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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.