Calligraphy (from Greek: καλλιγραφία) is a visual art related to writing. It is the design and execution of lettering with a broad-tipped instrument, brush, or other writing instrument. A contemporary calligraphic practice can be defined as “the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner”.
Modern calligraphy ranges from functional inscriptions and designs to fine-art pieces where the letters may or may not be readable. Classical calligraphy differs from typography and non-classical hand-lettering, though a calligrapher may practice both.
Calligraphy continues to flourish in the forms of wedding invitations and event invitations, font design and typography, original hand-lettered logo design, religious art, announcements, graphic design and commissioned calligraphic art, cut stone inscriptions, and memorial documents. It is also used for props and moving images for film and television, and also for testimonials, birth and death certificates, maps, and other written works.
The principal tools for a calligrapher are the pen and the brush. Calligraphy pens write with nibs that may be flat, round, or pointed. For some decorative purposes, multi-nibbed pens—steel brushes—can be used. However, works have also been created with felt-tip and ballpoint pens, although these works do not employ angled lines. There are some styles of calligraphy, such as Gothic script, that require a stub nib pen.
Writing ink is usually water-based and is much less viscous than the oil-based inks used in printing. Certain specialty paper with high ink absorption and constant texture enables cleaner lines, although parchment or vellum is often used, as a knife can be used to erase imperfections and a light-box is not needed to allow lines to pass through it. Normally, light boxes and templates are used to achieve straight lines without pencil markings detracting from the work. Ruled paper, either for a light box or direct use, is most often ruled every quarter or half inch, although inch spaces are occasionally used. This is the case with litterea unciales (hence the name), and college-ruled paper often acts as a guideline well.
Common calligraphy pens and brushes are:
- Dip pen
- Ink brush