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Old 03-30-2006, 03:11 PM
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TessDB TessDB is offline
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Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

What we think of as Celtic art is mostly made up of four types of elements:

1. Interlace: Woven borders, fields/panels, knots etc.
2. Key or step patterns: angular mazes & line patterns that do not weave.
3. Spirals: swirly, circular/oval patterns
4. Zoomorphic figures: Not-quite-real animals and people, usually woven into the interlace, although they can be spun around a spiral, poor things.

Where most folks get lost when drawing these is looking at the whole, instead of breaking it down into simple elements that repeat. Itís the repetition that creates intricacy and the knock-your-socks-off *how did they do that* response.

So, in this first installment, Iíll be focusing on simple triangle knots. Why triangles first? Because they are serious work-horses. They can be used to fill all sorts of awkward spaces (like between the spirals in my sig line), look more difficult than they are, and adapt into border designs very easily (the corners are already mitered for you).

By the end of this first lesson, you will be able to create two different patterns using the basic triangle knot and its close cousin, the pretzel knot. Hopefully, Iíll also have taught some basic rules that can be used to adapt these into unlimited designs. These are what weíre aiming for:



I worked fairly small with these because it kept me from going too intricate too soon. I also have an easier time keeping the lines & angles consistent when working smaller. Feel free to work with a larger grid if thatís easier for you, just keep the ratios the same so you can follow along more easily.


So without further adoÖ here we go!

The Triangle Knot

This first knot will be worked over a grid of 3x3. Hereís what youíre aiming for:



1. lightly mark off the space youíll be working in.
2. draw a curve from narrow corner to narrow corner
3. draw a curve from one box before the corner along the top to the long diagonal.
4. repeat going from the right side to the long diagonal.
5. place a dot in the center



6. from the dot, draw your inside curves to start creating the bands that go over. I tend to curve all of the ďoversĒ to the right. It doesnít really matter which direction you go, as long as they *all go the same way* within one knot. Iíll discuss directional pull a little later.
7. erase the lines that are crossing over the bands.
8. last, add the lines to make the ďunderĒ.



Thatís it! Easy, eh? Next post, tiling.
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Old 03-30-2006, 03:16 PM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Tiling is just what it sounds like. Itís the same principle as creating a quilt block or laying tile on a floor. You repeat one basic element, rotating and repeating it to fit your overall design.

1. Begin with the little triangle knot we just completed. The new grid is 6x6. You can see it snugged up on the lower left side of the picture of step 1. Redraw it, rotating its orientation so the ďfatĒ corner is always pointing to the center. Make sure all of your ďoversĒ are going in the same direction. In my example, theyíre going right, as usual.
2. Add small lines to the ďfatĒ corners, breaking them into bands. Make sure your over/under pattern is consistent. This creates a very basic square knot, oriented on itís points.
3. As we tile the knots the grid expands in size to become 12x12. Repeat step 2 five times. Iíve marked in red the points of the square knots, so you could see how Iíve repeated them. Add the original triangle knot to the edges to fill in the gaps. Make sure your ďoversĒ remain consistent.



4. On the outside, break the ďfatĒ corners & make them into curves, as always, paying attention to the direction of your ďovers.Ē Note: I goofed on one of them. Can you find it?

Thatís it! Not too terribly hard, right?



As youíve probably noticed, these are lots of separate knots, not one single knot. To keep this fairly simple, I didnít worry about that. Because weíve worked the triangles into squares, itís tricky to connect squares into one knot *and* maintain symmetry.

If youíd like to try on your own, here are some general rules for connecting knots:

1. Anywhere points come together, you can break them & join the knots. I did that with the ďfatĒ corners of the original triangle knot to create the basic square knot.
2. Anywhere two curves run next to each other, you can break them and turn them into straight bands *or* join them to become corners.
3. Anywhere bands cross, you can turn them into curves *or* corners.

Finally, one quick note about directional pull: in order to keep your weave consistent, all of your ďoversĒ will run in one direction, either pulling to the left or the right. When youíre doing a large piece, like a carpet page, all of those curves & lines will create an optical illusion of the piece itself rotating clockwise or counter clockwise. Enough of them all snugged up together, and the piece will begin to look wonky and out of square. How do you determine which direction youíre knots are pulling in? Pick one edge of your knot and look at the curves, say the top edge of the finished panel above. If the ďoversĒ are on the right side of a curve, your knot is ďpullingĒ clockwise. And obviously, if it goes to the left itís counter clockwise. So how do you keep it from getting weird on you? Pick a few elements that *arenít* connected and run them the opposite direction. This will create tension & break the illusion, making your piece hold still to the viewerís eye. Whenever I step back and look at one of my larger pieces, if something looks off to me, itís usually because Iíve got too many elements pulling in the same direction. Although sometimes I *want* that illusion.

Next up, pretzel knots.
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Old 03-30-2006, 03:23 PM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Pretzel Knots:

Are exactly what they sound like. The only difference between a pretzel knot and a triangle knot is that instead of curving to create a third corner, the bands are left open to meet up with other knots. They combine easily to create a running border, add interest to a large area of interlace, or join together to create a square knot, which is what Iíll do here. Hereís what a single pretzel knot looks like completed:



But first, hereís how to draw a pretzel knot:

1. mark out your space, again Iím using a 3x3 grid. Draw diagonal lines from the corners of your grid.
2. draw a curve to connect the diagonals.
3. draw the top edge of one point, continuing the line past your curve
4. repeat on the opposite side.
5. like in the triangle knot, draw the inside lines to create your bands. Once again, Iíve got them pulling to the right.
6. erase the lines you donít need & clean it up a bit.



Not too bad, right? On to the next stage:

1. Now, like I did with the triangle knot, Iíll repeat & rotate the pretzel to create a square knot. Note the grid is still 3x3 here.
2. Expand the grid to 6x6 and repeat the square knot. As always, make sure your ďoversĒ are running the same direction.
3. erase where the points meet in the center of the grid.
4. Add curves to connect the separate knots into one.



This larger, square knot can be tiled & repeated to form as big of a panel as you need. Here, I repeated it four times.



And hereís a simple example of how to create a border using the pretzel knot.



I hope this was clear. If I was too vague on anything, please let me know & Iíll try to explain what I meant a little better. Happy Creating!

Tess
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Old 03-30-2006, 09:15 PM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Wow! Awesome demo. Celtic-style calligraphy is my favorite, so I really need to learn how to do the knots for borders and whatnot. This is so helpful. Thank you and I can't wait for the next installment.

Now, if only I had graph paper with me at school....
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Old 03-31-2006, 12:16 AM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Well, I must admit that at first I was a bit befuddled, but I kept at it and darned if I didn't manage to do a few squares! I'm amazed. Thank you sooo much for showing how to do this. Tho I could see how it could be considered tedious, it's oddly relaxing as well...

I look forward to more lessons!!

Michele
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Old 03-31-2006, 12:38 AM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Tess, thanks so much for this great Tutorial. It absolutely fascinates me, so I will definitely be giving it a go when I get a chance. I also want to do the one that Chris showed us too.
I love doing "fiddly" things, so I think I am going to have a ball with trying out these designs.
Keep up the great work.

Val.
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Old 03-31-2006, 08:33 AM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Quote:
Originally Posted by artjunkie101
Now, if only I had graph paper with me at school....

You don't *need* graph paper. It's helpful when you're starting, but not required.

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnwillow
Tho I could see how it could be considered tedious, it's oddly relaxing as well...

Mhm. After a while, it's almost a meditative state.

Quote:
Originally Posted by valchina612
I also want to do the one that Chris showed us too.

Please post when you do!

I'm glad this is helpful.
Tess
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Old 03-31-2006, 09:17 AM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Thank you Tess I am going to work on this over the week end. So when is our first homework assignment due Teach.

This is great Tess now maybe this old Irishman will learn some knotwork do you think.

Thanks again Tess

Brian
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Old 03-31-2006, 01:48 PM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Tess, amazing demo/instruction. This thread goes into my favorites!

Marci
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Old 03-31-2006, 03:14 PM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

I didnít have this one ready to post with the others, so here ya go!

Pretzel Knot border 2

1. Start with the basic pretzel knot I showed you before over a 3x3 grid.
2. Add a second pretzel knot, joining them with a curve on the long diagonal.
3. Expand the grid to 6x3, rotate & repeat the knot from step 2.
4. Erase the center points.
5. Join with curves.



This gives you a more complicated triangle knot. Just like you tiled knots to create a square, you can do the same to create a border. How you do it depends on what size of a border you want. In this example, Iíll create one thatís fairly slim using the knot from above. And like Iíd mentioned in the previous posts, working with a triangle knot as a base makes creating a border *so* much easier because the corners are already mitered for you.

6. Iíve marked the space Iíll be working in & drawn in the first knot at the corner.



7. Rotate & Repeat the knots, paying close attention to all of your ďoversĒ going the same direction. Iíve marked the corners in red.



8. erase the curves that run next to each other (remember the rule about 2 curves that run next to each other? You can change them into bands that will connect two knots). Iíve circled the ones I havenít erased yet.



9. Connect the knots with an ďXĒ. Once again, circled in red to help you see. This is why itís really important to keep all of your ďoversĒ going the same direction. If they arenít when you connect them the weave wonít be consistent.



Thatís it. In the scale Iíve used, this border is 3/4Ē thick, needing 1 1/2" to repeat. So itíll work up really nicely to fit in a 9x12 mat, giving you 8 1/4x11 1/4" to play with inside of it.



Now, couple of quick notes on how I work:
--As youíre probably discovering, drawing these things over & over again can make you a little nutty. I use a light box *a lot.* Once Iíve established my basic ďunitĒ knot for an area, Iíll trace the repeats onto my draft sheet. This gives me the opportunity to clean up the lines, double check the weave pattern, and maintain consistency throughout the entire piece.
--If I hit on a knot I *love* for a certain area but the scale isnít quite right, I usually redraw it. If the knot is hugely complicated, Iíll ďcheatĒ and scan it into the computer and adjust it.
--When composing a piece, I work from the middle. Itís always easier to make a border conform to what your main elements are rather than trying to squish something in.

Any questions? If youíre playing along, Iíd love to see what youíre coming up with. So please please post!

Tess
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Old 03-31-2006, 03:17 PM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Brian-- whenever you're ready to post something, let's see it!

Hi, Marci! Glad to see you & glad this was relatively clear. Really sweated bullets over it. There's so much I just *do* without even thinking about it now...

I've got one more installment I'll post, hopefully by the end of the weekend.

Tess
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Old 03-31-2006, 03:24 PM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Tess, This is great! You make it look easy (you are also a heck of a lot neater than I am). This tutorial is laid out very logically adn I can't wait to try it out!! - Chris
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Old 03-31-2006, 07:36 PM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Ack!!! Correction!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tessdb
In the scale Iíve used, this border is 3/4Ē thick, needing 1 1/2" to repeat. So itíll work up really nicely to fit in a 9x12 mat, giving you 8 1/4x11 1/4" to play with inside of it.

no no no. Once again, I've proven my math skills are sorely lacking. That should be 7 1/2x10 1/2".

Hi, Chris! Hope you'll post what your results are!

Tess, the mathematically challenged.
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Old 03-31-2006, 07:46 PM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

I know this isn't calligraphy, but those of you also interested in learning how to do this sort of thing digitally might like to know that there are two articles in the Digital Art forum on the subject: http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/23638/341/ and http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/23638/357/

Perhaps in the right project, digital and ink could be complementary!



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Old 03-31-2006, 07:58 PM
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Re: Celtic Knots 101 - Triangles and Pretzels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rose Queen
Perhaps in the right project, digital and ink could be complementary!

Thanks for the links, Rose! Personally, I look at the digital as just one more tool to use. Just because I'm doing art in a style from the 5th century doesn't mean I shouldn't use all the tools of my age!

Tess
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