When practicing you can use layout paper placed over a template or you can use practice sheets with the lines already laid out. But ultimately at some point you are going to need to layout guidelines on your final layout.
When ruling guidelines they need to be drawn lightly so that they can be removed without leaving a trace (I use 2H leads in my mechanical pencil which is a harder lead than the HB lead which smudges easily). If you are not used to using the 2H pencil you will need to lighten your pressure on the 2H pencil.
Determining the height of the letters
In order to determine the height of the body, ascender and decender dimensions of the Alphabet (Font) you are wanting to use, you will first have to make the guidelines fit the pen nib that you are using, therefore you will need to check an Alphabet Exempler which will give you the number of nib-widths required for the formation of the letters body.
1. Once you have determined the number of nib-widths (steps) that are required.
2. Draw a horizontal baseline across the paper
3. Hold the pen so that the nib is in a vertical position (90 degree to the base line)
4. Starting from the baseline make steps vertically up the paper or at an upward angle (using the nib-width as the height of each step). Make your squares sharp and clear and make sure they do not overlap each other,are made at an angle or have spaces between them.
Note: Wait until the ink has dried then measure the distance from the baseline to the top of the top step.
Marking parallel lines
There are several ways of doing this.
1. You can use a ruler and mark the dimension of the body height down both sides of the page, then using a straight edge to connect the two opposing marks lightly draw a pencil line horizontally across the page connecting the two marks.(although this method is the quickest it is also the least accurate)
2. You can use a strip of paper that you have transferred the measurements to, then using it layout the body dimension down both sides of the page. (care should be taken to ensure accuracy). Then using a straight edge, connect the two opposing marks and lightly draw a pencil line horizontally across the page connecting the two marks.
3. By using a set of drafting dividers or compass set to the dimension of the body,use the dividers or compass to layout the body dimension down both sides of the page. (care should be taken to ensure accuracy). Then using a straight edge (steel ruler), connect the two opposing marks and lightly draw a pencil line horizontally across the page connecting the two marks.
4. Another method is through the use of a drafting square and a steel ruler, in this method you tape the page to the writing surface and mark out the body dimension on one side of the page, next tape the straight edge (steel ruler) to the side of the page and place the short leg of the drafting square against the ruler and move it till the long leg of the drafting square is lined up with the mark on the page then using a pencil lightly draw a line horizontally across the page.
A modification to methods 1, 2 & 3 is to layout the body measurements on one side of the page as stated in each method then tape the page to the writing surface using a T-square to position the page square to the edge of the writing surface, then slide the T-square up the page till it lines up then use a T-square and a pencil to mark the horizontal lines across the page.with the mark on the page then using a pencil lightly draw a line horizontally across the page.
5. The last and easiest way is by using the Ames lettering guide, this tool is used to produce evenly space parallel guidelines and is used with a T-square, ruler or other type straight edge
The body of each letter should lie between the base-line and the top of the body (sometimes referred to as the x-line).
In the Foundational Script it is generally written with a height of 4 or 5 nib-widths with the ascenders/descenders using 3 nib-widths,
Capital letters sit on the base-line and extend to one nib-width less than the ascender.
Some care should be taken when writing capitals not to make them too large