Monday, 25 November 2013

Versal Letters

Versals are ornate style of letters that are written, usually with a chisel shaped nib or quill.  The nib shape helps to emphasise the thick and thin characteristics of the letters.  The letters are used to mark significant parts of a piece of text or it can be used for headings, beginning of verses or poems.  The letters are usually larger, with fancy flourishes, curves and ornate patterns, and can really set off a piece of calligraphy work.

The beauty of versals is that it can be used in conjunction with other calligraphy styles and can also work very well on its own too.  Versal letters are very legible and normally resemble the form of the Roman styles, and are often elaborately decorated.

Using Versal Letters

Versals are used to draw your eye to a particular part of a page and you can use versal letters for any purpose, whether it is for a poem, a sentence, a message or a greeting, versal letters can offset your work beautifully.  You can go to town and create some really great ornate lettering artwork.  You can start by planning what verse you would like to write, and then write the verse, but remember to draw the versal letter extra large at the beginning of your sentence.  Plan the positioning of the versal letter, it can be positioned at line-height, drop-height or take up some space from the margin. 

Experimenting with Versal Letterforms with Patterns

Versals are usually drawn, emphasising thick and thin lines.  You can then color in the letters with any color of your choice.  Using the 2-pencil technique is a great way to draw letters, emphasizing the thick and thin widths of letters.  An example is shown below:

Writing letters using the 2-pencil technique
You can then introduce some color and fancy artwork, or Celtic knots to your versal lettering designs if you so wish.


Here is an example of capital, or upper case versal letterings, emphasizing the thick and thin lines, with splashes of purple and yellow color.  

An Example of Uppercase Versal Letters
A black graphic pen is used to draw the thick and thin lines of the letterforms, but you can use a ballpoint pen or a felt-tip pen if desired.  The thicker lines are then colored in, using the black pen, for effect.  You will notice that the letters are a drawn outline of the letterforms.  You can use any calligraphy style, for example, the Uncial; half uncial or Roman styles, which are great for practicing drawing outlines of letterings.  They are simple, rounded styles and are ideal for creating versal letters.