Strong Lines 3: The Gentle Gothics | Alice Young | Skillshare

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Strong Lines 3: The Gentle Gothics

teacher avatar Alice Young, Calligrapher & Designer

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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.

      Introduction to Worksheets


    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.



    • 8.



    • 9.



    • 10.



    • 11.



    • 12.

      Project Requirements


    • 13.

      Spacing & Balance


    • 14.

      End Notes


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About This Class

In this class we will:

» Learn gothic letterforms

» Learn the basics of letter spacing

» Design a simple greeting card


In this class we'll look beyond the well-known, well-loved, dense and forceful blackletter, to learn a more gentle, sensitive version of gothic letterforms. 

With a focus on using the Pilot Parallel Pen, our goal is to create a special thank you card or birthday card using this appealing calligraphic hand. We'll look at introducing simplicity – in order to balance the ornate nature of these beautiful letterforms. 

This class is appropriate for students with some calligraphy experience. If you are a complete beginner, I suggest starting with my first class, Getting Comfortable with the Pilot Parallel Pen. Many of the strokes in this class were also taught in my second class, Colour & Curves with the Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen.

This class builds naturally on the first two classes. 

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as real strength. 
– St. Francis de Sales

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Alice Young

Calligrapher & Designer


Alice is a GDC Certified Graphic Designer, with 20 years of experience in design and communications. She spent a decade working in the studios of multi-national ad agencies (Leo Burnett, Publicis, BBDO) in Toronto, Canada before moving to Canada's west coast in 2000. She continues to work on local, national and international accounts, as a member of the team at Taiji Brand Group. Her specialties are typography and hand lettering.

Her love of letterforms carries through to her practice as a calligrapher and her work spans a broad range of applications - from commercial (logos and wordmarks) to just-for-fun (greeting cards) - to exploratory fine art (asemic calligraphy on canvas).

Her calligraphic paintings on canvas have been exhibited and sold internationally. Along with f... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Is minimalist Gothic calligraphy and oxymoron? Yes, it totally is. So is the idea of Gentle Gothics, but these contradictory themes form the basis of my current approach to calligraphy and what I'm sharing with you in this class. Hi, I'm Alice Young, a Canadian calligrapher and graphic designer. I'm excited to bring you this Skillshare class, the third in my Strong Lines series. This class is a letter by letter exploration of a hybrid Gothic hand using the 3.8 millimeter pilot parallel pen. I call my version Gentle Gothics because it differs slightly from the traditional Gothic we know and love, the one we usually call the blackletter. Blackletter has a long history symbolizing power, force, and sometimes oppression. Historically, along with those forceful and emphatic letters, there were many Northern European scribes creating more sensitive and even whimsical versions. Blackletter was in use between the 11th and 15th century and there were so many blackletter variance and hybrids that they are difficult for historians to categorize and name. In creating the Gentle Gothics, I have looked to those historical references as well as the work of other modern scribes. I am deliberately seeking gentleness while trying to maintain the strength and rich texture of the hand. In this class, we are going to apply that to the design of a simple greeting card. Using carefully designed worksheets and close up video lessons, I'll guide you through forming each letter. We'll look at lower and uppercase letters organized alphabetically. Then we'll look at spacing and balance before you create and share your Gothic greeting card. Ideally, your card should contain 1-5 words and we'll work on a standard five by seven card format. This class is for students of calligraphy at every level and builds naturally on my last two Skillshare classes. I invite you to join me in learning or improving your skills with Gothic letter forms. 2. Context: How does the study of calligraphy fit into the modern world? Does it have any relevance in our digital age? Yes. Calligraphy has many secrets to share and the digital age is making them more accessible than ever. Calligraphy can be approached on many levels; from the most practical and superficial, the art of making beautiful letters to the most philosophical. In this short class, our focus will be on the practical aspects of making letters, but I encourage students to explore the links in the class notes including historical links and links to manuscript libraries, or follow along in Twitter as medieval manuscript historians discover and rediscover old works. The history of calligraphy is nothing less than the history of writing, which in turn reveals mankind's historical roles and responsibilities in creating the written word, and its importance in the development of languages, cultures, religions, and knowledge. Human thought and more importantly how we curate human thought is revealed by studying manuscripts. While each student can decide how deeply they want to delve into this material, I hope many of you take some time to explore, and please share any other fascinating links you may find. I would ask that all students pause now and watch the animated video on ''The Story of Blackletter'' by Nadine Resch listed on the top of page 2. This video is really well done and sets the stage for what we are about to learn. 3. Introduction to Worksheets: Traditionally, beginning calligraphers copy from a sample alphabet or ductus, which shows stroke order. This sample is a ductus from Claude Media Villas calligraphy book. Since we have the advantage of video, I'll be demonstrating stroke order, not showing it in this way. Instead, I've created worksheets carrying on with the process similar to the first two classes. For each letter, I've given you a sample letter plus two very basic skeletal guides to ease you into making your own letters. The idea of the skeleton guides is not to show you every stroke, but rather to provide a quick reminder of the main strokes and the correct letter proportion. Getting those proportions correct is a challenge to beginners. Hopefully, this will help you establish a good sense of proportion quite quickly. As in my earlier classes, the guides are provided in a light and a dark version. The light version can be printed directly onto premium ink jet paper, ideally with a laser printer and you can practice right on the worksheet. I should note that if you print on an ink jet printer, your ink may bleed when you cross the guidelines. I just discovered that recently when I bought a new inkjet printer. A laser printer with ink jet paper is the ideal combination, however strange that sounds. Your second option is to print the darker guidelines on any paper and work above that on translucent bleed proof marker paper, or work on a light table so you can see guidelines through your paper. As always, you want to sit squarely at your desk, both feet on the floor, and shoulders relaxed before you start. Try to balance yourself mentally and physically and take a few deep breaths. You'll also want a small container of water nearby to dip into if your pen gets dry, and also your plastic pen cleaner in case your nib catches a paper fiber or other obstruction. On the top right of the guide sheet, you'll see lines measured out for ascenders. That's the top of tall letters such as D. Then you'll see a cap height which is slightly lower than the ascender, a waistline which is the top of your lowercase letters, and then the all important baseline, then a final lower guideline for descenders, the bottom of the letters that drop below the baseline. All these are measured out in proportion to your nib width. This is usually shown in calligraphy books as a nib ladder and is drawn like this. While you might expect us to start with a, Alpha, the beginning, we're actually going to start with o, Omega, the end. That's because the letter o forms the basis of most lowercase letters. These strokes and proportions are repeated throughout the hand, so it's best to start off getting really comfortable with the o. I've set up a blank worksheet with it at the top so you can review that basic shape and its proportions before starting your calligraphy practice. We'll look at it in some detail here. Notice the starting pen position is slightly below, about one millimeter below the waist line. The pen angle is 40 degrees. The first stroke pulls cleanly down and then curves slightly to the right, maintaining the 40 degree angle and finishing with a short flat hairline pulling up to the right on the 40 degree angle. This final hairline is usually hidden in the final letter, but it gives you a visual target when you make your second vertical stroke and is really helpful. Then lift your pen and return to your start position. Notice that I go right into my original stroke, then pull up to the right at 40 degrees then curve lightly down into the second down stroke. Here's where the target is helpful and you pull down to meet your own hairline. Try to reach the point where your eyes are resting, not on your nib, but on where you want to go. This is similar to riding a horse or a bike. You don't want to look down at your horse or at your bike wheel, you want to focus on where you want to be while being lightly aware of your position in relation to where you want to be. I recommend drawing each letter in the air above my sample, paying attention to your pen angle and the motions you will be making before moving on to draw your own over my skeletal guidelines and then your own without guidelines. Of course, you can draw your own nib ladder and guidelines and you'll need to do that if you're using a different pen size than the 3.8 millimeter pen this class is based on. Happily, I have a great resource to help you with that. A program called Ductus. Josselin Cuette, a Montreal developer and calligraphy student, has created an online tool that allows you to quickly generate your own guidelines based on the size of your nib and you can save and print your guides. Check that out here and consider dropping him a donation. This could save you hours of time. If you haven't already done so, please print out the class notes and the worksheets found as attachments in the class project window of our Skillshare class. Then join me in the next video to look at the first three letters of the alphabet. 4. ABC: Before we get started with A, B, and C, let's have a quick review of your pen angle. At the top of the first worksheet, you'll see a small diagram showing various pen angles. The first pen angle is flat, so zero degrees from the horizontal line. Just get your pen running there and draw a small line down from that angle. This is just to remind us of pen angles and do the same thing on the next one, which is 20 degrees. Carry along that row, just doing a small back and forth motion. Keep your hand light on the page, and then drawing a short line down. Tip your pen forward if that helps. You can also go back in and join the back and forth with line that you did with the downward stroke you did. You see where we got serifs. This natural motion to get your pen running was originally probably the beginning of the serif. If this feels awkward or confusing, please consider starting with strong lines, class 1 or 2. If this is easy and natural, let's dive right into creating the gentle graphics. On the top right do a few O's as described in the previous video, to remind ourselves of this base shape. Then let's move on to A. For the small a, start with establishing your pen angle at 40 degrees, starting just below the waist line. Now relax your hand, elbow and shoulder, moving them around slightly making the base of your hand very light on the paper and just getting comfortable. We're looking for a loose light touches you trace in the air above my a, analyzing how the letter form is made. The first stroke pulls down angles to the right and finishes with a 40 degree here line going up to the right. The top stroke starts in your original stroke and you go up just a little bit and then curve down and to the right. Then pull a diagonal back towards your body and a straight line down the back of the a, angling to the right at the bottom and pulling up the stroke to finish with a short tail. Notice the proportions here. We want the down strokes in the counter space to be about the same width. Carry on and repeat, do another letter on the skeleton outline that is provided using it as a general guide to your proportions. It's the same movement, you have the two skeletons to help you. Then, while it is still fresh in your mind, carry on and finish out the line with a's. Don't rush, move slowly and try to make each one better than the last. Keep referring back to the sample and don't forget to breathe. Holding your breath won't help your letters. Consciously loosen your pen grip and keep your arm and wrist feather light on the page. At the end of each line of letters, it's a good idea to stop, move away from your work and observe. Notice where you've got a bit wobbly and pay special attention to the innerspaces are counterspaces of your letters. Make note of your most successful and least successful letters. Look for your own habits. I tend to bow out so the counterspaces wider at the bottom. Be gentle. Just look for where you could improve and have that in mind next time you do this letter shape. For the b, we're going to start up at the ascender line. Again, we have our 40 degree angle, and we're going to pull down a straight line. This line is longer, you might find it helps if you exhale on the way down, pull it down to the right and then up just a bit. Then again, you're going right back into that first stroke, pulling up a diagonal, pulling it across at the waist of the letter, and then back in and down to meet your first line. Long line down, straight as you can, pull to the right and your little ending at the bottom there. I'd have to add a little bit of extra weight at the top of the b, to seems to help balance in a little bit. Just carry on through your line of b's and try to watch that counterspace, trying to get it as even as you can. Your c starts out exactly the same as the a and the o. Then at the bottom, you just want to pull up on the corner of your nib to create a nice light aperture. Then return right into your first stroke, slide up at the 40 degree angle slightly and then pull down and then up in a nice arc across the top. Carry on across the line repeating that motion. It's a nice, easy letter, a great one to practice. It can almost be a little flick up at the bottom if you like. Watch your visual balance. You want a letter that stands straight, doesn't lean forward or backwards, and the c can easily tip forward. Sometimes adding a little circular ornament at the top can help balance the c. It almost feels like it needs a bit of a counterbalance. Another option is to add a short downward flick to the last stroke. Now, let's turn our attention to the capital A. We'll look at it in slow motion. We started the same 40 degree position just below the caps line and do an arc down and to the left ending on a thin line. Then we pick up a pen and do a wave shape across the bottom, a decorative serif. Then, a strong downward arc on the right side, twisting up for the foot of the A, and back up to the top where we use just the corner of the pen. This can almost be a little flick too, to give a light top. Go back to the left and finish off the teardrop shape. Then flatten your pen angle slightly to do the crossbar. An arc down into the left and then a stroke cross the bottom strong right-hand side, back up to the top to do the cap, and then the teardrop shape and the crossbar and then adding in a little ending. You can really refine your endings almost anywhere with a tiny little circle made with the point of your pen. Right there, just clean it up, refine it a little bit. Looking at the B in slow motion, it's that same arced shape. It just stops a little sooner than on the A to give us room for a nice y base. Same stroke we used on the A, but much wider and it stops on the thin. Then we go up to the top and draw in the body of the B, get large round counter at the bottom. Then we can go back and add in our teardrop shape, being careful not to smudge the bottom of the bowl of the B. Then add in a bit of an embellishment there just because the B, it does have such a large bowl. Then use the corner of your pen to add in a flourish at the bottom. Starting our C in slow motion, just below the waist line, with a straight line down that curves gently to the right and continues curving until your pen flattens out. Then a gentle S curve that comes down from the ascender line into the letter. Then pulling up out of that line for an arc across the top. Then you want to tip onto the point of your nib and go down and create that little flourish that comes back into the aperture of the letter. Then I like to just add again a little bit of weight on the stroke where the C started. Again, straight down and then curving to the right, back up to the top. Notice I'm going a bit above the cap line on this. You could modify that line. You could start it right at the cap line if you wanted. It really would depend on the layout that this letter was fitting into. You can make all adjustments like that. That's the joy of hand lettering. But here I've taken it a little bit higher right up to the ascender line. That allows the top of the C to sit nicely along the cap line. Also notice where I'm adding a little bit of extra weight. You can go either way. I can take that to the right or to the left for slightly different effect. But in both cases it just adds a little weight to that section of the letter and it just balances it nicely. 5. DEF: D, E, and F. For the lowercase d establish your 40 degree pen angle. But then also notice that we start this below the waist line, and actually about two milli-meters below the waistline, so a little lower than we start the o, and we pull straight down. The rest of the shape is very similar, we pull straight down over to the right and then back up. Then we go up to the cap height line and pull down the back of the d, meeting our first stroke. Straight down over to the right, then that long stroke on the back of the d. Try not to change your pen angle you can see I've changed it a little bit there and the back of the d got a bit round. Then I add a little bit of weight right at the beginning stroke. Check my 40-degree pen angle. Try again. This stroke is better in terms of not changing my pen angle. A little wobble in there, but you can see the inner space there is a little cleaner looking than the second d, and carry on. A little extra weight right at the top helps finish it off. The e, looking very much like the c, but at the bottom, I pull it a little wider to the right to help balance out the heavier top that you have on the e. Then back up to the top, draw down and to the right to finish the bow of the e. Carrying on with your line of e's, just trying to get a really neutral top there for the bow of the e, not curving down too much or curving up too much, but trying to keep it quite neutral. At the bottom, sometimes it's a little bit of a flick there, sometimes I tend to go a little bit too fast but just a quick curve up finishes it off at the bottom. Our f starts at the ascender line, and then you have a 40 degree angle, a straight line with your pen, left to right before it curves into the down-stroke and then along solid down-stroke. That will give you enough room to go back up to your original stroke and at the top, and then flatten your pen angle slightly to add the crossbar. The shape you're going to get when you start out with the f is you have your pen at 40 degrees and just left to right and then down. There's that starting stroke, and then straight down, then a flick on the right edge of your pen. That was lame. Let's try it again there. That's better. Notice, I haven't flattened my pen angle as much for the crossbar here, so it's looking a bit thick. Notice that if I flatten it a little bit more, I'll get a more delicate crossbar. You could choose to end it like that just like some of the others and with a small angle at the bottom, or you could just stop it at the baseline, and have that as your line ending. The capital D starts with a soft S curve and then down to the bottom to do the base and establish the width of your letter, and also to give you a target point. The target point is helpful when you do this long stroke down the right-hand side, you know where you're going to end up, right at your target. The counter space is large. I usually do add a little flourish in there to fill it in a bit. Then tip your pen up on to the right corner to do the flourish at the bottom. Carrying on, S curve in the center of your line height and base, and then the curve down the side, a little embellishment in the center, and a final flourish stroke which actually helps to balance that D out. Carry on and do as many D's as you can fit in that line there. Capital E is identical to capital C for the first three strokes, so the exact same strokes that we've done. The only difference is that we're going to add a crossbar at the center and make it a little bit smaller, a little bit less intrusive than the top crossbar. Straight down from that waistline and then a gentle curve over, then gentle s curve. Notice I flatten the pen a little bit on the s curve. Notice that crossbar is a little heavy. I could have flattened my pen a little bit there. I'm moving a little fast here, could slow down and get that crossbar a little more delicate. Maybe I rushed that e so that I could get to the f because f is quite a fun letter to do. We start a little bit above the waistline and it's a curved line down. Then coming in from the left, another curved line. Notice that we're meeting on the thin there, just as we do at the top, starting and creating a swoop to the right, then going back to the thin section, and adding the stroke on the left side. The crossbar is just one quick swoop. Quite fun. It's a swoop from the top, swoop from the left, swoop across the top, did my paper move there, and a swoop down, and then a swoop for the crossbar. But the challenge with the f is to get the balance correct because it can look like it's falling forward or backwards easily. I know the perspective on these videos doesn't help you with that very much. But as you do your f, pay attention to the balance and try to make sure that everything is cohesive and your letter isn't falling forward or backwards. 6. GHI: G, H, and I. Lowercase g starts out just like the a with a solid downstroke and then to the right, and then pulling up at 40 degrees just slightly, then back into your first stroke, doing it the top, and then diagonal back down to a straight stroke until you meet your first stroke, and then it flares out, ending on the flat. Then again another curve joining on the flat. So nice solid downstroke curve and up, cross the top, pulling back on the diagonal and ending on the thin, solid down over and up, cross the top. Just trying to get that flare out at the back, just a nice elegant line. Picked my pen up there, I wouldn't have had to, but that backstroke is all one line, and again joining on the thin, the fine letter to do. H, one solid line down from the ascender, and then your angle at the bottom, and then angle across the waistline, and then straight down, and then curving back into the edge. So solid downstroke, exhale as you do so, and then your stroke across the waste, and then pulling back in on the diagonal and try to keep that really straight on the way down, you want to make sure that interior space is quite parallel and even. Again, exhale, I bowed out a little bit there, pull it back in, straight down and over, adding just a little tiny bit of weight, almost a little tiny serif to the ascenders and descenders, pretty easy letter. Starting the lowercase i at a 40 degree angle just below the waistline then pulling up to the waistline, then angling down to the right, then a solid downward stroke angling to the right again, and then tipping your pen up to create the foot on the i. Then back up to the top, and in this case, I've done the dot as just a little pen rotation. So you're holding your pen on the paper and just rotating. This is a really great letter to practice with, it's got the basic elements of the Gothic hand, and you can really practice getting your angles right, getting your downstroke straight, even parallel, getting a rhythm going across a line of letters. Just a really good one to warm up with, practice with, and then you can add your tittles, yes, that is what the dot on top of the i is called and you can do them many different shapes, you have your choice of tittles. The uppercase G is again identical to the c, just with some extra strokes. So it's a straight down and around to your thin line and gentle S curve, I can see I flattened my pen a little bit there. Then from that S curve, you take it out into the bowl of the G, and then finally go up and add the top, and then I usually add a flourish back into the bowl of the G. Solid downstroke, gentle curve over to the right, S curve coming down from the ascender line, and then going across to create the bowl of the G. Here I'm creating the top of the G, that's stroke could have come out of the S curve, but you can see I did it slightly differently there where I created the curve across the top and then pulled it back in. Slow motion H, doing a gentle S curve down the left-hand side, then a wave curve at the base, and then a more subtle version of that curve across the waistline, and then straight down on the right-hand side. Then you can repeat the wave at the top with a little more of a curve to it. Then up on the corner of your pen to join the line at the waist to the body of the letter. It's a very simple elegant letter and at first glance you might think it's a number of curves and all the strokes are quite similar, but you really want to pay attention to the details and the subtleties of these curves, they're all slightly different and each one affects the balance of the letter. So pay attention to details as you complete your line of H's. Capitalize, starting up in the right-hand corner, very straight through the main part of the stroke, and then curved again at the bottom, and then an arched footer there, and the two stroke top that we're getting familiar with now. Another great letter to practice, those are vertical downstrokes, keeping them consistent can be challenging and the entire letter depends on that really solid downstroke, so that the more decorative elements can hang off of a solid base. So great letter to work with, not to hard, and go ahead and finish off your line of I's. 7. JKL: J, K, and L. Lowercase j starts just below the waist line, pulling up to the waistline, angle to the right, and then a solid straight downward stroke that just curves a little bit to the right and ends on a flat line. Then you pick up your pen and go below the descender line there. I've taken this quite low and pull the tail of the j back into meets smoothly with your letter and then up to the top and create your tittle. It's up, down, solid line down. Notice my pen angle doesn't really change, but I'm just pulling gently to the left till I get that flat end. Then you want to add your tittle and then continue along on the line of j's. This is a really good exercise in consistency. You'll see that one I didn't get such a smooth entry back into the j. I'm having to fuss with it and in the end it's a little bit thick there. But you carry on. This is a better downstroke. It looks a little warped because the video actually shows the paper buckling with the ink, but that's actually a pretty straight j there. Carry on. That line's a little weaker. But the entry back into the j is pretty good. Just do as many as you can, as consistent as you can. Looking at our k in slow motion, it's a straight downstroke and the angle at the bottom. Then going back up and creating the bowl of the k. Not too big, not too small. We're looking for balance here. Then straight out to match the bowl, and then straight down until you hit the baseline and then you can start angling back a little bit for that bottom part. Straight down, angling, notice the angles at around 40 degrees there and straight across for the bottom section. I'll add a little bit of weight at the top, just a tiny touch of a serif. That angle got a little round there at the bottom and you're going to see that means it's too tight when I go to do the bottom stroke. That's not such a great letter. Straight down. A little more careful with my angle. Top of the k down and pulling back slightly. Don't go as low as the descender line. It doesn't go quite that low, but just a little talk back is nice on the k. Lowercase l. Straight down and to the right, and then up for your foot. There's nothing difficult about this l. But when you do a really simple letter form like that, there's also nothing to hide your wobbles or shakes. You really want to try to get that downstroke really clean and smooth. You can see I'm adding a little bit of weight to the top, a little mini serif. Another really good row of letters to practice because it's surprisingly hard to get a row of l's that is consistent and well-formed. Uppercase J starts on the right side. You want the line to be straight with the curves just on the top and bottom. Then a little stroke that's going to form your aperture. Then up on the point of the pen to join that line back into the main part of the J. Then there's two strokes to finish off the top of the J with the little tear drop shape. When you start on the right, you have to be a pretty good judge of spacing to insert the J into a spot because you have to understand its width, but it's not a hard letter to make. It's quite fun. Try to get the back of it straight. You have curve's top and bottom, but you want the back itself to be quite straight. Then you can get a little more swoopy on that top stroke. But it should be grounded by that nice straight line on the back. The K starting just below the cap line and coming down. Then we have our waveshape across the bottom and this time we have a swoop across the top that's going to go almost the full width of the letter. Then up and draw the inside of the K. Then the foot of the K is traditionally quite problematic. I usually turn the page and it gives you a much more comfortable pen angle and more control in drawing the foot of that K. On our 40 degree angle, the line down from the top, the wave stroke across the bottom. You can see I hesitated there, which stroke today next, but go up and do the swooped next. Then the interior line. It's fine not to do every stroke in one letter right at the same time. Where I know I'm going to want to change the angle of my page. Just leave it blank. Or sometimes you want to leave areas blank where you're not sure how it's going to fit with the next letter so that you can find that out when the letters start coming together. Here you can see I have the edge of the page there, so I'm shortening this K a little bit and I will make the angle a little tighter there, just because I want it to fit on that piece of paper. That one can be a little bit more generous and this one can be even more generous still because there's just more room there. Those flourishing strokes, it's great to wait and see what the space will be like before you add them. Looking at the L in slow motion, the top is very similar to what we've done before, but the bottom has a little pen manipulation there right at the base. You don't have to add that. But it does add a nice bit of weight at the bottom there. Look at my pen, I'm twisting off the left corner of my pen. You could, if you find that stroke hard to do, you can do a stroke that is more like your top stroke for the bottom of the L. Then adding those flourishes in, just looks a little bear if you don't do that. I generally do add a little bit of an embellishment there. That would be your alternate stroke for the bottom of the L. 8. MNO: M- N- O. The lowercase m starts as the other letters we've been working on. So straight down, angle at the bottom, back up to the top, back into our first stroke, going up to the waistline then curving down for the second stroke. Then on the third stroke it straight up to the waistline, a little flare out, and then back and down for the third line and a bit of a tail. This letter will challenge your ability to do parallel lines and keep them all really straight. Especially because the tops are slightly different. It helps to move slowly and give a slight pause before you do that downward stroke to just center and ground yourself. Then you can just exhale and move down the stroke. You want to keep the interior spaces fairly tight because you don't want this letter getting really wide. Maybe just a hair thinner than the actual width of the downstroke is a good thing on the m. The n is so very similar. It's really the second half of the m with the slightly flared out top. The only difference being that you draw the bottom back in like we did on the h. It can be challenging than to not round out the bottom too much and keep your counter space as even as you can top to bottom. I already analyzed the lowercase o in the introductory video so you can go back there if you want to review. But it's a simple shape. Again, it's the one so many of these letters are based on. But simple can still be challenging to be very consistent and keep the graceful curves. Some of those curves are actually quite subtle. Challenge yourself, see if you can do a row of perfect o's and then post that in the class. We' d love to see it. Moving from one of the simplest letters to one of the more complex ones. Here we start the capital m with this arc that we've gotten used to you. But notice it's a little flatter on the right-hand side because there's a lot of information to follow it. Then you want to do your base and just end that base on the flat and then go up and draw the top. Notice I've got it even just a little below the cap line. You don't want to allow this m to get to monstrous or it will really dominate the page. Then down on the right-hand side, and then you go back and join the two parts, the top and bottom of the m and then go back and do your two drop shape. The capital N is almost exactly the same as the m. It's that same arc finishing off the arc here. Then the next strokes, almost at the top stroke, but the next stroke really should be that bottom strokes so that you start to get some form to your letter and define the main parts first. Then the stroke down the right-hand side should be very solid because there's a lot of curves in that letter. So it really needs a solid downstroke to help give the letter some stability. Carrying on through a line of ends. Pretty straightforward. Not too curvy at the top and again, very straight and solid. This one actually probably I have it bowing out a little bit more at the bottom than it should. It should be a little more stable on the bottom there, but you do want it to flare out a bit, so there's judgment involved in every letter. Slow motion capital o very much like the c and the g. But notice you want to stop that bottom stroke a little sooner. You don't want to carry it through or make it very wide because you're going to come up and do the stroke around the top on the right a nice arc down to meet your curve. Then up for the subtle s curve there and adding a little embellishment because that's quite a wide counter space. There's a lot of subtleties in the curves of this letter and the overall balance of the letter depends on getting that right. Take your time and try to analyze that a little bit. It's quite squared off in some places, but you don't want to get it too square either. You're looking for that balance. That stroke is a little bit too square there on the right-hand side. Anyways, carry on and do a row of o's. 9. PQRS: P, Q, R, and S. Lowercase p is a little surprising in that it starts up near the cap line at the 40 degree angle and you pull down a stroke all the way down to the descender line. Then I like to give it a little flip out at the bottom on the right corner of the nib. Then from there on it's very much like the h or the b in the shape of the top of the p there. Then you come down and there's couple of variations, couple things you can do with the bottom but my favorite thing is to just fill the p in there with the edge of my pen. Here we go. The downstroke with the curve at the top, then a little flick out the bottom. Across the top, pull back in to get the right counter space and then fill out the bottom of that p. Here's another option. Same pull back on the diagonal, but here the stroke is much heavier along the bottom of the p. That can be great in letter some places and other places it will be hard to deal with because it will interfere with the letter preceding the p. It's also a little bit heavy, so I tend to do a simpler base on the bottom of the p. But it's always an option, always a choice. The lowercase q, very much like an a with a tail. We start building it the same way across the top, down the back. In this case, I've pulled a little serif forward, which is a little unusual for the q, but quite a nice treatment. Here I'm doing the same thing again. Didn't quite get the line ending as nice as I would like it, so I'm going back in and drawing it in. Don't be afraid to retouch it anytime. Doing calligraphy, that's what we do, that's part of the process. Every calligrapher does it. It's perfectly acceptable to go back and retouch. This time, I'm going to make the line ending go back behind the q, a more traditional treatment. How you treat the back of the q will depend on the letters around the q. Your letters always need to fit into the space available. Lowercase r, the first stroke is exactly like the eye, but without the tail. Then you want to go back up to the waist and add a little wave stroke and then join it back into the body of the r. This is my favorite r definitely. It's the most elegant one and it's really nice how the top joins back into the body. But it can be problematic in terms of spacing sometimes because it's a bit long. There's other options that you can use if you want to fit your r tighter to the next letters so that you don't have so much open space below the top of the r. Then of course, you can also extend the r if it would happen to be the final letter in a word. Really there's a lot of options, a lot of different variations. Try various r's with the different tops. The small s can be one of the more challenging letters. Pay particular attention to that first curve because this s is really a series of very subtle curves. If you get that first curve right, everything should fall nicely into place. But if you don't get that curve in the right place, in the right proportion, your whole letter tends to fall apart. So really pay attention to all the subtle details of these curves. It's really easy to create an s that leans too far forward or falls backwards. It's all about a really subtle balancing throughout the letter. It's a good letter to practice. The good news is it's a fun letter to do, so hopefully you'll enjoy it. The capital P is one letter where I do use some pen rotation to lighten the stem of the P. If you watch my pen there, you can see the angle flattening out so that I get a thinner line and then flipping out a little bit at the base. Then we're right back to the 40 degree angle for the rest of the letter. But if you do the base, if you do that stem stroke at a full 40 degrees all the way down, it will just be really, really heavy. You can try it and see what you think, but it looks very heavy. Then I use a corner of the pen to just round that stroke and then finish off here with your teardrop shape. Let's look at that stroke again and notice that the change in pen angle is coming through my wrist and then the fingers are doing the little flick right at the end. But basically the motion is mostly coming from my shoulders and my wrist. The shoulders are responsible for the downward motion on a long stroke, and that leaves your wrist and fingers free for the smaller motions. Capital Q. This is quite a lovely letter, very much like the O. Again, it's the curve stopping a little bit sooner than you do on the C and the G, and then going across the top with a subtle curve, down to meet the point that you made at the bottom, and a little S curve going into the letter. Then for the tail on the Q, I usually turn the paper and that end piece will fit into your layout in some ways. There can be quite a few variations there. Starting like the O and then carrying on, this is a really fun letter to do. I really find it quite elegant and enjoyable. Remember that you don't have to finish each letter every time. If you're working on a layout, there are certain strokes that you'll want to leave off to the very end so that you can fit them into the available spaces. Certainly the tail on the Q is one. But many of the flourishing strokes, it's best if you actually go through and do the layout and leave those out. Then in the end you can tuck them into the spaces that are left. You can fit them into the letters that surround the letter that you're working on in a way that is really pleasing. Capital R. Let's look at this one in slow motion. It's the arc that we're quite used to by now and the wave shape across the bottom. Then we want to go into our arc and extend that, draw a stroke up to the top to create the bowl of the R. Basically I would do every part of the R except that leg again, because we're going to have to fit that into our space. Probably the best way to get that angle and get a really natural feeling leg on the R is to turn the paper sideways. This letter is very similar to the K, and there's a lot of different parts that you want to get in there in a way that they relate nicely to each other. Again, a reminder that your strokes come out of each other. So when you go back to do the top of the R, you want to go right back into that first stroke and create it. Then drawing the leg, you're going into your top stroke. Even though it's just the end of the point, you want to get right into it and make the strokes appear that they are related to each other, that they're joined, that they're part of the same family. Like the small s, the capital S is a balance of really subtle curves. It takes attention to detail to get a nicely balanced S. Nothing hard about it, but the curve should all balance and result in a letter that stands straight. It's a letter quite unlike most of the others. It really takes a little bit more practice usually, and it's a little more challenging to master than some of the other letters. You just want to stick with it, make sure you practice it without these guidelines. But it helps to do it with the guidelines first and just get a really good feel for it and then dive in and do it on your own, especially when those shapes are really fresh in your mind. 10. TUV: T, U, and V. The first thing you want to notice about the lowercase t is how short it is. It starts just above the waistline and well below the cap height or the ascender line. Just a simple shape and with the crossbar. A straightforward letter just down, angled to the right and then up a little bit and then adding your crossbar in. Another good one to practice to get your rhythm and your spacing working well. The lowercase u is basically like two Is put together, perhaps put this tail a little longer than you might, to allow you to have enough space in your counter space to do the second line. Then the little tale that you get by tipping up on your pen. It's a nice rhythmic letter. Not at all difficult to do. You just want to keep an eye on your counter space and watch for the whip, getting it the correct width. Notice on that first one I bowed out a little bit at the bottom. The second one is got a little better space, the counter space is more even and pleasing to the eye. Lowercase v starts out very much the same as the u. Then the second stroke is just a little simpler, straight down meeting your first stroke. Then up on the point of your nib to create the hair line across the top. Just an easy and elegant letter. Watch the curves. You can see I bowed out a little bit there. The bottom is a little wider than it should be. What a beautiful letter to do. The capital T is similar to the G and the C. You start with your 40 degree pen angle and carry around, stopping a little shorter than you would go on the C. Then doing that familiar stroke up at the top, the wave and then the little teardrop shape and a gentle curve down into the letter. Again, because there's quite a bit of counter space there, it's nice to add a little embellishment, little pen twist. Carry on with your T's. I'm running out of commentary on this one. We've done this shape now numerous times and hopefully it's starting to feel comfortable to you. If there's any movements that don't feel comfortable, like the little embellishment shape. We learned that in the color and curves class and went into it in more detail. You can always go back there if there's any challenges with that. The uppercase U, nothing difficult here. Slightly different stroke across the bottom there. Strong stroke down the right-hand side, similar to the A. Finish off with your little tail. The uppercase V, very similar to the U, but whereas the U can sometimes be a slightly awkward looking letter. The V, the curves just seem to balance quite beautifully and you have quite an elegant letter in the end. Especially if you get that top stroke right, which is done with the corner of the pen, it should arch up a little bit. It's part of what gives elegance to that letter. In this version, you'll notice I make it a bit flat and it destroys the letter slightly. But if you get a really nice arch in there, doesn't have to be much it'd be subtle, but it really adds a lot to the letter. 11. WXYZ: W, X, Y, and Z. The lowercase w starting out just like the I, and then on that center stroke, you don't want to go right up to the top, you want to start a little further down from the waistline, and then on the third line right back up to the top, and then join the two with a little flick. So the trick, of course, here is to get all those lines parallel, not an easy thing to do. Everything straight and parallel. Because the w is one of those letters that can get really wide, you want to tighten everything up just a little bit when you're doing a w so that the letter doesn't end up a lot larger than the other letters that you're writing. Lowercase x is a little unusual in that the downward stroke is angled, and then you want a substantial foot that just helps balance the x and then up to the top and over to the right. Then, you have that foot on the lower left to do. That can be a little awkward. I usually turn my paper upside down and complete it that way. So starting out at your usual position, just adding a angle in that downward stroke and traditionally, that angle was very straight. A lot of calligraphers today tend to update it by adding more of an angle. But you're left balancing that stroke out with the cross strokes, which can be a little bit challenging. Fortunately, the x isn't used that often. We would probably all get a lot better at it if it showed up more often. But it really is an unusual character in writing, so you don't really come across it that often. Lowercase y, starting as we always do, we're going back to straight line this time. Then, the 40 degrees stroke up, you might want to emphasize that a little bit because usually, that will be showing at the end of the day, so it forms the base of the aperture. Then, a straight line down the back. Actually, there's a small curve in that line. I'll talk about that in a minute, and then, adding your tail. So straight down across the front and actually, I break my own rule here. Trying to get the back of the y perfectly straight, gives you a really awkward letter. So this is the one place where I do curve ever so slightly on that back stroke and then you join it with your bottom stroke. But technically, it would seem as if that stroke should be straight, but it really does need a little bit of a curve to have some life and energy and not look too awkward. Lowercase z. We don't come across this too often, but it's a slightly arced stroke across the top, down to a short horizontal, and then down along straight vertical, stopping at the bottom on the 40 degree angle. Then, pick up your pen. Notice you're putting it down at the 40 degree angle again, finish off that bottom stroke, and then pick up your pen and finish the bowl of the z with the corner of your nib. It's actually quite an attractive letter and it's a little bit of balancing is necessary, but it's not that hard to balance. It's not as tricky as some of the other letters. So quite an enjoyable letter to do. It's too bad we don't do it more often. Uppercase W. Starting with that arc that we know and love by now and then a downward dip, a little unusual and then up and across the top and down for a very straight center line, and over to the right and then your final stroke, bringing it all together and a little flick to finish off the top. This is another letter with a lot of parts, and it really depends on that straight center stroke for balance because all the other strokes need to play off of that and if you get that center line off-balance, you'll have problems with your entire letter. So the straight strokes really help balance the curves, important to be able to do both quite well. Uppercase X. Again, we have that angled stroke down to a rather substantial foot, and then up to form the cross and we can do a little pen manipulation there in the end, twisting up on the left corner of our nib, and I would usually leave the foot till the last because I'll turn the paper upside down to do that. So down, angle, across, back up. Finishing off the teardrop shape there, then across the top, and in this case, carrying on to the next letter, leaving the foot until another time. Uppercase Y. One of the more curvy flourishy letters. Again, you want a nice curve, not too extreme, but a nice gentle curve across the back of the letter, and you can really have a lot of fun with the Y here really. Why not? You'll do the flourish at the bottom with the tip of your pen and your little teardrop shape. The beauty of the Y is that it is quite flexible and here, you can see I've gone, not even as low as the descender line on this, I've kept it fairly short and compact. But it will really depend on your layout. While we never want caps to get too large, working with Gothic lettering, you do have quite a bit of flexibility in how low you take your Y and you just want to make it fit nicely into your layout. You can have a lot of fun with the flourish if you have room for it. Uppercase Z starts with a subtle arc, and then it's a little rounder across the back than the lowercase z but basically same shape, picking up the pen to do the front and then up on the nib for that flourish. A fun letter, one that we don't do very often, again. So that's it. That is your Gothic alphabet. Thank you so much for joining me and I'm sure you're really tired of the sound of my voice by now. I know I certainly am and so are my pets. They do not understand why I'm talking to this computer. I should tell you that if you've heard any moaning in the background or snoring, that's just my dog. So please don't mind that. Thank you so much for joining me and I'll see you in the assignment. 12. Project Requirements: Your project for this class is simple and yet also challenging. It is to create a five by seven greeting card containing one to five words using the Gothic hand we have just learned. I suggest using Strathmore watercolor cards available at art supply stores as your card stock. You could also fold watercolor paper to create a five by seven card. As discussed in the previous classes, many less expensive papers and cards will bleed if you try to write directly on them. If you're struggling to determine which ink or paper to use, both my earlier classes have more detailed information regarding ink and paper choice. Besides writing directly on the card, another option is to write on clear fountain or bleed proof marker paper. Clear fountain will give the best results. Then scan your work and print digitally. That is what I do for the cards that I sell in my Etsy store. Should you choose that approach, there are several other Skillshare classes that review how to scan and if you like, digitize your calligraphy. 13. Spacing & Balance : Up until this point, we have been focused on individual letters and counter spaces. The spaces inside your letters. As soon as you start arranging your letters into words and phrases, you have many more spaces to take into consideration. As in typography, you now have letter spacing, the space between letters, line spacing and word spacing to be concerned with. Don't underestimate the importance of the space surrounding your design. At this point, if you know what your words are, please write them quickly, like a sketch on translucent marker paper. Notice they form different shapes. Now we can work with them like puzzle pieces. Our goal now is to take the various pieces of this puzzle and craft a cohesive, balanced piece of writing. We may want it to be legible, probably we do, but we may not. But without some balance, it will fall completely apart. There's a huge hazard here for beginners. It's natural to think that you've done these amazing letters, so now you need to create this crazy awesome layout. There's also a temptation to use all caps, please don't, or stack letters vertically, please don't. Both of those will give you a way as a novice immediately. Instead, think of Gothic letters as something rich and decadent, visual candy. Candy enriched desserts are best presented in small portions on white plates. Do your letters the same justice, give them wide margins, space them tightly. The medieval manuscripts got that right. You do have alignment options. Flush left, flush right, classical centering or staggered to create a symmetrical balance. Allow your lettering to determine what works best visually, usually by quickly trying all of the above. My choice was pretty easy because thank you and skillshare are approximately the same length. They'll work well on two lines and their horizontal placement also mirrors the shape of the card. Once you've determined the placement, have a look at letter spacing. The best way to do that is quickly filling in your counter spaces and letter spaces with a bit of red marker. Stand back and squint slightly. You'll see where the red is too heavy. That means your letters are spaced too widely. Where the red is very light, that means your letters are space too tightly. Recognizing that you can make the necessary adjustments the next time you write these words. The best calligraphy appears effortless, but in reality, the calligrapher probably got there through several or many attempts. Remember, in the end, our goal is to create beauty, authentic, imperfect beauty that communicates our humanity. Surrounded by computer-generated perfection, calligraphy can bring a refreshingly honest touch to the world. 14. End Notes: Thank you so much for joining me in this class. I hope you learned a lot and are well on your way with Gothic calligraphy. I have learned so much, it's so true that when you teach you learn. You cannot possibly view your own hand enlarged at high-definition without learning a thing or two. A special thanks to Skillshare for making this learning platform available to us. My parting thought is that calligraphy can be just an enjoyable pastime, the creation of beautiful letters, but it can also be so much more by understanding how words from the past affect our world today, we get some sense of the importance of choosing the words we scribe with care, if beautifully rendered, they just might survive to resonate in the future. Write well.