Difficult Letter Connections: Part One, The Letter R

When you start learning calligraphy, you quickly realize that there are some letters that connect easily, and some that don’t seem to want to “play nicely” no matter what you do. There are several letter connections that can give people trouble, and one of the main culprits is the letter ‘r.’

There are a few reasons this letter is difficult to connect to others. The letter R is a special letterform, in that it is written differently if it is at the beginning of a word versus in the middle of the word.

When the letter R is in the middle of a word, it “steals” the connector line from the previous letter to form the first stroke. This can be tough for beginning calligraphers especially because you have to plan your letter R in advance and draw a connector tall enough to form this opening stroke.

When a letter does this, the resulting design is called a “ligature.”

Ligature: When two or more letters are combined into one character.

The letter R can also be difficult due to the multiple variations on the way it can be written. You can do a simple R without a loop on the top bar, or very complex letters with descending loops, ascending loops, and flourishes.

I’ve created this worksheet with a “standard calligraphy R” in each example, so that you can really focus on mastering these ligatures. I’ve included the most difficult R connections in this worksheet.  The best way to practice is to first examine what the ligature should look like in the first example on the line. Next, try tracing over the shaded examples to form muscle memory. Finally, try practicing on the blank line to perfect your letterforms.

I recommend practicing on these worksheets with a plain pencil first, then a regular ballpoint pen, and finally a calligraphy pen.

Want to know what my favorite calligraphy pen is for beginners?
Check out this post!

Are you new to calligraphy? Do you want to avoid the most common mistakes?
Click here to read about the 10 most common beginner calligraphy mistakes.

Now, on to the download!