Learn by tracing

Tracing fonts have been specifically designed for this application. This is a great, very easy system for leaning the calligraphic gestures, so that later you can reproduce them on paper with your own calligraphic pen or brush.

Export vector

The app allows you to share your work in a vector PDF (bézier curves). That PDF can be edited in your favorite graphic design software to quickly advance in your lettering work.

Practice Sheets

Download and print our free practice sheets to perfect your hand calligraphy skills. We recommend that you practice on the ipad first and then advance to paper. With the calligraphic grids you will get great results very fast.

The first foundational hand font was designed by Edward Johnston in the beginning of the XX century, and it was o modernisation of the English Caroline minuscule calligraphy of the X century.

The foundational hand influences can be easily seen in his sans serif font designed for the London Underground, and in Eric Gill’s Perpetua font as well as Gill Sans.

Learning this font is especially important for font designers, because it’s the one that will give you the basic understanding for the development of Roman typefaces.

This version of Foundational Hand was the first font designed from scratch by João Brandão to have ideal proportions to be traced on the iPad screen. The terminals on the ascenders have been simplified, so instead of a wedged serif there is a single stroke serif.

“No book on the mechanics of calligraphy is complete without a reference to Edward Johnston’s Foundational hand and it’s simplicity and integrity.” David Harris in The art of Calligraphy, 1995.

It is designed to be a very clear, round and readable calligraphic font. It can be easily designed with a flat pen and a slanted angle. The wide gestures are ideal for beginners.

The double line instructions are based on the way the author/designer actually writes his own calligraphy, he tends to not lift the pen very much, and he is able to do very long movements in only one go (for example on the “g”). He personally believes that his writing look proportionate when done in one stroke, but that is not true for everyone. His experience as a teacher shows that each student will have their own way, so its suggested that people trace the font in the way that feels the most natural for themselves.

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We have designed a long array of glyphs to support most european languages. These various special characters are available in the “write with help” section.

 

Edward Johnston, source Wikipedia
Edward Johnston, source Wikipedia

 

Slanted cursive italic hand font, designed to be drawn with few pen lifts. The italic was first developed in 1420 by Niccolo Niccoli to be a less labour-intensive design.

Niccolò Niccoli was an early humanist Italian scholar. Many say that Niccoli’s private library was the largest and best in Florence.

“Niccoli was one of the chief figures in the company of learned men who gathered around Cosimo de’ Medici, and his intellectual quarrels with other noted Humanists created a sensation in the learned world at the time. Niccoli’s chief services to classical literature consisted in his copying and collating ancient manuscripts, correcting the texts, introducing divisions into chapters, and making tables of contents.”  Encyclopædia Britannica online

The changes made

“The Script was invented in 1420 by Niccolò Niccoli, an italian Scholar who found The humanist minuscule to slow to execute. By 1440 his new, less labour-intensive script had been adopted as the official hand of the Papal Chancery.” (David Harris in The art of calligraphy. A practical guide to skill and techniques p.94, Dorling Kindersley, New York.)

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The Imperial Capital (Capitalis Minumentalis) was the letter used on the monuments of Ancient Rome to proclaim the might of the Roman Empire, and is indisputably the most stately of all scripts. The earliest examples of a mature Imperial letter date from the first century B.C., and some of the finest models are inscribed on the base of Trajan Column in Rome (opposite). These stone-cut letters were carved directly on top of brush-draws forms, their proportions dictated by the natural movement of the hand.

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Capital Letters with serifs had been written by the Greeks from the fourth century B.C., However, it was only when the Romans developed a springy, broad-edge brush from the hairs of the red sable that it became technically possible to draw serifs and other letter parts quickly and with precision. When used within the natural compass of the hand, this tool proved crucial in determining the shape of the Imperial Capital itself.

(David Harris in The art of calligraphy. A practical guide to skill and techniques p.108, Dorling Kindersley, New York.)

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Translating from latin Textura Quadrata means literally squared texture. I believe its the easiest blackletter font, perfect for beginners. This handwriting can be found in many medieval manuscripts from the 13th century on.

This is a heavy but very elegant font. Text results in a even texture made of tall compressed characters.

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“By the beguining of the 13th century, the early gothic script had evolved into a non cursive, angular hand know as the Textura Quadrata.”
(…) However the Quadrata did survive into the 20th century in the form of cut letters, stained glass letters, and titles on deeds, as well as being much favoured in Europe by songwritters, shop owners, and designers of newspapers mastheads.
(David Harris in The art of calligraphy. A practical guide to skill and techniques p.50, Dorling Kindersley, New York.)

“all form of TEXTURA are “broken”, i.e. its lines are sharp and angular and show no rounded elements. Its narrow tightly set letterforms appear, like Gothic churches, to strive heavenward.”
(Judith Schalansky in Fraktur mon amour, p.95, Princeton Architectural press, New York.)

The font Guthenberg used for his first printed book was a variation called textura precious. This font is very similar, the main difference is the lack of diamonds in the “feet” of the characters.

This particular Textura Quadrata was designed from scratch on a grid. This grid can be downloaded for free so one can easily practice by hand. Still I recommend tracing on the iPad first.

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Fraktur (German Letter) is a marriage between German cursive scripts and Textura Quadrata Manuscript examples of the hand date from 1400 and it first appeared as typeface about a century later. Early type versions of Fraktur, and it´s more cursive, vernacular cousin Schwabacher, remained  close to their pen-written origins. They were designed by the leading German calligraphers of the day, including Johann Neudorffer the Elder. The two scripts continued to influence calligraphy and type design until the mid- 20th century, and had a formative influence on the work of eminent practitioner Rudolf Koch (opposite)

 (David Harris in The art of calligraphy. A practical guide to skill and techniques p.74, Dorling Kindersley, New York.)

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BASIC STRUCTURE

Although many of the strokes are cursive compared with the Quadrate, the compress proportions of the letter remain similar. Generally, the greater the number of pens lifts, the more elegant the letter. Wherever possible ensure that the very fine lead-in strokes overlap. Skating strokes are also used.

(David Harris in The Calligraphers´s Bible. 100 complete alphabets and how to draw them p. 118, Barron´s. China.)

 

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Gothic Capitals use the same ductus as the minuscules and are written with the same “slanted” pen. However the capitals have a wider, rounder aspect than the rigidly formal minuscules, and the two forms contrast strikingly when used together. The number of calligraphy flourishes in each Gothic Capital make it an unsuitable script for writing a whole word or a full page of text. For this, Lombardic Capitals provide a less flamboyant alternative.

(David Harris in The art of calligraphy. A practical guide to skill and techniques p.58, Dorling Kindersley, New York.)

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The Roman Uncial script (Littera Uncialis) originated in the second or third century A.D., possibility in North Africa. Although it´s beginnings are subject to conjecture, there are noticeable similarities with the Greek Uncial – a curved, functional script that had been used since the third century B.C. and was the official hand of the Christian Church. By the second century, Christianity was increasing in influence throughout the Roman Empire, and it is likely that the early Christians consciously adapted the Greek Uncial to the language as a script appropriate for their new religion.

The Uncial script was brought to southern England from Rome by the missionary St. Augustine in the year 597. It´s name, meaning “inch” or “inch-high letter”, is attributed to St. Jerome, a translator and compiler of the Vulgate (common) Bible. He possibly used a term of derision, in objection to the common practice of wasting parchment by using large letters for de luxe books.

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ORIGINS OF MINUSCULES

The beginnings of our modern lowercase letters can be discerned in the Uncials script. The letters d. h, and l rise above capital height while i, f, n, p, q and r  drop below the baseline. A further departure from the capital form is the absence of any elaborate serif constructions. This simplicity makes the Uncial, together with the Caroline Minuscule and the Foundational Hand, ideal for learning the basics of pen handling and calligraphy.

 

ARTIFICIAL UNCIAL

The Uncial hand was well established in Britain by the time the twin abbeys of Wearmouth and Jarrow were founded in 674 and 682 respectively. Soon, the monks of Wearmouth, Jarrow and Southumbria (England south of the River Humber) were producing manuscripts of quality equal to that anywhere else in Europe. Their work included the landmark Bible the Codex Amiatinus (opposite). However, the hand they were using was not the Uncial of St. Jerome, but a highly intricate and serifed version, with thin horizontal and thick vertical strokes, and serifs reminiscent of those on Square Capitals. This extremely beautiful calligraphy hand is known variously as Artificial Uncial, Late Uncial, or Romanising Uncial of the Canterbury Style.

(David Harris in The art of calligraphy. A practical guide to skill and techniques p.24, Dorling Kindersley, New York.)

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NUMBERS

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By the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, the Babylonian mathematics had a sophisticated sexagesimal positional numeral system. The lack of a positional value (or zero) was indicated by a space between sexagesimal numerals. By 300 BC, a punctuation symbol (two slanted wedges) was co-opted as a placeholder in the same Babylonian system. In a tablet unearthed at Kish (dating from about 700 BC), the scribe Bêl-bân-aplu wrote his zeros with three hooks, rather than two slanted wedges.

The Babylonian placeholder was not a true zero because it was not used alone. Nor was it used at the end of a number. Thus numbers like 2 and 120 (2×60), 3 and 180 (3×60), 4 and 240 (4×60) looked the same because the larger numbers lacked a final sexagesimal placeholder. Only context could differentiate them.

The decimal Hindu-Arabic numeral system was invented in India around 500 CE. The system was revolutionary by including a zero and positional notation. It is considered an important milestone in the development of mathematics. One may distinguish between this positional system, which is identical throughout the family, and the precise glyphs used to write the numerals, which vary regionally. The glyphs most commonly used in conjunction with the Latin script since early modern times are 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9. The first universally accepted inscription containing the use of the 0 glyph is first recorded in the 9th century, in an inscription at Gwalior in Central India dated to 870. By this time, the use of the glyph had already reached Persia, and was mentioned in Al-Khwarizmi’s descriptions of Indian numerals. Numerous Indian documents on copper plates exist, with the same symbol for zero in them, dated back as far as the 6th century CE.

Modern-day Arab telephone keypad with two forms of Arabic numerals: Western Arabic/European numerals on the left and Eastern Arabic numerals on the right

The numeral system came to be known to both the Persian mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, whose book On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals written about 825 in Arabic, and the Arab mathematician Al-Kindi, who wrote four volumes, “On the Use of the Indian Numerals” (Ketab fi Isti’mal al-‘Adad al-Hindi) about 830. Their work was principally responsible for the diffusion of the Indian system of numeration in the Middle East and the West. In the 10th century, Middle-Eastern mathematicians extended the decimal numeral system to include fractions, as recorded in a treatise by Syrian mathematician Abu’l-Hasan al-Uqlidisi in 952–953. The decimal point notation was introduced by Sind ibn Ali, he also wrote the earliest treatise on Arabic numerals.

A distinctive West Arabic variant of the symbols begins to emerge around the 10th century in the Maghreb and Al-Andalus, called ghubar (“sand-table” or “dust-table”) numerals, which are the direct ancestor of the modern Western Arabic numerals used throughout the world. Ghubar numerals themselves are probably of Roman origin.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_numerals

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PUNCTUATION

pontuação_destaqueThe first writing systems were either logographic or syllabic—for example, Chinese and Maya script—which do not necessarily require punctuation, especially spacing. This is because the entire morpheme or word is typically clustered within a single glyph, so spacing does not help as much to distinguish where one word ends and the other starts. Disambiguation and emphasis can easily be communicated without punctuation by employing a separate written form distinct from the spoken form of the language that uses slightly different phraseology. Even today, formal written modern English differs subtly from spoken English because not all emphasis and disambiguation is possible to convey in print, even with punctuation.

Ancient Chinese classical texts were transmitted without punctuation. However, many Warring states era bamboo texts contain the symbols 「└」 and 「▄」 indicating the end of a chapter and full stop, respectively.[4] By the Song dynasty, addition of punctuation to texts by scholars to aid comprehension became common.

The earliest alphabetic writing had no capitalization, no spaces, no vowels and few punctuation marks. This worked as long as the subject matter was restricted to a limited range of topics (e.g., writing used for recording business transactions). Punctuation is historically an aid to reading aloud: vis George Bernard Shaw.

The oldest known document using punctuation is the Mesha Stele (9th century BC). This employs points between the words and horizontal strokes between the sense section as punctuation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punctuation

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