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ART 50 — Calligraphy and Letterform: Methods, Models, History, and Practice

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Apr 19—May 24
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 21
Unit: 1
Tuition: $365
Instructor(s): Ann Miller
Limit: 30
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Apr 19—May 24
6 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 21
1 Unit
Ann Miller
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Calligraphy is visual music, meditative and seismic, capable of conveying personal meaning. Letterform is a blend of structure and movement, and its background reaches back many thousands of years. In this course, students will learn how to write formal calligraphy scripts with confidence. We begin by learning the basic structures of the Roman alphabet, stroke techniques using pen and ink, and a time-honored grid system for organizing a page layout. We also cover a contemporary approach to freehand writing with pencil, brush, and marker, focusing on rhythm and spacing, pressure and release, and spontaneous invention. We study four formal scripts in depth: Irish Uncial, a great beginning hand; the classic upright 15th-century Humanist Minuscule, the basis of our print script; Gothic Blackletter, noted for its structural system and graphic impact; and Italic, our foundation for fluid cursive writing.

Weekly assignments include alphabet practice, small writing projects, and several more complex design projects. Each class session includes live demonstrations of technique, assignment instructions and lecture, and time for feedback and discussion. Exercises cover correct form, positive/negative relationships of letterforms, visual rhythms, textures and forces, and many other specific aspects of text art and design. By focusing on individual components of the modular scripts, we can absorb a huge subject without being overwhelmed.

This course is open to students of all skill levels. Students must purchase their own art supplies for this course and can expect to spend an additional $65–$100 on these materials.


Ann Miller teaches calligraphy design at Academy of Art University and has developed 15 unique letterform workshops for the San Francisco Center for the Book. She received an MA in art from Stanford. Her work can be viewed at pennib.com.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.