Last year I was interested in learning calligraphy and looked into a few online calligraphy courses. I ended up taking Molly Jacques’ Introduction to the Art of Modern Calligraphy. When I took this course, there was a list of suggested nibs, holders, paper, etc. but I had already purchased some tools and since we live in small town in Canada, I had nowhere local to get the suggested tools and I wanted to avoid the shipping cost and time of buying more supplies. Unfortunately, the stuff I bought did not work for me, so I got quickly frustrated.
Later, I purchased the tools recommended by Molly and have been happy to find a nib and paper combination that is working for me. Here are the tools I am using:
I had a really hard time finding the calligraphy tools I’m using now. I could only find some of them on paperinkarts.com.
- Nib: My favourite nib is a Nikko G pointed nib. It took me many types of nibs to find this one. I found the Speedball nibs the worst, but the others weren’t much better, I just couldn’t get make thick and thin lines.
- Nib holder: I’ve been using a regular Speedball holder, but have also tried others. I found that taking the nibs in and out because I had a fewer holders than nibs was annoying, so I now have a holder for each nib type.
- Ink: I have been using Higgins Eternal black ink. I have a few others, so I would like to do some more testing.
- Paper: Boris Marker Layout 9×12 paper pad (50 sheets). The initial paper I tried was part of my problems because it wasn’t smooth enough and kept catching the tip of the nib and making big ink splatters. While I am pretty happy with the Boris Marker Layout paper, I do find that the oils from my hands create spots on the page that I can’t write on. Also, the Boris Marker Layout paper is kind of see through, which makes it a little harder to digitize.
To make the top image, I started with this phone photo:
This is how I digitized the calligraphy word:
Digitizing Calligraphy Steps
- I took a photo of my calligraphy with my iPhone 4s.
- I brought the image into Photoshop, then:
- Created a duplicate layer of the image and changed the blending mode to Soft Light.
- Made levels and curves adjustment layers to try to make the background whiter.
- Then I saved the Photoshop version and opened the file in Illustrator, then:
- Selected the image and chose Live Trace. Actually, I think I opened the options for Live Trace to get the best trace.
- Then I chose Expand.
- Then I was able to delete the few random dots.
- Then I saved the word as a PNG file so I could put it on top of the photo.
I’m not super happy with my digitizing results, so I really want to complete the online course I have previously purchased, Digitizing Calligraphy: from sketch to vector by Molly Suber Thorpe on Skillshare. As I learn more about calligraphy, I will add it to this page.
- Online course: Introduction to the Art of Modern Calligraphy by Molly Jacques on Skillshare
- Online course: I Still Love Calligraphy by Melissa Esplin
- Book: Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy: A Step-by-Step Manual by Eleanor Winters
Do you know of any helpful calligraphy resources (books or websites)? Post a link in the comments.