Wednesday, August 16, 2017

5 Tips to Make Your Scroll Look Period

Inspired by14th century
French manuscripts.
I'm on a quest. I constantly search to see the details in illuminated manuscripts to incorporate in my illumination. This started when I first found medieval manuscripts. It's what enthralled me then and still does. 

The search is how I learned to make scrolls appear like illuminated medieval manuscripts. Along the way I learned these tips to make seem period. 


  • Base the scroll on one manuscript style. My inspiration is usually a multiple motif combination. They are always from the same general time and place, although I've also combined selections from one manuscript. I look for similar colors and patterns, especially those defining the style.
  • Use medieval-style color choices. I avoid painting white over green. Most illumination used yellow to highlight green because lead white paint reacted funny with many greens, darkening. Different workshops and eras also had preferences. I can spot a cropped image from the Luttrell Psalter because of its unique colors. 
  • Unite the illumination style with the script. Latin scripts were used within certain eras and their page concept changed too. I plan and design the scroll to blend the text and images so they reflect one style, usually the era of the recipient's persona. But sometimes it's the Monarch's persona that's my guide. 
  • Follow manuscript stylistic conventions. It wasn't until the Renaissance that manuscript art was realistic. I love how the things they painted earlier didn't appear as real things. Trees often looked like over large vines or leaf bundles. Sky and ground didn't always meet or even exist. These conventions and others changed with the place and time. I want my scroll to show that.
  • Use gold in a similar manner to the illumination style. I don't use gold leaf on lower level awards, I reserve it for original scrolls. Even so, I use a gold paint that replicates the look well. I use PearlEx I combine with gum Arabic. I like it for its shine and depth. Many scribes now use Fintec gold. Both are mica based water color paints that look beautiful on scrolls.

    Based on a 16th century German document.

My quest continues. I still love to spend time looking at medieval artwork. I seek out what colors and combinations they found appealing, the detailed strokes they made, and the funny way they painted motifs. I strive to make my work look like a lost page from my inspiration.  

Prior Related Post:
5 Tips to Train Your Artist Eye