B is for...

B is for Basics

Project B concentrates on the basic components of the Roman alphabet, all twenty six letters used by most people in the Western world to communicate in writing. The assignment’s purpose is to look at how they are formed and how the shapes relate to each other. When as children we learned to write, the first steps were to create forms and patterns to introduce us to make letters. We drew curves, loops and rounded forms and practiced the rhythms required to turn them into words and sentences. I can still remember tracing guiding dots with a crayon to create wave like structures when I was little.

As adults, we are so used to writing,it is second nature; we can literally do it with our eyes closed. The connection between brain and hand is quite remarkable; and the idea for project B is to pause for a bit and revisit the fundamental creating process. Many things influence our individual handwriting. Depending on our location in the world and how we are taught at first, the actual letter shapes can differ. How we hold the writing instrument, our dominant hand, the way we connect letters and of course our personalities and age influence the marks we make to communicate with.

Creative Leap as a course uses handwriting as the starting point for the majority of the mini-projects, applied in different ways. This one might seem rather rudimentary, but it is very important as practice and reference point for the projects coming up.

Formation of Letters and Words

For the purpose of the projects, the intention is for the letters to be created in a natural way and for the shapes to be made with a flowing action... not print! Words are joined up from connected letters to explore our individual marks and creative style. This is pretty much the way most people write - if you tend to write in a more printed style it's fine, but it is a good idea to explore joining up words since this has a closer connection to drawing and mark making.

The following exercise includes all the letters in the alphabet, and I have arranged them in rows so the formation of the shapes link up with the next letter on the sheet. Take a look at the following images (click to enlarge them) and download the templates here and here. Using the template as a base is optional but stick to the same letter sequence as shown there.

The video will show the process, and the images will give you guidance.

The Creating Process

It is important to have the mindset of making the shapes in the way you would as if you were writing normally, and not to adapt them to just shapes… this sounds obvious but it's a bit tricky with some letters.

Do the basic sheets and then if you have time, explore further and create your own letter rows. In this instance, the fact that words might appear is only significant because the letter shapes relate, and it acts as a way to engage with the action of writing rather than drawing patterns. Use a black fine liner or other pen, something you find comfortable for regular writing. At this stage do not use a paintbrush or dip pen.

Once you have done the two sheets as demonstrated, pick a letter and write it in a large circular line. Move the paper around so it is facing you so you can write on it normally, and not have to move your hand or wrist around. Pick another letter and write another circle with the letter facing the completed circle.

That's it! It is a simple exercise at this point, but it will inform the creative process in the upcoming projects.

If you enjoy doing the lines of letters, try doing it by using a regular pencil and write on the back of a carbon paper. It is a bit like blind writing, since you cannot see the lines on the carbon paper. Repeat the previous sheet sample, or pick a few letters you like writing. Complete the sheet before lifting.


Even though this appears straightforward, it is tricky to keep making the same shapes. Do not be concerned about doing it perfectly - mistakes are fine. It is important to keep the letters similar to how you would normally write. I find it quite meditative once you get into the rhythm of repeating the letters.

It is important to do this project before you move onto C is for...