Making of Tom’s Chivalry Scroll

This scroll was done on 11×14″ sheep parchment I cut from a whole hide I had of it. My first step was composing the words and laying out the illumination.

Sorry for the bad lighting on these photos. Most of the work on this happened at night, and I don’t have great lighting at my desk.

Guidelines are drawn in pencil using a T-square, then calligraphy is done. This script is my English secretary hand based on grants and charters from the 15th centuries, done with a Brause nib (1mm or smaller – I don’t remember) with iron gall ink.

The illumination was then sketched in pencil and inked with iron gall ink and a 1mm Brause nib. Iron gall ink is fairly water resistant (not entirely waterproof, but close), so makes for a good base for painting. I did completely forget that I was going to put the Midrealm arms in the bottom left, but luckily I was able to just paint over the leaf.

After inking, the glue for the gold leaf is applied. I used a modern Kolner Instacoll base. I want to use more traditional methods using red clay (bole) and hide glue in the future, as I’ve struggled with timing when the Kolner base is dry enough/not too dry to put on the gold leaf.

Gold leaf applied.

Painting happens, color by color. I believe this was mostly done with modern gouache, although that blue looks like it might be ultramarine I prepared myself (from modern synthetic ultramarine pigment).

More details are painted in.

And more details. The shading happens slowly, layer by layer. First I’ll lay a mid-tone, or a light wash, depending on the opacity of the pigment. Then I’ll lay a dark tone. Finally the whitework is added.

The final step is adding all the busy line doodles. I do this with a crowquill metal nib and iron gall ink, and just keep filling the space until it feels busy enough. The medieval aesthetic is “more is more.”

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