HAT are "Versals?" Simply defined, they are emphasized capital letters that are used as the first letter of text in a manuscript of any kind. The term is relatively new, having been coined by Edward Johnston, the English "father" of the modern practice of calligraphy. Versals can be slim, broad, plain, or ornamented. Historically, they were filled in with solid color either with embellishment or left plain.
For the workshop I taught in Tacoma on October 17, my lessons were based on making versals using monoline pens rather than the traditional tools (quills, primarily) used on historic manuscripts. All the students in the class showed how observant they were in following the examples I gave them. In their examples below, you can see the range of variations they came up with (click on the photo for a larger view):
After warming up to the letter forms by first tracing them, the participants pencilled the letters and then inked them at 1" and at 1/2" heights. They then drew them at 1/4." If needed, they could draw them at 6" or a foot, even. For smaller letters and decorations, a finer-tipped pen was used. Once the letters were inked, watercolor or colored pencil was added in gradients, patterns, or solids. The goal of learning to make these letters was to have an alphabet that can readily be used for titles, signage, journal enhancements or cards.
I brought in several antique manuscripts* that featured various kinds of versal letters including some that were similar to the basic form we were working on. Other versals were extremely ornate, such as the penmade cadels (thank you Sandra for that term!) that show in the photo below. The group of students was interested in what I pointed out about this manuscript on vellum from about 1600 AD. It came from a religious house in Spain and was purchased by a family friend in the 1960's.