Calligraphy Styles – Calligraphy “Fonts”

Calligraphy Styles - Font SamplesWhether you call it fancy writing, pretty handwriting, or anything else, the definition of Calligraphy is beautiful writing. Calligraphy styles are referred to as “hands”. A font is a set of type such that you would choose for your computer, or a style of type that would be printed by a machine. There are many fonts with different names that copy calligraphy styles such as:

  • Old English (which was really old German!)
  • Gothic Black letter*
  • Uncial/Celtic
  • Lucida (some people mistakenly call it Lucinda)
  • Edwardian Script
  • Spencerian Script
  • Italic – cursive

gothic black letterInterestingly, the “Italic” common usage in fonts refers to any style that is slanted to the right. You can italicize any font on your computer by choosing the variation “italic”. However, in calligraphy terms, “italic” comes from the “Italian” originator of the hand, Ludivico degli Arrighi. The italic style of lettering is made with a square cut nib, is based upon an oval shape and leans slightly to the right. Italic is truly my favorite hands, and one you will see all through my examples of calligraphy.

BTW: Black letter* is a misnomer. This name was given to the style of calligraphy that had an appearance of the page being covered with letters. In actuality, there was no paper at the time, and scribes wrote on parchment, which is animal skin! Because preparing parchment or vellum (skin from an unborn calf) was very time consuming, the scribes came up with a style of writing that would fit the most text possible on each piece of parchment. That’s how the name “black letter” came about.

Copperplate calligraphy is written with a pointed pen. Thick and thin parts of the letter are created by putting slight pressure on the nib as you draw the letter. Upstrokes will be thin, also called hairlines; downstrokes will be thicker, because that’s the time when you can apply pressure on the nib.

You can learn about the history of calligraphy in many books that are available online. Check out my recommendations. If there’s a book that you’re not sure about, you can drop me a line to ask if I’ve seen it, or know the author. I’ve been lucky enough to study with many of the well-known and very talented calligraphers that have written books. And I’ve been honored to have my logo design included in one of those books!
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