Friday, January 29, 2010

Bev Hills Gothic Class

Beverly Hills Adult School Class #2: DeAnn reviewed the Gothic Textura alphabet letter by letter and also went over spacing.

Today’s most important idea: The overall texture is more important than the individual letter’s legibility.

One historical theory to explain how Gothic textura evolved into a very compact style of writing is that the Crusades were on-going during its development. Because the Crusades cost so much money, the Church spent less on parchment and so to conserve its use, the writing style became compact. For example, a large book would need a herd of cattle for its parchment pages.

Lining the grid paper: For the 5mm Brause nib or the Speedball C0, the x-height (width between waist to base) is 5 pen widths, which is 1-inch or 8 boxes on the grid paper. The space from the waist to the ascender is 2 pen widths, which is 3 boxes; the space from the base to the descender is also 2 pen-widths, or 3 boxes. The ascender is also called an extender. So line the sheet so that the darker-blue lines will form the x-height every other inch. Then divide the 8 boxes in-between in 3-2-3 boxes; the first 3 are the descender, then 2 boxes for inter-linear space (space between lines of writing), then 3 boxes for the ascender of the next line. DeAnn suggests lining the paper once, then cutting that strip to create a template that you can just place against a clean sheet so you don’t have to measure each time. (see photo).

Review of the elements that make up the Gothic textura letter: think of the squares as serifs; serif = decoration. The rectangle strokes are not decoration.

The square serifs should pierce the waist-line and base-line just slightly so that the letters don’t look too short. Practice will help you learn where to end the down-stroke so the square serif only slightly pierces the base-line. The square serifs can touch (e.g. m, n, u, v, w)

Spacing is true picket fence; the space between the down-strokes = the width of the down-stroke. White space = dark space. So the “color” of the text is very dark. All the down-strokes for the letters in a word should look evenly spaced apart. Spacing between words is only slightly more than between letters; all the whitespace should look more or less equivalent in texture.

Notes on individual letters:

“h” : the left side of the rectangle-stroke should touch the letter and the waist-line.

“g” & “y” : for the descender, you can either curve out or slant away and leave a hairline to connect to

“p” & “q”: for the descender, rock your nib to the left at the end

“d” : think of it as an “o” with a longer rectangle stroke on top; start slightly to the left of the edge of the first down-stroke. The ascender is not a curve, but more of an entrance serif, either in the up or down direction.

Hangover letters: for “c”, “e”, “r”, “t”, “f”, “x”, leave the square serif off of the next letter and overlap or tuck underneath to start the down-stroke. E.g. ru, ei, ci, ce.

Illuminated Manuscript Project: start thinking about what text you may want to use. Think in terms of the time period, e.g. Beowulf, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, even later poets like John Donne or Shakespeare. But any text that you like is OK. You’ll need about 50 – 100 words, but even if your text is too long, you can edit an excerpt from it.

HOMEWORK: write alphabet sentences. See DeAnn’s website to download them: Go to “About”, then “About Calligraphy”, then “Alphabet Sentences.”

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