T R A J A N   C A P I T A L S

with Yves Leterme

The Roman Inscriptional Capital

The final run.

The Romans built for eternity. Even after two millennia, the Capitalis Monumentalis, as featured on the famous inscription at the base of the Trajan column (hence its nickname ‘Trajan’), has lost nothing of its solemn majesty and striking beauty. Characterized by ideal proportions in form and weight and by graceful lines and serifs, this mother of all capitals has been studied, admired, followed and tweaked by generations of calligraphers, typographers and letter carvers alike.

A study of the Trajans is highly recommended for anyone who’s serious about calligraphy; it not only provides a sound foundation to build upon, it also sharpens the eye, improves the hand skills and makes one more sensitive to all the tiny details that make up the difference. As a result, all your writing will benefit from the time you spend on the Trajans.


Therefore, apart from the fun and deep satisfaction these capitals bring, there are plenty of reasons for me to present this online course in which I intend to approach and tame that beautiful but fierce Trajan horse, armed only with a pencil, a nib and a flat brush. Daunting as it may seem,  the class is aimed not only at intermediate and advanced students, but it’s also open to beginners. Calligraphers, typography students, letter carvers,… anyone who follows the detailed instructions will be able to draw well proportioned and refined Trajans by the end of the course. Making elegant Trajans with the flat brush, however, requires more time and skill, but the instructional videos, showing every single stroke and letter in detail, will provide you with a sound base to start from or will take you to the next level.





Here are a few things that will be covered in the course



1.    A concise history of the Capitalis Monumentalis
2.    Additional notes on the (short) supply list: tools, paper, media
3.    The right proportions of the skeleton Trajans
4.    A sound method to draw Trajan letters without fail
5.    The distribution of weight within the letters
6.    The art of making elegant serifs
7.    The rules of spacing between letters and words
8.    Built-up Trajans with a broad edged and pointed nib
9.    Preparation and treatment of your flat brush
10.  Setting up the work space for brush lettering
11.  Starting out: how to mix paint, load and hold the brush, etc.
12.  The basic strokes
13.  Manipulation and pressure
14. The finer points of an elegant Trajan alphabet







This class runs 6 weeks with very individualized attention and correction to each student’s work.


The class comes with 6 extra months of viewing time.




The Details


Classes will run for 6 MONDAYS  in February/March, 2022 beginning February 7th. The classroom will open on Jan. 31st so you can poke your head around and say hello to your fellow students. The first lesson will post on Feb. 7, 2022.

Feb. 7: lesson 1
Feb. 14: lesson 2
Feb. 21: lesson 3
Feb. 28: lesson 4
There is a week off after lesson 4 to allow students that need it, time to catch up.
March 14: lesson 5
March 21: lesson 6

New lessons (instructional videos) are posted each Monday, but you do NOT need to be online at that time. All the videos can be watched at whatever time is convenient for you and as many times as you like. The videos will remain up for an additional six months after the last class in case make-up time is needed for viewing! There is homework suggested for this class, but not mandatory.  The Classroom Forum provides a wonderful place to share your designs with the other students and to learn from the critique on each other’s work.


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