23 Replies Latest reply on Aug 24, 2009 2:13 AM by Steve Fairbairn

    ornate flourishes


      Does anyone know if there is an app or plug-in out there that allows you to do really ornate flourishes, or lets you control the radius of the flourish and its thickness?



        • 1. Re: ornate flourishes
          Scott Falkner Level 5

          What is up with all these questions about plug-ins or tool to do work and replicate skill?


          The tool is the pen tool. The plug-in is skill, patience, and experience. You might acquire that plug-in by searching for tutorials.

          • 2. Re: ornate flourishes
            enriquevw Level 1

            Haha, I concur, it's best to learn to draw them!

            • 3. Re: ornate flourishes
              Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

              Scott Falkner wrote:


              What is up with all these questions about plug-ins or tool to do work and replicate skill?


              The tool is the pen tool. The plug-in is skill, patience, and experience. You might acquire that plug-in by searching for tutorials.

              The craft age is gone for good.


              I had a client who was convinced that professional photographers such as myself were sold different models fro the general public.

              This is before digital cameras really took off and gave us the possibilities we have now.


              He said something to this effect if the store would sell him the camera with the button that makes the picture look good, like they sold me, then he could make the picture look just as good.


              I won't tell you what department he is associated with but he teaches at Pratt Institute.


              I thought everyone would enjoy knowing our future is in good hands.


              He is currently finishing a book being publish on a philosophical approach to design being published by a highly respected publishing company.


              Let's pray for doomsday!


              I actually believe there are programs that do make it easier to create this art however you might find it limiting.


              But if you want unique then it is by hand.

              • 4. Re: ornate flourishes
                enriquevw Level 1

                At one point I wanted to study at Pratt, somebody mentioned that their teaching methods were not the best, so I doubted whether to go there or not. Now I'm definitely convinced.

                I want to do a Visual Arts masters, what do you recommend, Wade?

                • 5. Re: ornate flourishes
                  Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                  The instructor is only one of many but I f I were you I would go with 

                  your instincts and what you want to achieve.


                  I won't mention what dept he was with but he is an architect.


                  I have had other experiences with Pratt instructors and I wrote about 

                  it but you know just because I had not good relations

                  it would be hard to judge from what I would write.


                  Visual Arts produces has educated some very talented and successful 

                  professional I guess so has Pratt.

                  • 6. Re: ornate flourishes
                    Eddie Ostrowski Level 1

                    Enrique, if you're planning to attend school in the NYC area, check out School of Visual Arts (SVA), located at East 23rd and Lexington. I attended there long long ago... fantastic education.



                    • 7. Re: ornate flourishes
                      enriquevw Level 1

                      Hello Eddie,


                      Thank you for the tip. I will check it out right now. I pland to attend school in NYC for a masters degree though, I don't know if they offer that. Thank you again.

                      • 8. Re: ornate flourishes
                        PrepressPro1 Adobe Community Professional

                        Skills, you don' need no stinkin' skills these days. You want flourishes? It's all just clip art off of the Internet. You don't need design and typography skills, just type it into a computer and it should look perfect.

                        • 9. Re: ornate flourishes
                          illyan Level 1

                          “You don't need design and typography skills”

                          So true, yet so very sad.

                          Aspiring designers would benefit from learning and practicing skills such as hand lettering, from which flourishes come. Flourishes are based on natural brush strokes. Practice drawing ‘S’ and ‘C’ shapes and see how the shape of brush influences the drawing. As the brush is moved across the page, it forms ‘thicks and thins’. It really is as simple as that. There’s no need to study the academic theory—just do it.


                          The correct tools and materials are essential; buy top-quality sable brushes, ink or paint from an artists’ suppliers. Designer's Gouache is excellent.

                          After that it’s practice, practice, practice. This is all basic stuff which any art school should have explained.

                          Having drawn a few flourishes, scan them, import the bitmap into Illustrator and trace the outlines with the Pen tool.

                          During my time at art college, I sat through many hours of tedious academic lectures, most of which had little practical application. The beauty of hand skills is that they can be applied in all sorts of ways. Flourishes can be used in wallpaper designs, your own greetings cards or adapted for stencils. Digitised designs can be given a grunge effect in AI or PS and printed on T Shirts. The possibilities are endless. 

                          • 10. Re: ornate flourishes
                            Steve Fairbairn Level 5

                            Yep, there's nothing that can beat hand lettering for hand and eye co-ordination. When I was art art school (BAA, Corsham, UK) in the late sixties we learned to draw the Trajan Roman alphabet by hand, no instruments allowed.

                            It took a bit of time but once you got the knack it became ever easier to do the job properly. Since computers took over, a lot of these hand skills are on the verge of being lost.


                            See: http://www.baacorsham.co.uk/SFsubweb/page7.htm The letter G shown there was done by hand many years after art school


                            It can be fiendishly difficult to recreate hand-drawn curves with a vector application. The most important trick, or at least one of them, is to use as few anchor points as possible to get really smooth curves. Study how swash fonts are designed and see how the anchor points are positioned on the curves. That will get you part of the way, but if you want to do things properly a good understanding of how pens and brushes work is absolutely necessary – and I'm not talking about the pens and brushes in Illustrator's toolbox.

                            • 11. Re: ornate flourishes
                              illyan Level 1

                              I enjoyed the stories on your site Steve. They took me back to when I was at Carlisle Art College in the mid-1970s. It was full of characters, including a great Scots fine arts teacher called Jimmy.

                              Please check the link to the G. It didn’t work in Safari and Firefox, which reported a Javascript error.


                              I’ve never quite mastered numerals—the right-hand curve of 5 and 9 are diffcult to get right. For me, the best tool is the humble HB pencil, but the fine point of the Windsor and Newton 3A brush produces nice copperplate thicks and thins and good curves.


                              When Fontographer generates a font, it inserts points on the ‘Extremas’ of the curves (the tops, bottoms and sides of the curves). In vector applications, I draw the extrema points first and then tweak the curves until they look right. This method produces the minimum number of points, which decreases the likelihood of printing problems later.


                              I see that you’re based in Iceland. It seems to be a fascinating place. Do you know the Icelandic (I think) type designer Gunnlaugur SE Briem? He’s well-known in type designing circles and has an interesting web site: http://briem.net/. I use a similar method to the one on his Bumpy Curves page (Type Design>Elbow Grease>Curves). 

                              • 12. Re: ornate flourishes
                                Judy_Arndt Level 3

                                Check out these links.


                                A tutorial on using the spiral tool:




                                Some brushes to get you started:




                                • 13. Re: ornate flourishes
                                  Steve Fairbairn Level 5

                                  Hi illyan.


                                  Glad you enjoyed the BAA site. The link to the G works o.k. for me on Firefox. I'll chat to the BAA website guy (Gerry Macfarlane, know him well) and mention the problem to him.


                                  And yes, I know Gunnlaugur. We have occasionally exchanged ideas about type design. He's one of the best type designers and calligraphers in the business and an entertaining character. He designed the type for the Icelandic 'phone book (we only have one for the whole country 'cos there's only about 350,000 people in Iceland) – a magnificent job that allows for easy reading in miniscule sizes.

                                  He often pays for his work with cheques and saves a lot of money that way. They're so beautifully written that not many people take them to the bank

                                  • 14. Re: ornate flourishes
                                    Steve Fairbairn Level 5

                                    Hi again illyan.

                                    I sent an e-mail to Gerry and explained the mousever problem on the BAA site. I think he's on holiday now, so maybe he won't reply right away.

                                    I did a bit of testing using Firefox.
                                    It seems that the pictures only show up when you put your cursor exactly on the blue type.
                                    So if you drag slowly over the highlighted words, the picture will blink as the cursor goes over letters and spaces.

                                    You just have to be careful to position your cursor exactly on a blue letter and keep it still for a bit, then the pictures behave o.k.
                                    Not quite sure what the solution is though, but it's as if there should be an active button area behind the lettering. At least that's what I suggested to Gerry.



                                    • 15. Re: ornate flourishes
                                      illyan Level 1



                                      Eureka—I’ve found it!


                                      In Safari, when you copy the link and paste it into a text editor,  all it says is ‘javascript:’. I opened the source code in a text editor and only half of the url is referenced in the hyperlink. If you add this to the base url, the picture displays. 


                                      Firefox handles the pop-up image differently. When you click the link, a yellow error bar appears at the top of the window with a ‘Preferences’ button. When you click the button, you can choose to allow pop-ups. I selected the allow option and the image appeared. You just hover the cursor.


                                      If others are interested, the G is here:



                                      • 16. Re: ornate flourishes
                                        Steve Fairbairn Level 5

                                        Hi illyan.

                                        Just got mail from Gerry – he knows about the problem and says he'll fix it when he has a mo.


                                        • 17. Re: ornate flourishes
                                          JayJhabrix Level 3



                                          Interesting... just about everybody has posted here except the OP...

                                          • 18. Re: ornate flourishes
                                            Steve Fairbairn Level 5

                                            Yep. This is turning into a chat page.

                                            • 19. Re: ornate flourishes
                                              Isolder Level 2

                                              I am working to improve my limited drawing ability, but I can't imagine making typography part of my skill set. I have a hard enough time writing in print.

                                              • 21. Re: ornate flourishes
                                                gprobst Level 2



                                                I don't know of any plug-in that will create flourhishes for you quickly and easily. However, the link that Judy posted above to the tutorial on Veerle Pieters' site is good starting point. However, I've always found the description of how Veerle gets from the rotation step through the scaling step (to create the inside portion of the curl) to be a little confusing. I've found that if you use the Scale Tool for this step and set center point to the inner most point of your spiral that it's a lot easier to achieve the shape. Once you're familiar with the method detailed in Veerle's example, you can start adding more intricate and orante designs with the Pen Tool.


                                                Here are a couple of other tuts that might help you out.





                                                Hope this helps!

                                                • 22. Re: ornate flourishes
                                                  Joe Paris Level 3

                                                  steve fairbairn wrote:

                                                  See: http://www.baacorsham.co.uk/SFsubweb/page7.htm The letter G shown there was done by hand many years after art school


                                                  Just seeing that image of the "G" with brush, paint, guides, etc. makes me want to go and do it.

                                                  • 23. Re: ornate flourishes
                                                    Steve Fairbairn Level 5

                                                    Joe and illyan: Gerry has fixed the pictures so that they no longer blink in Firefox