Acanthus Leaves

British Library
Border Clipping


Acanthus Painting for HO6.jpg
Acanthus leaf from my handout “Acanthus Leaves: Drawing and Painting” 











I love Acanthus leaves in art. They are an ornament that resembles leaves from the Mediterranean Acanthus plants. They have deeply cut leaves similar to thistles. 

I like Acanthus leaves because they are a curvy, variable decoration I can use in most any art medium or era. In scribal illumination, Acanthus leaves add color, visual movement and design contrast to large text blocks. They also enhance large decorated display initials or a heraldic device. 

There are several general Acanthus leaf styles from the broader leaf with ends that flip over to narrower forms without flips and in between. The Göttingen Model Book, a 15th-century workshop instruction manual, provides fascinating insight into how some period scribes drew and painted their leaves.


British Library Harley 3490 f. 13v 

You can create Acanthus leaves that are simple as in my above picture or add details such as dots along the vein and color modeling to enhance dimension.  Whatever you like. It’s a scroll ornament that lets you be creative.


Related Prior Post:
The Making of an SCA Scroll, Part 2

External Link:
Acanthus Leaves: Drawing and Painting

Categories: How-to, Illumination

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