Zoomorphism comes from the Greek ζωον (zōon), meaning “animal”, and μορφη (morphē), meaning “shape” or “form”. In calligraphy, it is the art of writing a text and make the lines of the letters form the shape of an animal.
This art is very popular in Arabic calligraphy and there are different methods to make it possible. Each method helps adding more realism into the materialization of the animal.
Linear – Easy to read
The first one consists in filling the space without changing the way you write. Basically, you write in lines and the shape will appear because you start and stop the line at a specific position. With this method, it is only the outline that will be visible.
Linear plus – Easy to recognize
In order to increase the subtlety of the design, you can opt for modifying the way you space the words and letters. Visually, this effect will modify the density of the ink and will make it possible to materialize shapes inside the outline. The free space can optionally be filled with ink in order to give some perspective or to add a lighting effet
Organic – The animal looks realistic.
Next step would be to extend some letters in order to follow more organically the lines of the animal. This method brings more realism and allows us to clearly distinguish legs, wings, head, hairs from the body. In order to help building some realism, words are not necessarily following horizontal lines. Lines can be curved in order to naturally follow some key elements defining the animal. The text becomes more difficult to read
Realist – The animal is “alive”
Next step is to forget about the lines and the order of the words and to focus on the key lines of the drawings. In this case, each word is positioned following a geometrical logic rather than the meaning of the sentence. The word is following perfectly the main lines of the animal. You can also define zones according to lighting effect or texture contrast in order to increase the realism of the calligraphy. With this method, it is also possible to give the animal an expression or the feeling of a movement.