Backlog – First Rough Draft

I took on a backlog scroll and the recipient wanted the finished project done on velum they had purchased.  If they were going to spend that kind of money on a backlog I figured I should work to make it a very nice scroll.  So with their permission I am sharing the process I have been using to make their scroll.  Spoiler alert, the finished project isn’t finished yet.

“Start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” Sister Maria – The Sound of Music

A backlog scroll in the SCA Middle Kingdom is an award scroll for someone who has already been admitted into an order or given an award.  They know they have it, they just don’t have the commemorative scroll to go with it.  We like to fix that for recipients and get them that scroll.

When I have the time to do a project I like to draw out sketches.  I prefer to use 1/4 scale.  So in this case I used Boris White #37 Layout Paper from the same size as the planned finished project.  I folded it into quarters and sketched things out.

Start by doing some quick sketches.  Don't get into details, just go with general ideas.

Start by doing some quick sketches. Don’t get into details, just go with general ideas.

I presented them to the recipient to pick the layout and style he liked most and to get input as to what alterations he might like to see.  What was preferred by the recipient was this one.

002 - Chosen One

Oath in rubrication at the top, text of the scroll in the main body, signatures of their Majesties of the time on bottom. The badge of the Order in the middle.

While that was going on I ordered the manuscript grade velum from  It is really pretty.

Kept in plastic to keep it safe from environmental hazards.

Kept in plastic to keep it safe from environmental hazards.

It is even prettier close up.

Close up of Velum.

Close up of Velum.

When making an award that is likely to get framed you want to include a matting margin in your planning.  I prefer to use a one inch margin all around for the matting.  Then I layout the internal space as if the project space only exists inside that margin.  Of course I did my practice work on Bristol Board paper.

005 - 1 Inch Margin - 01

Starting off the one inch margin.

Then I made the marks all around the sheet of paper, (support).

006 - 1 Inch Margin - 02

Get each side of the support marked appropriately.

Then using a square of some kind draw in the margins so they are clearly marked.

007 - 1 Inch Margin - 03

Draw in the margin lines.

Then double check yourself here instead of later.  I have had several projects ruined because I got the margins wrong.  I prefer to use a T-square to check.  I lay it down on the support and then move it along the entire edge to make sure.

008 - 1 Inch Margin 04

Success, it really is at one inch!

After making sure I get the margins correct then I layout the actual work space I will be using.  I do this by using the Divine or Golden Ratio.  I posted on how to do this previously so I won’t bore you with how to do it now.

Once I finished that up I erased out all the extra lines and that left me with just the work space box.

Clean it up and you have a nice work space to do your calligraphy in.

Clean it up and you have a nice work space to do your calligraphy in.

And that is my master sheet.  I inked in the lines afterwards to darken them up.  Of course you should find out exactly how much space you are dealing with so that you can properly plan out your work.  So out comes the T-square again.

In landscape.

In landscape.

And of course in portrait.

011 - Workspace Measured Portrait

With the master completed I moved on to the first draft.  I traced over the master onto Bristol Velum paper support of 11 inches by fourteen inches. Then I lined the scroll using an AMES lettering guide.  Alexandre Saint Pierre has a wonderful blog post about how to use the AMES lettering guide so I’ll let him tell you.

Once I completed that, I traced in the badge of the order.  After tracing in the bade of the order I though that perhaps I should make sure it was centered the way it was supposed to be.  So I worked that out using a compass.  The tool that draws circles not the one that tells you where magnetic north is.  This is done by using the technique of bisecting or finding the halfway point of lines (segments really). This video shows very clearly how to do that in under one minute.

Simply bisect a horizontal line, then bisect a perpendicular line and where those two lines meet, is the center point of your work area.  I should have done it this way at first but instead I eyeballed it.  The true center point is just below the red dot.  The red dot is where I put the center point.  I wasn’t off by much.

2014-11-10 00.24.40

Not off by much at all

2014-11-10 00.25.01

For scope to determine how far off I was, the lines for text space are only 3 mm apart.

The next step was to start inking in the words starting with the rubrication.  You may have seen I had some problems with the ink but resolved them.  You can find the details about that on this blog post.

Having fixed the rubrication ink issue I finished inking the scroll and then I used fine tipped colored pens to simulate where I would want to do ink color changes to draw out the badge of the order.


There are things that should get fixed. This is why you do rough drafts to work out the kinks and not make the mistakes on the final draft.  To that end I made notes of things to keep and/or change in the second draft.


As you can see this is pretty ugly with all the marking and tests I did on it.  That’s perfectly acceptable.  This is a rough draft and that is exactly what it is for.

The second rough draft is almost finished and I hope to be blogging about that very soon.

2 responses to “Backlog – First Rough Draft

  1. Pingback: Backlog – Second Rough Draft | scribescribbling·

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