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Thread: Writing Angle

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    Senior Member gbryal's Avatar
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    Question Writing Angle

    I have a pretty boring tripod grip when I write. It works out OK, though sometimes threads rub the last joint of my middle finger.

    So, I thought I was doing pretty well, but lately I have been wondering about my writing angle. Not the vertical angle to the paper, but a combination of yaw and roll to the left.

    The roll gets corrected more or less by itself: if I roll too much the pen doesn't write.

    The yaw doesn't cause any problems, but when I write with a stub, it means my left to right bottom to top diagonals are the thinnest, my left to right top to bottom diagonals are thickest (and don't come up much in cursive for me), and everything else is meh.

    It occurred to me that maybe the correct way is to orient a stub or italic such that the width of the nib is parallel to the writing line, e.g. the ruled lines in a notebook, and that the motion of my hand should be mostly a plus shape (as opposed to an X).

    This does yield a more interesting line (and makes the distinction between an italic or stub and an architect grind make more sense). But it's awkward, as my arms are attached to my shoulders and don't grow from the middle of my chest. This way also seems to make more sense with flex writing, where downward motion seems like it should be oriented in a straight line toward or away from the writer.

    Anyway, just wondering, do I write funny? Do most people orient their pen like I do or is their approach more where the nib slit is perpendicular to the page's bottom?

    Also, this is complicated by paper angle. I've been told by different teachers to slant the paper and to not slant the paper. I try to do both ways evenly in case there's some cosmic consequence.
    Last edited by gbryal; April 25th, 2018 at 01:01 AM.

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    Senior Member Sammyo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Angle

    There may be a simple solution to your problem I think. Is your paper always perpendicular to the desk? If so, rotate your paper to suit the angle of your pen, rather than your pen to the paper. I think you original advice is right.

    Find a comfortable arm position, and then rotate the paper to the desired position with regard to the nib. Let me know if this helps, or if I'm in the wrong dimension.

    Depending what type of nib I am using, I will change all angles. All angles of the pen; the paper; my sitting position; etc...
    Take some time and find what works best for you

    Sent from my SCV36 using Tapatalk
    Sam O

    "A fountain pen with a bad nib is like a Ferrari with a flat tyre..." - Brian Gray, Edison pens

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    Senior Member countrydirt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Angle

    I'm not an expert, but when writing italic letterforms, I keep my nib oriented at a 45 degree angle to the paper. Not sure if that is right, but it's what I do.

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
    I use a fountain pen and a paper planner - paperinkplan.wordpress.com

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    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Angle

    I agree with Sammyo that changing the paper's position makes a big difference. The pen angle and all that are almost automatic; my hand naturally adjusts to whatever the nib likes as I write. I've noticed slight differences depending on which nib I use.
    Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur. — Horace
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    Default Re: Writing Angle

    I am right handed, and my nib points roughly 10 O'clock. This works fine for me, and gives me a nice italic look without having to rotate the paper much. For left handers who are reversing the thick and thin of the italic, I have no suggestions, as it's not something that I have to incorporate. Maybe an oblique would be better suited?

    Elevation of the pen varies according to the pen itself. I plant the heel of my hand, this whole-arm writing fiasco does nothing at all for me, other than turn my writing completely illegible and give me neck ache. I figure it's called HANDwriting for a reason, not armwriting, so I intend to keep the heel of my hand on the paper and relax my arm, shoulder, and neck. Pens are light, but arms are heavy, and holding mine out over a piece of paper for any length of time, takes it's toll. This is not a recommendation, or a formal rebuttal of the arm writing movement, just what works best for me.

    Sorry, I started talking about elevation, and veered off target. I don't like holding too near the contact point on paper, as that makes the pen too vertical, and puts my hand in an awkward position. Pens like the Parker Vector with short nibs and short sections are uncomfortable for me I prefer a longer section, so I can relax my hand, and grip the pen where it feels most natural. It seems to me, that some pen designs are hand-me-downs from when people were writing on an inclined slope. I don't, so I need to grip further from the nib to compensate. I have no intention of getting a slope, or propping my table up on books, just so I can use a pen comfortably.
    Last edited by Wuddus; May 9th, 2018 at 12:11 PM.

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    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Angle

    I write with nib at 10 o'clock also, and with paper tilted such that the nib is about 45° angle to the horizontal lines. A long time ago when I attempted calligraphy, I think that the nib was 45° also.

    On the arm writing-- I had similar problems but lately I have been trying this:

    Lightly plant my hand and keep my wrist and fingers fixed and sort of move my hand around on it's resting place. I didn't actually have to re-learn to write; it came rather naturally for me.

    By contrast, if I try to do this arm writing without my hand resting it looks like the off-hand writing of a five year old... monkey.

    Not sure if this is the right way but I seem to write as well or better and without hand fatigue (assuming I remember to keep.my grip relaxed).

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    Senior Member gbryal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Angle

    I think with the full arm writing, the desk height and position and seating is more critical, and probably also the lettering needs to be larger than what, say, dot grid paper has for space. I believe it's probably superior for lettering that has more of a drawing element to it, once you have the knack, but I also don't have a lot of confidence in it for regular writing. I think if you can bring a little into the mix you can keep your hand moving instead of anchoring the side of the hand and writing until your fingers can't move, adjusting, and repeating: if you write that way it's likely characters change their quality as you reach the limit of your motion.

    I guess I'm a 10 o'clocker. Even if the paper is turned though, it means that flexes and italics aren't really writing the way they are advertised to.

    Besides the arm-writing, I am also trying to fix my guitar finger-picking technique, where out of habit I anchor to the top of the guitar with a pinky for stability, but this is discouraged in most styles. I am not playing classical and I'm no Leo Kottke so it's not critical or holding me back greatly, but it's kind of interesting and I'd like to see where it takes me when I stop anchoring.

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    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Angle

    I’m not sure that I do it right, but I definitely use my entire arm when I write, and it is less fatiguing and the results look more fluid than when I keep my arm still and do everything with my fingers. The edge of the heel of my hand is still “anchored,’ but not pressed down hard. It acts almost like a pivot of sorts, although that’s not exactly what it is because the hand’s skeleton moves while the fleshy part of the heel of the hand stays in place and serves as an anchor. Try drawing curlicues with just your fingers, and then try it without pressing down as hard with the heel of your hand and allow everything including your elbow to move. You should notice that even your elbow is making little circles, and that everything feels fluid and connected. There’s a trick to it that I can’t describe, but when you get it, it feels very natural.

    Again, I assume I’m doing it right, but was never shown how to do it by an “expert.” I used fountain pens in school back in the 1950s, and that was how I naturally did it after I got the hang of using them, and how I still do it today.

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    Default Re: Writing Angle

    Quote Originally Posted by calamus View Post
    Try drawing curlicues with just your fingers, and then try it without pressing down as hard with the heel of your hand and allow everything including your elbow to move.
    What the heck are they?

    I agree there is some skeletal movement when I'm writing, even though the fleshy heel is static on the paper, but I would say that's only about 25-30% because my fingers alone aren't dexterous enough to make the full pen travel for the lettering. The rest of the movement is my fingers. If I try to keep my fingers fairly still, and write with my elbow as it were, there is a serious decline in writing quality - worse than I can remember my writing ever being. If I was to move to arm writing, I would have to completely relearn writing from scratch, and my brain has too many miles on the clock to learn things like that quickly anymore.

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    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Angle

    You use your fingers too, more than the arm. You just use your arm too. It's really hard to explain using words. Here's a quick snapshot of some hastily done curlicues. The bottom one was fingers only, the other two whole arm in addition to fingers.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by calamus; May 18th, 2018 at 05:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Writing Angle

    Maybe I'm already doing it without realising. All I do know is that becoming conscious of whether my arm is moving or not, makes my handwriting even worse than normal

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    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Angle

    I think that if you do what feels comfortable, you're on the right track. Overthinking this sort of thing can drive you nuts.

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