Osculate me. I’m a Celtic nut.
I’ve mentioned before my little penchant for making Celtic knots in Adobe Illustrator, and after I developed my own little way of making them I decided to look up other ways. I found a tutorial by Marc and Shelly Wallace, one by Christian Mercat, another by Yvonne and Stephen Hughes, and even a small collection of tutorials over at Craytech.
Frankly, all of the tutorials I found online make the art of Celtic knot design a pain in the ass. I’m a lazy artist—always have been, always will—so I constantly look for easier ways to do things, and it looked like I already had the easiest way to make Celtic knots: my way.
I know that not everyone has Adobe Illustrator, so the following tutorial shows how to make Celtic knots by hand, the quick and easy way. All you need is a highlighter pen, a black ink pen, paper, and some idea how you want your knots to look.
Preparation: Think about the knot design you’re going to draw. I would suggest looking at existing Celtic knotwork and studying the flow of each line as it weaves onto itself and onto intersecting lines. Don’t worry yet about the over-under patterns that are normally part of the design; we’ll get to that later. All you really have to worry about is that at each intersection, you should only have one crossing, where the lines radiate outward in no more than four directions. Here are samples of good and bad crossings:
Step one: On a clean sheet of paper, draw the basic lines of your Celtic knot using a highlighter pen. In my example, you see a one-line design.
Bear in mind that Celtic knots have an over-under pattern; if you follow a single line on an existing design, you’ll notice that each intersection alternates between going over what it intersects and going under what it intersects. The same rule applies when it intersects itself—over itself, then under itself, then over, then under. If you’ve drawn all your intersections correctly and you strictly follow the alternating over-under pattern, the whole thing should come out all right.
Step two: Start at one end of the design and trace a section of the line using a black ink pen. For the purposes of this tutorial, a section of line begins and ends where the line goes under in any crossing, so when you trace the line, you draw across just one intersection. (Imagine a pedestrian walking along the sidewalk of a street from one intersection to another, crossing just one other intersecting street, so that he walks two full blocks, on both sides of the street along which he is walking.)
Step three: Trace the next section, drawing across that same intersection at which you stopped when tracing the first section.
Step four: Trace the next section in the same manner.
Step five: Keep tracing until you’ve traced every edge of line, and voila, your Celtic knotwork is complete.
Ridiculously easy, wasn’t it?
Update 2003.06.21: Seems I’m not the only one who has thought of making Celtic knots this way. Jo Edkins already has a tutorial that uses similar techniques.Share this post: