In the last post I finished up the rest of the characters containing diagonal strokes “K, X, Y” and “Z”. This week I’m doing “B, P, R” and “D”—characters with a combination of verticals and curves.
Uppercase B, P, and R
I find curved letters difficult to draw with a straight edged tool. Turning the hand (or paper) the right way, getting the thicks and thins correct so the strokes appear monoline, and generally not messing up the curve and making it wobbly is hard.
So drawing the letter “B” is probably my least favorite thing to do. The upper bowl is generally smaller than the lower bowl, to make it feel optically balanced. If the difference in size is too much, though, then it looks awful. I feel like “B” is a high maintenance letter.
“P” on the other hand is kind of fun for me. I like being able to give that one bowl a bit of extra room. Yes it has to be the right size—not too big and not too small—but there’s more wiggle room. If I were to pick a mistake to make, I would err on the side of going to big (vertically) with the “P” bowl. It gives it a lower visual center and makes it seem more stable. If the joint is too high it looks like it’s going to fall on its face.
The “R” is like the baby bear of these three glyphs. The joint of the bowl in the middle of the stem isn’t too high and isn’t too low. Unlike the “B” it doesn’t have another bowl with which to compare. (Comparison is the enemy of joy.) And unlike “P” the “R” has a leg to stand on so it won’t fall on its face.
In this case the leg of the “R” is slightly cruved, like the “K” from the last post. Also, like the lower bowl of “B”, the leg should stick out a bit further than the upper bowl, but only just.
The thing to note with “B, P” and “R” is where the joint of the bowl hits the middle of the stem. The “B” hits highest, and has the smallest (upper) counter. The “R” hits closer to center, with a larger counter than the top of “B” but smaller than “P”. The “P” hits lowest on the stem giving it the largest counter.
The “D” is naturally a bit narrower than the “O”, as if the “O” had been cut in half and drawn out slightly from the stem. It’s that slight drawing out from the stem that gives the “D” its body. It’s also where the “D” is most sensitive.
The bottom curve of the bowl should be ever so slightly further from the stem than the upper curve. It’s as if gravity is giving the bowl a bit of a sag, like flesh off of bone.
The next post should include at least three of the last six letters in the basic Latin alphabet: “Q, C, G, S, U, J”. If I’m particularly motivated I may do all six of these curvy characters at once.