Different Places for Flourishes

Flourishes can be added as a single decorative element standing on its own or as an addition to letters. They can be connected at the beginning or the ending of a word, or even in the middle. Usually this depends on the negative space of your writing, flourishes can be used to fill those spaces in a beautiful way. But you shouldn’t draw the lines too close together.

Flourished Writing needs loose Movements

For drawing those curved lines need a certain looseness in your movements, and to attain this you should warm up. Practicing the flourishes can be done with a pencil, then you don’t have to focus on the nib too. These practice movements should help you loosen up:



Then you can experiment with different flourishes to put under your text or to add to word endings:


Try to move your whole arm, not just your fingers when doing flourishes (that goes for calligraphy in general too). Movement that is too thought through looks stiff and awkward and doesn’t end up round and flowing, but unproportional. You can stand up for your practice if it helps you, or draw the lines into the air. It’s all about anchoring the movement in your muscle memory.
When you’ve practiced and internalized your flourishes you can start to pay attention where to include them in your writing. Keep looking for negative space.

There don’t have to be overly many flourishes in your calligraphy if you don’t like it – like everything this is a style decision. It also depends on the piece and the occasion. Fewer, but very generous flourishes can look more elegant than many small twirls and curlicues on every letter, but well executed and generously applied flourishing looks very festive.






Things to consider

What you should think about:
* Negative space should be balanced out, but not to the point of filling every corner until there’s no space left
* Practice the movement with a pencil or in the air before you start inking – especially complex flourishes
* Speed can make lines look more loose
* Your hands should be loose, maybe stand up
* Thin lines shouldn’t be too close together or intersect
* You can turn the sheet if the movement feels more natural this way
* It can be better to let your inked lines dry frist (especially thick ones) before adding flourishes – they might smear the ink otherwise

Practice sheet for printing out

I’ve prepared a practice sheet you can print out and trace over. Of course you can (and should) create you own flourishes.


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If you have any questions or comments on this topic, please feel free to contribute! Just leave a comment below.