A flourish is no lasso:

A flourish is no lasso: mountains as a background

In the world of design, the flourish is a stroke of finesse, an embellishment that dances around letters, transforming them into works of art. But it’s important to remember that a flourish is not a lasso. It doesn’t seek to limit, but rather to embellish and enhance. In this article, we delve into the art of ornamentation and explore how flourishes add elegance and grace to typography without being a lasso 🙂

The Flourish Unveiled

A flourish is a curvaceous companion to typography, a partner in artistic expression. But what do I mean by “being a lasso”? Well, when people start using flourishes (or when i started…), the use of a flourish looks like a lasso sometimes. Flourishes look as if they are constricting, limiting the letters and flourishes in their expression. Or the flourish seems to catch or trap the letters instead of enhancing or liberating them.

Here are some examples

Word Gallon with a surrounding flourish Word lasso with a surrounding flourish

In both words you can see the extension of the G loop below and the L loop below. Both become an underlining S-curve, then the stroke surrounds the last letter and turns like a lasso back to the letters above.

The area in light orange is the negative space with no opening, it feels kind of trapped. It might look OK on the surface, but it creates a locked situation that prevents the lightness that we like to find in the use of flourishes.

If you take a look at the title image, you can see that the flourish underneath is too far away and ends up curling inwards like a lasso. As well as paying attention to the negative space, keep the flourishes close to the letters to avoid a sense of detachment and a lack of balance.

Avoid using too long flourishes

They should complement the letter’s style, adding depth and character to the text. It is an art form in itself, a testament to the skill and creativity of the designer.

Instead a solution for both words could look like this.

Lasso and Gallon with a shorter flourish

Balancing like a tightrope dancer

You need to find the perfect balance. Too much flourish can overwhelm, while too little can leave the composition lacking. It is in this delicate equilibrium that the true artistry of ornamentation lies.

Flourishes know no bounds but need to respect the rules. They grace the pages and dance across digital screens. 

Word 'rules' drawn with flourishes and guidelines

For artists and designers, the flourish is a muse, an endless source of inspiration. It invites experimentation, encouraging creators to push boundaries and explore new horizons. It is a canvas within a canvas, a space for boundless creativity. But be aware of reasonable rules combined with the necessary basics.

Let’s wrap it up

In design, the flourish is not a lasso, but a stroke of elegance and whimsy. Don’t hesitate to try anything you want to see if it works or not. From time to time you will gather more and more wisdom about solutions that work and look beautiful. Your strokes will also improve with consistent practice.

Don’t expect to learn it all at once, it’s good to slowly discover the necessary clues about flourishes. Then they may get more attention and you will keep these treasures in mind and they will help you in your future creations.

There are circumstances where flourishes look more circled together with the letters. Here you can find a tutorial about circled flourishes.