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Last week a video production company called and asked me to do the Calligraphy for a video.  Had no idea how it would be used.  We settled on a price after I was given the style of lettering they wanted, the dimensions, exact wording and punctuation, and paragraph breaks.  I took the text I was given, then created a box on my computer screen with the boundaries of height and width.  I then found a font that was somewhat like my Old English shown above and typed the message inside that box on the screen.  I had to adjust the line spacing (leading) and experiment with several point sizes to make it all fit.  

With my draft typed on screen to my client’s specifications, using the Apple program, PAGES, I then printed it out on my laser printer.  The size was to be 11″ x 17″ so I could only print a portion of the full text on an 8-1/2 ” x 11″ sheet of typing paper.  I then measured the precise space between baselines so those could be drawn on my large piece of parchment on my drawing board.  On the parchment, I had the 11 x 17 box lightly drawn with soft pencil.  I found the centerline of that 17″ height….8-1/2″….and drew a light line across the page.  My typed draft had 22 lines of text.  I then put the text’s 11th line’s baseline above the centerline.  From that baseline, I put a baseline for the 10th line above the 11th and repeated that until I had the baseline drawn for the FIRST line of Calligraphy, just below the top of the 11×17 box on my parchment.  

When those 11 lines were drawn, I repeated the process with lines 12 through 22 below the centerline on the parchment.  With all the baselines drawn, I merely had to see where to begin the first line of copy that began with the word In and go from there.  Each time I began a new line, I’d refer to the typed draft to see where the next line began in relation to the one above it.  

With all baselines drawn, I then went to my row of Speedball dip pens and found that the C-4 was a perfect fit to make the letters the same thickness as on my typed draft.  I did the first large letter with a C-0, then off I went a-lettering the rest of it with the C-4 and Higgins India Ink.

Yes, I know that sounds like so much jibberish but it’s the sure-fire way to get the layout right, knowing it all WILL fit if the lettering is done to match the typed draft.  

When the lettering was all done, I then lettered my tiny copyright and credit line at the lower left with a Rapid-O-Graph technical drawing pen and the same ink.  After giving the whole thing about an hour’s drying time, I used a white eraser to carefully remove all the pencil lines.  Then I was done.  At 8:00 the next morning a courier was at my door to take it to the production company.  I already had the producer’s American Express card so I was paid in full and finished with it all.  

Yesterday I got a link to the completed video.  The Calligraphy is shown with various camera movements showing some key words to fill the screen as professional male voice-over talent read the text.  I’m not allowed to share the link since it’s to be shown at a private corporate gathering somewhere.  If I ever get permission to share the link, I will.  

BOTTOM LINE:  Calligraphy with pen and ink is where all this started for me, decades ago.  This took a shade under 4 hours from typing the draft to erasing guidelines off the parchment.  If I do the math and calculate an hourly rate for the job, I would have earned a substantially higher hourly figure if I had engraved it.  Stopping to dip the pen every few strokes takes tons of time!  

The producer was pleased to know about the engraving facet of my work and I expect to hear from the production company again for other projects.  

The company did a Google search and found me tied to Calligraphy for the initial contact. 


To learn this style of lettering, my KEN BROWN GUIDE TO OLD ENGLISH is a thorough teaching guide in print since 1984.

IMG_0070At my adjustable architectural drawing board with the drafting machine in the folded-back position.  My typed draft is at right for reference as I letter the piece.  On anything this size or larger, I stand at this table, frequently adjusting the slant and height for maximum comfort as I lean on the table while I work.  See that pinky extended?! 

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