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Formal Italic Calligraphy: Writing the Lowercase Alphabet

Formal Italic Calligraphy: Writing the Lowercase Alphabet

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Italic is considered by many calligraphers to be the most beautiful lettering style. The basic principles have stayed essentially the same for 500 years—even the legendary Italian artist Michelangelo was proud of his Italic handwriting. Italic’s rhythm and movement—due to its slight angle and springing arches where the strokes join—make it elegant yet lively. In this guide, you’ll learn how to write the letters of the lowercase alphabet.

The Important Things to Know About Formal Italic

Every style in calligraphy has features that make it distinctive. Look for the following characteristics in the pages that follow and keep them in mind when you form the letters yourself:

Stroke Sequence

Each stroke of the pen in calligraphy is done in a specific order each time. A guide with a stoke-by-stroke numbering system as shown in the following is called a ductus or exemplar. The arrows show the direction of the stroke and the numbers show the order in which you should do them.

Writing Lowercase

The letter a is key to italic. Once you can draw it comfortably, this group of letters based on the a shape will also be easy to draw.

The letter <em>a</em> is key to italic. Once you can draw it comfortably, this group of letters based on the a shape will also be easy to draw.

These letters all begin the same way—with a straight line on a ten degree angle.

These letters all begin the same way—with a straight line on a ten degree angle.

This group all start with a similar first stroke. Practice the l thoroughly and the other letters will be easy.

This group all start with a similar first stroke. Practice the <em>l</em> thoroughly and the other letters will be easy.

The c, e, and o are all based on the a; they have a similar curve and the same width.

The <em>c, e,</em> and <em>o</em> are all based on the <em>a;</em> they have a similar curve and the same width.

Pay attention to the diagonal angles of these letters; they do not conform to the rules that govern the other letters in the alphabet.

Pay attention to the diagonal angles of these letters; they do not conform to the rules that govern the other letters in the alphabet.

Now that you know how the letters are done, it’s time to practice! For your convenience, here is a lined piece of paper to download:

Download this practice sheet.

Be sure to also check out our Quick Guide, Formal Italic Calligraphy: Writing the Uppercase Alphabet. Enjoy!

From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Calligraphy by Jane Eldershaw