve up, and then do a little version of the same thing. That's about maybe a third of the x-height. Now it gets a little more interesting with the loops. Again, we have the same swoopy in stroke and then place at the waistline, heavy down, release but just before the descender line curve up to meet the stem and then shimmy over, you want to cross the stem and come back up again in that exit stroke. Let's practice that again. Down, release curve up, and over, and meet the waistline and the light upstroke. The y, as you can tell by now, is a combination of the in stroke and under-turn arch and the under-turn loop. Just like the j, we also want the exit stroke to come up nicely. We don't want to crossing that under turn arch. We want it to cross just below the baseline. Now I encourage you to practice, to fill a whole page with these fill a line of i's, fill a line of t's, etc.Take a photo and upload your practice page to the community. 8. Group 2 - Lowercase n m v p r: The second group that we're practicing is going to have a lot of overturn arches, and the n is going to be the first one you have make one arch and then followed by a compound curve. Start with a light upstroke at the baseline, come up to the waistline curve then come heavier down, square of that downstroke of the first leg, and then the compound curve, and remember to curve all the way up to the waistline. This one isn't looking too great. The angles of the top's aren't very round, so let's try that again. We're curving, light up, heavy down, and light up. The m is two overturn arches and a compound curve, we have the first one here. For the second one, you might be tempted to start at the top of the curve there, but I'm going to encourage you to really start at the baseline again and build that arch the way that you build all the arches, even if that means you are going over the first stroke again. Light up, curve heavy down, and I have to keep getting some ink in here, and light up, curve, heavy down, square off, and light up, heavy down, light up in the compound. What we want to see in the m's and the n's as well, is that a little triangle of space, of breathing room, which makes copper plates so elegant. This is where we can really see the contrast between the thick and the thin lines. The v is a compound curve starting at the base, curving up, heavy down, round, light up again. The third of the x-height space undertone arch that we already know from the w. I'm not liking this one because this space between and inside the letter isn't even. We're going to try that again and really pay attention to the compound curve and making sure that I have all the right angles that it's round, that the pressure is at the right places, and that's better. Feel free to adjust your paper whenever you feel like you're straining your wrists. Now the p has the instroke and then a dynamic stem, which means we start pointy at the top and then increase our pressure and then follow up with the compound curve. The little peculiarity of the p here is that I start the dynamic stem just above the waistline. It overshoots the waistline a little bit, and then the lower half of the stem does not quite reach the descender line. We're shifting that stem up a little bit, and that helps with proportion, and it helps with weight. There's not too much ink on the page for one specific letter. We're doing it again instroke, the dynamic stem scooched up just a tad above the waistline and then the compound curve to make the bowl. Nowadays we would use a bowl, but again, this is traditional copper plate rules. It's a compound curve. The r, we're actually going to see a couple of r's. This is one version, I think it's called the English version and we'll have a French version of later. This is an overturned arch and then a little wave at the top. Again, we're looking for clean transitions from thick to thin lines to have those graceful little triangles of space. 9. Group 3 - Lowercase l b h k f: The third group are going to be practicing the overturned loops. Don't forget you're in stroke. Start at the waistline, loop up and over, and down along the slant, and up again in the light. Hairline stroke, in stroke, loop up and over, have V down release before you get to the base, and come up in a light upstroke. The first L there is a little bit anemic, so we probably want to go more for the one on the right. Be very similar in stroke, loop up, have V down, release, come back up, and then add the little half, underturn or third underturn, that we know from the V and the W already. Those Vs are also a little bit on the anemic side. Let's make sure that the exit stroke like that upstroke aligns with the curve on the right hand side, because a lot of the times we want to think of our letters inside of these 55 degree angle blocks. We'll try that again. The slower you go, the more control you will have over where your pen goes. That already looks a lot better. VH is going to be the in stroke. The overturned loop, again, come out a little bit over and stop, square off the bottom, and then add a compound curve coming all the way up to the waist line again, with that hairline exit stroke. I'll try one more time. In stroke, loop up and over heavy down. Increasingly this is a dynamic one, and then add the compound curve. The transitions from hair lines to heavier downstrokes, you want to make sure that you always start getting heavier after the curve. Especially in these overturned or underturned loops, you want those to be gradual. Now the K can be made in various different ways. The traditional way has a couple of flicks here. You have one arm flick ended in another arm flick. We're going to start like the H, just do the overturned loop, and then stop from the baseline, come up to the waistline, and do a little flick downwards, and then go back to the baseline, and come up with two about the center of the x-height and do another little flip down like that. Now the variation is using a bowl, also pretty in stroke, and then overturn loop, have V down, squaring off the bottom, and then doing a little loop around and kissing that stem, and then coming out again in a compound, well as a small compound curve. What you want to look for is that little triangle of space in between those two legs again. You come up into that loop, and come in a little bit and out, and if you want to add a little loop in the middle and the center, that's fine too. The F is potentially the heaviest letter. We want to make sure that we don't press too hard because the stem is quite long. We do the overturn loop, and we extended below the baseline into maybe two-thirds of the descender space. You have the in stroke you'd loop over, and you increase your weight as you come down into about two-thirds of the descender space. Then you have a hairline swash coming up from the baseline, and cross stroke at the waistline. A different way of forming your F is to do it in one stroke, where you have the overturn, and you come all the way down to the descender line, and have the underturn, and cross the baseline like in the J or the Y character. Come all the way down, release just before the descender line, and come all the way up across the stem below the base,and come up in the hairline exit. 10. Group 4 - Lowercase o a d g q e c: And now we come to the group of ovals. The first one is going to be the O. We have the in stroke, and make an oval shape, and then the halfway underturn that we already know from the v and the w, etcetera. Now with the in stroke for oval shapes, we don't want the in stroke to go all the way to the waistline. So you want to shorten that just a little bit. This all looks at little anemic, but we're going to continue. So the in stroke goes two-thirds of the way up. And then you make the oval for the A, and underturn arch. Do that again. Lighten stroke two-thirds of the way, build the oval and stop, and add the under-turn arch coming all the way up. The d is very similar. In stroke two-thirds of the way, build an oval, and then it's a little taller than the t. We're coming all the way up, and we have to measure, go to the right a bit, because when you press the nib down, the down-stroke is going to be thick and we want the down-stroke to meet the oval on the right hand side. So we have to up our visual line a little bit. Go just a tad over, and then heavy down-stroke following the slant line. The g, can you tell the components? It's the in stroke, and the oval, and the underturn loop released just before the descender line, and come up in a nice hair line that curves around the base. In stroke, oval, and underturn loop. Heavy down, curve up light, and over. The q, is a little different. We have the in-stroke and the oval. Not liking that one. I'm going to start again. The down-stroke curves to the right, kisses the stem at the baseline, and then comes up in a light upstroke, like the exit stroke that you're already familiar with. So we curve in, we have the oval, and then starting at the waistline, come down in a down-stroke released just before the descender line and curve up, kissing that baseline there at the stem. And we want to make sure that the bowls from the overturn and underturn loops are a good size. So the one in the middle there is a little bit anemic. This one's better. Just checking for the guidelines. The e, have a slight in stroke two-thirds of the way, and you want to make an overturn loop the size of the x-height. So you don't want to go all the way into the ascender space, but you want to make a condensed l. Start at the middle of the x-height, loop out and over, and you're heavier down-stroke is going to cover that connecting line from the in stroke. The c, you want to start at the two o'clock, you come down a little bit to create a point, and then make an oval except you don't meet this starting point, you overshoot it a little bit. So you have the in stroke two-thirds of the way, and then you come down a little bit over, heavier down-stroke, and overshoot just a little bit because you don't want to close it for the c, you want it to connect to the next letter. Here's the example of what it would look like if your in stroke came all the way to the waistline. You see how it kind of sticks out at the end of it. So that's why we're having it only for two-thirds of the space. 11. Group 5 - Lowercase r s x z: This group of letters are slightly different from the compound building blocks that we are used to. Let's have a look at this French r. We have the in-stroke that you already know by now. Then with this one we are starting slightly above the waistline coming down in a light down-stroke, moving over into a little arm, and then having a heavy down-stroke curve and light up again. Which is like a half compound curve as we know it from the second half of that k loop as well. Now, you can make that top-stroke light or you can add a little weight to it. The important thing to remember is that the r starts above the waistline. It needs that extra bit of space. If you fit the r inside the x-height it's going to look off. We don't want that. We want it to be above the waistline. Whether you have a small line or a heavier line at the top there doesn't really matter. It has to extend and overshoot the waistline just a little bit. Same for the s. The s also has this in-stroke, and then you start above the waistline and come down in a heavy curve. Don't forget the exit stroke. It's almost a vertical curve, and you want to loop it back an end in a little ball point just for an access point because remember we want our letters to be at a 55 degree angle. The 55 degree angle will dissect the s curve form. We're not following the slant really with this one we're keeping the s bowl and that belly a little bit more vertical so that the 55 degree angle cuts through it. Now, speaking of x-height, this is how you build an x. Good thing we've practiced all those ovals already, and here's a little variation as well because we're going to build it in two curves and that first one you will have a down-stroke that will not be heavy. Sorry about that. Every rule has an exception. The first half of the curve is not heavy. The second half of the curve is the c and that is heavy. You start, you curve over along the slant, very light and end in a little ball point there, and then you make a c motion, and that is where the weight is going to be. You want those two lines to meet in the middle to follow the slant line and to shoot out a little bit again so you don't want to close that oval. This x in the middle, the bowls is too closed. I should have started a bit on the front there to leave it a little more space. Now, the z is going to be an overturned arch, and then just the lower portion of that under turned loop that we already know. There are different ways to build lowercase copper plate z or zed. That bowl is a little wide, excuse me. This is the traditional one. We want the bowl of the z to go out beyond the heavy down-stroke leg of that overturned arch a little bit. Again, we want to make sure that there's a little triangle of space between the two, and that the line crosses at the baseline. We're done with the lowercase letter forms. Congratulations, you now have a whole alphabet at your disposal. I hope you're taking some time and practice one line for each letter and remember to upload your practice pages to the community. 12. Uppercase component strokes: The component strokes for the uppercase letters allow us a little bit of flourishing and a little bit of variation. Let's start with a basic stem. We're going to start at the ascender line and a super small curve and then have a dynamic stem, a dynamic downstroke coming down along the slant lines. You increase the weight and the pressure in the ink so that the heaviest part is in the middle. You're going to release pressure just before you get to the baseline, and then end in a small curve as well. Here's a variation, you can end in a little ball point if you come around and make a little clockwise curve around the side, or you can loop in as well and come around although that one isn't very good, I should not have just let the nib come out. That doesn't look very controlled. Let's try that again. We're going to loop around and leave it in there, and I don't like the way that loop looks though. Bear with me, we're going to try one more time. The thing that doesn't work with this one is that the angle is off. I'm going to show you in a minute. Here's the stem, and here's how it loops around properly and then meets it again in that little pretzel. Now this one is off because the curvature does not follow the 55-degree angle, and then this one it does. Can you see the difference? Always remember the 55-degree angle. That's what makes Copperplate look beautiful, the parallel lines. There's a basic stem downstroke, and here's the basic stem upstroke, which we're going to need four letters like the A and the N, which we start at the baseline in a ever-so-slightly curve and then bring the nib up straight along the slant line up to the S under space. This one also has a couple of variations. If you can remember to leave it very light, you can start at the top, that I wouldn't recommend it. Usually you would start with this ballpoint at the waistline and then curve at up super light, like so. You can add a little bracket like this one. I think we're going to leave it here. I don't want to confuse you with too much flourishing. It's better to learn the basic forms first, and then add the flourishing as you get a little more comfortable in your practice. The next shape is going to be another dynamic downstroke. Starting light, increasing pressure in the center, and then finishing light again. But this one is going to be a little more vertical. This one is not going to follow the slant line so much because this is the line that we're going to need for our V's are W's and our N's, and I'm going to explain why that is when we get to those letters. The oval, we already know, and it's basically the same shape in the uppercase letters as well, perhaps a little rounder, it has a little more width, and the old letter actually curves inward like that. You go up over thickest part in the middle, up over and then mirror a little thicker part there as well. You see how that wasn't really round, the downstroke is a little too straight. The one on the right is a little more round and oval, so that looks better. Now we're looking at instrokes, different instrokes for the tops of the uppercase letters. We have little waves, we can add brackets to the waves, like so, they will be in two strokes, so you have the wave and then the bracket, or the loop or the turn. These sit on the ascender line. Again with the uppercase letters, we have a little bit more flexibility. I like to make the uppercase letters a little more dramatic, so I like to go above the ascender line as well. I'm demonstrating here an installed variety for the compound curve or a little fish hook. These are very light lines. You can think of them as a fishhook or maybe half a heart if you think the ascender line is the mirror space, and you do half a heart. Then you also have the opportunity to do spirals like this one. Make sure that both tops of the spirals are similar in width and that they're crossing the line at the center, so that middle one, the left angle is off, the left entrance isn't the same as the right exit there. We can do complete spirals, and we can do loops, and we can combine the loop with the wave, we can have the lines overshoot a little bit or not, and as we go through the uppercase letters, I'm going to show you examples of how to use these. 13. Group 6 - Uppercase T F B P R: Same as the lower-case letters, we're also going to practice the uppercase letters and component alike groups. Starting with the very basic ones here, we have the normal dynamic stem, start light, get a little heavier, downstroke, and then I'm ending this one in the ballpoint, have the spiral and the wave as the roof, and there you have your T, we'll do another one. The dynamic stems starts at the ascender line, follows the slant, and then curves around, ends in a little ball point, and then I like the spiral and the wave to give it the cross stroke. We do want to make sure that there's space between the stem and the cross stroke up top. Let's have a look at the F. Here's one with that little pretzel contraction, and we have the spiral and the roof up top, nice little air there for some grace, and then the cross stroke is also little wave, sits at the waistline, and remember all cross strokes are light, we never want two thick strokes to cross. Here's the F again with the ball point ending, nice space between there and a cross stroke that is light across and adds a little down heavy doo-hickey on the right-hand side, and doo-hickey is a technical term by the way. For the B, we have the dynamic stem, and now it gets interesting, we have the spiral and we want to bring it around in the oval form and then have the second bowl also. With the B, you want to make sure that the top bowl is smaller than the lower bowl. The top bowl, they dissect above the waist height, so this one is not quite correct, I made the tuple a little to big, see that? We want it to be above the waistline, and we want to make sure that that roof there is super round because we're looking for that oval shape. The P is very similar, you do the top and you leave it there. Again we have the dynamic stem, you can end it ever so slightly, or you can end it in the ballpoint like we talked about, and this one, let's try it with a reverse spiral, also looks nice sometimes. That's where I start on the right-hand side, and that curve is a little on the flat side, so the next time I make it, I would want it to look a little rounder. The R, dynamic stem, the spiral and they're coming around, and then almost a compound curve, that has to follow this slant again, just making sure that everything is boxed into that 55 degree angle, so it looks similar to the other letters. This one is actually a bit better, I mean, I don't like the round one, but the lower leg has a better size than the one on the left. The first R is a bit wide at the bottom. Try that again with the other loop, like the P, and staying in the ascender space, and then coming down at the waistline. 14. Group 7 - Uppercase I J L D H K: For this next group, I'm going to remind you again, upstrokes are thin, down-strokes are thick and this is the i, a dynamic stem. Then from the ascender line we come out in a little oval form that we are not closing. Feel free to play with the ending of the stem there, come out and cross the stem and maybe loop around twice. But make sure that when the line goes left to right and when the line goes bottom up, it is thin and when the line goes down, it is thick. The J, again a very long stroke, a dynamic stem that comes down below the baseline in under turn loop, coming up lightly and crossing at the baseline. Then you can add the same kind of loop as with the I, making sure that everything follows this slant line in this kind of boxed into that 55 degrees. The L is done in one stroke. So you want to have a very light loop over and then the dynamic heavy stem, the dynamic down stroke stem, then above the baseline loop in this form. So you have kind of a swan like, there's the loop coming over and then up in the connecting exit stroke. The L loops are quite small, we don't want them to be too large. Now for the D, we have the stem and end in an open loop like that L and then the second stroke is going to be, for example, the spiral coming over and meeting the stem at the baseline. I'll show you one more time. We come down in the dynamic stem and then loop and leave it there and then restart again. This time I'm doing it the other way round over and increased pressure as you come down to form that bowl and come over to meet the stem at the baseline. You can also do the D in one stroke, but then of course the right-hand side is going to be thin because that'll be an upstroke. Personally, I like the one in the middle best because it has evenly distributed weight. So if you look at the right-hand side that D only has weight in the stem but not under right-hand ball. So it looks a little uneven to me, but it's a question of preference. The H has that half heart fishhook kind of entrance and then is done in one stroke. You're going to want to make sure that everything follows the 55 slant line. I'll show you one more time. We'll start at the ascender, maybe with a wave come down, loop over in that underturn, loop and do an overturned loop like the L or the B that you already know from the lowercase letters and you can combine them this way. I think this is a nice width for the H as well. It's difficult to get that right so that's going to take some practice. The K, I like those pretzels, I'm not going to lie. The K has the stem and then brackets for the top arm and the lower arm where you're really going to transition between light pressure, more pressure, light pressure, or more pressure. Make sure that you look for the triangle in the center to give it breathing room and that both legs follow the slant. You start at the ascender and come in and out and up. You come in just above the waistline to give those some breathing room. 15. Group 8 - Uppercase A M N: In this next group, we're going to be looking at the more vertical lines as well as playing with different angles. The A is going to start with a light upstroke entrance that is going to be a little steeper than the 55 degrees, and we're coming down in the dynamic downstroke along the 55 degrees though. Now, this A is a little wide, I'm going to try that again. See in stroke light up and then curve over heavy downstroke along the slant line, and end in the upstroke. The M also has a light in stroke, like the A very light, a little steeper and then we have this almost vertical dynamic stem, and the third leg, look at that first entrance stroke you make and have it parallel, and now look at the dynamic downstroke you make and have it parallel, and then come up in the upstroke. You want the two thick lines to be parallel and the two thin lines to be parallel. Coming up into the light upstroke a little wider, that one is probably a little too steep and running out of ink. Thank you very much, but I can pull it down, there we go. See this one looks like it's falling over because those two lines, the thin lines are not parallel. Sometimes you can add a little swash at the top to distract from the wrong angle but with a little practice, you can get the forms. The N; the in stroke follows the slant line, and then the more than vertical down stroke is a little wider than for the M's, and the upstroke follows the slant line again. What we're looking for is slant, vertical space and then up along the slant again, and you can add some brackets to the top or bottom, however you like. That N, that first one was a little too wide, I like that second N a little better. For the M, we want the slant line to cut through the middle and the N, and A, at least have one or two slant lines there, and we want, again, the spacing to be the same between and inside the letters. 16. Group 9 - Uppercase O C G Q E: This next group is super fun. They are based on the oval forms and let's start with the O. You all ready know it. Let's make a big oval and it's a little rounder than the one that we're used to from lowercase and we want to start in the ascender height and come all the way down to the baseline and then curve up lightly and circle inside around to give it the little double down stroke. The C is done in one stroke. You have a large swoop around that covers almost the entire ascender space. You almost want to hit the waist line there and then you come down along the slant and come up and around in a light stroke again. That one's a little wide and this one is nice and parallel. The G is a little smaller. You want the top in stroke loop to be a little smaller than for the C, but also taking up a good amount of the ascender space. Then you have the oval towards just above the baseline, actually not meeting the baseline. Then adding an under turn curve like we know from the Y and the J, again, which loops over and crosses at the baseline. That is a pretty good G right there. The first one is a little narrow and a little straight. The queue starts the other way around and basically looks like a big two. So we're still repeating a few things though you know this from the entrance stroke. We want to make sure that it's parallel within those 55 degree lines and you know, the swirly circle from the entrance stroke and the lower loop from the L. The E also has a nice entrance swoop and then the upper bowl is quite small and the lower bowl is a little larger also with a little light circle turn to end it there. You want the upper bowl to take up maybe a third of the ascender space and then have the middle piece hit the waistline and then the lower bowl take up most of the X height and loop around. Yeah, that E there, that line hit too low, so we want there to be some graceful breathing space in-between those bowls. 17. Group 10 - Uppercase S V W: This next group, we're going to start at the baseline for the S, and swoop over and have a small, loop and the dynamic stem and come around and circle it nicely. There are various ways of building the S, but this is the one I like. You want to make sure that the entrance stroke is to the left of that bowl that you're ending with. The V, has a nice hook at the top and then again the almost vertical dynamic stem. Then you have a light upstroke that actually curves inwards, ever so slightly, at the ascender line. Because what you want to do is have the 55 degrees slant, cut that V in the middle. Will try that again. Almost vertical, stem and then coming up, and swooping, not even swooping, it's straight hair line up, and then curving in just a little bit to meet the ascender space. The W, is basically two V's together. So you have that hook to come in the, vertical line, this swoop up, staying very strange. So then you can add the next vertical stem parallel to the first, and the next exit stroke parallel to that second one. You want again, the 55 degrees slant line to hit that W in the middle. Going to do one more. These are actually very satisfying to write, once you get into flow of things, they're quite fun. This one is going to be a little wide. Those lines are not parallel. The right-hand side is a little wider than the left. Do you see that? Remember, we're looking for same, spaces. This, ideally if I turned the page around, should look like an M, and it doesn't really. Not that one. This one. 18. Group 11 - Uppercase U X Y Z: This last group has a couple of peculiarities. You already know the U and you already know the entrance loop for the U, but the second leg there does not come up all the way to the ascender line. You want the second leg of the U to be about two-thirds, and maybe one-third into the ascender height, just above the waist line. Then the component, of course, is the circle, the dynamic stem curving around, and then an underturn arch. Remember to look for these little triangles of space. Now this one, if I had to do it again, I would make sure that the entrance loops are even, and there we go. I'm going to do the Y next just because they're so similar, because you start like the U basically, and then you add the underturn loop which you know by now. That's base again, it's not very even so let me go a little slower, see if we can, it's a little larger again. But coming up, and then heavy downstroke, squared top, underturn loop, meeting and crossing in a light hairline at the base. If I'm going to be really nit-picky, that bowl is a bit wide, that loop is a bit wide. One more third time's the charm. Coming up. Dynamic loop down and over. That looks a bit better. The zed has the wave. Then our dynamic stem, and another wave. Now the stem does not follow this land line. It's a little more steep because you want to make sure that the 55 degrees cut through it in the middle. You want to be thinking of the 55 degree box again, like in previous letters. Just showing you a couple of variations. To make the Z a little more interesting, you can try that oval entrance, spiral. Make sure you go all the way over, make sure you have enough ink in your pen. You can pull that down. There we go. Now let's not forget the X. The X is done in one stroke. You'll be dizzy with all the loops. At least I am, sometimes. I'll start in the center space, do the circle entrance, and then light downstroke like this small X as well. Curve over, and then have the heavy down loop that comes up almost to close the oval. Try that again. Spiral over, and then follow the slant in the light curve over, cross at the waistline, curve over loop around heavier downstroke, and see what happens when you try and correct the strokes. They look weird. It looks heavy and they don't look even or graceful, so we'll try that again. Lie down, remember? Don't know what that was. Was that angle. Halves in the wrong space. There we go. Try that again. Loop over at the waistline and meet end. There we go. Those two bowls are even, it's following the slant line. That looks like a nice butterfly type of an X. One more for the road. We're crossing at the waistline, coming over heavy dynamic downstroke, two in a row, nice. That is a good place to end. 19. Numbers: We are looking at the numbers, we're going to be writing in the modern style. All numbers will be the same size, starting at the waistline, going about a third into the ascender space. The one has a slight in stroke under dynamic stem, increasing pressure towards the baseline and making sure to square off. The two starts with a small curve. Remember to come all the way over. You want to think about the 55 degree box and then end with a little wave that we know from the tops of the t. The three has a small curve that transcends the waistline and then the lower curve is a little larger than the first one. Again, remember to follow the 55 degrees slant. The four starts just above the waistline, come down to the middle of the x-height in a light down stroke and a light cross stroke and then add the dynamic stem towards the baseline, squaring off the bottom. Then the five is done in three different strokes. We have one down stroke crossing the waistline and then we curve up slightly increasing pressure for the bowl, curving around and then adding a little kind of hyphen at the top. Remember all the cross strokes are going to be very light. The six is done in two strokes. You have one large curve and then the second one starts in the center of the excite curving the other way around. So you're building it into strokes and that bowl is about three-quarters of the x-height. The seven starts again, light up the light over and then following the slant line in a dynamic stem. The eight is done in one stroke. You want the upper bowl to be a little smaller than the lower bowl and you want the pressure, the down stroke line to follow the 55 degree slant. I'm not very happy with this one. Let's try that again. Small bowl we almost vertical and the down stroke and then cross with a light upstroke just below the waistline to get those proportions correctly. Then nine is also done in two strokes, very much like a six only the other way around. This time you're going to start with the smaller curve first and then adds a larger curve second. The O is the oval that we know except it's also built in two curves so that there's equal down stroke weight on both sides. I'm going to show you another version now also that is a little rounder. Just for comparison because we want to, of course, the size is different than the oval, but we also want to make sure that there is no ambiguity where we're looking at zeros next to O's and those are your numbers. 20. Punctuation: Last but not least, we're going to look at punctuation, no surprises here, I don't think the period is very much like a dot on the eye and little circle that is filled in sitting at the baseline. A comma is that circle and you add a little hook to the side. The colon is two periods following the slant line sitting in the center of the x-height. The semicolon is a period and a comma sitting on the baseline. The apostrophe is a comma sitting at the center line, so that little period filled in and you add the little hook or the tail and then the apostrophe is two reverse commas and two commas again, sitting at the ascender line. The exclamation point, you want to start square. I'll place press, pull down at the three-quarters of the ascender height and its dynamics or what tapers towards the bottom until you reach maybe the middle of the excite and then add a period at the bottom. The question marks it's at the same height. The release pressure on the curve as you come to the waist line and then added a short down-stroke again to the center of the x-height and finish with the period. The dollar sign is an S curve, it's about the same height as a number, including the top and bottom down-strokes. Your dash or your hyphen, remember the cross strokes are all very light. They sit at the center of the excite and that can be straight or add a little wave and then the ampersand, you know that it stands for et, Latin et, so I like to make an e come up and then add a wavy dash parallel to the waistline about the center of the x-height to simulate that t. 21. Critique Your Own Work: Like I said at the introduction, learning copperplate is like learning to ride a bike or any other skill is going to need a lot of practice and I'd like to help you improve by telling you how to train your eye to look for the most common mistakes. The five criteria that we're going to look at are form, size, slant, spacing, and weight. Let's start at the beginning with the down stroke. Remember that it's supposed to be squared off at the top and the bottom. So sometimes when you don't add pressure equally, it looks the top is a little smaller and the bottom is a little smaller when it should be place, press, pull even weight down and squared off tops and bottoms. The end strokes it's difficult sometimes to curve it, you don't want it to straight, you don't want to curve it the wrong way. You want to curve it in kind of under swoop from the baseline to the waistline. The overturn arch, we want to make sure that both legs follow the 55 degrees slant and under turn arch, the same thing, and also remember to release pressure before the curve or after the curve if it's an overturn. In these compound curves, we want to make sure that the most weight, the heaviest part of the down stroke is in the center. We don't want them to kind of sway, we want those legs to be quiet straight and the curves to be nice and round. The oval, of course, again, with that Goldilocks thing, you don't want them to be too round or too skinny, and it's going to take some practice to get that shape perfectly and get the lines to meet with your in stroke and your upstroke even evenly so that they look nice. When you are checking your copperplate writing for size, the most important thing is the ratio of ascender and descender to x-height. Remember we want that to be 1.5:1:1.5, so if you shorten the ascenders or descenders, there may be some ambiguities like with h and ns or ds and as start looking alike, especially if you're writing them a lot shorter, and if you're writing them taller, remember that the grace and flow of copperplate contrast thicks and thins, is limited by the flexibility of your nib. If you write too tall the lines may look too thin in comparison. This slant, I've mentioned the 55 degree angle, I don't know how many times, so we have to make sure that we follow it. This word I'm writing here, even if it's not even, then it's going to mess with our form, it's going to mess with the spacing. Again, it might be interesting if you want to add emphasis to one particular word, but that won't be copperplate then. Using guides, by the way, is not cheating. Using guidelines is absolutely necessary, and every calligrapher does it, you have to use the guides. Unless, you're maybe 20 years into practice and know the slant off by head. Spacing is one of those things that can ruin a piece if you don't have equal width and equal distance inside the letters and between the letters it will look off, and a way to practice spacing is doing what we call a necklace. A necklace is where you choose one letter and you write it in combination with all the other letters. So here I am giving you the first few letters of an example of an a necklace. So I'm combining the letter a with all the other letters with the b with the c, with the d, with the e, et cetera. You can do this for any, you can do this for an m, you can do it for an o. Necklaces help you figure out spacing and weight. Of course, how much ink we lay down. So we do want the contrast between thick and thins, but we want to make sure that the pressure, the amount of pressure that we exert on the times to get those fix is even throughout the words. Otherwise you get an example like this one that I'm writing right now, where the down stroke of the g is much heavier than the downstroke of that first o, or the downstroke of that d, for example. Remember that the beauty in calligraphy is all about consistency and parallel forms and the letters having relationships to one another. If you're weighting isn't consistent, that can mess with the look of the final word. If you're spacing and form are inconsistent, that can mess with the look of your piece. So always try and have a look for form, size, slant, spacing, and weight. 22. Thank You & Wrap Up: Congratulations on making it this far and thank you for learning copper plate with me. I hope you now have a better understanding of where copper plate came from. How to use all the tools, how to write the whole alphabet, and how to troubleshoot when things don't look right. Please share your practice pages and your projects on the community page. If you're on social media, make sure to tag me @dorisfullgrabe and #justpickupapen, so I can see your progress and share it with my community as well. Thank you so much for following along. I can't wait to see what you come up with and hope to see you in another class soon. 23. Bonus: Hey there. So I guess you're the kind of person who stays until the end of the movie to see if they show outtakes. Welcome. This bonus video isn't about outtakes as such, but I thought I'd show you what it looks like when I write the lowercase and uppercase alphabet one letter at a time and most importantly, in real-time. I won't be narrating over the top of it just this one thing. As you're writing, you have to anticipate which letter comes next and how to form it so you can place your pen correctly to setup the connecting strokes. Most often that means not going all the way up to the waistline in case there is a letter from the old family. But sometimes it means condensing the compound curves a little or moving the pen over to allow for a thick downstroke. So here you have an example of how to write letters together making it look like they're all cursive and written in one goal when really you're lifting the pen many times. I'm also adding two videos at four and eight times the speed to show you some exercises. Thanks again for learning with me, and I hope you enjoy these.