Earlier this week, I launched the Intermediate Modern Calligraphy Online Course. The course extensively covers flourishing, so I decided it was appropriate to give you a project suggestion to exercise your new skills! This flourished calligraphy country (or state) art tutorial is an intermediate project that will exercise your eye for embellishment. Equally importantly, you’ll end up with a gift-worthy piece of artwork that’s bound to make someone’s day! Here are the simple steps to make it:
1. Find an Outline of Your State or Country
Use Google Image Search to find a simple outline of the state or country you want to make. I would type in something like “Ecuador outline”. You’ll see a whole slew of choices pop up! Once you’ve chosen the outline you want to work from, re-size it using your printer settings or a program like Microsoft Word to reflect the size of paper you’ll be working on. Then, print the outline out on regular printer paper.
Now, cut a piece of drawing paper to whatever size you want. I chose 8″ x 10″ because it’s not too big and not too small! Drawing paper is great for projects like this one because it’s a nice weight and has a pleasing tooth to it.
Next, put your drawing paper over your printed outline. Then, shine the outline up through a light box or a sunny window. Trace over what you see with a pencil.
Once you’re finished, your soon-to-be flourished calligraphy artwork should look something like this:
3. Make a Pencil Draft
There are some people — Schin Loong comes to mind — who can whip up calligraphy and flourishes without a draft, no problem! I am not one of those people, so I always make a pencil draft to make sure I’m going to like my final project. If you’re iffy about writing uninhibited, too, then I recommend starting by writing out the state or country name in large calligraphy. Have some fun with your guidelines! Mine nearly converge on the right to give the calligraphy a shrinking appearance.
Now, draft out different cities and areas throughout your outline. Their locations should roughly reflect where you’d really find them on a map (see Google Maps). Try making calligraphy in all different sizes by changing your guideline ratio. Using various positioning for your calligraphy will help make the piece more interesting.
Once you’ve written out the cities, build on their letters with various flourishes. If this is intimidating for you, watch Lesson 6 in the intermediate calligraphy course. In it, I’ll walk you through how to make organic-looking flourishes.
4. Add Ink
At this point, you’ll get out your sumi ink, a pen with a Brause EF66 nib (or similar size nib), and a pen with a crowquill nib (if you have one). Sumi ink is perfect for a project like this because it has a nice sheen, and it’s easy to see the upstrokes from far away! I like to use two different sizes of nibs for this project because the EF66 is actually a bit too big for some of the tinier strokes.
Once you’ve got your supplies, start tracing over your pencil draft. Start at the top of the state or country, making your way down. It’s good to begin at the top so you don’t smudge any ink. After all, if you keep your hand under the inked calligraphy, you can’t smudge it!
When you get to the state/country name, reinforce your downstrokes as if you’re creating faux calligraphy. Doing so will help that name to stand out.
Continue to write over your draft with ink until everything is covered. If you need to add the occasional extra flourish here and there to fill things in better, go for it!
Sumi ink only takes a few minutes to dry. Once you don’t see any shine when looking at your piece in the light, you’ll know it’s safe to erase your pencil lines. Be sure to use a good eraser for a nice, clean appearance.
5. Enjoy Your Flourished Calligraphy Art!
When your pencil lines are gone, your flourished calligraphy state or country art will shine. This is my favorite part because you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your flourishing. I love how your eyes can pick out individual pieces of the work (“to Colombia”, “Cuenca”, etc.), or revert to seeing the state or country as a whole. This artwork looks fabulous framed, and you could do an entire series!
I hope that you enjoyed this intermediate calligraphy tutorial as much as I enjoyed writing it. I think this is a really neat, unusual way to use your calligraphy skills! I felt really excited making this one because it’s for a dear Ecuadorian friend, and I know that he’s going to love it. If you’ve got the inclination, try creating some flourished calligraphy state/country art for a friend or family member. You could always do a “dry run” first in a sketchbook. 🙂