This blog covers a detailed tutorial on calligraphy with the Pilot Parallel Pen. We’ll be learning how to use this pen with the Foundational Hand Exemplar.
Learn Foundational Hand with a structured and easy-to-follow curriculum in the next 2 months. The batch starts on the 15th of March.Check out all the details here: https://bit.ly/3Jyb0yE
Have you always wondered how does a Pilot Parallel Pen work? How do you use this square-shaped nib for calligraphy?
If yes, then gear up. In this tutorial, we are going to discuss how to do calligraphy with the Pilot Parallel Pen.
These pens are best suited for broad-edge calligraphy.
And you can do scripts like Uncials, Roman, Fraktur, and many more with these pens.
For ease of understanding, we’ll be writing letters from a to z in the Foundational Hand.
By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to do calligraphy with a Pilot Parallel Pen. Moreover, you’d have learnt a new script—the Foundational Hand.
If you prefer watching a video over reading, you can watch the Pilot Parallel Pen calligraphy tutorial here:
Also, if you’ve purchased the Pilot Parallel Pen for the first time, you can get a better understanding of your tool here: How to use the Pilot Parallel Pen (full beginner’s guide)
Now, let’s get started.
Pilot Parallel Pen Calligraphy Tutorial with the Foundational Hand
Step 1: Assembling Calligraphy Supplies: Pilot Parallel Pen and more
Of course, you need the Pilot Parallel Pen. They come as a set of 6 pens. But, you can also buy a single one on Amazon.
All the pens have different nib-widths.
For this calligraphy tutorial, we’ll be using the 3.8 mm nib (green) of the Pilot Parallel Pen.
You can use any nib size that you have. But, I’d recommend using the 3.8mm one or the 6mm one.
The two reasons that I always recommend using the bigger nib size are
Firstly, it is always easier to start with a big nib size and move to a smaller one.
Secondly, big nibs help you notice your flaws quickly.
Apart from this, I’m using:
- 200 gsm watercolour paper by Brustro
- Camlin Photo Colour Inks
If you don’t have these, you can use any heavy-weight paper that prevents bleeding of ink. Also, for inks, you can either use the cartridges that come with Pilot Parallel Pen. Or, you can fill the cartridge with any Fountain Pen Ink. Learn how to refill the Pilot Parallel Pen.
Along with that, keep a pencil, ruler, and eraser handy.
All in all, you’ll need all these supplies to get started in calligraphy with a Pilot Parallel Pen:
Step 2: Understanding Brief History of the Foundational Hand
The Foundational as a calligraphy script was developed by the British scribe Edward Johnston. And, is known for its simplicity.
That’s because the letters have a clean geometric structure.
That’s why a proper understanding of the letterforms of the Foundational hand will help you to write many other related scripts like Uncial and Roman Square Capitals.
Step 3: Drawing Guidelines
Now, let’s get started with the most crucial step that is to draw guidelines.
If you are a calligraphy newbie, you must be wondering—what are guidelines?
It’s all there in the name. These are the LINES you draw to GUIDE you while doing calligraphy.
I like to treat them as scaffolding that you use while building a structure. And once it’s done, you can erase these lines. But, if you miss drawing them, you’ll have no idea where your structure will go.
For the Foundational Hand, the minimum x-height of the letters is 4 to 5 nib-widths. With extra 3 nib-widths for ascender and descender height.
So, if you are using the 3.8 mm nib, your x-height will be 1.9 cms. And your ascender and descender height will be 1.1 cm.
Pro Tip: You can draw vertical lines to help you draw straight strokes while coming down.
Step 4: Learning to Hold the Pilot Parallel Pen for Calligraphy
Depending on the thickness of the stroke you want, you can hold the Pilot parallel pen at different angles—ranging from 0 to 90 degrees.
For the foundational hand, the nib angle is 30 degrees.
To begin with, I recommend making a 30-degree line at the top of your sheet to refer to at all times.
Now, hold the pen so that the nib makes a 30-degree angle and draw few straight lines.
There are just a few letters like w, v, x, that may be written with a steeper 45-degree angle.
Step 5: Understanding the Key Letter of the Foundational Hand
The key letter of the Foundational Hand is ‘O’.
It means that ‘O’ forms the basis of construction for all the other letters in the script.
It’s a perfect circle tilted at a 30-degree angle.
Step 6: Learning Other Basic Strokes
Apart from the oval, the other key element in the script is the stem.
It’s important to note here that the endings of the stem should create curves and not edges.
Now, if you combine the stem and a serif, it creates another basic shape.
First, draw the stem and then add a serif to create this shape.
This basic shape combined with part of the ovals will form letters like b, d, and many more.
Pro Tip: Before jumping to write letters, fill an entire page practising these basic strokes. That’s because these basic shapes are the building blocks of your letters. As soon as you get these basic shapes right, your letters will automatically fall into place.
Step 7: Drawing the Letters of the Foundational Hand
Now, that we have an idea of the basic shapes, let’s draw all the letters alphabetically.
You can use this exemplar to write Foundational Hand with Pilot Parallel Pen
Why Pilot Parallel Pen is the best choice for broad-edge calligraphy?
You might have come across a tonne of broad-edged calligraphy tools like:
- Chisel Tip Markers
- Broad-edge Nibs
The most commonly available being the chisel tip markers that look like this
Undoubtedly, this is the first result that you get when you search for calligraphy tools. And we all are guilty of buying them and ending up feeling frustrated.
Other ones are the nibs that look like this:
Not that these tools are not useful, but they aren’t as beginner-friendly as the Pilot Parallel Pens.
The Pilot Parallel Pen is the best choice for doing broad-edge calligraphy for three reasons.
Firstly, the mechanism inside the pen allows for a regulated flow of ink
It means that you can fill the ink in the cartridge and write for longer durations in one go. This makes it easier to use.
Unlike, the traditional dip pens where you have to dip the nib in ink every 3-4 strokes.
Because the ink flow is regulated in a Pilot Parallel Pen, all the strokes look uniform. Contrarily, you can see a gradient—from dark to light—in your strokes with a broad-edge nib.
Secondly, the sharp parallel plates create uniform broad strokes and fine lines as compared to blunt chisel tip markers
This, in turn, helps you create an impactful contrast between your thick and thin lines.
Also, if you notice, most of the chisel tip markers are cut at an angle. Whereas, the Pilot Parallel Pen is straight cut. This, in turn, makes it easy to hold the pen for the right angle required for the calligraphy script.
Moreover, you can use the edge of the nib in a Pilot Parallel Pen to write. This comes in handy whenever you have to end a stroke with a sharp edge (fine line).
Undoubtedly, you’ll not find this kind of versatility in chisel tip markers easily.
Thirdly, Pilot Parallel Pens last very long
I’ve had mine for over four years now and it’s still working fine.
Unlike nibs that rust quickly or markers that wear out, Pilot Parallel Pens are rough and tough.
Moreover, you can refill them, use them for blending, or even cut the nib and modify the pen.
That’s why Pilot Parallel Pens are the best choice for broad-edge calligraphy.
Want to know more? Watch this:
I hope you found this calligraphy tutorial with the Pilot Parallel Pen helpful.
Undoubtedly, these are the most versatile pens. And a must-have tool for all beginners in broad-edge calligraphy.
If you’ve practised the Foundational Hand tutorial, you can send me your practice on The Calligraphy Raven. I’d love to see it.
Also, if you’ve any suggestions, please feel free to share them in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.
Simran is the founder of The Calligraphy Raven. She helps creatives learn calligraphy through workshops, online courses, and printable downloads and has taught more than 500 students to date. She also has a keen interest in UI-UX design and marketing. For a break, she likes to travel solo.