Join the Aon mailing list!

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.

To make our Woman, we begin with a Celtic Man's head, but alter it a bit to make it more feminine. Here I've begun with the same head as the Man we just drew, but have made the eyebrow a bit smaller, the chin and bit smaller, and the eye a bit larger. I've also shortened the nose a bit. Women of the Celts did not wear a lot of earrings, however I don't think that a round bauble earring if you wanted to add it would look too out of place. Necklaces, torcs, rings and arm bands were wore by both sexes of the Celts, so these could easily be added to either sex as well. You may also want to check out the different hairstyles (bottom of page) that I've illustrated as well, for some new hairstyles for our Woman.

To make her figure a little more ladylike, I've made the part of her chest where it joins under her arm curve a bit outwards, to imply a bust. Because she of course doesn't have a beard to make a knot with, I've given her two braids from each side of her head. The braids were drawn very simply here, with just a twist added to the locks on either side where they leave her head. You'll notice that I did a "no-no" here, by not weaving the braid closest to the viewer through her arm and neck, but I felt that it was a small sacrifice to be able to see the braid a bit better. I think it makes her more obviously female. This type of problem may not arise for every Person you draw, depending on what type of knotting you have going on and whether it's going over and through the body, etc. Sometimes it will work out fine, sometimes you'll have to decide whether it's better to make the figure look better, or make the knot correct. I think it's best to decide with each instance, where you try to make it work if you can, but you still leave yourself the option of "cheating" if you have to make the whole image look better. It's better to have a nicer picture, but less accurate, then to have a poor picture but accurate, I think. But that's just my opinion, so of course feel free to adjust it or not as you please! :-)

As for the fingers, many folks have written to ask about the fact that her 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 her hand the proper way. :-)

For some different hairstyles on our Celtic People, there are a few variations you can try and mix and match between. The Man we did in the Tutorial would have had plain or straight hair, but there are many other styles shown in the Book of Kells, which I'll go through here.

The first Man here would be sporting wavy hair. There are small "bumps" added around the hair, to give the impression of more body, and as well the bangs have been drawn out and tapered, so that they can be knotted up, and maybe attached afterwards to his beard or another lock of hair.

The second Man would have quite curly hair. The "bumps" are more defined, and as well are outlined again inside the hair, giving the impression of even more curls. His bangs have the nub ending that we used in the Tutorial examples, but it could have been drawn out and knotted like the previous fellow's.

The last Man has spiky curly hair. There are a few "bumps" around it, and as well the curly bangs, which show another way of drawing curly hair as well. The angular way the hair was drawn on the upper part of his head by his face suggests more of a spiky appearance, which is supported by the fact that he has the shorter hair. Any of these hairstyles could be used, or mix and matched for either Men or Women.

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