Archive for the ‘Calligraphy’ Category

The broad pen or “my new best friend”

November 6, 2006

The broad nib pen is more enjoyable than the pointed pen. At least for the moment. It was really tough at first but now I’ve grasped the principle and the shapes come very naturaly. With the pointed pen one must really be precise in order to get the shapes right while a little hesitation with the broad nib pen isn’t so bad.



The pen

October 8, 2006


I should have posted this I while ago but somehow I’ve forgoten

Every thursday we are going to do a whole day of caligraphy. Pointed nib in the morning and broad nib in the afternoon. I didn’t expect caligraphy to be so physicaly exhausting. By the end of the day your whole body aces. But the frustrating thing is that the results on paper are so poor. It looks like you’ve been writing with your left hand. Well actually I am left handed so for me it would be the right hand then. Do you still follow me?

So the pointed nib, as the name indicates, is the pointy one. When you make horizontal and upward strokes the pen makes thin strokes but if you press on the nib as you make a downward stroke the nid opens up and you get a thick stroke. As a result you get very high contrast and vertical axis letters. One could say that you get Bodoni or “Didot” looking letters. If you refer the Noordzij’s theory of writing in his book “the stroke”, the type of contrast you make with the pointed pen is the result of the “expension” properties of that nib. It’s not the direction of the nib that defines the thick and thin parts of the letters but rather the pressure you apply on the nib.

Now lets talk about the broad nib pen. For this lesson we didn’t actualy use a pen but instead we used a brush. The reason is that with the broad nib pen you should only make downward strokes. Thecnicaly you can make upward strokes with a pen but you can’t with a brush. So with the brush we wont be able to cheat. We didn’t go as far as making real letters yet. We learned to hold the pen at a 30% angle by making horizontal and vertical strokes. By the end of the lesson your back is broken and you’ve only covered two sheets of paper with wobbly lines. In theory when making letters with the braod nib pen the contrast is the result of the “translation” properties of that nib. It’s not the pressure you apply on the pen that defines the thick and thin parts of the letter but rather the direction you give to the nib.

Neither digital nor analog

October 3, 2006

Drawbot and calligraphy are quite different things. One is concerned with translating computer commands —or is it bits?— into shapes and the other is rather more ancient and relies only on your old fashion arm and hand to generate shapes.

Frankly I suck at Drawbot and I am not that great at calligraphy either. This makes for a bad combination because you feel at once stupid and clumsy. Too much of both becomes a dangerous cocktail of headaches and arm cramps.

All these new activities make me realize that I am part of that very short generation of designers who can’t use a pair of scissors and are scared of their own computers.

In the past there was a generation of designers who learned to cut and stick letters together with illustrations and photographs. These guys liked to get their agile hands dirty. There was no hope for you in the design field if you had two left hands.

Soon there will be an army of young designers who program their own softwares, fix their own computers and turn buildings into giant Tetris game.

Well, maybe I fantasize a bit about the past and the future but I really believe that right now there is a whole bunch of designers out there whose best computer trick is to use command-Z.