foundational hand

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.


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