In the Calligraphy Swirls Tutorials (Part I) post, you learned how to make two different calligraphy swirls. Today, it’s time to expand your repertoire with two more swirl techniques! First, I’m going to start you off with a very simple and versatile flourish: the “Scroll Swirl”. Then, we’ll move on to a more complicated swirl called the “Arabian Nights”. I encourage you to try creating both of them at some point; they both offer a great way to add personality and pizazz to your pieces!
Scroll Calligraphy Swirls
This style of calligraphy swirl is very basic, but it packs a great visual punch! I always like to start the swirl by making a pencil draft, which can then be traced over with ink. This step is unnecessary, but doing it will ensure that the flourish will end up looking just the way you want it to! So, to begin, you’ll make a spiral with a tail like the one pictured below:
Without any other elements, the spiral is a little bit sparse, so it’s a good idea to draw four curved lines underneath it as shown in the photo.
At this stage, you’re done with the pencil draft! It’s time to go over the pencil lines with ink. I find it easiest to “ink” the piece if I turn the paper 90 degrees counter-clockwise such that the spiral is vertical; however, this may not be the case for you. Feel free to rotate it to the angle that you are most comfortable with!
Regardless of how you have rotated the paper, remember your dip pen conventions: apply pressure to the downstrokes, then let up on pressure for the upstrokes. This will give you a nice stroke contrast!
Next, ink over the lines under the swirl. Start with light pressure at the beginning of the line, then apply more pressure as you approach the middle of the stroke. This will result in a line that is thin at the beginning, and thickens in the middle/end.
Once you have drawn over all the pencil lines, wait for the ink to dry, then erase the guidelines!
The possibilities for this swirl are endless, but I added some Kaitlin Style calligraphy and Finetec embellishments to transform it into a gift tag! Adding a couple more lines and enhancing the piece with dots fills up the space beautifully.
Though this swirl makes for a lovely gift tag, it can be used to enhance a number of projects. For example, you can incorporate it into part of an illustrated frame, draw attention to an address on envelope art (draw one on either side of your recipient’s name!), or draw it at the bottom of a place card to add some flourishy glamour to an event!
“Arabian Nights” Calligraphy Swirls
I call this series of calligraphy swirls “Arabian Nights” because the chocolate chip-shaped tip in the middle reminds me of intricate Middle Eastern designs! Like the “Header Calligraphy Swirls” in the last blog post, this design requires some measuring and symmetry, but the final product is worth it!
You’ll begin by drawing a vertical guideline in the center of the paper you are working on.
Next, draw a horizontal guideline where you want the base of your swirl to be.
Draw in two vertical guidelines on either side of the center line; these denote where you the first loops of your swirl will appear. My guidelines are 3/8″ (9.5 mm) from my center line; but you can make the distance closer or shorter, depending on how big you want your swirl to be.
Draw two more vertical outside guidelines; mine appear 1/2″ (12.7 mm) from each of the vertical lines I drew in the last step.
Once your tall vertical lines are drawn, draw two guidelines to show yourself where the swirl should end on each side. I drew two little guidelines 3/4″ (19 mm) from each edge.
You’ll finish up the pencil guides by freehand drawing two horizontal lines. The top horizontal line will be short, and should only intersect the center vertical line: it denotes where the tip of your swirl will be. The second horizontal line should appear a little bit closer to the small top horizontal line than it does to the bottom horizontal line; it determines where the shape will bow inward.
Now, start at the top little horizontal line you drew, and draw a curvy diagonal line that loops around the intersection of the second horizontal line and the vertical guideline on the left, as shown in the photo below:
Once the loop is drawn around the intersection, draw a “C” shape that loops at the bottom, just before the intersection of the left vertical guideline and the baseline. (If this is starting to get confusing, don’t despair … a video tutorial follows these instructions!)
Draw a horizontal line from the loop you just drew. The horizontal line should be curvy and include a little loop in the center.
To make the right side of the swirl, mirror all the steps you followed on the left side.
To make the second part of the swirl, make a sort of rotated “C” shape that starts at the bottom center of the two left vertical lines. The shape should start about 1/2″ (6 mm) under your base guideline.
Draw two downward-facing loops in a swirly line emanating from the “C” shape, then pull the line down, then back up again, to finish up. I like to end this part of the swirl about 1/2″ (13 mm) from the edge of the paper.
To make the right swirl component, mirror all the steps you completed on the left.
At this point, you could be done if you want! However, I like to add a little curlicue just to the left of the center guideline, as shown below …
… And a curlicue to the right as well.
Five little lines later, the piece is finished!
I know that it can be hard to master concepts like these from photos, so if you want a little extra learning aid, you can watch this video tutorial over how to make “Arabian Nights” calligraphy swirls:
Once you’ve finished your swirl, you’ll want to erase your pencil guidelines. Optionally, you may enhance the swirl with dots (I used Finetec), then you can write calligraphy under it. This Janet Style calligraphed envelope looks so regal paired with the curly, beautiful lines of the Arabian nights swirl! By the way, I’m curious to see if anyone can identify from the address which movie I was watching while making this envelope. The first person to name the movie in the comments will receive some mail art from me (no Googling to find the answer, please)! 🙂
It was fun writing this two-part series over calligraphy swirls, so thank you for reading! I hope at least one of the tutorials helps you on a project in the future. Just remember to take it step by step, and your creations will look fantastic!