Learning Index >> Calligraphy: an education in letter form

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Edward Johnston
The book of martyrs
C.86.17
 
    

Compare these two details taken from manuscripts written by Johnston in April and October 1898. (C86.13, C86.17). You might like to list the differences in letter structure that you observe. Look in particular at the way bowls of letters such as 'p' branch from the letter stem, look at the shape of the feet of the letters and the cross bar of 'e'.

The flat endings to the feet, the high branching of strokes from the stems of letters like 'p' 'n' 'r' 'h', and the horizontal cross bar of 'e' are all indications that the broad edged nib is being held with the nib positioned straight along the line of writing, parallel to the base line. You can experiment with this yourself. You will also find that if you then slant the pen instead of holding it straight, the letters you write will change back to look closer to the letters in C86.13.

What Johnston learnt from this was that the angle you hold the pen at, in relation to the line you are writing along, is one of the crucial factors in determining the look of a letter. When studying any script this pen angle must be noted and applied consistently or the look of letters will vary. At its simplest Johnston noted there are two kinds of 'look', writing with a straight or slanted pen angle.

Back to case study - following Johnston's own learning process

 

 

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