Tuesday, October 9, 2012

About (my) handwriting

A long way

(also starring: a Lamy 2000, a Lamy Dialog3, some Platinum cartridges and a bottle of Diamine Sapphire Blue. :D)

Rin (kisses) asked me if I could do a post about my handwriting and how it developed over time. Maybe she could do it better than me because of all the letters from me she received during the process, but I'll try to give an impression. Since I tend to keep old notes and stuff until I make a conscious effort to throw them away it shouldn't be too hard. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Some time 2009, written with a fine nib.

This is where I started out about 2 years ago. The handwriting is fairly regular, legible (I think) but tiny. It's not that I disliked my handwriting, but I wanted something right-slanted and more versatile so I could use different nib sizes and wasn't limited to EFs. Besides I was getting annoyed by all those letters not being connected to each other; my new script should be cursive.

In fact, using different nibs is one of the greatest things I've discovered since then.

Early 2010, written with one of my first good fountain pens, a ST Dupont Olympio (not in the picture). Ink must be J. Herbin Vert Olive. I was quite into that one at that time.

If you start going somewhere, it's always good to know where you're headed. I didn't, so I wasn't getting anywhere for quite a while. All I knew was that I wanted a right slant and something graceful, copperplate-ish. Also I was a pure finger writer and I wanted to involve my arm and shoulder muscles more (something I still haven't quite achieved). I read a good way to practice this was to make larger letters. On this picture the slant is pretty much 90 degrees and the letters are already a bit more connected than in the first picture.

Later in 2010. The letters are getting more regular, so is the (still very subtle) right slant. Written with my first italic nib, the Pelikan IB (not in the picture).
The progress stagnated for some months. I just couldn't get a decent right slant to the letters - and this is indeed hard if you had a backward slanted handwriting for most of your life. Then I discovered slant guidelines: diagonal lines running over the paper in just the slant you want your handwriting to have. This helps to adjust and I put one behind every sheet of paper I wrote one until I got used to it. That took another few months.

A guidesheet with horizontal and slant lines. I did exercises like the pictured one a lot. Eternal rows of Ms, Ns, Us, LUs and whatnot. Notable improvement came very soon.
Exercises like the one pictured above were invaluable for me. Without these and the slant lines it probably wouldn't have worked out.

Early 2011. Still looks a little weird, like it's not really worn in - which it wasn't. But by that time I started seeing results slowly. Slant is on the way to how it's supposed to be.
During those years I also tried a lot of new pens, papers and inks. In matters of efficiency this probably didn't help, but it was tons of fun. If you want to make quick progress on your handwriting though, I'd recommend getting used to one pen you like and sticking to that one along the way.

http://www.iampeth.com/ is a great resource for different (historic) handwriting styles. Whole books with exercises and instructions can be found here. It's also great for browsing to find out where you want to go.

Early 2012. Regularity is no longer much of an issue, the slant guides are out of business. Still many irregularities in the shaping and sizing of letters, but no longer that obvious. I like to write with broader nibs because they are more forgiving in that respect than fine ones.


Last picture, transcribed:
9th October, 2012. Still far from where I feel I'd like to be - but getting there, and having as much fun as possible on the way. I'm also still at the very beginning of the journey into the realm of flexible nibs - but, as Michael Ende used to say, that's another story to be told another time.


  1. thank you!
    I love your handwriting, and it was exciting to see it improve over time (and I guess it still does).
    I'll look at the pictures whenever I need the motivation to do some writing exercises.

  2. It's great to see the progress! I am embark on the same journey now. Cheers!

  3. Hi, can you share which book you use as guide or your practice routine. Thank you!