Calligraphy - A Comprehensive Guide to Beautiful Lettering - Jane Sullivan

Calligraphy Book Reviews

In the original days of calligraphy, back in the days of the Greeks, Romans, and Medieval scholars, only a few people could read and write. Calligraphy was a special, artist talent for the chosen few. Nowadays with all the technology and keyboards and texting, they aren't even teaching cursive any more in most schools. Calligraphy and its beauty has once again become a tradition maintained by loyal artists. One difference is that where in medieval times you had to be able to seek out and study with a monk to learn calligraphy, in modern times it's the click of a mouse button away to get a stunning book like this one.

Calligraphy - A Comprehensive Guide to Beautiful Lettering by Jane Sullivan is indeed a thing of beauty. This is a large-format book, 8 3/4" x 11 1/2", so the images are presented in full color and large size. Jane first talks about the history of calligraphy and how it's been treasured over the years. And then she instructs you in style after style. For each style she shows real-life historical examples, talks about its history, and then gives practical step-by-step instructions on how to make the letters. She explains exactly the angle to hold the calligraphy pen at for the style, the best size nib, and the order of strokes for each letter.

Calligraphy - A Comprehensive Guide to Beautiful Lettering - Jane Sullivan

The lettering styles covered in this book are:

Unical Script
Celtic Majuscule Script
Celtic Minuscule Script
Carolingian Minuscule Script
Gothic Script
French Batarde Script
Humanist Minuscule Script
Italic Script
Copperplate Script

Then there are practice pages to work on tracing and drawing the letters:

Copperplate Majuscule Practice
Copperplate Minuscule Practice
Italic Majuscule Practice
Italic Minuscule Practice
Humanist Majuscule Practice
Humanist Minuscule Practice
Carolingian Practice
French Batarde Practice
Gothic and French Batarde Majuscule Practice
Gothic Minuscule Practice
Celtic Majuscule Practice
Celtic Minuscule Practice
Unical Practice

Here's an example of the beautiful full-color historical documents she provides for inspiration.

Calligraphy - A Comprehensive Guide to Beautiful Lettering - Jane Sullivan

Those who think that all calligraphy styles are reasonably the same might be impressed when they go through this book. Some letters are fairly straightforward and written with the nib at a 30 degree angle. Some get more complex and are at a 45 degree angle. The Celtic Majuscule works at just a 10 degree angle. Jane also provides a range of beautiful illuminated letters to practice with.

There are also a number of fun projects in here, from origami-style cards to a beautiful menu and more. Your creativity is definitely piqued!

It's also worth noting that no single book on calligraphy could ever hold EVERY single version of every alphabet out there. As she mentions while describing the upper-case letters in Gothic: "Hundreds of variations on these cpaital letters exist. During th emedieval period there were alrady innumerable regional variations, and right up to the present, Gothic, Fraktur, Batarden, and "Old English" styles of calligraphy and typography have generated many more models. Often the distinction between related families of scripts becomes blurred."

This book is a great inspiration for anyone who is interested in calligraphy. Explore all the different styles, and then create your own with the flourishes which speak to your soul!

Well recommended.

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