Illuminated Letters

Creative Middle or High School Art Project incorporating ELA and Art: Illuminated Letters Project studying Manuscripts and using Unity and Emphasis in Art

Medium: Ink and Pearlescent Watercolor
Tie-In: ELA
Time: 7-10 days

Grade: 6-12
Objective: TSWBAT: 

  • Create Emphasis in their Illuminated Letter
  • Create Unity through the use of images and color schemes
  • Understand the use of illuminated letters in ancient manuscripts
  • Create a Balance in their illuminated letter through a balance of positive and negative space.

Materials: Parchment Paper (Or other paper that will stand up to colored ink, Colored inks, either pearlescent watercolors, or pearlescent acrylic paint, brushes, water and black sharpies.

We started by created thumbnails of letters that we were interested in using as our Illuminated letter.

Next we enlarged our letters onto a piece of 8.5″ x 11″ Parchment Paper. I showed students how to center their letters based on the size of the square or rectangle.
The students found reference for decorative elements, and began to fill in the space surrounding their letters with versions of that reference. We talked about positive and negative space and to balance the two to create interesting and dynamic letters. We created our designs in pencil first.

Then we outlined the design with thin permanent markers, and began filling in the background with ink.

We continued to add color. I asked the students to create some value in their designs, light, medium and darker tones of the same colors. Here are some pictures of the process:

Here are some of the final results. I think they came out great!

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