Carolingian Wide Borders
Wide Borders in the Carolingian Style
Based on Simple Leaf Shapes
Here is an Oak Leaf, a common leaf that shows up often in Medieval art. You'll find it stylized in Carolingian (9-10 C.) borders. Here are three stylized leaves that we will be using in our these four easy exercises. Practice drawing these leaves now.
Each exercise starts with drawing a border. I have suggested drawing a rather small border. You can draw it once, ink it. Then photocopy it several times to save time. When you make a scroll pleases expand the frame in length and width but keep the border itself about 1" wide for best results.
Exercise One: Oak and Acorn Border
Step 1: Start with an 8.5" X 11" sheet of paper. Measure 2" in from the top and 2.25" from the side edges and 3" from the bottom edge and draw a rectangle with a ruler. Measure 1" from the line all the way around and draw another rectangle outside the first. Add lines 1/8" outside of these lines for your narrow gold borders. Leave a square in the corner, draw a circle inside it. Each side should measure 6" vertically and 4" horizontally from square to square. Draw 2" long diamonds inside the border as in the picture. You'll get two across and three on each side.
Step 2: Now if you are brave you'll put down your pencil and start the next step with a pen. Draw a stylized Oak leaf inside each diamond and a star inside each circle as shown.
Step 3: Draw petals around the star to form a flower in each corner. Follow the curve of the bottom of the oak leaf to form the back of the trumpet leaf. Draw in the veins. The smaller spaces around the flower will need smaller trumpet leaves. Add acorns at the bottom of each leaf. Ink the design and erase the pencil marks.
Step 4: Painting the border.
Paint the oak leaves medium green. Darken the edges with blue and highlight the veins with white. Paint the trumpet leaves yellow and accent with orange. Paint the flowers dark pink, accent with red and highlight with white. Paint the acorns light brown and orange. Paint the background black and the borders metallic gold.
Here is an example of how I used this border on a Baronial Award Scroll. I have also painted this with a white background and fall colored leaves for a very pretty effect.
Exercise Two: Leaf Waves
I call this 11th Century Carolingian border Leaf Waves because I can't decide if they are leaves or waves. Click on the detail picture right to see an example from a period scroll. Click on the thumbnail to see an example of a border I painted in this style.
Step 1: Draft your borders aw you did in the first exercise. Draw a spoon shape in the corner and then divide the sides and top into equal parts about 1.5" long. Draw curves as in the example here. The "waves" can go away from or towards the corner.
Step 2: Paint the area inside the spoon shape and under the waves blue and the rest dark pink. Draw the curl leaf or shell shape inside each wave with white paint. Draw oak leaves in the corners with white paint. Draw trumpet leaves in the red spaces. Draw in the veins with white paint.
Mix some white and blue together and give the leaf waves body by highlighting them with the light blue. Let it dry a spell and then go back over it with pure white for the veins and those funny little lines at the bottom of each wave. Paint the edges with metallic gold paint.
Exercise Three: Swirling Leaves
Click on the detail to the right to see the medieval manuscript page where I found this border. Are they swirling leaves or puffs of wind? Either way, this makes a very nice border for a scroll.
Step 1: Draw a basic wide border as in the first exercise. Draw a heart in the corner as in the illustration. Use a coin as a template for the cirlces which should be spaced evenly around the border about an inch apart. Connect the heart to the nearest circles with a slightly curved line as shown. Continue connecting the circles and hearts all the way around the border. Draw a line down the center of the heart and add the little curls as shown.
Step 2: Draw a dot in the center of each circle. Put three dots on the perimeter of the circle an equal distance apart starting at the top. Draw curved lines from the dots on the perimeter to the dot in the center. Make sur that they all curve the same way and they follow the curve of the connecting lines between the cirlces.
Step 3: Paint the circles and hearts with medium blue and the area between them dark pink. Paint the connecting line red and draw a trumpet leaf in white on each side of the red line. Add veins to the trumpet leaves and emphasize the edges with red.
Paint three tiny curl leaves inside each section of the circles with white and light blue. Examine the historic art for the exact shape of the curl leaves. Paint a stylized oak leaf inside the heart shape in white, light blue and dark blue. Paint the edging with gold metallic paint.
Exercise Four: Hearts and Hugs Border
Click on the detail left to see an example from a period manuscript.
Step 1: Start a border as in the other exercises. Draw a straight line from the inner corner towards the outer corner but stop about 1/4" from the edge. Draw hearts evenly spaced about 2" apart around the edges as in the example. Draw a line dividing the bottom half of each heart. Draw in the notches between the tops of the hearts.
Step 2: Draw an oak leaf around the line in each corner. Draw two trumpet leaves on each notch. Draw in the trumpet leaf-part on each heart.
Step 3: Connect the trumpet leaves to the bottom of each heart with straight and leafy lines as in the example. Add little accent flowers if you wish.
Step 4: Painting the border.
Paint all of the background black first. Paint the leaves with dark blue, dark red, dark green, orange, and purple. Mix lighter shades of each color and heavily accent the shape of the leaves, leaving the veins dark colored. Look at the historic art for inspiration. With pure white, highlight the edges of the leaves, the little flowers and tiny dots in the background. Finish by painting the edges with metalic gold. Here is an example of how I used this border on a Carolingin style scroll blank.