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    Celtic knotwork line divider

    2 Ways to Draw Celtic Knotwork
    A side-by-side tutorial comparing two different methods!

    Celtic knotwork line divider

    square Celtic knotI've been drawing Celtic Knotwork for years and I have developed several techniques and my own methods. These tutorials demonstrate those methods. The first (left side of the page) is similar in some ways to the methods of George Bain, his son Iain Bain and many of the artists that preceded them. The biggest difference between my method and the traditional methods is that I use computer graphics programs, but the instructions below are applicable to pencil and paper as well. The second method illustrated here uses the Celtic Knot Font. This font is based on the same forms that can be created using the first method, but the knotwork has been cut apart into separate reusable pieces. I then converted those pieces into characters in a font. The pieces are linked to keys on you500彩票网安全下载r computer keyboard, giving you500彩票网安全下载 the ability to TYPE KNOTS!

    I realize that some folks may consider this comparison of methods to be biased because I profit from the sales of the font that is necessary for the second method. WELL THEY WOULD BE RIGHT! I AM BIASED! Even though I created it, I still use it a lot and consider it to be a very valuable tool. It makes the job of creating Celtic knotwork MUCH easier, allows for more flexibility in the patterns, and size, and the coolest thing about it is that the Celtic Knot font often surprises me by making patterns that I never would have thought of using traditional methods. It is actually lots of FUN!

    The first method illustrated here is the method that I used to create the font. I still use this method, as the font cannot create every knot imaginable (I am working on that!). But even when I am designing a custom hand drawn knot for a project I still start with the Celtic Knot font to get an idea of what sort of pattern I want in the finished knotwork and then re-trace or stylize whatever I created with the font. Please read this tutorial with an open mind and pay attention to how much time and effort this font can save. Everyone's time has SOME value, and if you500彩票网安全下载 can save a couple of hours designing one piece of knotwork then the Celtic Knot font will save you500彩票网安全下载 money every time you500彩票网安全下载 use it..



    small Celtic knot

    The old method

    These instructions can be followed with pencil and paper or using any computer based drawing or drafting program. I have used Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator, and AutoDesk AutoCad for various projects, but my favorite is Corel Draw. In the tutorial below I show the method that I use in Corel Draw; however, I have deliberately left out program-specific instructions. I did this to make the instructions more broadly applicable to work with as many drawing and CAD programs as possible.

    This method, like most, begins with drawing the grid. Of course you500彩票网安全下载 could use graph paper, but that would limit the size of you500彩票网安全下载r finished pattern to the sizes of graph paper that you500彩票网安全下载 happen to have available. What size should you500彩票网安全下载 make the grid? Well that depends on what size you500彩票网安全下载 want you500彩票网安全下载r final pattern to be. If you500彩票网安全下载 are making a pattern for leatherwork, for instance, you500彩票网安全下载 would want to draw the pattern to be the size of the final project; say - wallet size. How many squares should you500彩票网安全下载 make? That is a tougher question. The number of squares depends on the pattern that you500彩票网安全下载 are going to make. The problem is that we often don't know what sort of pattern we want at this stage. So what do we do? Guess? Pick out a pattern that someone else created and copy it? We just have to pick a number of squares that fits into our final size and forge ahead hoping that the resulting pattern will look good and that we aren't wasting our efforts. This grid is 4 squares tall and 6 squares wide.

    The second step is to draw in the diagonals. These lines will be the path followed by most of the knotwork. The diagonal lines must be drawn starting from the middle of the sides of the grid squares. In other words, don't draw the diagonals from the points of the grid squares or you500彩票网安全下载'll end up with loose ends sticking out at all four corners.

    graph paper with diagonals

    Next draw in the connecting curves that will become the edges of the knotwork. I make these curves tangent to the diagonals. In other words they connect smoothly to the diagonal lines.

    graph paper for drawing Celtic  knots

    This is the step that most people have the most trouble with: deciding where to "Break the Grid". The thing that makes Celtic knotwork unique from the plaiting (or weaving) seen in many other cultures is the introduction of "BREAKS" into the weave. I've always found it to be rather fascinating: that Celtic knotwork is defined more by where the pattern ISN'T than where the pattern IS. It is a design form made of empty spaces within an otherwise solid object.

    So, where do we put these spaces to make an aesthetically pleasing design? A person with extraordinary visualization skills could probably imagine what a knot will look like, but for the average person it is a "try-it-and-see" sort of operation. Here we find the biggest single problem with ALL of the traditional Celtic knotwork construction methods: you500彩票网安全下载 have to know what you500彩票网安全下载r knot is going to look like BEFORE you500彩票网安全下载 design it!

    Here is how I do it:: I CHEAT! I use the Celtic Knot Font featured in the parallel tutorial to try out designs. I put together a bunch of pieces and experiment with them 'til I find a pattern that looks cool! I just plug in new pieces, delete the combinations that I don't like and try some more combinations of parts. You, however, don't have the Celtic Knot Font (yet!) so you500彩票网安全下载 have 2 choices:

    1). Copy what I did here (or someone else's designs from a book).


    2). Make some breaks by trial and error and see what happens. If you500彩票网安全下载 are lucky it will look good. If you500彩票网安全下载 aren't lucky you500彩票网安全下载 will waste a bunch of time drawing an ugly knot and have to erase it all and start over, or get disgusted and quit (or you500彩票网安全下载 could go here and order the Font). See, I warned you500彩票网安全下载 that I was biased....

    But back to the tutorial. The red lines on our grid show where I am going to make my breaks.

    drawing breaks for Celtic knots

    Follow the diagonals until you500彩票网安全下载 come to a red line. When you500彩票网安全下载 get to a red line, add a curve so that you500彩票网安全下载r line continues into the other line that is broken at the same place. Adding these curves completes the path of the knotwork. Darken this line so that we can see the path clearly for the next step.

    drawing grid for Celtic knots

    OK, now that you500彩票网安全下载 spent all of that time drawing the grid, the diagonals and the breaks, erase all of it except the knotwork path that we darkened in the last step. Here is what it should look like.

    knotwork path

    For this step a computer graphics program comes in real handy. We need to make a new outline all around the entire knotwork path. In Corel Draw you500彩票网安全下载 can combine all of the lines into one object and use the contour tool to make a line all around the knotwork path. In AutoCad you500彩票网安全下载 can use the offset function to make a line that is parallel to (but offset from) you500彩票网安全下载r existing lines. If you500彩票网安全下载 use Adobe illustrator you500彩票网安全下载 can create a custom pen type with 2 lines and stroke the knotwork path with you500彩票网安全下载r new pen. If you500彩票网安全下载 are doing this with a pencil you500彩票网安全下载'll have to eyeball it. Draw a line all the way around the knotwork path and inside all of the little holes in the pattern. The new line should be offset from the original path by 1/2 of the desired width of the finished knotwork cord.

    drawing knotwork cord

    When you500彩票网安全下载 are done with doubling the line, erase the original knotwork path so that all that is left is the outline.

    drawing Celtic knot

    We're almost there! Hang in there just a little while longer and we will have a knot! And don't pay any attention to those smug folks that started the parallel tutorial at the same time that you500彩票网安全下载 started this one and finished making the same knot over an hour ago. You can be proud that you500彩票网安全下载 did it the HARD WAY!

    All that is left is to figure out the "Over / Under Thing". You can start anywhere on the path of the knot and make 2 little lines at each intersection. Be sure to alternate one way and then the other, over and under, until all of the intersections are done or until you500彩票网安全下载 run into an area where you500彩票网安全下载 find that you500彩票网安全下载 went OVER-OVER, or UNDER-UNDER. In which case you500彩票网安全下载 erase lines until you500彩票网安全下载've eliminated the ones that are wrong and do it over. Look at the next illustration and you500彩票网安全下载 can see what I mean. Of course if you500彩票网安全下载 had used the Celtic Knot Font you500彩票网安全下载 wouldn't have to worry about the "Over / Under Thing" because that has been done for you500彩票网安全下载 already.

    making a Celtic knot

    So, there you500彩票网安全下载 have it, a completed Celtic knot! It looks pretty good. Of course I'm a professional graphic artist who has done this sort of thing for a living for over a decade, so you500彩票网安全下载r results may vary. Because I am fairly proficient at this, it only took me about 2 hours to make this knot for this tutorial.

    Celtic knotwork design

    Now that you500彩票网安全下载 have read this tutorial, read the next one to the right to learn another method.


    small Celtic knot

    The Celtic Knot Font Method

    This tutorial shows how to create Celtic knotwork by a revolutionary new method. The secret is an ornamental font! It does not make letters like an ordinary font; it makes pieces of Celtic knotwork. The basic pieces that you500彩票网安全下载 need to create a Celtic knot are located conveniently in one corner of you500彩票网安全下载 computer keyboard:

    square Celtic knot pieces

    The corners of this square of keys (OK, it's a parallelogram) make the corners of a knot. The sides of this square make the sides of a knot, and the middle makes a middle piece. Like this:

    square Celtic knot

    We can make the TONS of knots using just those 9 keys (the Celtic Knot font has almost 200 different pieces). Just by typing more of the side and middle pieces


    we can make this:

    interlaced design

    There is no layou500彩票网安全下载t phase, no grids or diagonals to draw - just type those keys and you500彩票网安全下载 have this artwork! Many people stop here and think that they are finished. This really isn't Celtic knotwork yet. Read my rambling speech in the parallel tutorial for some of my philosophy about the breaks in knotwork. Without the breaks this isn't knotwork yet. So let's add some breaks, but first, scroll down because we are already way ahead of the folks in the parallel tutorial.









    Keep going....










    Keep going....










    Yes we really are that far ahead of them....









    OK, we need to figure out where to put the breaks. If you500彩票网安全下载 have read the other side you500彩票网安全下载 already know that I used the Celtic Knot Font to design the knotwork used for these tutorials. How did I do that? After I made the pattern above, I simply substituted pieces to see what looked good. I started in the middle of the top row and replaced 2 of the "w" pieces with "j" and "k"

    knot design pieces

    How did know where those pieces fit? Well, aside from the fact that I made this thing and I know how ALL of the pieces fit, I could look at the keyboard chart that is included with every copy of the Celtic Knot font.

    keyboard map
    Click on this image to see a larger version.

    Notice how similar parts are grouped together? Let's take a closer look.

    Celtic knotwork pieces

    See how the "j" and "k" fit together to create horizontal lines? We can use them to replace the two middle pieces on the top row. I tried it and it looked good, so I did the same thing on the bottom using the "m" and "," keys. Similarly, the "7" and "u" and the "8" and "i" work together to form vertical lines. I used them to form the sides where I wanted straight lines in the knotwork. Notice that these are all pieces that work well on edges.

    Next, I decided to try adding some breaks in the middle, so I tried the "5" and "t" Like this:

    Celtic Knot Font pieces

    So to make breaks, you500彩票网安全下载 just replace "Unbroken Pieces" with the equivalent "Broken Pieces". Here are the pieces that I need to replace (shown in gray) to get the same design as shown in the parallel tutorial.

    adding breaks to Celtic knot

    After we make those substitutions WE ARE DONE! We can sit here smugly, knowing that we are finished while those folks doing the other tutorial are still laying out their grid! Here is what our completed knot looks like:

    Celtic knot design

    OK, I admit that I have an edge, by being extremely familiar with the font; but I can go through ALL of these steps in under 2 MINUTES without hardly trying! REALLY! Of course you500彩票网安全下载r results may vary! :) But even if you500彩票网安全下载 are really slow, you500彩票网安全下载 can design a Celtic knot in under 10 MINUTES instead of the 2 or more HOURS that were necessary for the old method. That gives you500彩票网安全下载 1 hour and 50 minutes more time to work on the project that you500彩票网安全下载 wanted this knotwork for! Furthermore, you500彩票网安全下载r knots will look just as good as these; skill and artistic ability are no longer an issue! And if you500彩票网安全下载 are an artist, you500彩票网安全下载'll have a lot more time for the really fun part, embellishing you500彩票网安全下载r knots in amazing ways now that the prepwork is done!

    Click here to get you500彩票网安全下载r Celtic Knot Font!

    If you500彩票网安全下载 used the method on the left and you500彩票网安全下载 want to change you500彩票网安全下载r knotwork, then you500彩票网安全下载 will have to start over . If you500彩票网安全下载 used the Celtic Knot Font method you500彩票网安全下载 can modify what you500彩票网安全下载 have.

    You can change the size of you500彩票网安全下载r knotwork by just changing the point size of the font:

    You can copy a section and paste it over and over to make a long line of knotwork:

    You can reuse sections and delete sections.
    You can experiment and play with the knots, creating endless variations on a theme:

    You can use the font DIRECTLY in Photoshop and utilize all sorts of spectacular effects:

    Of course you500彩票网安全下载 could do that with a hand drawn knot, but by the time you500彩票网安全下载 are finished drawing the knotwork you500彩票网安全下载're exhausted, drained and at you500彩票网安全下载r wit's end! With the Celtic Knot Font you500彩票网安全下载 are inspired and energized and ready to DECORATE THE WORLD WITH CELTIC KNOTWORK!

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