Why I am not learning Arabic Calligraphy the traditional way

One of my trials using eMashq and combine it with imagery. (image source Instagram @ballerinaproject_)
One of my trials using eMashq and combine it with imagery. (image source Instagram @ballerinaproject_)

I have always been passionate at about Arabic Calligraphy. Just by looking at the magnificent masterpieces that any artist have done, makes me think that I am standing before a mighty creation.

During my early school years, me as part of the whole education system, learned the basic Arabic calligraphy that does not extend Naskh and Ruqaa’ typefaces. However,  I tried improvising, imitating and creating my own way based on my artistic hobbit I had back then. Of course, things that you do not keep working on will be lost eventually. I do not have that ability to draw Arabic writing the way I wish, but I never lost my eagerness to learn it in a proper way.

Between work and more work, I never had the chance to slip away from the busy routine of life to start a course or even few lessons to learn Arabic Calligraphy. That’s all continue till recently when I managed to find someone who gives a weekly lesson about Arabic Calligraphy. The experience was overwhelming although it did not last more than two weeks! I am not joking when I tell you I felt like I was a little girl again. So happy and so thrilled to learn more and more. I hoped I have not annoyed my trainer with all my questions and being thirsty to learn more and more.

The typeface I managed to learn within those two classes was Nastaliq. A hyprid persian font that is been largely used and taught in the Arab world recently. During that time, especially when the trainer stopped her classes, I had to do my own research in order to find more of ways to learn. Learning Nastaliq made me understand the anatomy of the Arabic alphabet, and understand things I have never noticed before.

During my search I found eMashq.com. A great tool I never knew it exist till few months back. Arabic calligraphy has been always a nightmare with incompatible fonts with Adobe softwares or typefaces that has no ability to extend beyond its template. eMashq has broken those boundaries.

eMashq is a web based program that has the ability to write main text, headline or create a typographic logo and bend it in the way you want as if you are drawing it by your own hand. With hundred of glyphs and ways to elongate letters vertically or horizontally, you will end up with so many different ways of writing the same word.  The program offers eight traditional Arabic fonts, like Diwani, Nastaliq, Thuluth and more!



The program has its pros and cons. To start, it is only a web-based program that does not offer a desktop version. That means you can only produce work when you are connected to the internet. At first when I tried it for a short period or three days, I faced a lot of issues that prevented me from establishing any work due to server connectivity failure. Thankfully, that did not last for long. By the second time I was given the free trial again few months later, all issues seemed to be over and I had the chance to enjoy my work again. The web-based software is not so convenient, yet I can understand the purpose from the creator point of view. This way it won’t be possible for any one to download it into their PCs illegal through a craked code.

I managed to understand more about different traditional Arabic calligraphic typefaces, compare between them and understand how they function internally.

The Facebook page of eMashq offers to show case many of its users artworks, and encourage them by giving away extra free usage of its program to the owner of the winning featured work. Most of which are strictly religious, orthodox and so graphically heavy.

Arabic calligraphy is more accessible to every one more than before now. I may have started my article by surfing away from the traditional unelectronic way of writing Arabic calligraphy, yet I still wish life would grant me the chance again to learn more. At the end, nothing feels the same as simple pen and white piece of paper.

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