Why Lay a Scroll’s Groundwork with Permanent Ink?

Pencil sketch and start of inking.shown.

In my post The Making of a Scroll, Part 1, I briefly comment about roughing in the border with a 4H pencil then going over those lines with a permanent .005 Pigma Micron pen. I’ve been asked, wh I do that?

When I start a scroll I research and develop a mental design concept. Sometimes I make a mock-up of my intended illumination as well as the calligraphy layout. Those are both tentative visual aids. 

Before I begin painting, but after the lettering, I use a 4H pencil to sketch my design. Referring back to my inspirations, planned motifs, and possible assignment requests I double check my expectations. Sometimes I make a change because I feel the spacing is unbalanced. Sometimes I make several changes. 

Prior to inking it’s easy to erase with a white eraser, and redo it. You can see the difference between my two pictures. Once I’m sure I have what I want, I permanently ink over the pencil lines.

I use the black Pigma Micron pen because it is permanent. Using a permanent ink keeps the outline from blurring as I apply the water-based paint. I use the very small .005 size, because it works better for tiny motifs. It also gives me options for my final outlining. 

Design change seen in upper left.

Earlier manuscripts had wider black outlines than later Medieval illuminations. The outlines may also vary by workshop. Using a narrow ball pen, I have the permanent line designed and will go over it with a wider ball pen, if indicated by the style. It’s also possible to use a different color ink or a dip pen for the final outlining. If black edges in my resources are narrow I leave the design line as it is. In Renaissance styles, I may cover over the outline with paint, as they commonly show.

But there’s more to it than that. 

After the ink is well dried, I use my trusty white eraser to remove all pencil lines carefully and well. This includes going over the lettering too. That gives a background surface as clean as I can make it.

Besides removing obvious pencil lines, erasing also removes oils and dirt. Many times the next step is gilding. Removing surface oil cuts down on gold flecks attaching in unwanted places. Controlling outlying gold flecks gives you a cleaner looking finished scroll.

Attention to detail is important when creating a scroll. Clean, well thought out and neatly worked efforts make a treasured award. Permanent crisp, black motif outlines are the groundwork for you design.

Related Prior Post:
The Making of a Scroll

Categories: How-to

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