Tutorial – Celtic Knot

Posted on Jan 30, 2006


10_4

Welcome to my very first tutorial!  I’ve been wanting to post this for some time, and now the time has come.  My mom and I took a class many, many years ago on how to draw Celtic knots. I have been drawing them ever since.  It’s actually super simple to do and the possibilities are endless.  Any one can do this, you don’t need artistic ability.  Believe me, I can barely draw a straight line.

1_44

You will need very few supplies.  You will need a ruler, a pencil (I prefer mechanical ones.  Don’t be jealous of my fancy Sudoku pencil….Thanks Karen!), a pen (fine tipped Sharpies work great), and paper.  You can use graph paper, but I prefer to use dotted paper.  You can download a free graph paper program here. Scroll to the bottom of the web-site and pick the very last option called Graph Paper Printer Program Version 4.21 created by Phillipe Marquis. Once it’s downloaded to your computer, you can make endless graph paper.  This program has an option to print dotted paper. The paper I’m using for this tutorial has dots 10mm by 10mm.

2_32

The first step is to draw a box the size you want the Celtic knot to be.  I made my box 7 dots by 7 dots. See this is easy, you can do it!

3_25

The next step is to put in some divider lines.  This makes the knot much more interesting.  If there are no divider lines, you will still end up with a knot, but not a very fun knot.  The only rule for drawing dividers is never (and I mean never) draw a diagonal line.  Stick to horizontal or vertical lines.  You can draw your lines anywhere and you can put in as many as you would like.  Experiment a little, you really can’t go wrong.  For this tutorial, I tried to keep it simple.

4_13

The next step is to add a dot into the middle of each dotted square.  This turns your big square boxes into little diamond boxes.  You can add the middle dots before making divider lines, but I found that if you make your divider lines first, there are less dots for you to create.  I ended up adding a couple extra divider lines to make the end knot a little more interesting.  Yes, you can make divider lines that butt up against the border.  I free handed all the dots trying to make them even, but not being too worried about it. 

5_8

Here is the meat to your knot.  The next thing you will want to do is draw parallel lines in each of the diamond boxes.  The key here is that you will draw parallels that go the same direction in every OTHER box.  You will only add parallel lines to a fully completed box.  You can see where there are divider lines or border lines, there are 3 sided boxes.  Since it’s not a 4 sided box, you will not draw any lines in these boxes.  I usually draw all the lines that go the same direction all at one time.  You can keep changing direction if that’s easier for you.  It doesn’t matter where you begin your parallel lines nor does it matter which direction you start.

6_3

As you can see here, after completing all the lines in one direction, I came back and drew parallel lines in the other direction.  This makes a cross hatch sort of design. 

7_3

Next you will simply connect all the lines. Remember in Celtic knots the lines always go over and under.  If you find you are drawing two overs or two unders, then an error has occurred.  Usually this is due to miss drawn parallel lines.  Check your cross hatch pattern to make sure the lines change direction every time. The cross hatch pattern will give you this natural over and under flow.  Once you get to a divider line or a border line you will round the corner to join up with another group of parallel lines.  Celtic knots are never ending, so don’t dead end at the border.  Sometimes it will be a 90 degree turn as in the sides of the border.  Other times it will be a 180 degree turn as in the corners of the border.  When you make the turn, there will be a line waiting to be connected.  I know this sounds tricky, but it’s really pretty simple.  The lines pretty much pave the way for the design.  As you can see some of my lines are fatter than others.  This will all be smoothed out in the next step.

8_4

Once all of the lines have been drawn, take your pen and copy over your pencil lines.  You can use a ruler to get perfectly straight lines.  I used a ruler for half of this knot, but it was taking to long and I grew impatient, so I free handed the rest.  Also, it’s hard to judge where to end your line with the ruler, so I made a couple little mistakes where my line crossed over another.  You can eyeball the lines to be drawn to help even out where some lines are thicker or thinner than others.  This is the time to try to be uniform.  The perception is that this is one solid knot.  So try to make your turns uniform with others and also try to make lines that bump into each other square.  Practice will definitely help with this.  You can see how my lines are not uniform the entire time, but they are much closer than when I drew them in pencil.

9_3

The last step to your knot is filling in all the little boxes to make the knot pop out.  This is another place to help even everything out.  Once all the boxes are filled in, erase the pencil marks and you are done.  You can draw in the divider lines.  I choose on this knot to erase those lines (see first photo).  Drawing the divider lines will just add a new look to your knot.  You can also round your corners if you don’t like the pointed look.  Really anything is possible now that you have learned the basic steps.  You can make your box any size or shape, just remember they need to be horizontal or vertical lines.  No diagonal lines.  You can draw as many divider lines as you like.  Have fun with it!

If you get stuck on a step or my directions make absolutely no sense (I’m thinking the latter is probably going to be more true) email me for help.  I would love to hear feedback from folks who have tried these instructions. 

12 Comments

  1. I failed on my first attempt – got a headache. But I wanted to thank you for putting the tutorial up and let you know that someone tried it. I intend to try again.

    Post a Reply
  2. I really like this stuff and can do the one above pretty easily but I was wondering how you would scale it if say you wanted to do one that is 14 dots by 14 dots. I tried making one this size and have just run into problems for some reason.

    Post a Reply
  3. hello,
    thanks from France for this tutorial. I tried it this evening, i just had a problem of understanding with what you call the “diamond boxes”.. Could you show a good one (in which you draw parallels) an a “bad one” in wich you won’t ?
    beautiful blog, très joli !
    à bientôt.

    Post a Reply
  4. Ok, it has been 2 days and I think I finally got it!! Go me! Thank you so much for posting this tutorial! I make purses and have been wanting to create one with a Celtic feel. This really helps!
    Thanks again!!!
    Kristin

    Post a Reply
  5. Thanks for the tutorial…I am learning drawing and wanted to use the celtic knot as a part of another drawing.

    Post a Reply
  6. This is awesome! I’m going to bookmark this for later. :)

    Post a Reply
  7. I’m thinking a quilt btw… (I didn’t want you to think it was a spam comment because I really do love that you made this available. Thanks)

    Post a Reply
  8. Hi Trina,
    A quilt is a great idea! I’d love to see a picture of what you create. Please let me know if you have any problems making these knots. I’m happy to help anyway I can.
    Cheers!
    Jolie

    Post a Reply
  9. you might have had some trouble with 14×14 because the one she did was an 8×8, so if youd want something bigger, than just double it. like 16×16. and it should come out just fine. lol but idk that just makes sense to me

    Post a Reply
  10. This & your newer tutorial look like so much fun. I can’t wait to try this out!

    Post a Reply
  11. Thanks! I hope you enjoy it! I just never get bored drawing knots.
    Cheers!
    Jolie

    Post a Reply
  12. This was such fun! Even my 10 year old daughter is getting into it! My first tries came out like yours with a big patch in the middle but then I started to wonder about instead of a big patch couldn’t I round the corner each time I run into one of my vertical or horizontal lines? I will try that next but I think your method is probably prettier! Thanks again!

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>