“INITIAL CAP” Workshop

    The making of a book takes months and in some cases even years to complete. One particularly creative aspect in the design and illustration process can be successfully addressed in a classroom situation and it is called an "initial Cap". This term refers to the first capital letter of the story.

    Many illustrators begin picture books as well as some chapter books by designing and/or illustrating the first letter in a way that reflects some aspect of the story. It may be a literal representation of a scene in the book, or it may present elements related to the story or a character.

    The letter itself may be transformed into an object or being, or the letter may be 'decorated' in some way, i.e. an illuminated letter. Either way, it is important that the design/illustration be recognizable as a letter, first and foremost.


Email Betsymailto:betsfeeney@optonline.net?subject=School%20Programs

“Initial Cap Design”

  in-classroom art workshop for

   grades three and up

* In light of today’s economy, prices are negotiable.

$275 *

($250  for two  or more)

“I thought the workshop was terrific! The kids enjoyed creating their own ‘initial cap’ and their finished pieces look great. I plan to use your ideas to create an alphabet book next year. Thanks!”

Maryalice Perazzo, 3rd grade teacher, Memorial School, Paramus, NJ


Initial Cap Example: “J”

During the course of the workshop, students are provided with inspiration for creating their own initial caps. Not only are her own examples cited, but Ms. Feeney also provides examples by a variety of picturebook illustrators.

    After the students have been well-inspired, they begin working on an initial Cap of their own. Prior to her appearance at the school, the classroom teachers are informed of the nature of the workshop. They are asked to have ready a piece of writing executed by each student. This may be a book they are working on to be produced in their school publishing center or it may just be a short story, poem, or journal entry. Students will have their writing on hand at the workshop. Practice sheets and first pages are provided by Ms. Feeney for the project. Also provided are copies of a variety of fonts the students may choose to use as the basis for their initial caps.

    What may be utilized in the process are a number of resources for reference material. Ms Feeney states that she does not produce high quality artwork solely from the use of her imagination. "Good art comes from a combination of a good imagination PLUS good reference material". Using the internet to find pictures of wild animals, searching your own environment for objects to draw from, and using models are all discussed. It is stressed that students DO NOT COPY a photograph or drawing that they find; they are only to be used as inspiration and/or a guide for better draftsmanship.

Most students will create at least a rough of their initial Caps during the course of the 50 minute workshop. Some students will complete their projects,  but they should not all be expected to come up with final art. Follow-up time to complete the Initial Caps should be built in to their schedule, either later that day or  another day that week when the presentation is still fresh in their minds.