October 19, 2009
Beverly Hills Adult School Class #5: Today DeAnn covered capitals. The handout was an exemplar of Roman (simple serif) capitals.
For warm-up, we continued working with the 2 1/2 mm Brause nib on the text (if chosen already) that will be used for the manuscript project.
TIP: Use a post-it note to keep your place in the text that you’re practicing. Place the post-it underneath the line you’re working on and move it along as you progress. This saves you time and also helps you from mistakenly writing a sentence over again.
DeAnn stressed setting up your work area & your board correctly. Tape down the inkwell to your right, place the board in your lap so that you’ll right at table level, and clip down a few clean sheets of grid paper for padding, but don’t clip down the sheet you’re writing on. You should be able to move this sheet as you write.
Capitals are 7 1/2 – 8 pen widths in general (DeAnn had us write this on the exemplar). For today, we used the lines for the 2 1/2 mm nib that we were already practicing on, which makes the capitals barely 7 pen widths tall. So today, the capitals will go from the base-line to the ascender, but this isn’t always the case (e.g. Italic capitals are shorter than the ascender).
For these Roman capitals, the pen angle is about 30-degrees, steeper than the 22-degree angle for the Carolingian lowercase letters. These capitals have simple serifs.
I – for better flow, write the stem stroke, then the lower serif, then the top serif last.
O – note the oval counter space (inner space); the outside is round like an orange. Keep your eye on the right side of the nib when making the first stroke, then on the left side of the nib when making the second curved stroke (i.e. watch the counter space you’re making).
H – the crossbar is slightly higher than the waist.
A – think “teepee” for the shape; the crossbar is slightly lower than that of the H.
T – cross the top so that the top side of the pen nib is on the ascender line.
N – steepen the pen angle to 45 – 55 degrees for the stem strokes; pen angle returns to 30-degrees for the diagonal. Be careful to overlap the ends of the diagonal stroke with the stem strokes.
V – for now, write the diagonal strokes first to get a more symmetrical letter before putting on the serifs.
Y – think “martini glass” for the shape. You can write the v-shape first, then the stem, if that’s easier for you to create a symmetrical “martini glass” right now.
Z – if you feel that the diagonal stroke of the Z is too narrow, try flattening the pen angle to thicken that stroke.
K – notice where the lower branch of the K touches the top branch. Don’t curve the lower branch stroke.
E – the middle cross stroke is slightly above the halfway mark.
F – the lower stroke is slightly below the halfway mark. If you were to imagine the stem stroke with a line at the halfway point, the lower side of the nib would be on the line for the E; the top side of the nib would be at the line for the F.
L – the lower stroke has a very tiny exit stroke (don’t curve up).
B – start like an L. After the top curve, start the lower curve and look at the left side of the nib to meet the slight exit stroke of the base.
R – start like a P. Look carefully at the exemplar for the placement of the leg – it shouldn’t curve.
G – pull the first stroke (lower curve) a tiny bit straight, keeping it close to the base line. From the halfway point, make a sturdy connection for the vertical stroke.
D – start like an L. Keep an eye on the left side of the nib so the curve of the D will meet the base stroke smoothly.
M – think of its shape like a V with slightly splayed legs attached. All the strokes can be written as down strokes or as down-down-up-down.
W – Think of the shape as 2 sets of diagonal strokes. All strokes can be written as down strokes or as down-up-down-up.
U – once you make the first stroke, look at where the curve ends & go up. The left side of the nib should meet the curved line as you write the stroke.
DeAnn’s TIP: When making the connections for the capitals: Look where you’re going, not where you’ve been. Also study the counter space (white space) of the letters.
DeAnn will e-mail us the stroke sequence (= ductus) for the capitals.
HOMEWORK: Practice writing your text with the capitals. If you haven’t decided on one piece yet, try different ones you’re interested in.
Illuminated manuscript project: dimensions are 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet with generous margins. Text written with 1 1/2 mm Brause nib. Decorative capital to start. Text should be 50 – 100 words.