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celtic knots

charcoal or watercolor pencils

Learning objectives

  • recognising and identifying patterns and sequencing, predicting patterns
  • types of patterns: linear, grid, radial, mirror, free-form
  • balance: symmetrical harmony
  • values and space: using light and shadows for overlapped elements
  • charcoal shading technique / watercolor pencil shading

Practice the knots:

celtic design

Celtic knot designs are constructed using a grid method. The design consists of units, that are repeated throughout the layout.

One-string design

Basic unit:

basic knot unit

Place basic units in a string:

basic knot unit

Link units with curves:

unit links

End the string with an End unit (half the width):

one string design

Shade it with a pencil to add shadows to overlapped bands.

double string design

Start with basic units. Link tops and bottoms with curves. Connect the middle ends with straight lines. Make sure the bands that start on top - go under, the bands that start below - go above. Shade when you are done.

double string design


celtic border

Strings of basic units make nice borders, but you need to come up with a corner unit to connect the units seamlessly.


They can be as simple or as complex and elaborate as you want.

Make sure you keep the width of the "ribbon" consistent.

create a border

Print out the border template (11x17) and the units (8.5x11)


Cut out units, glue them to the border template.

Connect the units

Design a corner. You can add units or skip a few for your design. Use ruler for straight lines.

Repeat the corner unit to complete the border.

Outline everything with a Sharpie.

Use a pencil to add shadows where needed.



celtic design


1. Use a 20' x 13" board. Define the work area: 17.5" x 10.5" (by drawing 1.25" border). Divide it into a 1.75" grid units.


2. Mark every other one line crossing in checkerboard pattern (see below):

3. Mark the middle section as shown.

4. The band will curve around the marks that you created.

Draw (very lightly) 1" circles around your marks.

(For the worksheet - 0.5" circles)

5. Start drawing the first band with 2 parallel lines:

6. Create a corner

7. Draw more circles in the next row

8. Draw the overlapping band

9. More circles

10. Draw the curve for the second band to start the turn

11. Extend the band with 2 parallel lines

12. Start the next band

13. Create a turn

14. Complete the corner

15.More circles

16. Continue extending the bands

17. Trace the design with a marker.


18. Add the borders to the bands (see below).

19. Use watercolor pencils for coloring. Shade lightly over a section. Make sure you complete one section (closed shape) at a time. Shade darker by the edges.

20. Shade darker next to the overlapped areas to create a shadow effect.

21. Use water and paintbrush to complete the coloring. Make sure you use a dry paper towel to remove access water from the brush. Do not dip pencils into the water. Try to complete the section before it dries.

22. Use different color for the border