Tag Archives: Lower case


Lesson No 1. Roundhand

We are going to begin with a Roundhand alphabet, also known as the humanist or foundational hand, as formulated by Edward Johnston in his book, Writing & Illuminating & lettering.

This is a beautiful example of what we aim to achieve.

REMEMBER. 2 clicks on each image to magnify to huge proportions.

There are FREE downloadable worksheets   Best viewed as a slide show to begin with.

And do have a look at Richard’s worksheets for even more insight into  this fascinating journey.

And a video, probably best viewed full-screen, to show how it’s done.

The same demonstration with a commentary but on a massive scale.

Calligraphy.roundhand alphabet.double pencil.img.jpg

You don’t have to use double pencil;  if you would rather use a pen, go ahead, but you will find if you use my method to start with, you will be able to see clearly how the strokes are made and how they join up.  Any mistakes are glaringly obvious.  There are 2 or 3 instances on the video that are not quite right – I wonder if you will notice.

Just remember to use 4 nib-widths for the lower case o-height and to leave space for the ascenders and descenders.  For example, if the o-height is 1”, then the whole letter needs 3 lines and 3”.  Your nib needs to be kept at approximately 30 degrees to the writing line except when writing w, x, y and z – here it is better to change to 45 degrees.  Even when practising it is a good idea to try and get the spacing right.  This can only be done by eye, but a good guide is to remember that OO are close, O l are further apart and l  l further still.

You may ask, “Why start with this alphabet and not Blackletter or Italic?” All I can say is, trust me.  If you can do a reasonable version of what is set out here, plus  Roman Capitals which comes next, all other hands are a doddle, ha ha!


I have set out here not to teach fancy lettering, but good lettering.  A page of well-made and well-spaced letters is a thing of great beauty and something to which we should all aspire.

People say, “I wish I could write like that”. “You must have a gift.”

I wasn’t born with this ability:  my gift is, having seen this beauty on the written page, to actually want to sit for hours and try to emulate those scribes of yore, and yes, all the beautiful work that is being done today.

You can write like that if you really want to practice, practice, practice.  I am still practicing.

See also Luton Calligraphy Workshops

Keep watching this space …