Calligraphy: modern copperplate
Time: 10:00 - 13:00
Location: Keeley Street
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What is the course about?
This is a practical course in artistic handwriting, or letter drawing, that focusses on historical skills and styles. The beautiful and graceful lettering commonly referred to as ‘copperplate’ script, is actually a style of eighteenth-century lettering called English Roundhand. In fact, there are several styles of lettering with slightly different origins that have all been referred to as ‘copperplate' over the years. Many examples of these styles were engraved onto copper plates and printed by George Bickham in the 1740s in The Universal Penman, hence the popularisation of the all-encompassing term ‘copperplate’. Across ten sessions you will discover how to recreate the copperplate hand and eventually develop your own.
What will we cover?
The course provides a thorough grounding in calligraphy materials, exploring different inks, pens, nibs, and papers so that you gain knowledge of the tools, where they come from, and how they work. Your tutor will provide interesting insight into the history of calligraphy, and the Contemporary international calligraphy world. As a group we will observe and discuss texts from the past and present, and you will carry out a deep analysis of an historical script. Through training and exercises, you will practice making your letterforms regular and fluent, with feedback and support from the tutor.
Experienced students who would like to improve their existing skills will be able to focus on more detailed lettering aspects such as weight, height, compression, and angles. Variations of the lower-case letters will be examined along with an exploration of the small changes that can drastically alter the appearance of letterforms.
During the course, depending on your individual skill level, you will be able to complete one of these projects:
- handmade card for a special occasion
- poetry panel or letter
- wedding/party stationery
- designing your own alphabet
- script/rhythm variations in a concertina book
- copperplate writing book
- an ex-libris bookplate
- decorated/illustrated panel or inspirational artwork
- illuminated text page with border.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Identify and recognise the key characteristics of copperplate script
- Vary the weight of a pen stroke, the spacing and the speed of your writing successfully and with confidence
- Select and use a variety of pens, materials, and inks appropriately
- Correct mistakes neatly
- Produce a finished project with an example of copperplate writing.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is suitable for both beginners and advanced students and the tutor is experienced in teaching mixed level classes. Prior knowledge of copperplate scripts is desirable, but not at all essential. You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions in English to support demonstrations, read hand-outs, and understand health and safety information. Basic numerical skills are required to carry out simple measurements and calculations. Students will be invited to take part in group discussions, but participation is voluntary.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Teaching is carried out by group and individual demonstrations and supported by theory and illustration. You will learn or improve your skills through practising the craft from the very first lesson, and will be encouraged to incorporate your own individuality into your studies and finished pieces. You may occasionally find it helpful to complete or practise work at home during the course between classroom sessions.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Experienced calligraphers should bring their existing toolkit with them – you can use whichever ink and pen you prefer.
For beginners, some basic materials will be provided in the first lesson including cartridge paper, pens, erasers, and some inks. Please bring the following:
- A notebook or pad for notetaking
- Layout Paper (A3) and good quality smooth hot-pressed (HP) paper (e.g., HP Fabriano)
- Eraser, Gridded Ruler 50cm, 0.3 Automatic Pencil (not essential)
- Speedball 2968 Oblique Pen Set, black (if unsure, please see below note)
- Japanese Calligraphy ink stick and ink stone, about 5cm x 3cm size (if unsure, please see below note)
If you are not sure where to get the tools and materials, please do not buy anything as your tutor will demonstrate the tools/materials and will suggest where they can be purchased in the first session. From the second session onwards, you will be expected to bring your own materials. If you forget anything the other students and the teacher will always be there to help!
Need art supplies? Our partner London Graphic Centre has everything you need from pencils to printing services, at
To get an LGC discount card, students will need to show proof/ confirmation of enrolment of them being a student
at City Lit. You can apply for our card in-store or by simply emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a scan or
photo of relevant confirmation. The student discount does not apply to products that are already discounted or on
offer. More information can be found here- https://www.londongraphics.co.uk/student-discounts/.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Other suitable courses include:
- VE258 Calligraphy: modern copperplate
- VE231 Calligraphy and illumination
- VE350 Calligraphy: modern copperplate
- VE211 Calligraphy: Spencarian scripts
- VE230 Calligraphy evening class.
Veiko Kespersaks is a Fellow of CLAS (The Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society) and a Fellow of SSI (Society of Scribes and Illuminators). He currently runs a successful calligraphy studio in Central London. Veiko was Programme Leader for the Calligraphy Degree course at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences in Finland and his book, ‘Calligraphy in 24 1h lessons’ was published in 2011. He has an MA with Distinction from Roehampton University London, A BA (First class) in Calligraphy and Art History from University of Surrey Roehampton and a BA in Printmaking from the Art Institute of Kankaanpää, Finland. Veiko’s classes are usually mixed levels, and his passion in teaching is to create an atmosphere in which each student can increase their skill proficiency and learn new, sometimes unexpected, skills. www.calligraphystudio.co.uk
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.