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Script Analysis - Pen Nib Ladders

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23 June 2007

Script Analysis - Pen Nib Ladders

Back a couple of posts ago, I said

"Pen nib ladders.

These creatures have become the bane of my life.

I've looked through Patricia Lovett's book, and all the ladders are shown with the little squares made by a pen at zero degrees, not the major angle of the hand.

But the lines drawn in the script aren't at zero degrees. The pen will be at an angle - 45 degrees for Gothic script. The x-height and the spacing between the letters is meant to be the same. But vertical lines (forming the letters, and the blank spaces between the letters) are skinnier than vertical lines drawn at zero degrees.

*stumbling block* *brain death*

So it all works out with a nib ladder with it's squares drawn at 45 degrees, to give an x-height of 10 mm, which gives stroke width on the original mss that match my 3 mm nib.

Which, apparently, is not how you are supposed to do nib ladders. *sigh*"

James Cornwell aka Sir Bjorn Jorsalfar, OL, KB, has been kind enough to explain to me that the nib ladders presented in calligraphy ductus books are done with the pen at zero degrees as a standard. But as long as the proportions are kept, you can do your pen ladder at any nib angle you like!

"Regarding nib ladders: they're drawn at zero degrees because that's the best way to measure proportion accurately (remember, it's the right proportion between height and width that makes the letters what they are, not necessarily a particular height or width alone), and besides, all the ducti you see in scribing books use them, so it's the tool to use to get one's letters like the ones in the books." (James Cornwell)

Such a lovely simple answer!

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