Inktober Is Coming

You may be asking “What is Inktober”? It’s sort of a weird name, right? Something cobbled together from “Ink” and “October”. And you’re right. But it’s more. “Inktober” is an artist challenge dreamed up by illustrator Jakes Parker. Its original purpose was to improve his personal inking skills. But the challenge has been taken on by others. Inktober’s primary rule was drawing something in ink everyday for a month. Easy right? The website encourages you to take pictures and post them. My goal is to just do it. Because – as in my SCA motto Gloria in Facto – there is Justice In The Doing. You can use any kind of ink. Dip pen, micron pen, cartridge pen. As an SCA scribe you might choose a quill or bamboo. You can use any inks you want commercial or self-produced, modern or medieval. You can do this in a sketchbook or on single pages. You could also use Inktober to practice your calligraphy for a month. Each day a different phrase. Each day a different script. Each day a different pangram. The fun is your efforts don’t have to be perfect or extensive. It’s up to you to determine what qualifies as answering the challenge each day. You’re the only one that will know or judge your effort. Parker’s intent was to improve his illustration sketching skills. But I see it as an excellent scribal experiment and personal challenge. To play […]

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Tips To Drawing More Period People

The way Medieval faces, feet, and hands appear in manuscripts varies by era or location, often in the details. Some appear cartoonish others more realistic. What’s the best way for you to learn how to draw period-looking people?  Motifs I traced then transferred to M. Luciana’s Renaissance scroll. Most of us have been seeing since we were born but learning how to observe […]

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Tracing Uses

Tracing is not cheating. Well, it is if you are passing something off as your own work. But meticulously copying a medieval manuscript you admire is excellent practice. It works well for copying illumination motifs and is a period practice.  This image of the manual is from the Public Domain Review Tracing is even better for calligraphy. It helps you learn the best tools and strokes to use to achieve a manuscript’s same result. It’s also a good exercise warming up your hand-eye-brain connection before a lettering session. To better understand your favorite manuscript’s letter formation select a page with mostly script. Download and print all or part of it in a size that suits your premium printer paper and nib sizes. (Any printer paper less than premium bleeds ink for sure.) Adjust the page size and density through your photo editor. Select your nib size to approximate the printout. Then go over the letters your print out. If you go to the British Library’s Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts advanced search on the right there is a box where you can enter a script’s name. Their terms are rather specific so you might have to try more than once with different script names. Or select a manuscript by location and era. You might also practice letters from this 1510  pattern book from Swabia, Germany made by Gregorius Bock that I’ve pictured. Once you have your printed page you can trace the script and form the letters like […]

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Nobody Told Me…

My binder-portfolio with the early stuff I made. Nobody tells this to you who are beginners. Beginners in any creative craft. I wish someone told me.  If you do creative work, you get into it because you have good taste built within you. But there’s a gap between starting to create and being good.  it’s the just not that good […]

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10 Ways To Practice Calligraphy

To warm-up for calligraphy or test different nibs, I write the “quick brown fox…” thing.  For more practice, I have several pangrams I use or give to my students.  When I’m waiting to leave for an appointment I sometimes use a chisel point calligraphy practice marker to doodle universal strokes or specific letters I want to improve. I try to fill a whole page, but that gets boring quickly.  So what can I do to make calligraphy practice fun, enjoyable, or purposeful? Here are some ideas I found. Maybe there’s some that will work for you. I’d also like to know what you do to practice calligraphy. Please leave me ideas in the comments below. These may be done in any script you want to use. Write them in more than one script if you want.  Write a collection of words with double letters, like “ss” or “tt” etc.  Find interesting proverbs or phrases you like. Write them out with their meaning. Or do this with jokes or puns you find funny. Write a detailed review of the last book or movie you saw. Take a page from any book. Write it’s words out without any break between letters. Attempt to keep the letters consistently spaced apart. Go through the alphabet writing a short word or person’s name for each letter. To take this to the next level add flourishes to any ascenders, descenders, or the first or last letter. This one tests your mind too. Write a poem, or nursery rhyme […]

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Illuminating Color Mixing

Iluminators were known to layer paints more than mix them. Yet there are written notes and illuminations that show they mixed colors too, especially later in the Middle Ages.  Mixing colors makes its own problems. The more colors you combine, eventually ends with mud. Over-mixing also dulls the paint combination.  Learn by doing: mix two gouache primary colors Which colors should you use […]

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How Can You Boost Your Scribal Confidence?

Confidence comes from physical activity. Just doing that thing you are interested in on a regular basis boosts faith in yourself. For me, it unleashed my calligraphy and illumination reliance.   I started with little skill, as you see here. What I had was a desire to learn. To make mistakes.  Mistakes are guideposts for a new direction, not failures. […]

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