French Roundhand

Certificate Program

French Roundhand samples

French Roundhand marries the structural strength of text with the flow and elegance of script. This unique and beautiful hand is an 20th century American adaptation of the 17th century French Ronde.

Learn to produce an easy, systematic, and legible hand. French Roundhand is a wonderful first exposure to the broad pen and provides students with many of the building blocks to branch into other areas of American pen art.

The Curriculum

This French Roundhand Program consists of three courses:

  1. Intro to Calligraphy — prerequisite, 2 weeks
  2. Intro to Broad Pen — prerequisite, 1 week
  3. French Roundhand I — primary course, 8 weeks

Preview a sample lesson »

This program is designed to provide you with the tools needed to deliver yourself to the point of professional competency in French Roundhand calligraphy. Modules consist of videos, essays, and diagrams presenting the subject in a clear, logical, and progressive manner. The syllabus for French Roundhand I is outlined below:

French Roundhand I — syllabus

Section 1. Introducing The Principal Strokes

What are the five Principal Strokes of French Roundhand.

Most calligraphic scripts can be broken down into their principal elements. These elements can then be repeated and combined to form all of the letters present in the hand. French Roundhand is no different! In this section, we cover the Five Principal Strokes of French Roundhand and build a strong foundation for our letter assembly in later sections.

Section 2. Minuscule Group #1 (PS#1-5)

Which are the easiest minuscule letters?

After establishing that all letterforms are comprised of principal elements, and learning those elements in isolation, we are prepared to begin constructing the most basic letterforms. In this section, we learn the letters: i, u, n, m, w, v, o, c, e, a, and r.

Section 3. Minuscule Group #2 (Extractions)

What about letters that have strokes other than the Principal Strokes?

Thinking of strokes as the most basic building block of any script is a bit short-sighted. In this lesson, we learn to look deeper than the strokes to extract singular techniques used to create them. Then, using our common sense, we can apply these techniques and our working knowledge of the broad pen to produce any stroke we see with skill and ease.

Section 4. Word Assembly

What’s in a word?

Well, letters, of course! But also strokes and the individual pen techniques that make up the strokes! By thinking about calligraphy in the modular way that we think about chemistry, we can take complicated things (words) and break them down into their basic elements (strokes, or techniques.) In this lesson, we will look at some basic ideas surrounding Word Assembly so that we can put the letters we learned in the previous sections into action.

Section 5. Majuscule Groups #1

What are the first majuscule (capital) forms I should learn?

Majuscule letterforms are a bit less common than their minuscule counterparts. Did you know that only between 2-4% of the letters we use when composing sentences are majuscules at all? It makes sense to spend the majority of our effort on the minimum letters, but no comprehensive course would be complete without exploring the majuscules as well. In this section we will cover the letterforms: I, J, H, K, T, F, Z, P, B, R, O, Q, A, and C.

Section 6. Majuscule Groups #2

What about the rest of the majuscules?

I break the forms up across two weeks so that we have more time to digest and practice them. In this section we will cover the remaining majuscules: N, M, X, U, V, W, Y, E, S, G, D, and L.

Section 7. Process Development

Can I use French Roundhand in a project?

One of the things that I believe is the most valuable experience to new penmen is the act of engaging in projects that use the skills being practiced. In this section, we will tackle a couple of pages from a make-believe Resolution Album. This is a fun collaboration between you and I as student and teacher, and it will force you to investigate some common problem-solving techniques to wrap us successfully.

Section 6. The Path to Competency

What are my next steps?

This section concludes our adventure together on a weekly basis, but is only the beginning of your year-long investigation of this beautiful script. In this section we will revisit your goals outlined at the beginning of the course to see if you accomplished them. Then, you can complete the Final Quiz and determine if you want to pursue a Certificate of Merit.

Course Details

The French Roundhand program is a Certificate Program. It is designed to be completed alongside a group of classmates and culminates in a (optional) Certificate of Merit upon graduation.

By enrolling, you gain online access to the curriculum outlined above (plus the two prerequisite courses) for one year from the date of your registration, and access to a class-specific Community Forum where you share your work with other Dreamers. Group participation is required to qualify for a certificate.

Certificate Details

Students may apply for a Certificate of Merit in the January following their enrollment. There is printing and shipping fee of ~$50 USD should you choose to apply. You are not required to apply for a Certificate of Merit to complete the program. International students must use a US-based package forwarding service to receive their shipments.

French Roundhand by Charles Norder

(above) A handsome page of French Roundhand by Charles Norder from The Zanerian Manual. Analyzing historic samples is a core part of every DIS program.

Program Duration

This program is released as a progression of three courses and takes roughly 11 weeks to complete. Sections drip at one week intervals starting with Intro to Calligraphy. Students should expect to spend between 2-5 hours each week working through materials if they intend to complete the program in 11 weeks.

Required Materials

To participate in the lessons of this program, you’ll need:

Expectations of Students

As a Dreamer, you’ll be expected to meet deadlines, complete quizzes, and participate in a members-only Community Forum to advance through the course. Turning in homework is required to unlock more advanced sections of the curriculum, so be ready to commit to learning alongside your peers before you register.

Peer critique is a core part of this DIS program, but don’t let the thought of having your work “criticized” scare you off. I believe that open, friendly discussion is the secret ingredient to making exceptional progress in your calligraphic endeavors.

Technology Notice

You are responsible for the technical side of accessing DIS and will occasionally need to research and solve problems with your devices. You are the first line of defense in your own technical support. This program is accessible through smartphone or tablet, but a desktop computer is recommended for the best experience. Please understand that is a fully online course that requires you to interact with digital technology.

David is an outstanding but humble teacher. His attention to detail is reflected both in the logical and comprehensive way in which the course is put together and in his teaching methods. He is able to break down every aspect of FRH, including its origins and history and leading up to the basic strokes that make up all the letters, and build these up in small, clear steps. The course is full of learning material and is excellent value, and the lessons cater for all learning styles with written material, printable sheets and videos where David’s soothing, dulcet tones lull you into a state of meditative focus as you learn and absorb all the information.

Susie Marques-Jones, French Roundhand Class of 2022

Enrollment Details

Enrollment includes the French Roundhand I course and the required prerequisites.

Tuition for the French Roundhand Program is $300 USD plus tax.

Access is granted for one year from date of purchase. Please familiarize yourself with the DIS Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before purchasing.