Technical Drawing Sc.
MRS. ALFRED W. INGALLS
TECHNICAL DRAWING SERIES
A TEXT-BOOK OF FREE-HAND LETTERING
FRANK T. DANIELS, A.M.B.
AUTHOR OF "A TEXT-BOOK OF TOPOGRAPHICAL DRAWING"
REVISED AND ENLARGED EDITION
D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERS
COPYRIGHT, 1895 AND 1907,
BY FRANK T. DANIELS.
THE changes in this edition of " Free-hand Lettering " are so numerous and radical that
the result is a new book, rather than a revision of the old one. The text has been entirely
rewritten, and new plates and figures have been drawn. The proportions of letters have been
greatly improved, and a distinctly higher standard has been set for the student. At the same
time, he is given careful directions to enable him to approach the standard. These directions
have been made as explicit and clear as possible, for the author is well aware that the time
which can be given to this work in the technical schools is very limited.
Throughout the book there is a constant attempt to present principles which will appeal
to the student's reason, rather than to give rules which will only tax his memory ; that is, an
effort is made to show that the details, which at first sight may seem numberless and involved,
have a logical basis. When this basis is once understood, no effort of memory is necessary
for the proper handling of details. On the other hand, teachers should remember, especially
in the first stages of the work, that it is not sufficient for students to understand reasons. In
order that they may attain the object of their work in this subject, they must acquire skill in
execution ; wherefore the definite directions for performing exercises.
There is repeated insistence in the text that lettering belongs in the realm of design.
If the work is approached with this idea, it will be done with pleasure, and with a sense that
it is a means of expressing individuality.
The definite examples and exercises for practice constitute a complete minimum course,
which can easily be extended by those who can give additional time to the subject. These
definite examples, exercises, and directions for work save the time of both instructor and
student, and constitute an important feature of all the books in the Technical Drawing
Plate XIII was made directly from a drawing of the Massachusetts Metropolitan Water
Works, and Plate XV from the tracing of a drawing from the same source. Plate IX was
drawn by the author from the " Ephemeris Epigraphica," Vol. I, and all other plates and the
figures in the text were devised and drawn by the author.
BOSTON, August, 1907.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION AND PRELIMINARY EXERCISES
1. General Requirements 1
2. Paper 2
3. The Pencil 2
4. Pens 3
5. Triangle and Scale 3
6. Limiting Lines 3
7. General Directions, Exercise 1 . . . .3
8. Estimation of Distance and Direction . . 4
9. Comparison of Lines and Spaces ... 4
10. Comparison of Widths 4
11. Comparison of Vertical with Horizontal Dis-
12. Backward-sloping Lines 7
13. Slopes to Right and Left 7
14. Effect of Diagonal Lines, Exercise 2 7
15. Effect of Many Angles 7
16. Two Diagonals 7
17. Two Slopes and a Vertical .... 7
18. Unsymmetrical Figure 8
19. Effect of Small Angles . . . . .8
20. General Directions, Exercise 3 . . . .8
GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS APPLICABLE TO ALL STYLES OF LETTERS
21. Principles governing Form
22. Optical Illusions
23. Effect of Acute Angles
24. Relative Heights of Lower-case Letters
25. Limiting Lines
TABLE OF CONTENTS
UPRIGHT AND INCLINED GOTHIC LETTERS
26. A Simple but Useful Style .... 13
27. No Standard Proportions 13
28. Printers' Types not to be taken as Models . 14
29. Proportions to be followed in Practice . . 14
30. Laying out the Sheet 14
31. The Scale for measuring Widths . . .17
32. The Proper Use of the Scale . . . . 17
33. The Scheme of Plate II 18
34. Thickness of Stems of Upright Gothic . .18
35. Special Details of Form 18
36. Weight of Pencil Lines 20
37. Gothic Letters and Figures for Reference . 23
38. Use of Inclined Gothic 23
39. Amount of Inclination 23
40. Transition from Upright to Inclined Gothic . 24
41. Curves of Letters are Portions of the O . . 27
42. Thickness of Steins of Inclined Gothic . . 27
43. Modified Inclined Gothic . . . . . 27
44. Exercises .28
45. The Problem .29
46. Some Guiding Principles in Spacing . . 29
47. All the Words in a Line must be Considered . 32
48. Summary of Hints on Spacing . . . .32
49. Equivalent Areas and Forms of Letters . . 33
50. Spaces between Words 34
51. Spacing in Connection with Punctuation . 34
52. Examples 34
WORD SKETCHING AND TITLE BUILDING
53. The Value of Preliminary Sketching
54. The Title taken as an Example
55. Nature of the Title .
56. Arrangement of Words
TABLE OF CONTENTS
57. Means of giving Prominence .
58. The Outline of the Title as a Whole
59. Methods of Grouping Parts of Titles
60. Exercise, Plate V
ROMAN LETTERS AND FIGURES
61. Comparison of Modern Roman with Gothic
62. Width of Letters 46
63. Width of Stroke 49
64. The Fillet 49
65. Order of Light and Heavy Lines . . .50
66. Special Method of drawing W and M . 53
67. Italic Roman ... 53
68. Lower-case Italic 53
69. Roman Old Style 54
70. Lower-case Letters and Figures . . .57
71. Old Roman for Architectural Work . . .58
72. Design of Letters in Roman Inscriptions . . 58
73. Stump Writing 61
74. Examples 62
SINGLE-STROKE AND MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS
75. The Use of Single-stroke Letters ... 65
76. The Pen . . . . . ~. ... 65
77. Direction of Strokes . . . ' . . .66
78. Special Treatment 69
79. Practice " . 69
80. The Slope 70
81. Titles composed of Single-stroke Letters . . 73
82. The Centering of the Lines
83. Single-stroke Figures
84. The Height of Figures
85. De Vinne ....
86. Open-faced Gothic .
87. Block Letters .
88. "Shadow Letters" .
INTRODUCTION AND PRELIMINARY EXERCISES
1. General Requirements. A draftsman should be able to letter his drawings not only
neatly but rapidly. To secure speed and well-balanced proportion, he must be able to do
good lining free-hand, and to estimate accurately both distance and direction. The following
exercises are designed to secure such results.
Many combinations of lines deceive the eye, not only as to the extent and form of the
areas they include, but also as to the relative directions of the lines. The degree of deception
varies under different conditions; and as these conditions in the various forms, propor-
tions, and combinations of letters are unlimited, it is impossible to give rules to . cover all
cases of proportion, spacing, etc., in individual letters, and in words and combinations of
words. Hence the importance that the general principles governing good taste and propor-
tion be learned, in order that the draftsman may have a basis for solving the differing prob-
lems as they arise.
The execution of good lettering requires considerable manual skill, therefore practice
as well as careful observation is necessary.
The remarks upon each exercise should be read carefully before practice is begun, and
suggestions should be followed. It is carefulness rather than amount of practice that is of
value. The elementary things are few, but they must be thoroughly learned first.
2 INTRODUCTION AND PRELIMINARY EXERCISES
2. Paper. For the preliminary exercises and for any work that is not to be inked, use a
paper with a moderately soft surface, such as Whatman's cold-pressed, architects' detail paper,
or German drawing paper.
For work that is to be finished in ink, a hard, smooth surface must be used, such as
Bristol board, Keuffel & Esser's Normal paper, or Weston's linen record paper. Most of the
drawings for this book were made on the Weston paper. The exercises are intended to be
executed upon sheets 7 by 10 inches. These sheets should be tacked, with the long edges
horizontal, to a small drawing board.
3. The Pencil suitable for this work will depend somewhat on the paper. Grade 2 H
will be found well adapted for papers of medium rough surface. Paper with a hard surface,
which has also considerable " tooth," or roughness, will require a 3 or 4 H grade pencil.
Whatever the degree of hardness, the pencil must be of the best quality, made especially for
drawing. Probably the best pencils now on the market are Hardmuth's.
The care of the point is of prime importance. With a sharp knife cut away the wood,
beginning the cut an inch back from the end, leaving bare at least one-fourth inch of the
"lead." The point cannot be properly finished with the knife, but must be ground upon a
piece of fine sandpaper fastened to a flat strip; or, better still, upon a file such as is sold for
that purpose. Rub the pencil upon the file, holding the latter in the left hand. The point
must be long, smooth, and conical, but not quite so sharp as it can be made.
When drawing, hold the pencil about 2| inches from the end, and be careful that the
forefinger is but slightly bent. Exercise constant care not to pinch the pencil, otherwise the
muscles will soon tire, and good lines cannot be made. At frequent intervals roll the pencil
slightly in the fingers to prevent the point from being worn flat. Sharpen frequently.
4. Pens. A variety of pens will be needed. Those most generally useful are Gillott's
Nos. 170, 303, and 404; Spencerian " Epistolaire " No. 12; and Leonardt & Co.'s ball-pointed
Nos. 506 F and 506 EF. The skilled draftsman will find a lithographic or mapping pen use-
ful, but these pens are too fine and flexible for most students to use, as they require a very
No pen is at its best when new, and pens that are once " broken in " should be given as
great care as any other drawing instrument. When used only with India ink, which does not
corrode them, pens will remain in good condition for a long time, in some cases for years,
5. A Triangle and a Scale will be useful, the former for testing the direction of lines, and
the latter for laying off distances between limiting lines and for testing distances that have
6. Limiting Lines are ruled lines to limit the height of letters. A T square is most con-
venient for drawing them. They must be light, fine, and accurately parallel.
When it is necessary to erase part of a limiting line, it must be drawn in again before
work is resumed, for these lines cannot be dispensed with, even by skilled letterers.
PLATE I, EXERCISE 1
7. General Directions. Draw limiting lines according to dimensions given. Each line
of each exercise is to extend across the sheet, except that a space of about one inch is to
be left at each end; thus each exercise will fill a sheet. The blank line at the end of
each exercise is for additional practice upon such portions of the exercise as shall have proved
4 INTRODUCTION AND PRELIMINARY EXERCISES
8. Line 1, Estimation of Distance and Direction. Make a dot upon the upper line where
the work will begin, then another vertically below it upon the lower line. Draw from
the upper to the lower point a fine, light line with one stroke of the pencil. Go over the
line as many times as need be to make it straight and firm, but always with a stroke the
full length of the line. Now place another pair of points at an estimated distance of one-
fourth inch from the first pair, and draw the second line. After having drawn several
lines, test to see if they are vertical and one-fourth inch apart. If not, do not erase
them, but seek to correct the errors in the following lines. In the latter half of the exercise,
seek to dispense with the points upon the limiting lines.
9. Line 2, Comparison of Lines and Spaces. Draw in pairs. A dash on the upper
line forms a pair with the one below it. Draw the upper line of a pair first, and finish
each pair before drawing the next. Be careful that the pairs are at the correct distances apart.
10. Line 3, Comparison of Widths. Make the angle between vertical and horizontal
lines sharp and decided. Some difficulty may be experienced in estimating the distance
from L to T, as we must here pass from the lower to the upper line. When the L is finished
place a point vertically above its right-hand limit, and from this estimate the distance to
the beginning of the T. Notice that when these letters are of the same width the T looks
the narrower; notice also that while there is the same horizontal distance between the
letters, they do not appear evenly spaced.
11. Line 4, Comparison of a Vertical with a Horizontal Distance. Place a point for the
lower end of the first line. Point vertically above this, arid to the right upon the upper
line point a distance equal to the distance between the limiting lines. Join the last point
with the first at a single stroke.
TUT: :::x ,
1 1 urn
Exercise 1 Exercised Exercises
12. Line 5, Backward- si oping Lines. Point as suggested in the Plate, and draw from
the top downward, resting the hand upon the paper between the work and the right-hand
edge of the sheet.
13. Line 6, Slopes to Right and Left. Point carefully as follows: on the lower line
estimate the extreme width of figure, and bisect it. Point upon the upper line vertically
above the bisecting point; or a square may first be very lightly outlined, and its upper
side bisected. The latter half of the line may consist of Vs. Note that with equal
height and width of figure the width appears less.
PLATE I, EXERCISE 2
14. Line 1, Effect of Diagonal Lines. Draw the vertical lines first. Note that when the
diagonal line is added, the figure seems to have been slightly widened. Omit pointing in
latter half of line, but always draw vertical lines first.
15. Line 2, Effect of Many Angles. The figure is made considerably wider than those pre-
viously given ; otherwise the presence of three acute angles would cause the figure to look
pinched and out of proportion. Draw vertical lines first, and draw all lines downward.
16. Line 3, Two Diagonals. This combination of lines requires some care to secure a sym-
metrical figure, leaning neither forward nor backward.
17. Line 4, Two Slopes and a Vertical. Be careful that the figures in this line are like one
another. Note that this combination of lines causes the figure to appear a little narrower than
the figure of line 3 ; hence the greater width assigned to the figure of line 4.
8 INTRODUCTION AND PRELIMINARY EXERCISES
18. Line 5, Unsymmetrical Figure. The effect of this combination is to cause the figure
to look a little wider than it is high. Draw the lines in the order indicated, and always down-
19. Line 6, Effect of Small Angles. This combination of lines gives more acute angles
than does the combination in line 2, with the result that the figure must be considerably
widened to escape a decidedly pinched appearance.
PLATE I, EXERCISE 3
20. 'General Directions. Detailed directions for this exercise should not be needed if the
following hints are heeded :
Note that each figure is a quadrant, or a combination of quadrants, and that it occupies
either a square, or a rectangle whose length is twice its width. So far as possible, draw each
figure with a single continuous stroke, rather than with a series of short dashes. Use a draw-
ing instrument occasionally to test the curves. In line 6 draw the vertical lines first, then
add the curve.
GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS APPLICABLE TO ALL STYLES OF LETTERS
21. Principles governing Form. It is important that the principles governing the forms
of letters, whether of the Gothic, Roman, or other style, be understood before any attempt is
made at drawing even the simplest letters. While no alphabet is made upon anything like a
mathematical basis, yet there are a few principles which by common consent apply in the con-
struction of letters of whatever style.
FIRST, letters should have an appearance of both stability and grace. In letters with a
narrow base, as F and P, it is impossible to avoid a top-heavy effect, but in general the correct
form with respect to stability and grace is secured :
1. By making the lower part of the letter wider than the upper, as in B, E, K, R, S, X,
2. By placing some horizontal members above the center, as in B, E, F, H, and R.
Some letters, as B and E, exhibit both the above principles.
In a few cases, notably in A, the horizontal line is placed below the center for reasons
which can best be explained later (Art. 49).
SECOND, since letters are used in combinations to form words, it is not sufficient to secure
a graceful form for the individual letters, considering each by itself, but they must be so pro-
portioned that when compared with one another the effect of the combination will be pleasing
10 GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR ALL STYLES OF LETTERS
to the eye. It is quite apparent that the I cannot be as wide as the H, nor would any one
draw the J as wide as the W, and the reasons for these differences would not be far to seek ;
but why the O need be wider than the E is not so plain.
22. Optical Illusions. Referring to Fig. 1, it is seen that the converging lines form a
figure whose width at the base is apparently considerably less than the width of the square,
_ although these widths are really equal. This apparent difference in
A extreme width is due to the fact that in the first case the width is con-
I stantly changing, while in the other case it is everywhere the same. In
the first case the eye does not discriminate between the width at the
base and the width taken all along from base to top, but attempts to
accept their average for the extreme width, and partly succeeds ; while in
the case of the square the width at the base is the same as at any other
_. . ' point, and there is no deception concerning this dimension. No amount
of study of the figure will cause this apparent difference in widths to disap-
pear ; hence the deception is not due to an untrained eye, but to psychological reasons. When
similar combinations of lines occur in lettering or other design, allowances must be made to
overcome such unbalanced appearances ; for instance, in Plate II the A is made wider than the
H. Referring again to Fig. 1, it will be noted that the O, although of the same width and
height as the E, looks both narrower and shorter, because the eye (or rather the mind) tends
to accept the average width and height for the extreme. Hence the necessity of making the O
wider and higher than the E of the same alphabet. These considerations lead us to the gen-
eral rule that when the width or height of a letter is constantly changing, these dimensions must be
RELATIVE HEIGHTS OF LETTERS 11
Some exceptions to this rule must be made, as in the case of the B. If the width as com-
pared with the height be so great that portions of the top and bottom lines are straight and
horizontal, as is generally the case, no increase in height is necessary. The width needs no
increase, partly because of the straight line which limits it at the left, but principally because
of the middle horizontal line, which breaks the outline into two loops, each wider than it
23. Effect of Acute Angles. There is little deception of appearance in the width of
the M, yet this letter is drawn considerably wider than, for instance, the H. The reason is
that the angle between adjacent lines must not be very acute; otherwise the letter will have a
squeezed, uncomfortable, and unpleasing appearance. Hence the M is spread out to give suffi-
ciently wide angles between its lines. For the same reason, and also because its extreme lines
are converging, the W is drawn much wider than E or H.
24. Relative Heights of Lower-case Letters. The lower-case, or " small " letters, may be
divided into three groups : first, those like b and d which have the same height and limiting
lines as the capitals with which they would be combined in words ; second, those like a and c
which have their bases drawn on the same lower limiting line with the capitals, but which are
much shorter than the latter ; third, those like g and j which extend below the lower limiting
line of the capitals.
The t might form a fourth class, as its height is less than that of the first group, and
greater than that of the seconck
In proportioning the lower-case alphabet the first question to be settled is the actual
height of the letters in the second group as compared with the height of the capitals with
12 GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR ALL STYLES OF LETTERS
which they are to be used. Different designers use different ratios. In this book the short
letters are made two-thirds as high as the others, as this is believed to be the ratio which most
nearly suits all cases.
25. Limiting Lines. The height of capitals having been fixed by their limiting lines
. 1 and 2, Fig. 2, the height of the first group of
f j the lower-case letters will be fixed by the same
l w I lines. Line 3 drawn above 2 at two-thirds the dis-
tance from 2 to 1 will limit the height of the letters
of the second group, while those of the third group
=>' will be limited at the top by line 3, and at the
bottom by line 4, which is drawn as far below 2 as 3 is below 1.
UPRIGHT AND INCLINED GOTHIC LETTERS
26. A Simple but Useful Style. The Gothic alphabet is the simplest style, and when well
drawn is suitable for almost any purpose. Its simplicity renders it especially useful as the first
alphabet to be studied, for with the fewest possible strokes in each letter to deal with, it is easier
to give due attention to proportion, without which no letters are well drawn, however well they
may be executed in other respects. Moreover, the Gothic letters may be regarded as a basis
for all the other styles considered in this book.
27. No Standard Proportions. By reference to Plate II it will be seen that the height of
letters is assumed to be divided into six equal parts, or units, and that each letter and figure is
assigned a certain number of these units for its width. It should be plainly understood that
the proportions thus indicated are not standard. Lettering is a matter of design, and each de-
signer is at liberty to follow his own ideas, just as an architect follows the dictates of his taste
in proportioning. But in both cases there are certain fundamental principles which will govern
the general matter of design. No one can state that the M should be exactly 6 units wide for
6 units in height, or that the H should be 5 units wide. Both of these letters are often drawn
with quite different proportions. But the principle of design recognized as governing the
relation of H and M is that, whatever width be given to the H, a greater width must be given
to the M of the same alphabet.
14 UPRIGHT AND INCLINED GOTHIC LETTERS
Furthermore, since letters are combined to form words, the proportion of each letter
must be considered with reference to its effect upon its neighbor. As the architect varies
the proportions of doors, windows, and ornamental features so that each will contribute to the
harmony of the whole, so the designer proportions each letter in a word with due regard to
the forms of the neighboring letters. Thus, in such a word as CARTWRIGHT the tail of the
first R will extend a little farther to the right than will that of the second R, in order to close
up what would be a wide space at the left of the stem of the T.
28. Printers' Types not to be taken as Models. From the foregoing it will be seen that
printed letters should not be taken as models, and that types cannot be used to good
advantage to print titles or other lettering on drawings, for the fixed forms and limited
means for adjusting the spaces between letters render it impossible to make the result a design.
29. Proportions to be followed in Practice. The proportions given on the Plates should
be regarded as good average proportions, and the draftsman should adhere rigidly to these
proportions in the practice work, although he ma} r use somewhat different proportions after his