Archive for category Subject: Letterforms
This is an attractive book that’s really hard to classify. It’s not exactly art instruction, yet not quite calligraphy either. That is, of course, broadly the point and the idea is to suggest images that contain both watercolour and lettering. The subtitle, “the simple art of handwriting with watercolour embellishment” says as much.
To be absolutely honest, I think you could flick through it, say “Oh yes” and then get on with your own ideas. However, if you want projects, images and letterforms, it’s all here and, in spite of my reservations, I can’t help liking it – and that’s really quite high praise.
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This nicely-done and copiously illustrated work offers a look at calligraphy alphabets beyond the usual Roman, Italic and Uncial. You get Celtic, Oriental, Greek, Hebrew, Cyrillic and more with details of how to cut and hold your pens as well as the letter shapes, and notes about the tradition in a variety of cultures.
I think it’s fair to say that this is something for the calligraphy enthusiast rather than the beginner or dilettante. You need to be comfortable with basic techniques (and Margaret has several books which will help you master those) before you try the less-familiar shapes that are shown here. However, if you’re looking for a way to expand your range, you’ll find a lot to explore and digest here.
Basic lettering guides come and go and, if this is what you’re looking for, you’ve always been spoilt for choice. By their nature, they don’t differ very much and it’s often hard to choose between them.
For some reason, though, there don’t seem to have been as many in recent years – perhaps publishers realised that the market was saturated – and so this one has a clearer field in which to work.
Of its type it has the great merit of being simple. One of the complaints against this kind of book can be that they try to teach too much at once. There are a great many letter forms and shapes in calligraphy and it’s all too easy for the beginner to get overwhelmed with minuscule, majuscule, italic, uncial and roman.
The first third of the book is taken up with materials and basic techniques, which is just about the right proportion, with the rest being devoted to six hands. I was surprised that it’s that many because it’s all handled in only about 60 further pages, which means that you only get the most basic coverage for each one, and that’s about right for the beginner. Having followed this sampler approach, there are plenty of other books you can go to for further study, but you’ll do so with a lot more confidence than you would from a book that’s just left you confused by too much information at the start.
Calligraphy can be as simple and cheap or as complex as you want and it’s a satisfying craft you can follow very easily just from books. This is the best introduction I’ve seen in a good many years.
There’s no shortage of letterform guides for aspiring calligraphers, so you might ask whether the world really needs another one. Stop right there, because this is the one that renders all the others obsolete!
Although it’s not published as part of the Artist’s Bible series, this well thought out little book is in the same format, with spiral binding that lays flat without having to be weighted down and pages that are designed to be viewed as a set of spreads. This layout has proved to be the answer to a great many subjects and media and this is no different.
The authors give is a generous selection of alphabets including Uncial, Roman, Carolingian, Copperplate and Gothic and they also include a short guide to basic working methods and some advice on choosing which letterforms to use for a given job. This section is concise and isn’t intended to supplant a general guide to calligraphy, allowing the book to concentrate on its main job, which is to show the reader how to form the letters they actually want to use.
For clarity, attention to detail and not being diverted from the avowed purpose of the book, you’d have to give this 12 out of 10.
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