Calligraphy, which translates to mean “beautiful writing,” was the original way books were printed 500 years before commercialisation and printing presses. Reading materials were hand lettered with speciality pens, paper and ink, using creative lettering styles. Centuries later, the practice of calligraphy still finds popularity with wedding invitation letterers, people who keep up the art of the "snail-mail" letter and designers interested in artistic text.
The Foundational Hand is the one that calligraphy newcomers often learn first as an introduction to the art form. Although the term for the style was created in the early 1900s, its inspiration comes from a 10th-century script called the Ramsay Psalter. A nib width of four is used to create the upper and lower case lettering of the Foundational Hand, which is used for formal designs such as wedding invitations and special event envelopes. The letter “O” is the guide point for the Foundational Hand alphabet.
The Unical Hand style of calligraphy stands apart from other varietals because it has no lower case; it is purely an upper case writing style. Unical Hand came to be popular around the seventh century and is mostly chosen for bold, informal work such as brochure titles and letter greetings. The guiding letter for Unical Hand is the “O,” keeping a wide, round base as the guide for drawing other letters. Unical Hand experts select a nib width of four for writing in the style; three to three and a half is also accepted.
Gothic Lower Case
Gothic Lower Case is similar to the Unical Hand in that it supports only one lettering style; its letters are solely lower case, much like the Unical Hand is only upper case. The Gothic Lower Case style became popular in the 13th century but has since evolved from its original state into a more angular and sharp lettering design, giving an almost diamond-like shape and extra flourishes on the tops and bottoms. Gothic Lower Case writers use a nib width of five to create their letters, with each letter based on the “O” shape as a guide.
For a bit of extra-fancy lettering, try the Flourished Italic style, which calls for long letter stems with the letter “a” as a guide. The style became popular in Italy’s 16th century and is used for creative, nonformal work. Flourished Italic calls for a five nib-width pen, though smaller pens may be used to create smaller flourishes. The Flourished Italic may also be used as inspiration for page decorations; once the lettering is mastered, flourishes may be created as simple designs to fill corners or a border.
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