Lessons in Engrosser's Script: Group I Capitals

This seventh installment marks the first lesson covering the uppercase letters. Grouping of the capital letters presents a greater challenge than does the lowercase letters. This is due in part to the greater variety of component strokes as shown in Figure 1A. I will begin with an examination of the capital P, B and R (Figure 1B). I should note that my personal approach to forming some of these letters may differ from the description given. However, for simplicity I will stick with the most common approach to forming the letters. Do not be afraid to breakup difficult strokes or to change the position of the paper to make executing a stroke easier. You must determine what works best for you.


The basic strokes that form the 'common' elements of these three letters are shown in Figure 2A. We will start with the letter 'P' (Figure 2B) since both the 'B' and the 'R' can be thought of as variants of the 'P'. Remember, to always look for common factors between letters. Please note that arrows designated with the same numerical value represent a single continuous stroke.

The first stroke in Figure 2B is a compound curve indicated by Arrow 1. Start at the top of the second ascender space and continue down to baseline, a full three line spaces and end in a comma dot as shown in the blow up in Figure 2A. The second stroke indicated by the Arrow 2, should be made by applying a light pressure to the down stroke to create a delicate rear shade that should harmonize with the previously formed compound curve*. Continue down around and upward in a gently curving arc that at its greatest height reaches to top line of the second ascender space but not beyond. The stroke continues on to the right of the compound curve arcing downward. Apply increasing pressure to form the forward shade of the ‘P’. Finish the shade by releasing pressure quickly as the shade curves inward. The stroke ends just above the header line in the first ascender space. This shade should parallel the delicate rear shade; however, I prefer it to be of greater shade heft*.


Moving on to the ‘B’ and the ‘R’ in Figures 2C and 2D, respectively, it should be noted that the entire description given above for the ‘P’ applies. Instead of ending the forward shaded stroke cleanly, a tiny hairline loop is formed that is horizontal to the baseline thus allowing for the continuation of the lower portion of the letter. Be sure to keep the loop open and just above the header line in the first ascender space. In the case of the ‘B’ (Figure 2C) the stroke continues on as indicated by Arrow 3. Apply pressure to the curving down stroke to create a shade of slightly greater heft than the shade directly above it. Pressure is released at the baseline curving around and upward curving inward as shown to complete the stroke as a hairline. This lower portion of the ‘B’ should form a oval with its long axis on the main slant angle.

Finally the capital ‘R’ shown in Figure 2D finishes with a stroke similar in form to an oversized lowercase ‘v’ as indicated by Arrow 3 coming off the horizontal hairline loop. The shade portion of this ‘v’ stroke should be on the main slant angle. Release pressure at the baseline curving around to a hairline connector. It is possible with practice to complete these letters in two individual strokes: One for the compound curve and the second for the remainder of the letter. In the case of the ‘B’ and the ‘R’ described above I added a third stroke to make it easier for the novice.

*I will expand on two concepts mentioned above (*) that are important to maintaining the symmetry and beauty of letters like ‘B’, ‘P’ and ‘R’:

  1. The double sided gray arrows in Figure 3A illustrate how the delicate rear shades harmonize with the previously formed compound curve.
  2. The paralleling and harmonizing of the rear and forward shades are indicated by the dotted gray arrows in Figure 3B