Author Topic: Shading letters  (Read 2369 times)

Offline signcarver

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Shading letters
« on: January 11, 2018, 07:26:50 PM »
Are there specific rules on which letters (miniscules and majuscules) are shaded?

Offline Katie Leavens

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Re: Shading letters
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 11:48:23 PM »
As far as I'm aware, there are not many hard and fast rules for shading in Spencerian. But I will share what I know.  ;)

Majuscules are pretty much always shaded, and it is usually the stem of the letter that is shaded. This makes sure that something is 'holding up' your letter and it doesn't look weak. Of course, this will often depend on the direction your letter is thrown, but the letters that are written backwards are pretty advanced moves. So you probably don't need to worry about that at this stage of your work.

For minuscules, you can shade almost every letter. But use it sparingly. Generally, flat stemmed letters (t, d, some forms of y, j, g) are shaded. I don't think I've ever seen an i, s, or u shaded. I've very rarely seen b or l shaded. Ms, ns, and As are probably the most commonly shaded.

This obviously doesn't cover everything, but I hope it helps!

Offline signcarver

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Re: Shading letters
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2018, 03:12:29 AM »
Thank you Katie! That is exactly what I was looking for. 🙏

Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: Shading letters
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2018, 09:49:16 AM »
Are there specific rules on which letters (miniscules and majuscules) are shaded?
@signcarver
Yes, at least initially.
You may find the following interesting.
The first three comprise a section of the Spencerian Key to Practical Penmanship , 1866 by H. C. Spencer et. al. only the a was sometimes shaded among the 1-X height letters, the ascenders and descenders being mostly shaded as shown in the fourth scan, from The New Spencerian Compendium, 1876, Spencer brothers. You can also see how the caps and numbers were shaded here.
As time went by and Spencerian became more ornamental, more miniscules were/could be shaded as shown by Michael Sull"s Learning to Write Spencerian Script , 1993. Note that the "new" shades are more delicate than the ascender/decender shades--see m, n, v, b for example, in Sull's exemplar.
I've seen every letter shaded, except maybe i and e, in some ornamental Spencerian examples.
Unless you are writing shaded Spencerian, a modest use of shading of x-size letters looks best to my eye (that's a personal view), and avoiding putting two shaded miniscules in a row.
Use exemplars from the masters as a guide and to your taste.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 10:25:20 AM by AnasaziWrites »

Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: Shading letters
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2018, 12:03:14 PM »
Another comment on shading, from a copy book from 1859, so during P. R. Spencer's lifetime (from the inside cover). There was always some judgement involved in how much and where to shade.


Offline signcarver

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Re: Shading letters
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 05:25:00 PM »
Thank you AnasaziWrites - this is perfect.

I had never seen it written anywhere. I noticed that majuscules were always shaded, but i couldn't find a pattern for the minuscules other than ascenders and descenders. The other parts of the letters always seemed sort of random.

I really appreciate you taking the time to post this information and i am saving this information for future reference.  :)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 05:26:56 PM by signcarver »

Offline InkyFingers

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Re: Shading letters
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 06:35:05 PM »
@AnasaziWrites That's a loadful to read ... being Chinese I have to d/l your scans,  rendering thru an OCR program and then have it translated by Google.

Would this suffice from Payson Dunton & Scribner?

Offline Ensemble88

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Re: Shading letters
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2019, 10:33:09 AM »
Michael Sull's said in a YouTube video taken at the IAMPETH 2017 conference that shades almost never cross the half way mark of the letter. That that was one if the major differences between it and copperplate. Unfortunately I don't remember exactly where it was in the video... but here is the link! Audio quality leaves much to be desired, but as a beginner I found it very useful.


Offline stenolearner

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Re: Shading letters
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2019, 06:26:45 PM »
@InkyFingers Here are the important parts from the images that @AnasaziWrites posted, so that you can put it through Google translate:

HC Spencer 1866


"The short letters are usually left unshaded, though the small a, in certain combinations, sometimes receives a shade.  The shade upon t and d is heaviest at top, tapering gradually to the lower turn.

The shade of the small letter p is the reverse of t, commencing on the ruled line, and continuing to the base of the letter.

When two p's, d's or t's come together, the first is shaded, while the second receives 1/2 shade only.  These letters have the preference in shading, hence, small loop letters, immediately connected with them, are not shaded; for example: th, dl.

In the g and q, the shade is made on the left side of the pointed oval; in h and k, upon the short straight line which occurs in the finish of these letters; in y and z, upon the first short straight line at their top.

The shade of letters l and b begins at the middle point of the downward line in each, and extends to the lower turn.

When two l's or b's are united, the first only is shaded.

The shade of the f begins at the middle point of the downward line, and continues to the turn at the base.

The j and long s are never shaded.  If they were, the shade would be out of place, when compared with other small letters.

Capital letters are usually shaded only upon one curve; but when large capitals are made, in which bold curves are used at the two downward curves in the ovals are sometime shaded.  This, however, is not generally admissible in business writing."


Spencer 1859

"As shading is more a matter of taste and of necessity, it will be safe to follow the custom of the most skilled, professional, and business penmen of the day, which is decidedly opposed to the stale theory that all downward strokes should be equally shaded.  Shade is an element of beauty, when associated and in contrast with light strokes, and it should be so distributed upon the capitals, and extent letters of the small alphabet, as to produce the most pleasing effect, without lessening the rapidity of movement.  The shading should be heaviest at the centre of the capital ovals, and taper alike both ways from that point."