How-to Do Simple Puzzle Versals

British Library’s
Arundel 11, f. 9 

I find designing and painting puzzle versal initials refreshing. They are uncomplicated, decorated capital letters that don’t take long to make. They may be created on most any size versal, whether average or impressive. 
And they can be used with any script from Caroline to Gothic–except Fraktur. At least I haven’t seen any.

Puzzle versals are more flexible than you might expect. Besides the zig-zaggy shape within the letter, their patterning may also extend to other parts of the page. I’ve seen its design repeated to frame the page or extend along the page’s side. 

They’re a great start for calligraphers that are illumination shy. Their decoration is simple and effective. Their creation easy, especially when done without any filigree. 

  1. Select the space to be filled and a suitable capital letter for your script.
  2. Outline your capital in pencil and then go over it with a black, fine permanent liner.
  3. Break the letter up in half, with a simple zig-zig lightly marked,  4H pencil line. 
  4. Paint one side red, the other blue. The most common color combination, although other combos are found.
  5. If you like, paint a fine white line over the join.

Prior Related Post:
How To Design Calligraphy Versals

External Resources:
Puzzle initial index found using the British Library’s Simple keyword search.
Puzzle Calligraphy Versals found by searching Google. Of course, there’s extraneous stuff too.

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