First and foremost before we dive headfirst into putting ink onto our nibs, we need to have a look at our guidelines.
Copperplate calligraphy has a set of basic rules. These set of rules will help us form consistent letterforms which are essential visual components for the script. The guidelines are there to help facilitate that.
These are the terms that you should be familiarising yourself with:
Baseline – Define the lower limits of where most of your lowercase and uppercase letters will be sitting.
Header – Define as the upper limits of your lowercase that do not have any ascenders.
X-Height – The height between the Baseline and Header line which is the height of your letters (eg, 5mm, 6mm, 7mm, 8mm).
1st Ascender / 2nd Ascender – Define as the upper limits of letters that have ascenders.
1st Descender / 2nd Descender – Define as the lower limits of letters that have descender.
Slant line – Copperplate calligraphy generally stays at a slant of 55 degrees.
How to use guidelines
When we write copperplate calligraphy, these guidelines keep us in check – where our letters should sit, the height of the letters, where ascenders and descenders should start and end as well as the keeping letters parallel to each other with the same slant.
For lowercase letters like a,c,e,o etc, you can see that it sits within the header and baseline, while lowercase letters with ascending lines (e.g b,d,h,l etc) will have its ascenders extended till the 2nd ascending line and not extend beyond it. Vice versa with lowercase letters with descending lines (eg, p,q,g,y etc).
When you apply the guidelines and write a complete word it will have consistent height, slant, ascenders and descenders – visually it is important to have this consistency.
Download your free guide sheet
Bonus material that is available for download down below *Click on the download button*!
It’s a 7mm guide sheet that you can print out to use it for your own practice. You can also use the guide sheet for the upcoming post in this series where we will be exploring the basics strokes in our lowercase letters.