Sharpened Italic

Sharpened Italic is a very popular style and it is easy to learn.  It can be used for writing poems, scripts and quotations.  This style is quite striking in that it has a sharpened appearance, very much like the Gothic style.  The letters are quite narrow or compressed with angular, sharpened corners.  The basic Sharpened Italic is useful to encourage writing regularity and rhythm.  The Sharpened Italic has variations such as unjoined styles, exploring different nib sizes and also joined up letters.

Where Did Sharpened Italic Styles Come From

The Sharpened Italic is a modern variant of the Italic style and came from the Renaissance period but had a revival again during the early 20th Century from Edward Johnston. 


Edward Johnston And Modern Calligrapy

Edward Johnston (1872 – 1944) was a skilled craftsman who specialised in calligraphy.  He taught calligraphy techniques in London and influenced many calligraphy styles, such as Sharpened Italic, Foundation Hand and many other styles, using a broad nibbed calligraphy pen.  Edward Johnston revived the art of calligraphy and made calligraphy modern, fashionable and appealing again.

Writing Sharpened Italic With A Pencil

A great way to practice writing Italic and Sharpened Italic styles is by using a soft nibbed, sharpened pencil, such as a HB or 2B.  Try experimenting with faint and heavier strokes of the pencil by applying different pressure of the pencil to the paper. You can apply light strokes when writing upward swirls and then applying more pressure as you write the downward strokes of the letters.  This can give some great, artistic effects with the contrast of the faint and stronger lines.  This is quite a simple technique.  Once you have completed your work, you can use a fixative or hairspray to fix your artwork.  This fixes the pencil to the paper so it does not smudge later on.

Simple Rules To Apply With Sharpened Italic Writing

Some simple set of laws when writing Sharpened Italic is; use a medium nibbed calligraphy pen, holding the nib at about a 45-degree angle.  Write the rounded letterforms so they have sharpened corners, such as the letters ‘o’, ‘a’, etc.  The arches of the letters should be angular and sharp and the letters should appear compressed.  The x height of a letter (lowercase letters without the ascenders and descenders) should be about 5 nib widths in height.  The lines should be straight and angular, with downward strokes being heavier in appearance and upward strokes being lighter. 

Upper-case Letters And Sharpened Italic

The beauty of the Sharpened Italic is that you can experiment with big and bold uppercase letters, as long as it is in reasonable keeping with the Sharpened Italic style.  Try to experiment with ornate swirls, or you can write big, bold letters or narrow letter with swirls and ornate, elegant strokes.