Friday, February 5, 2016

Coloring Checkerboard Calligraphy

©Anne Rita Taylor 2016

When I was in Paris I bought a calligraphy book at The Louvre Museum Bookshop called The Bible of Ornate Letters, the 2012 edition.

The book describes 4 alphabets with different calligraphic styles for each letter. The 104 different styles of letters span the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Here is one of the alphabets.

Each letter is given a page or two for a total of 190 pages in the book. This week I chose to focus on a lettering style from the 17th century, called a Checkerboard Letter. 

I make my own coloring pages with lettering. First I draw the letter, then I use an outline, drawing either a box or circle around the letter. Coloring with my Prismacolor by Sanford pencils, there is no waxy glow.

En damier = Checkerboard; Variation de couleurs = Color change. This checkered R is extracted from an Ordinary Usage of Orleans (L’Ordinaire) in the17th century kept in the municipal library of Orleans, Loiret. Oddly enough this book was made of parchment paper that was imprinted beginning two centuries earlier. L'Ordinaire is a liturgical book that contains the prayers said every day at Mass.

To paint this initial, start with the colors of the pattern; involuntary overflows will be well covered with body paint of the letter. - I also used three colors for the checkers.

I had fun copying my colorful ABC / XYZ page into black and white, outlining the letters and adding Italic calligraphy, still practicing... Not sure if I will work on the other 103 styles of letters, but I have enjoyed playing with this Checkerboard style. 

It has been a fun book! Here is the back of this pretty book. Please let me know if you try these letters - they are a challenge too!


  1. I love lettering and what an awesome souvenir to have brought back from Paris!Would love to visit the Louvre Museum, so jealous!

  2. Thanks Sandee! - I saved for many years to be able to go back to Paris - I was there in the 1970's too. A very inspiring city!

  3. Yes I agree, finding that book is a gem!!

  4. Thanks Laurie! - Fun to shop at The Louvre - they did have an English book section, although not as many books.