Roman Capitals – Order and Directions

Once the proportions of the Roman Capitals have been studied, the next step is to start writing the letters.
Each letter is constructed rather than written.  The letters are made up from a combination of pen strokes.
With this style of lettering, the pen strokes are only made in a top – down or left – right direction.  The pen is never pushed up.
When we studied the proportions of the Roman Capital letters we could group them according to their widths.  Now, we can group the letters according to the order and direction of the pen strokes.

The first group consists of the letters C, D, G, O, and Q
These letters are based on the circle shape.  This shape is produced with two pen strokes.  If you imagine a clock face, the start of the first stroke is at approximately the 11, and finishes in an anti-clockwise direction at 5.  The second stroke starts again at the 11 and finishes on the 5, but is produced in a clockwise direction.
The second stroke on the C and G is shorter and the letters G and Q have a third stroke to complete the letter.
The letter D is made from 2 pen strokes.  The first stroke is a vertical down-stroke and then across to give an ‘L’ shape.  The second pen stroke is similar to the second stroke of the other curved strokes.


The second group consists of the letters B, E, F, L, P and R
The letter L is straight forward.  This made up from one stroke and is a vertical down-stroke and then across to give an ‘L’ shape.  The letter E also starts like this with a second and third stroke added to complete the letterform.
The letter F is just a vertical stroke with the second and third stroke added to complete the shape.
The letter B starts the same as the letter L.  Then, the two round circular shapes of the B are produced from one pen stroke.  The letters P and R are based on the letter B, except only the top circular shape is made.  The letter R needs a third pen stroke to complete the shape.


The next group of letters are A, M, V, W, X and Y
These letters all include diagonal pen strokes, which always start at the top and goes down.
The letter V is made from two diagonal pen strokes.  The letter W is to letter V’s ‘stuck together’.
Start the letter M, with a near-vertical pen stroke.  This is followed by the V shape.  The letter is completed with another almost vertical stroke.
The letter X is just 2 diagonal strokes that cross.  The letter Yis a shortened V shape, completed with a short vertical stroke.
The letter A is in this group, because it is an upside-down V shape, and has a short horizontal pen stroke to complete the letterform.


The letters H, I, J, N, T, U and Z are in the next group.
The letters H and N start the same way, with 2 vertical strokes, which are ¾ of the height of the letter apart.  They are completed with a third, straight pen stroke for the H or diagonal for the N.
The letter T is straight-forward, after the vertical stroke is produced, a second stroke is made which needs to be in length ¾ the height of the first stroke.
The letter Z consists of 2 horizontal ¾ width pen strokes, joined by a diagonal stroke.
The letter I is straight-forward!
U starts with a vertical line that picks up the underlying circle on the grid.  A second pen stroke is made ¾ of the height of the letter apart.
The letter J is made up from 2 pen strokes.  The first is a vertical stroke that stops short of the write line.  The second stroke starts approximately the distance of ½ the height of the letter away from the end of the first stroke.  It curves, touches the write-line and touches the bottom of the first stroke.


Finally, S and K
These letters don’t really belong to any of the previous groups.
K is made up of 3 straight pen strokes; the first is a vertical stroke, the second stroke touches the first stroke just above the half-way mark.  The third stroke starts where the second stroke finished and goes out slightly further out than the second stroke before touching the write-line.
Finally, the letters S, the hardest letter to learn?  This is a half-width letter, so quite narrow.  It may help you to visualise the number 8 when producing the letter.  The first pen-stroke is a ‘snake’ shape and starts just below the body-height of the letter and finishes just above the write-line.  The second stroke, starts at the top of the first stroke and is curved.  Finally, the third stroke starts at the bottom of the first stroke and curves – touching the write-line before it meets up with the end of the first stroke.



One thought on “Roman Capitals – Order and Directions

  1. Hi, I’m left handed so all my left to right strokes are pushing strokes. Should I just reverse this and do my strokes from right to left.Thanks Simon

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