Welcome to the final installment of the blackletter tutorial series! If you haven’t read any prior parts of this series, I would definitely recommend checking out the following posts:
- Blackletter 101: A Primer
- Blackletter 202: Blackletter Tools of the Trade
- Blackletter 303: Learning The Lowercase Alphabet
- Blackletter 404: Learning The Uppercase Alphabet
We’ve come a long way in this tutorial series. I hope you’ve followed along and learned a lot. But most importantly, I hope you’ve been having fun! If you have been following along, you’re probably still getting a feel for the textura blackletter alphabet and becoming more comfortable with writing words and sentences.
If this is something you’re excited about, you might also be wondering where you can take it next. Good news — this is just the beginning!
In this post, we’ll take our skills a step further by learning about letter variations. Broadening your horizons in this realm will allow you to begin exploring different styles of blackletter.
Different Stroke Combinations
In the previous posts, we explored a variety of strokes in depth. These strokes are fundamental building blocks of the blackletter alphabet.
Using certain stroke combinations, we’ve learned a single way to create each letter. However, these specific combinations are only one of many ways to create any given letter.
This image depicts the same letter drawn several different ways using different combinations of fundamental strokes that we’re already familiar with. There isn’t a single right way to create a letterform. That’s the beauty of blackletter. I found this to be overwhelming at first, but consider it a freedom. Once you understand the fundamentals, there aren’t many rules you need to adhere to.
The key takeaway here is that you don’t have to make your letters look like a font. Of course, it’s a great way to learn and you shouldn’t stray too far from uniformity, but there is certainly creative wiggle room. Experiment with different combinations of strokes to see what you come up with. After all, different strokes for different folks. See what I did there?
But really, just get comfortable learning the strokes in isolation. You don’t need to be able to draw every single combination right off the bat. But you will broaden your skills at a quicker pace if you’re comfortable with a variety of strokes. And with a little practice, you’ll be able to build tons of letterform variations.
Exploring New Styles
It might not feel like it, but you are more than ready to begin practicing different styles of blackletter. Remember in the first post of this series when we took a look at the different categories of blackletter?
Take a look one more time. If you’ve been following along, all of the strokes that make up these letterforms should look pretty familiar. Sure, there might be some slight differences in some of the angles and curves, but that’s about it. You’re already familiar with how the core fundamentals work. You know how to manipulate the pen to achieve different line widths.
You’re no longer a beginner. The next step is to explore and advance. Don’t let all of the styles intimidate you, just start exploring. The more you study these styles, the more similarities you’ll discover. Once you’re ready to move on from textura, the fraktur style of blackletter is a great next step:
As you practice, you will continually develop a keen sense awareness of blackletter in your everyday surroundings. Pay attention. Take pictures and study the strokes. Try recreating them on your own. Inspiration is everywhere. Take advantage!
Here are a couple of my favorite modern-day blackletter artists:
I hope this was as fun for you as it was for me. Go forth and create. I’d love to see your progress. If you have any questions or suggestions, I would love to hear your thoughts, so please don’t be afraid to reach out to me. Talk to you soon!