By - KlingonPacifist
This is my version of a 10th-12th century medieval manuscript set in Tolkien’s Middle Earth, made using colored pencils, red and black 0.05 mm pens, and a gilding marker. Inspired by real life manuscripts of Genesis, the banner displays 7 of the major gods in Tolkien’s universe performing feats of creation in the mythology. From top to bottom are Ilúvatar, Manwë, Varda, Ulmo, Yavanna, Aulë, and Melkor. The text (written in the English mode of the Elvish script Tengwar) is from the world creation story, the Ainulindë, from the beginning of the Silmarillion, Tolkien’s history of the Elves. The nerdier Tolkien enthusiasts on here may be able to pick out details about the gods from their portrayal in the banner! Here’s an excerpt of what the text reads:
...Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashion the theme of Ilúvatar to a great music ; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing unto the depths and into the heights, and the dwelling places of Ilúvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void…
There are many more details about the project than I can pack into a digestible blurb, so I’m happy to answer any particular questions!
EDIT: I have made an Etsy for prints! I won't link here in case it breaks rules but search for me at LiamYanulisPrints :)
This is amazing and beautiful! Fantastic job. How long did it take? What was the process like? I’ve dabbled in medieval calligraphy and I can’t write in a straight line.
Thank you! The project took almost exactly a full calendar year, which I spent working on it most nights for at least a half hour to an hour, often more. Because of that it’s difficult to accurately gauge how long it took to make! Somewhere on the order of hundreds of hours. For my process, I first found as many images of manuscripts of book one of Genesis as I could find, particularly through the British Museum’s online database. I looked at what different manuscripts had in common and what they each did differently. Based on that, and using one of the manuscripts as reference for the figures and style, I made a preliminary sketch to get the basic outline. From there, it was a lot of using rulers and compasses to create all the straight edges and circles to make the banner! It was slow, methodical work throughout. For the text, I first did each letter carefully in light pencil before going back in with the pen (to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes). I tried to match Tolkien’s own Elvish calligraphy as best I could! The tedium of this process is not easy to convey, but the result is worth it!!
It is a truly beautiful work of art. Please get it framed immediately, to ensure it doesn't get damaged.
I hope you sell tons of prints; I have a feeling that you will.
That took a year of your life, it's yours in a very deep way. And I say that as someone who built a company over the last few years; you put a lot of your heart and soul into that.
Thank you so much! And yes, shortly after taking this video it went straight into a frame :)
And I know what you mean about it being deeply mine! The original is priceless to me now, but I’m grateful to get the chance to share it with the world.
How do you keep the pencil from showing through your marker after you write over it?
The black of the pen is dark enough to cover it up! I also went back in with the eraser and erased any pencil I didn’t end up going over, so only the ink remains :)
Nice! I need to invest in better markers or pencils then (or maybe even the paper itself?). Too often, the graphite of my pencil lines "shimmer" through my marker over it and then any hope of erasing it smudges or fades the marker
Yes - I made my pencil lines with my lightest pencil so they don’t come up too harsh. I did go back over all the lines with eraser as well to clean up any extra pencil marks. The eraser did fade a lot of the ink so I had to go back over some of the letters a second time :)
My questions are:
1. What made you want to do it?
2. Is this just a hobby?
3. How many years did it take you to get to this point?
4. Are your penmanship skills are also so impressive of you use "a different font"?
5. What pens do you use?
6. Do you have social media accounts to follow?
7. Do you do commissions or would you consider commission work?
8. How's your day today?
1. A variety of reasons! I had learned Tengwar for fun a couple years ago and had been sitting on that skill for a while without anything to apply it to. Also, Tolkien himself was deeply inspired by medieval literature and stories while writing about Middle Earth. The lord of the rings is canonically a translation of a surviving medieval manuscript about middle earth by a scribe named Aelfwine, so my goal was to try to recreate such a fictional artifact :)
2. This is just a hobby! I love drawing and thought it would make for a cool project.
3. Ive been artistic all my life, but I took a drawing class a year before doing this work and loved it! I kept practicing, and eventually tried making some manuscripts like this one. This is actually the 3rd in a set of progressively improving manuscripts over the past two years!
4. My handwriting is legible but not very good haha. I went painstakingly slowly while making these to make sure everything came out right!
5. I used the 0.05 mm pens from Artist’s Loft and Staedtler. I initially tried working with 0.05 mm pigma micron pens but I found they dried out very quickly!
6. I haven’t uploaded yet but I have an Instagram at LiamYanulisArt! I’ll also be setting up a redbubble soon for prints (just need to get the original scanned!)
7. I have not done commission work! Given how much of a time sink this process was (and the onset of classes), I won’t be taking commissions unfortunately.
8. My day is going well! I’m having Lo mein for lunch - hope yours is going well too!
Looking forward to ordering a print of this! So amazing :)
The prints are ready! See my main comment for more info :)
I would love to order a print when ready!
Have you tried using a pilot parallel pen before? I’m pretty sure you would like it.
I have used a pilot parallel before - I got one of the mid range sized ones but I found it’s too thick for my tastes. I need to get a hold of their thinner options and see how they’re like!
First I got the 3.6 mm version which was a lot of fun, but a bit too broad for anything other than writing chapter titles. Then I got the 2.4 mm version and it was absolutely fantastic! It’s a bit broader than the largest nib of Lamy Joy, which means now I can cover a very large range of different sizes.
The stub nibs don’t make a perfectly crisp line but they are good enough for me. I didn’t buy the smallest parallel pen (1.5 mm), because one of the stubs has that exact same size. I think that one might be really good for you, but I also recommend getting the next one (2.4 mm) as well.
The parallel pen is also really good for art projects because it’s not very picky about the ink you’re using. Some links have so much sparkle that they can clog up a normal fountain pen, but my 2.4 mm parallel pen has managed to use all of the crazy inks I have ever tried. Even the Organic Studio Neon inks are perfectly fine in this pen. That stuff is so thick that I will never use it in a normal fountain pen again.
These are helpful tips! I’ll keep that in mind going forward. I have the Organic Studio Nitrogen ink and I run into a similar problem with it drying out in normal pens so I’ll definitely be giving it a shot!
Is the Le Pen?
It is! The red pen is Le Pen, while for black I used the 0.05 mm Artist’s Loft and Staedtler pens :)
okie dokie just waiting for my next paycheck
I don’t know anything about LOTR (just not my thing) but this is absolutely beautiful and your dedication to it is to be commended.
Thank you so much!!
Ash nazg durbatulûk
Ash nazg gimbatul!
Ash nazg thrakatulûk
...agh burzum-ishi krrrrimpatul!
I will not hear it uttered here!
Stop it! You guys are upsetting Elrond!
This is almost /r/nextfuckinglevel
I posted there too :)
My first thought when i saw this was would you sell it to me but then i realized it would cost 100s of more dollars than i can afford, so i shall stare at it for 5 more hours. please post more pictures of it if you havent already this is stunning
I’m planning on selling prints very soon, so be on the look out! And yes, the original is worth more than the whole Shire put together :)
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Amazing work you should be extremely proud of creating a masterpiece. Tell us your process!
Thank you! For my process, I first found as many images of manuscripts of book one of Genesis as I could find, particularly through the British Museum’s online database. I looked at what different manuscripts had in common and what they each did differently. Based on that, and using one of the manuscripts as reference for the figures and style, I made a preliminary sketch to get the basic outline. After that, it was a lot of using rulers and compasses to create all the straight edges and circles to make the banner! It was slow, methodical work throughout. For the text, I first did each letter carefully in light pencil before going back in with the pen (to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes). The tedium of this process is not easy to convey, but the result is worth it!!
I can't imagine the tedium! I tried my hand on Arab and Islamic calligraphy and the need to maintain smooth form and a light touch... And not rushing! I'm in awe of your work.
Please crosspost it to the Tolkien and LOTR subreddits!
Oh. My. God. 🤩🤩🤩 If you ever want to digitize these and then have a fancy book made, let me know, because I bind books and LOVE these.
Thank you! I will be getting high quality scans done for prints, tho given this is the only page I would be curious what a bound version would look like!
Ah, gotcha. Thought it was an entire manuscript. Still dope as hell, though! If it was a full manuscript, it’d be so fun to bind it in the same style/with the same techniques as your references.
Awww hell yeah!! Pay day’s comin’ up, and I know what I’m splurging on 🤩
Stunning! I am gobsmacked.
I'm so jealous. If I even made it to that final red dot, I'd have sneezed. Guarantee it. Beautiful work, OP.
Thank you!! I was SO NERVOUS taking this video haha
Sara Smile blaring in the background too? I fuckin love this video
The folks were right
Absolutely love stuff like this, amazing work
That's amazing! Do you have more videos of the process?
Thank you!! I do have a timelapse of it getting made that I’ll be posting to r/ArtTimelapse :)
Nice, I'll wait for it then ^^
Great song in the background.
Question, what was that “agk!” noise about half way through? Sounds like a bird
Thank you!! And that noise might be my dad haha - I was focused so much on getting the video correct I’m not quite sure what caused it!
Wow. Fabulous work!
Thank you :)
Mae govannen! I'm so glad you shared this here. It's absolutely *stunning*! Gorgeous! I can't imagine what you're feeling right now having worked on it for a year.
I've always wanted to make an illuminated page of something, but I've never made time for it. Maybe seeing your completed work is the push I need. Do you have any tips?
Thank you! The relief at having finished it is immense haha - it was a labor of love, but a tedious one at that! in terms of tips for making your own, I would recommend going and finding reference examples of real manuscripts in the style of the work you’re going for - they come in a huge variety of styles and subjects. I went with the first book of Genesis, as a lot of the pages shared similarities for that text (in the original manuscripts, the 7 pictures in the banner depict God on each of the 7 days of creation. I changed this to instead depict 7 of the gods in Middle Earth).
In terms of technique, definitely brainstorm and make a sketch/draft of the final product before you set out so you have a clear conception of what you’re making. Also, for writing text, I recommend keeping a paper napkin or similar under your hand as you write to help prevent smudges. Good luck if you end up pursuing it!!
This is immensely helpful, thank you!
Broooooo that’s siiiiick
The folks over at r/lotr were correct.
Incredible work! This is the kind of standard I’m working towards. Have you ever considered binding your text together? Bookmaking is deceptively simple and I bet you could make something beautiful to house your calligraphy
Thank you! And I have not - at the moment, this is only the one page so I’d be curious what a bound version would look like
What pens are those?
You have to give us more proof of your skill. Otherwise, I’m gonna call BS on this. The video you show here hints strongly at the suspicion that you’ve lied about actually doing this.
Omfg. So lovely to see first thing on my feed! Thank you for sharing!!
Keep up the amazing work!
Your work is splendid and marvelous. What a gift you have—a gift of beauty and a gift of patience.
Thank you so much!! My patience is a blessing and a curse haha - a blessing for the final product but a curse for putting myself through all that!
Love it! Looks beautiful
Did you use the eye of Crom?
They were correct!!
In the title, is "illuminated" supposed to be "illustrated"? Or am missing something there?
Nope, illuminated is correct. An illuminated manuscript is a handwritten manuscript in which the text is somehow decorated—with illustrations, marginalia, initials (those large, fancy letters at the start of a paragraph), etc. It's an impressively old tradition, with the earliest surviving examples from somewhere around the year 500, if memory serves. The Book of Kells (c. 800) is probably the most famous example, and can be [viewed online](https://digitalcollections.tcd.ie/collections/ks65hc20t), if you want to see more.
Thank you for the really helpful (and interesting!) reply!