Calligraphy

Purpose

Calligraphy Basics

Keys

Wish List

Credits

For practicing calligraphy penmanship.

Calligraphy was originally written in Java in 1997 as a programmer's guide example, never really intended for practicing calligraphy. However, people keep using it. I'm learning Flash now, and decided to replace the old applet with a new Flash movie that does a better job. This new version provides a number of printing options, textured and tinted papers, transparency settings on the ink, many more colors of ink and paper, a round pen nib as well as the standard chisel nib, a much-needed UNDO capability, zooming in and out on your work, and sample fonts onscreen. All packaged in, hopefully, a more attractive screen design.

Calligraphy Basics

What we in the US usually think of as "calligraphy" is done with a flat-nibbed pen. This adds some flourish to writing, as the pen draws lines that range from very thin, to the width of the pen, along the path of the pen stroke.

You can write at any size you want, but the starting rule of thumb is that the height of your letters should be 5x the width of the pen nib. Example:

"Serifs" are the little fiddly bits on fonts like Times New Roman, that don't exist on san-serif fonts such as Arial and Verdana. In calligraphy, serifs are added to letters with tiny sideways motions.

This Calligraphy software also supports a round nib marker, for other effects. To switch nibs, click on the spare nib at the upper left of the "Nib and Ink" area.

Opacity is the opposite of transparency. If paper tint opacity is 100%, you won't see any of the paper texture through it - just flat paper color. If ink opacity is less than 100%, you can see through to the paper a bit, and see where pen strokes cross each other. Unfortunately, with the round pen nib, you'll also see circles in your pen strokes. That isn't easy to fix. You may wish to set ink opacity to 100% for use with the round nib.

Keys

Right-clicking (ctrl-mouse click on Mac) anywhere brings up a context menu. In addition to the same print options as on the Print menu, the context menu allows you to zoom in on your work. This makes it much easier to control the mouse.

The Ctrl-Z, Backspace, and Delete keys all do Undo.

Wish List

Some features on the wish list:

  • Stamps - for ink-printing your stationery (leaves, hearts, etc.)
  • Guide lines - removable horizontal and/or vertical lines to help align letters.
  • Email / file save - automate sending your artwork to a friend.
  • Better papers & writing samples - especially some more kid-oriented stuff.
  • File import - add your own papers.
  • More nibs - a multi-nib would be especially nice (two simultaneous chisel nibs, different colors, slightly spaced). Possibly an Asian calligraphy brush.
If you're interested in any of these, or have other suggestions, please email me at
ginger@gingerbooth.com and let me know. Unless I hear from people, I assume no one cares.

Credits

The 10 sample Hiragana characters and how to draw them were scanned in from Let's Learn Hiragana, by Yasuko Kosaka Mitamura. There are 46 basic Hiragana characters. Hiragana is a syllable-based writing system, one of the 4 systems used in writing Japanese. The other writing samples are simply fonts that are installed on my computer. I have no idea where they came from.

The Paper textures were scanned from papers I had around the house. The papyrus papers were scanned from real papyrus souvenirs from Egypt. The two cream papers were scanned from some leftover Christmas stationery. Soapstone and woven mat were built from texture files I had lying around. The rest my daughter and I marbled and/or hand-made.

I learned calligraphy so long ago that I can't recommend any books on the subject.

Copyright 2004 Ginger Booth | email | website