Custom Marriage Certificate

I recently had an opportunity to create a custom marriage certificate and after getting so many messages and emails about it, I wanted to share a bit about what this is and my process!

Question: Is this a certified certificate? No. The couple will still have to go to their county clerk to get their government issued marriage license and certificate. However, many brides today will opt to commission a custom marriage certificate as a beautiful keepsake of their vows and promises to each other. This is also a popular alternative to a guestbook if the couple wants to include lines for their family and friends to sign.

For this certificate, we decided to incorporate important details of their wedding, simple vows, and pull in their wedding colors by adorning the sides with the bride's favorite florals. Each certificate is an original, one of a kind as every element is handwritten and hand painted, customized to the couple's wedding. 


SUPPLIES USED

Finding the right paper was the most important task. If you have a paper that's too thin, the paper can bend and show creases. If it's too rough or textured, it might not take nibs well...but on the flip side, if it's too smooth, the watercolor may not blend well. I found the Arches 260lb cold pressed watercolor paper to be the best of both! Surprisingly, the 260lb cold pressed was smoother than the 190lb cold pressed, but still had enough texture that I wanted for the realistic botanical illustration paintings. You can see the thickness and how stiff the paper in this picture:

Other supplies I used were:

  • John Neal Copperplate Practice Pad - this is a graph paper with slant lines. I use this ALOT for sketching out designs
  • 0.5 Mechanical Pencil
  • Watercolor Pencils & Water Brush - I decided to use watercolor pencils (vs. watercolor tubes) for this project because the botanicals were intricate. I used a water brush to directly pull the pigment from the pencil and found that it helped me to better control the amount of pigment that I'm laying on the paper. Any brand should be fine, but I used Faber-Castell and bought individual colors that I needed
  • Gouache & Finetec Arabic Gold Ink
  • Ruler
  • Lightpad

PROCESS

I. Sketching/Designing the Layout - Using only a pencil, graph pad, and ruler, I first drew the dimensions of the final paper and marked the vertical center line. Then, after finalizing the wording with the bride, I worked on the layout of the entire piece. This part of the process will probably be the most time consuming. From sketching, revising, to finalizing the draft, it took me about 4 hours. You will have to think about the script styles you want to use, the spacing of the lines, the size of the script, and make it fit into the dimensions of the final paper. I combined my love for Copperplate and Spencerian script for this piece.

For the botanical illustration part, I printed out a variety of photos that I found on Pinterest & the bride's engagement dinner. I chose some close ups as well as floral arrangements to see how florals look from different angles. Looking at these photos helps me to study the shape of the florals!

II. Ink the Final Draft - Using a Micron pen, after I was completely happy with the final draft, I retraced the pencil lines with the pen. The 260lb paper is pretty thick so you won't be able to see every single letter clearly, but inking it helped me to see generally where each word started and write in a straight line. I retraced both the calligraphy and the illustration so I can see generally where to write when I'm working on the final paper.

III. Ink/Paint on Final Paper - Using a lightpad, I lined up my final paper on top of the graph paper, taped the sides, and started inking the calligraphy portion first. Most of the text was done in gray gouache ink and the couple names were written with Arabic Gold Finetec ink. After the calligraphy was done, I used a pencil to lightly sketch the florals on the final draft. This part was hard because I couldn't see all the little details of the florals, so I just sketched a general area each flower was positioned, then looking at the final draft, I re-illustrated it onto the final paper.

IV. Watercolor Botanicals - The last step was to finally add some color to the florals! This was my favorite part. Using a water brush and holding the watercolor pencils in my other hand, I picked up pigment directly from the pencil and started adding layers to the florals and leaves. 

IMG_4590.JPG

More BTS pics and details of the certificate! Click on the arrows to scroll for more. Congratulations again Sarah & Sam! <3

 

 

 

Joint Workshop at MUSE, Studio City

My good friend, Priscilla (Yours Truly Calligraphy) and I recently collaborated to host an all day calligraphy/watercolor painting workshop and we had such a blast! Our venue, MUSE, was also a perfect space for us - airy and colorful. I couldn't help but to snap some detail shots.

We started the day with 2 hours of painting as Priscilla demonstrated some of her favorite botanical illustrations. Then, after lunch, we regrouped to learn some pointed pen flourishing techniques.

I especially enjoyed this small, intimate setting where we could get to know our students better and provide more 1-1 guidance. Thank you Vivian, Sharon, Cynthia, Lynette, Jade, and Sharlene for joining us, you guys were amazing!!

Enjoy the photos :)
Younghae

Envelope Addressing Guidesheet

Someone asked me if I still use guide sheets and I proudly responded "YES!". I don't think there is any shame in using guide sheets. Sure, after time, you will have the muscle memory to be able to write letters with a somewhat consistent x-height & slant, but when it comes to client projects, I like using guide sheets with clear x-heights, baseline, centered line, and slant lines to ensure that my lines are clean and my work looks professional.

I recently finished an envelope addressing job for a wedding and after making mistakes and experimenting with different x-heights and baseline spacing, I decided to make my own envelope guide sheet on Illustrator. 

I may tweak this for different envelope sizes because smaller envelopes will require a smaller x-height, but this guide sheet works well for a 5.5x7.5 envelope! Place the guide sheet on top of your lightbox and then align your envelope on top so that it is centered. Click on "Envelope Guidesheet" to download!

Envelope Guidesheet
X-height: 3/16 inch
Baseline spacing: 5/8 inch

Enjoy!
Younghae

*Please note that this is copyrighted and for personal use only. Thank you!*

Getting Started in Pointed Pen Calligraphy!

I've heard many people say they can't do calligraphy because of their "bad handwriting". So, for National Handwriting Day, I made this video to show you that if I can, you can

Handwriting means "to write with a pen or pencil", but calligraphy means "beautiful writing". As you can see from the video, just because your handwriting looks a certain way doesn't mean you can't learn how to write beautiful letters. I do most of my pointed pen work in Copperplate calligraphy and with this script, it is very structured with rules and many pen lifts. It takes a different muscle memory to be able to write in calligraphy vs handwriting, but with time and diligent practice, it will get easier & definitely more enjoyable!

But before you go out and buy random "calligraphy" supplies at Barnes and Noble/Amazon like I did and never used, I wanted to share some of my favorite & basic tools to help you start your journey right.

*Disclaimer: Some of the following are affiliate links where a small portion of your purchase will go towards supporting my small business. Regardless, please know that these are my honest reviews and supplies I use regularly. Thank you for your support!


PAPER

When practicing, you want to start with smooth paper that takes ink well and allows your nib to glide across the paper without snagging or pulling. Too much texture on your paper may cause some frustration when you are just beginning! Here is a list of paper I like to use for practicing. HP Premium Choice Laser/Hammermill Color Copy Digital are bulk papers you can get from places like Staples, Amazon, OfficeMax. I like to print out guidesheets directly on them. Rhodia pads are really really smooth. I also love the John Neal Copperplate/Engrossers Pad and use it mainly for sketching designs in pencil. Sometimes I will ink directly on them (like the picture above) and when you scan it, you can change the levels on Photoshop to get rid of the blue grid lines! Lastly, I created the Copperplate Practice Pads with traceable lowercase/uppercase letters for beginners to practice on. 

HP Premium Choice Laser Paper
Hammermill Color Copy Digital
Rhodia Graph Pad
John Neal Copperplate/Engrossers Pad
Logos Copperplate Practice Pad


INK

Most of my black ink is done with the Moon Palace Sumi Ink. It writes smoothly and if the ink starts getting thick, I just add a couple drops of distilled water and mix it up. The Penman Ink is a dream to write with for its hairlines, but because it is an iron gall ink, it may eat up some of your nibs. Bleed Proof White is my go-to white ink. Has a bit of sheen to it and I love the contrast when writing with this ink on colored paper. Finetec and Pearlex are my metallic inks that I love writing with. Finetec comes in small pans of mica and you just need to add drops of distilled water and mix it up to make ink. Pearlex is a powder that you add water and gum arabic to make the ink. I'll share some formulas in another post :) Lastly, you can also try some vermillion orange ink or use gouche/watercolor to write with as well!

Moon Palace Sumi Ink
McCaffery's Penman Ink
Dr. Ph Martin's Bleed Proof White
Finetec / Pearlex
Vermillion
Gouche
Watercolor


NIBS

Every hand is different, so the nib that you love may be different from another person. I would recommend trying different nibs and see what works for you. However, here are some of my personal favorite nibs from strong/sturdy nibs to more flex/sensitive nibs. 

Gillott 404
Nikko G
Zebra G
Brause 361
Hunt 22
Leonardt Principal
Gillott 303
 

HOLDER

You don't need an expensive holder to start. I would start with John Neal's dual workshop pen because you can use it for either a straight or an oblique pen holder for only $6.99! I personally love collecting pen holders crafted by penman/penwoman around the world (I currently own Michael Sull, Heather Held, Hoang pens), but those can range from $50-$200.


I think I've covered all the basics. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments! Happy writing!

Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0

The secret is out- I'm super excited to be an instructor for Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0! MCS 2.0 is a 2.5 week ONLINE course that runs from February 20th-March 8th, 2017. You might be wondering why I'm teaching a traditional script in a modern calligraphy course. It's okay- I would too! Well, I'm here because I want you to have a SOLID foundation in knowing how to write beautiful letters by looking at the rules and structure that is found in Copperplate calligraphy.

As much as I love the stylistic freedom that "modern calligraphy" offers, I'm also a firm believer in "knowing the rules so you can break them with intent". Calligraphy comes from the Greek word "kalligraphos" which means "a person who writes beautifully" and in my opinion, there's no script more elegant than Copperplate calligraphy! It is a versatile and popular script that is highly requested for weddings and events.

Are you ready for this?! Here's what I'll be covering in my class:

  • My favorite tools/supplies to get started
  • Drills to work on our finger and muscular movements
  • Breakdown of each lowercase AND uppercase letter strokes
  • Variations of flourished capital letters for an added WOW factor
  • Extensive instructional handouts for you to print and study
  • Special bonus video for my lefty friends!
  • ...and more

I'm also honored to stand alongside 6 of my insanely talented and creative friends who will be covering ALL sorts of topics from brush lettering, digitizing your work, hand lettering layouts, writing on non-traditional surfaces, invitation design, to watercolor paintings. With lifetime access to videos, Q&As, and private Facebook group, we've got your back!

Registration is currently closed, but will reopen in January 2017. Click HERE for more details and to reserve your spot through the waitlist! I'm so excited to make this class available worldwide.

Using a Straight vs. Oblique Holder as Left Handed Calligrapher

As a left handed calligrapher, it took some time before I finally found my "sweet spot" in regards to pen holder and paper angle. In addition to writing with a proper posture, finding the holder and paper angle that’s right for you can dramatically affect your penmanship. After writing with a straight holder for the first year, I switched to a right oblique holder after meeting Master Penman Michael Sull in February 2016. Why the switch? The straight holder wasn’t a problem, but one thing that stayed with me from conversing with Michael was that writing with an oblique may increase my range in motion. He shared an analogy about swinging your arm that’s holding just a ball vs. holding a string that’s tied to a ball.

Currently, I do most of my work using an oblique holder; however, I will occasionally use a straight holder for more upright scripts or decorative flourishing.

This is how I position my paper with a right oblique holder:

The paper is turned about 90 degrees to the right and I’m writing towards my body. It took me some time to adjust to this, but i find this paper angle to be helpful with smoother upstrokes and flourishing. I also don’t run into smudging problems.

This is how I position my paper with a straight holder:

The paper is turned about 45 degrees to the right and I make sure the reservoir of my nib is parallel to the slant line. I spent about a year practicing Copperplate calligraphy with a straight holder before I tried the oblique holder again. It allowed me to write with my natural hold and focus on my letterforms rather than trying to adjust to so many changes at once.

Hope this was helpful to you. For my left handed friends, keep at it! Find what works for you and most of all, find joy in writing!

Younghae