The Great Nib Test 2015

Yes, every test has to be Great. Why do you ask?

Inspired by an exchange I had over on Reddit about improvements I could make on my Copperplate, I thought it was high time to do a pointed nib test. The purpose of this was severalfold:

  1. To see if I could make those square cutoffs that are so important to making pretty Copperplate.
  2. To see how far I could take a loaded-up nib.
  3. To practice using my whole arm to pull the nib back, rather than just my hand.
  4. To give me something to entertain myself on a Sunday afternoon.

Each test was done on a small Rhodia pad, with walnut ink reconstituted from crystals, and each line came from a fully-loaded nib. The oblique penholder is from Unique Obliques. Terribly scientific, I know.

Let’s get to the results!

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The Great Color Test 2015

I occasionally have ideas for projects that feel like they would best be done in color, but apart from a couple of forays into random black paper, I didn’t really know where to go with this. So I asked our Dear Friends over on /r/calligraphy on Reddit about their thoughts. As expected, they had experience in this and pointed me in the direction of Canson Mi-Teintes colored paper.

Now, I’m fairly used to things simply not being available here in Japan, and was wondering if I should try and find a place online to order it, when I found that my local stationery store had a whole bunch of it. So I grabbed a few colors, brought them home and went to work!

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I then mixed up a bunch of gouaches and applied them in the following order, for the sake of convenience:

  • Holbein Permanent White
  • Holbein Permanent Yellow
  • Holbein Flame Red
  • Holbein Burnt Umber
  • Holbein Emerald Green
  • Holbein Pure Blue
  • Holbein Pure Blue (lightened)
  • Windsor & Newton Brilliant Purple
  • Holbein Brilliant Silver
  • Holbein Pearl Gold
  • Holbein Ivory Black
  • Sumi ink
  • Pilot Document Ink

It took the better part of the afternoon, and most of the results weren’t too surprising if you had a basic understanding of color theory. But theory and practice are two different things, and it’s important to know how your media work together.

By far, my favorite combination was probably the indigo paper and the gold gouache:

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It looks nicer in person. As does the gold-on-green:

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Red-on-yellow works well, too.

2015-05-31 08.55.15

This color test was basically a way to tune into what combinations look good and what should be avoided. Burnt Umber on pretty much anything, for example, should be avoided. The full album on Imgur is here, if you want to see everything.

I’ll probably head back to the store and buy more colors at some point in the near future, and do my best to consider which calligraphy ideas might work well on colored paper. In the meantime, if you have the supplies to hand and an afternoon free, why not do your own color survey?