Calligraphy on dark grounds with Calligraphy Gouache - with Agnete Sabbagh

"Lettering" is certainly one of the very popular art trends of our time. Calligraphy can be done with different kinds of colour, but with Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache the results become highly intense and professional. Agnete Sabbagh, a lettering artist and real expert from Cologne/ Germany, shows us the effects of the special colours goldpearl and silver on dark grounds and gives us advice and tips on how to use the colours best:

You will need:

  • Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache in Silver (27870) and Goldpearl (27869)
  • round brush with natural hair
  • Broad nip pen, e.g. Brause, pointed nip pen, e.g. Baignol& Farjon, No. 436 EF Velleda Typ or Nikko G
  • black paper, min. 150 g/m2
  • destilled water, pipette, sheet of paper
  • possibly a small glass/ pot, lockable
  • ruler, pencil, eraser


Step 1:

Draw thin lines with a pencil and a ruler. For gothic letters, as in our example, the proportions of the top-, the middle- and the underline are 0,9 cm - 1,5 cm - 0,9 cm (or 3 - 5 - 3 if you calculate the proportion for other sizes).


Step 2:

To avoid mixing during the work, you better build up a small stock of thinned colour in a closable pot. The remaining colour can be used later. For thinning, I put approximately 5 cm of colour into the pot and add about 5 fillings of destilled waterwith a pipette. I stir the mixture with a brush to get a feeling for the right consistency. The thinned colour should be of a creamy, flowing consistency. Before starting, I always make pretests.




Step 3:

Using a round brush with natural hair, I fill a broad nib pen from behind and one side up to 2/3. Now, you write with the pen on scribbling paper with a light pressure until the colour flows regularly.

HINT: Before refilling the dip pen, stir the colour thoroughly.


Step 4:

Make yourself familar with the proportions and the font. Practise a little on scribbling paper or make a thin pre-sketch with apencil. When writing with the dip pen, look after flowing moves and press the dip pen thoroughly onto the paper. Scratching sounds are desired. Thus, you can be sure to get even contours.

HINT: Clean the nip pen in-between with water, in any case when changing the colour.


Step 5:

After writing the letters, you can start decorating them with the same colour or a contrasting one which you should thin as described. For the decoration elements, use the pointed nip pen to create a contrast in stroke size and manner. The so called "flourishing" includes blossoms, curves, curls, and a lot more which gives the letters a certain expression.

HINT: When writing with a pointed nip pen, you can influence the stroke size with different pressure.


Step 6:

After drying, you can carefully erase the pencil traces.

Modern Calligraphy/ Lettering with Calligraphy Gouache


For this technique the Calligraphy Gouache is perfectly suited. One of the differences between classical and modern calligraphy is that the letters don't have to be in a perfect, even line or of the same style. "Dancing" letters and a combination of different fonts, sometimes with embellishments form the charm of this style, are desired.




In this example, the letters have been pre-sketched with a pencil. They are written with Calligraphy Gouache silver and the embellishments are painted with Calligraphy Gouache ultramarine.


HINT: Calligraphy Gouache with a brush

Of course, all 12 colours of Calligraphy Gouache are ideal for the use with dip pens, but also with special calligraphy brushes (e.g. da Vinci) you can write beautiful letters in a handlettering style.


The product:

Artists' Calligraphy Gouache are brilliant and largely opaque and their consistency is ideal for a wide variety of application forms in calligraphy. Calligraphy Gouache contains 1 2colours including gold pearl and silver in tubes of 20 ml, and is available in a wooden set (72028) and separately.