yFlourish – a decorative extension to a letter – usually an ascender or a descender, but also at a termination or added to a Majuscule. A flourish can also be used as a stand alone ornament.
The simplest form of flourishing is through slight extensions of the ascenders and the descenders. Italic and other script hands lend themselves to these extensions beautifully, but flourishes can also be added to other styles.
Remember though that “Less is More” and never a truer work has been spoken. As usual there is always an exception to the rule. The thing is you must – Learn the rules, then learn how to break them successfully.
At first flourishing can be almost like a study of a new alphabet. Line and white spaces (counters) are where you can begin your focus. Build up your muscle memory through the practice of simple curves, extend these curves to accommodate the flourish. Watch the line and the white space that the drawn line creates. Ascenders and descenders provide the main basis for flourishing of minuscule: some letters allow extension at the end of the line. Keep the shapes fairly similar within any one design.
When adding flourishes to a final design, leave off all the flourishes from ascenders and descenders within the body of text until the whole piece is completed - adding them later possibly with a smaller nib.
I have now taught for 18 months at RMIT University in their Calligraphy Course. As the saying goes "To teach is the learn twice". I have learned a lot myself about the art of lettering and about how to share my creative skills with others. Calligraphy is in a new and expanding place in the world today. Traditional skills are being used in new and very exciting ways and by a new group of young and excited lettering nerds. The RMIT course has been updated a little to meet the desires of a whole new market. I am going to expand on that even more in my own "Studio8" in Hampton. Listen & look & news will come to you.