Yesterday, we learned what tools we are going to need to get the design on the page. Let’s continue with more specifics of page layout.
Be a Space Case, Leave Space Around the Edges:
Now that you are at the stage where you are drafting/drawing your own scrolls, please make sure you leave a space around the border, or edges of the paper. This makes it much easier to frame the piece (especially if you frame it yourself!). If you run the design all the way out to the edge of the paper, it is very difficult to matte and frame. I usually come in 1/2 inch to 1 full inch from the edge of my paper (depending on the size of my paper, a smaller sized paper will get the ½ inch measurement), and put a light pencil border on with a ruler so the lines are straight (people invented rulers for a reason), then I make the entire design, including space for the calligraphy, inside those lines. If you want to make sure the design is squared off, feel free to use a T-square. Pencil in your design lightly, then ink over the design with your technical pen. Let the ink dry (drying time will vary with the air temperature and humidity in your area), then erase the pencil lines that you can still see. You erase the pencil lines for a couple of reasons. First is that sometimes, they smudge across your pristine paper when you can’t paint over them, and sometimes they do get ground into the paper and don’t come out. Second is that some paints don’t cover as well as others. (We will discuss this when we talk about paints.)
Drawing the Design:
When drawing your design, the shape of an object is extremely important. Example: If you draw a leaf, make sure you paint the shape of that leaf. I suppose that’s the grown up version of “color inside the lines” with the caveat that if you do go outside the lines, make sure the shape of the leaf is the same when you’re done. If you drop a blob of paint and make the leaf look like a flower, then make it into the shape of a flower. If someone else has drafted the design, the shapes they chose to draw are the shapes they need to be for a successful piece of art. Just stay as true to the original shapes as you can.
Can I have an “O”? Give it a Whirl:
If you haven’t drawn your own designs before, I highly recommend giving it a try. I know a lot of you have more talent than you think you have. Look at a design in a manuscript book and copy a simple design out of there. If you have to use a photo copy and a light table, go for it. They are great tools for this. If you want to try just looking at the book and drawing off of that, go for it, just keep in mind everything has a familiar shape. By that I mean you can break down every element into familiar shapes. A curly-Q at the end of a vine is just a circle (the letter “O”) that gets smaller and smaller and never connects. Everything breaks down into circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, and shapes we see everyday. Pretty much everyone can write the alphabet, look for shapes that remind you of how you write, they’ll be easy for you to execute.
Now get drawing!