Copperplate Calligraphy: Full Pressure Stroke – Square Top, Square Bottom, and Constant Pressure

In the second week of Copperplate Calligraphy Precision Practice (C2P2), we’re going to talk about the full pressure stroke! In which we will focus on achieving consistent pressure along the entire length, and square top and bottom.

Copperplate Full Pressure Stroke: Achieving Square Top, Square Bottom, and Constant Pressure

When you look at my writing, I’m actually not a big fan of using the full pressure stroke for the letter “p”.

But I strongly believe this is a very important stroke to practice because it helps with pressure control, muscular movement, and squaring the top and bottom.

The width of this stroke is dependent on the width of the shades of your other letters. You don’t want to make this stroke wider than the others as it is already quite heavy.

If this stroke is too wide, the eyes will be drawn directly to them, instead of flowing delicately across the page.

Important points to consider in a Full Pressure Stroke

There are a 6 important points when it comes to the full pressure stroke, as I’ll describe below.

Point number 1 – ghosting to ensure full range of muscular motion, and parallel to the angle of the script

Before I make any long strokes, I always ghost first, that is to ensure two things.

One is to make sure that the range of my muscular movement is enough to go from the top all the way to the bottom without any interference. If at any point my range of motion is interrupted, I may need to either adjust my paper or my arm.

The second one is to ensure the angle at which I’m bringing my arm down is parallel to the angle of the script.

Point number 2 – make small horizontal mark

I will draw a small horizontal line across to start the stroke. This little line should be no wider than the intended width of my stroke.

Point number 3 – press the nib down and wait for the thines to fully open

This is a very important point! Once you press down, you need to wait for the thines to spread! If you start moving right away, you’ll get a rounded top.

Point number 4 – maintain constant pressure while moving down with muscular movement

Because of the length of the stroke, it is important to move down with muscular movement. Which means, you’re pulling down your arm with your shoulder, while having minimal movement in the fingers and wrist.

I personally find that if I introduce finger and wrist movement in this stroke, the consistency in the pressure will be jeopardized.

Point number 5 & 6 – Stop the movement, lean toward the left thine to close off the right thine

Point 5 and 6 are solely based on practice because they need to be well timed. It needs to be slow enough to stop the movement, but fast enough to close off the thines so that no more ink is deposited.

The slower you close off the thines, the rounder the bottom will become. Yet, if you go too fast, then you’ll get a tapered stroke.

Two Bonus Points

a. Make sure the ink on the nib is not fully saturated. I personally find that the less ink there is on the nib, the easier it is to square off the bottom.

b. Since this is a down stroke, it is important to breathe out as you write.


Hope these points help you!

If you have any trouble, please comment below!


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