Medieval Life, Personages, Celtic Art, Calligraphy and Illuminated Manuscripts
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Making Your Own Illuminations Part 1 – Let the Fun Begin

This is not going to be a series of tutorials on how to create illuminations as they were done in medieval times. This is going to be a descriptive tutorial on how to create the illusion of medieval writing and illuminations using modern papers and materials.

I recommend two reference books for our discussions.

1. The Bible of Illuminated Letters: A Treasury of Decorative Calligraphy [BIBLE OF ILLUMINATED LETTERS] [Spiral] This is a wonderful book that provides precise and detailed descriptions of how to replicate what the medievalists did. If you want a real challenge and are dedicated to learning the craft, this is the book for you.

2. Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work This book has many examples of partially completed manuscripts that allow you to see exactly how pages were created. It has a small section early in the book that gives a concise description of what we know about materials, methods and technique.

To get the most out of these tutorials, I suggest you think of something you wish to write as an illuminated text and follow the process with me. I’m going to create a new header image for this site.  I’ve chosen a model for my illumination. I’m going to style my illumination after the spectacular Codex Aureus from the eighth century.  Here is my inspiration:

Think about what you want to do. It doesn’t have to be formal or fancy. It might be something as simple as a page in your art journal or sketchbook.  In part 2, I’m going to discuss  possible materials you might want to use for your illumination.

1 comment

1 Todd Holmes { 05.16.11 at 7:35 am }

I have always been fascinated with Medieval minatures and script. I attempted to produce my own medieval wrap-around book using imitation parchment paper(which can be ordered through various office supply stores) and ink pens of varying widths. It’s lots of fun, and you get a real sense (well sort of) of what a medieval scriptorium must have been like. If drawing is not your forte, there are medieval picture gallery websites with free gifs that you can print out, I like doing both, drawing my own illustrations, and coloring-in the pre-drawn medieval illustrations to enhance the text. What’s really neat to do, is utilizing colored sparkles, (yes, I said sparkles just like in grade school) to illuminate pages. I hope I inspired readers to try, it’s an enjoyable rainy day activity.