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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Drawing
Design

Create Your Own Drop Cap Calligraphic Letter

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

If you're a book nerd like me, you have a favorite quote, or two or three. In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to ink that line with a beautiful drop cap at the beginning. You'll make a calligraphic quote that's perfect for hanging over your writing desk.

What You'll Need

  • Bristol paper or a smooth card stock (I'm using an 8" x 10" sheet.)
  • Calligraphy pen 
  • Calligraphy pen tips
  • Ink
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Your favorite quote

1. Pick a Quote to Illustrate

Step 1

Your large drop cap will go down three or four lines so you'll need something long enough. I'll be using the first few lines of Arthur Conan Doyle's 'A Scandal in Bohemia' as it's one of my favorite serials.

2. Make Your Measurements

Step 1

Measure out the height of each line. My paper size is 8" x 10" so that I can frame it later. I'm making my lines 3/4" tall with a 1/4" spacing between lines.

Step 2

Determine how tall you'd like your drop cap to be. Will it be 2, 3, or 4 lines tall? Whether your paper is vertical or horizontal will affect this. Since your drop cap letter will likely be as wide as it is tall, I'm only having mine be 2 lines. Otherwise it would fill up my entire space.

3. Determine What Calligraphic Font You'll Use

Step 1 

You're welcome to look through some of the earlier calligraphy tutorials I made and use one of those fonts. Or perhaps you will create your own like I show you in this tutorial. For this quote, I'm going to use Roundhand Script because it's one of my favorites.

4. Measure Out Your Drop Cap Letter Space

Step 1 

From the top left edge of your paper, measure in the equivalent of the height of your drop cap letter and draw a vertical line down to create a box for the drop cap letter.

Step 2 

Measure one extra 1/4" over to the right from the last line that you drew so that you have a bit of space between the big letter and the rest of the word block.

5. Pencil in the Words of the Quote

Step 1

We're going to skip the drop cap letter for now. Going word by word, slowly pencil in the rest of the quote until you get to the end of the first line. You may need to erase your last word if it doesn't fit all the way. Above all you'll want to avoid hyphenating words.

Step 2

Move onto the second line, making sure that you start at the 1/4" space line. As before, slowly pencil in each word, making sure that you don't hyphenate at the end.

Step 3

Continue penciling in your quote or poem until you finish.

6. Ink in the Quote

Step 1

Using the skills you learned, ink the first line of the quote, working letter by letter.

Step 2

Start in on the second line and slowly make your way through the rest of the quote.

Step 3

Now you have the quote all inked save the important drop cap letter.

7. Decide the Elaborateness of Your Drop Cap Letter 

Step 1 

You'll want your letter to be similar to the font of the other letters but you're free to make it as elaborate as you want. Will your letter be simply a large capital?

Step 2

Or an elaborate version of that capital?

8. Start Penciling in Your Drop Cap Letter

Step 1

Pencil in the very bare bones of your letter.

Step 2

Now begin to pencil in the more elaborate parts of your letter (if you're making it fancy). For me, I love a good box around my drop cap so I'm going to downsize my letter a bit and draw in a box around it.

Step 3

Most drop cap letters within boxes have a floral motif that goes back to the Arts and Crafts movement. So I'm going to pencil in some fantastical ivy.

9. Ink Your Drop Cap Letter

Step 1

Ink in your floral motif (if you drew it). Here I used a more pointed tip to my pen so that I could get more detail in the ivy leaves.

Step 2

Ink in the box and the letter. You don't want to use a ruler with your pen to draw a straight line since the pen tip can catch on the ruler's edge and then cause a bleed. Instead, you want to hold the pen and slowly exhale as you make your line. Watch the edge of the pencil line as a marker.

10. Erase

Step 1

After making sure that your ink is dry, carefully erase the pencil lines in your quote.

Step 2

Step back and admire your work.

Great Work, Show Me Yours!

Now all you have to do is find a nice frame and hang this beautiful quote over your writing desk to inspire you.

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