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Celtic People are a common type of decoration in Celtic manuscripts, usually found all tangled up in strange positions and colorfully decorated. While it may sound daunting to draw people, the unique Celtic style of art makes it easier than you'd think to include people in your artwork!

In each panel I will show you step by step how to create Celtic People. Each new step will be in red. As you go through the panels, old steps will turn gold, and there will be a new step highlighted, again in red.




First we'll begin with a close up of the head. To start, draw a "C" shape for his ear, and from the top of that make a curved line that will become the top of his head and his forehead. After you have gone out a ways, make a bend downwards to begin his face. There is typically not a whole lot of curving in the faces when they are drawn in profile, so you can pretty much bring the line straight down from the forehead. In this example, I have angled outwards at the nose a small bit, but this isn't necessary. If you look at his head so far, the length of the top of the head, from ear to forehead, should be about the same as from his forehead down to the tip of his nose. Bring the bottom of his nose in a bit, with a small curl or hook for the nostril.


Now we make his chin by coming down from about halfway in the width of the nose, making his mouth and chin area about the same length as the forehead to point of nose was. Bend that line up from there to make his jaw, ending at the base of the ear.


Now I've drawn sort of a "V" shape to mark off where his beard is, and this attaches from the front part of his lower ear, to his nostril. I've also added his hair, of which I talk a little more about and show some more styles of in the Drawing a Celtic Woman section. The hair attaches to the point of his forehead, and pretty much follows the shape of his head, and attaches again to the back of his neck, which I've also added here as well.


Add a few more facial features next, like a curve for the eyebrow and mouth, and a wiggle for the inside of his ear. His eye is drawn rather like an almond shape, with a circle in the center and a pupil for the eye as well. I've also started to draw his beard from his chin. This end of his beard can be added or not, but usually it's drawn. It ends up being another end that you can knot up when your man is all finished.


Now that the head is finished, let's focus on the rest of his body. From the back of his neck, continue down his back, and then curve in for his bum. On his front, draw down his chest a little ways and then bend out for his arm, which I've bent at the elbow...we'll deal with the hand in a little bit. From below his arm, draw down past his belly, and then make his hip and the rest of his leg. His other leg I am going to draw in the background. While People are drawn usually with both legs, you can add one arm or two, depending on the room you have. The more you can add the better, as it will create more places we can knot up later. His feet are drawn very simple, almost like two little triangles. Note that his toes are nothing more than a little curl on the underside of the foot.


To add a bit more detail to our People, add another line along the inside of his body. This will start under his head, and end at his calf with another double line, rather like a cuff or band. Take note of the way the inside line joins at the armpit. The second line actually stops when it comes up from the belly at the arm, rather than continuing. It then starts again at his armpit, where it attaches to the line from his arm, and continues in and around the arm shape, ending at the neck.


The next step is to add his hand, which I'm showing here as a clenched fist to hold onto his beard. The fingers holding the beard are drawn as oblong sausages, with the thumb sticking up on the side by his face. Make sure you put his thumb on the proper side of his hand! ;-) As for the fingers, many folks have written to ask about the fact that his hand is facing the wrong way for which arm we're drawing. This is completely fine according to how many of the people were drawn in the Book of Kells. However if you want to make it anatomically correct as well, go ahead and draw his hand the proper way. :-) The rest of the hand attaches to the arm we drew before. I've also added a pair of bands above and below his waist, and another one on his thigh. These bands serve as dividers when you color your Person, and each section can be colored a different color. Ankles are drawn as small circles on the feet, and are usually colored red or shown as red circles when the figure as being colored.


Lastly I complete his beard, which continues from the other side of his hand as he's holding it, and makes a small knot, and then makes it's way to join up with his lock of hair, behind his neck to the back of his head. This lock of hair can join up with the beard over the front of his neck, or behind, depending on what is required from the over and unders of the knot part. I've shown here a rather simple knot, but you can of course tangle the knot up and around the Person, even through his legs and around his body more as you like. Make sure to keep the over and unders correct, though, so that it passes over and under as it weaves through his body parts and through other pieces of the knot.

Next, Drawing a Celtic Woman...


If you're enjoying these tutorials, don't forget that you can get a collected workbook edition, in both an instant PDF downloable eBook edition, as well as a coil bound print edition! These working copies have much more information than these online versions do, more explanations, examples, exercises to work through... become a Celtic art master!


All tutorials copyright Cari Buziak, 1995-current