Naptime Cat Practices her ABCs

I posted this on my blog and wanted to share it here because it’s more than just a picture of me flailing around. Mind you, it’s a bit of that, too.

NT Cat‘s handwriting and her oblique nib, Nibby!

When I was working through this practice, I ended up having to Google how to correctly write most of the letters. Even then, with pictures and video tutorials at my disposal, getting the shapes right proved to be a struggle. I didn’t realize just how complicated these loops would be.

Admittedly, it’s not as bad as Italic script because the strokes and motions are more familiar, but it’s not a walk in the park, either. Overall, it took about twenty minutes to work through these.

As I was searching for examples, I came across several different scripts that looked similar enough to give me pause. At first, I was just kind of miffed about watching three different people write the letter “a” in three different ways. A little research cleared things up:

At its most basic, cursive is actually a script called “Spencerian”. Unfortunately for all involved, it’s not a particularly simple script to reproduce and requires a quill or flexible nib to really shine. This is an example of Spencerian script:

Spencerian Script (1850 — 1925)

If you check out the capital letters, you can kind of see that the line width on most of them is variable, with some patches darker than others. A flexible nib can generally help create that effect, as well brush pens and other nifty tools. :)

Teaching that to children is pretty involved, so most school in the US introduce kids to an extremely simplified version of Spencerian script called “New American Cursive”:

So simple, we can do this with finger paint. Great for little ones!

You can probably see the family resemblance. New American Cursive can be taught to first graders and above because it’s generally straightforward and doesn’t require as much precise motion. And it can be done with a pencil or ballpoint pen (or even a crayon). But, when you write in New American Cursive, it looks and feels pretty basic. It has no flourishes and looks, if anything, a bit unprofessional.

Somewhere in between the extremes of Spencerian and New American Cursive lies yet another derivative called “Palmer’s Method of Business Writing”. It has some more depth to it and a bit more flair, but it can be written with any pen or pencil. Here’s basically what it looks like:

I wonder if this was created by someone named Palmer. One would hope so.

When looking at examples, I have to admit Business Writing looked legible and easy to read. I didn’t struggle with interpreting the letters at all.

When practicing calligraphy, I’m guessing most people aim for the real thing. If you want to learn a flowy calligraphy script, seek out Spencerian (or Copperplate).

Originally published at on March 16, 2016.

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