How to Make an Illuminated Manuscript

by Helena Bigelow

I made this for my Women in Art class. (Art 270 section 3001)


  • Parchment/vellum paper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Watercolor
  • Acrylic if you want
  • India ink
  • Calligraphy kit with different tips
  • Gold leaf
  • A sort of primer for the gold leaf
  • Pencils
  • Eraser
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    Most of the supplies I used! I could not find quill so I used a speedball calligraphy set instead.

    Step 2

    Pick the color of paper you want to use. I used the middle yellowish paper.

    Step 3

    Start drawing out what you want your manuscript of. The manuscript that I was working off of was the Crucifixion from Northern France (around 1450 A.D). It's found in the Book of Hours.

    Step 4

    Step 5

    I cut out a hole from a piece of graphing paper that way when writing my wrist will not smudge the pencil marks on the paper as easily.

    Step 6

    Step 7

    Step 8

    I then started painting with red

    Step 9

    Step 10

    Then green

    Step 11

    Then blue

    Step 12

    And yellowish orange

    Step 13

    I then went back and added some detail with the India ink

    Step 14

    Step 15

    With the gold leaf, you'll need a primer of some sort. I used gilding adhesive. Gesso would work just as well.

    Step 16

    Using the adhesive I painted a light coat of it on where I want the gold at

    Step 17

    Let it dry till it gets tacky

    Step 18

    And then lay on the gold leaf and press it on gently

    Step 19

    Taking a brush start brushing over the area to get the excess gold off

    Step 20

    I then went back and added some more as I brushed too much off

    Step 21

    Add the finishing details and you're done!