Sunday, January 26, 2014

Africa alphabet: Three approaches

While Africa offers us many interesting systems for recording the sound or the meaning of words, you can use what you've learned to invent your own "Virtual African" alphabet styles.  
Shown here, three easy techniques: 

  • Reshape Bamum* letters to look like alphabet letters; 
  • Decorate alphabet letters with Adinkra, Bantu, and Nsibidi symbols, colors, and motifs; 
  • render the letters in typical African materials.  

And, of course, translate your own language into swahili words as shown here in the illustrations and borders, as here, where "welcome" becomes "KARIBU.".  

Above, This chapter opener from Learn World Calligraphy shows how to add African visual flavor to the ABCs.

*Left: Bamum mixed with the alphabet.  See original letters on page 24 Learn World Calligraphy or go to  


  1. Hi Ms. Shepherd, I just started calligraphy. I want to thank and compliment you on your fun and wonderfully generous blog. I loved Coopy in particular. I look forward to every new post since you don't waste space or words---how fitting for such an experienced calligrapher as yourself!

  2. Coopy is made with my favorite pen, the speedball D. It's not classical, only in use in the 20th century, but it makes a distinctive line contrast and a lovable serif. Glad you like it! Meanwhile, enjoy this year's round-the-world calligraphy trip.