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Diaperwork and Tapestries

Gael Stirler

In period it was extremely difficult to get a nice, smooth sky behind a figure subject so the artist would use diaperwork to break up the sky or wall. Sometimes they used gold and sometimes they didn't. Usually the lattice was made of 90 degree angles as in the example to the left. Often they were rotated 45 degrees. They also used other angles. In the diaperwork below and to the right I have used 30/60 degree angles. You can easily make your own diaperwork by using a t-square and a right triangle or a 30/60 degree triangle.

The images are links to pictures of finished Award of Arms promissory scrolls (items #GUT-AoAF1 and GUT-AoAM1). Paint the diaper(checkerboard area) by laying down a base color of dark blue with a #4 brush. After it's dry, paint every other square with powdered gold tempera paint. Paint the white design with the #0 brush over the base color. Put a tiny dot of gold in the center of each square.

The next time you paint diaperwork lay down a base color of diagonal stripes of blue and red. Use a different design, like this one, for the white. Put a tiny dot of gold in the center of each square.

Here is another style of diaperwork built on a 90 degree grid. First paint a checkerboard of ultramarine and skyblue. Paint four petaled flowers in each square with the oposite shade of blue. Outline the petals in white. The outlines should create the appearance of interlocking circles. Add a dot of scarlett red at the intersections of the circles. This pattern also makes an attractive border.

For a greater challenge you may even want to try this jewel style diaperwork (shown right) on another scroll. Look for other examples of diaperwork in period scrolls. Take notes for your future use.


Scribes would also use non-geometric designs that looked like tapestries to cover uneven backgrounds. To make a tapestry background lay down a base coat of a solid blue, red or green. With a #0 or smaller brush and a light hand draw spiral vines then put little leaves on them. Fill the entire background without touching any other spirals for an even, all-over pattern.

For more on the subject of Diapered backgrounds, view this Power Point Presentation "Fancy Diapered Backgrounds." or this HTML version of the same presentation.

In the next lesson you will learn how to paint the sun in splendor and other figures.

Go to Lesson 3: Figures.

Go back to Lesson 1: Small Bar Borders.

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© 2002-2004Gael Stirler, Inc. 1-520-721-8346
Unless otherwise noted all art is the work of Gael Stirler.
AKA Mistress Dairine mor o' hUigin, OL

This page was last updated Tuesday, 23-Jun-2015 11:42:45 CDT